About Doc Edgerton
  • Doc Edgerton prepares to deploy his side-scan sonar in the Charles River ©2010 MIT. Courtesy of MIT Museum
    Doc Edgerton prepares to deploy his side-scan sonar in the Charles River ©2010 MIT. Courtesy of MIT Museum

Harold “Doc” Edgerton was an inventor, explorer, entrepreneur, and much-loved MIT professor. He would tell his students: “Work hard. Tell everyone everything you know. Close a deal with a handshake. Have fun!”

Born in 1903, Doc was a pioneering engineer and a key figure in modern photography. His work with stroboscopic photography captivated the world with incredible images of fleeting moments: everything from a bullet bursting through an apple to his famous “Coronet” milk-drop photo—which, in 1937, earned a place at the Museum of Modern Art. Doc would go on to use his expertise to capture atomic test blasts for the U.S. government and explore the mysteries of the ocean with Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

Doc was a boundless well of creativity. So much so that he once said, “I have three lifetimes worth of things to do. I guess I’ll have to leave some of the problems for the next generation.”

After his death in 1990, the Edgerton Center was founded in 1992 with the generous support of the Edgerton Family Foundation.

Learn more about Doc

A good place to start is this short but heartfelt biography, which includes fond memories from people close to Doc, as well as a useful selected bibliography. It was written for the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 by Edgerton Center Director J. Kim Vandiver in collaboration with Pagan Kennedy.


There are also dozens of articles, books, and films about Doc Edgerton and his work. Visit the Edgerton Digital Collections to learn more.