About Doc Edgerton
  • Doc Edgerton prepares to deploy his side-scan sonar in the Charles River
    Doc Edgerton prepares to deploy his side-scan sonar in the Charles River

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

Harold “Doc” Edgerton, born in 1903, was a pioneering engineer and a key figure in modern photography. Through his work with stroboscopic photography he was able to capture incredible stills of fleeting moments: everything from a bullet bursting through an apple to his famous “Coronet” milk-drop photo, which, in 1937, was shown 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 moments in underwater exploration with Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

Doc summed up his drive to do and learn by saying “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 to begin is this biographical article, which includes a useful selective 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 dozens of articles, books, and films about Doc Edgerton and his work. Visit the Edgerton Digital Collections to learn more.