- David P. Bushnell
David Pearsall Bushnell (March 31, 1913 – March 24, 2005) was an American entrepreneur. Mr. Bushnell founded his company, Bushnell, in 1948. At that time, binoculars were largely an item of luxury. Through a strategy of importation from foreign manufacturers who provided optics to his specifications, Bushnell made binoculars widely available to middle-class Americans for the first time. As of 2006, Bushnell Optical remains the leading source of binoculars in the United States.
Bushnell died just a week before his 92nd birthday from non-Hodgkins lymphoma at his home in Laguna Beach, California. He had studied engineering at Caltech before leaving to take a student-style trip around the world during the Depression, carrying letters of recommendation from Robert Millikan, the head of Caltech, and Cordell Hull, the Secretary of State. Bushnell then finished university with a degree in foreign trade at the University of Southern California and started his own import-export business soon after. In 1948, on an extended honeymoon with his second wife who was also in foreign trade, he bought some binoculars in Japan. When he and his wife finally returned to California, his success selling 400 pair in otherwise awkward circumstances put him in the optical business. Binoculars were soon joined by riflescopes and various other optical equipment such as spotting scopes and telescopes. Half of a pair of Bushnell Custom Compact binoculars served as part of the backup navigation system in a Gemini space flight.
Some number of generations removed, David Pearsall Bushnell was a first cousin of David Bushnell of Saybrook, Connecticut, who designed and built the first submarine used in war, against the British in 1776, and a first cousin of the theologian Horace Bushnell, of Hartford, Connecticut.
- ^ Bushnell, George Eleazer. Bushnell Family Genealogy: Ancestry and posterity of Francis Bushnell (1580-1646) of Horsham, England, and Guilford, Connecticut. Nashville, Tennessee: Privately published, 1945.
- Bayot, Jennifer. "David Bushnell, 92, Importer of Affordable Binoculars, Dies", The New York Times, March 31, 2005.
- "Of Note", The Washington Post, April 7, 2005.
- Oliver, Myrna. "David Bushnell, 91; Founded Binocular Company With Products Made in Asia", Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2005.
- Buchroeder, Richard and Peter Abrahams. "David Pearsall Bushnell", Interview, October 29, 1999.
- Personal communication from Steven Ensign Bushnell.
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