Ignác Pfeifer (Pfeiffer) was born on September 30, 1867; a professor for chemical technology, Pfeifer served as the first director of the Tungsram Research Laboratory, and he was an outstanding representative of chemical sciences in Hungary.
Dezső Pillitz, chemical engineer in Tungsram Research Laboratory, then manager of Tungsram’s Lighting Economy Department and manager of the Lighting Engineering Station, cited Ignác Pfeifer in his speech at the inauguration of Pfeifer’s portrait at the Association of Hungarian Chemists in 1943:
“In science, if one aims to discover something unexpected or hitherto hidden and if a scientific institute wants to raise the next generation of scientific staff, researchers need to be given complete freedom; that is, the chance to follow their personal scientific conviction. The prerequisite for such a freedom is that the leader of the institute should select his colleagues carefully, so that they will fit into the institute’s mission both according to their scientific capabilities and their moral characteristics. In natural sciences, ideas are seminal, their realization, however, represents the heavier part of work.”
This firm conviction was the result of a fruitful scientific career and experiences gathered in various public and private institutions. Ignác Pfeifer received his university diploma at the Royal Joseph University of Technology in 1892 and remained at the university as assistant professor in the chair of chemical technology. From 1894, Pfeifer worked in the Chemical Laboratory of the Hungarian State Railways on the analysis of various types of coal and of the acid content of grease, heating technology, and cleaning of industrial water; then his attention turned towards lighting. From 1904 to 1912, he worked as a private engineer. By the 1910s, Pfeifer became a leading expert of using natural gas for industry in Hungary. In 1907, he was given the title of public extraordinary university teacher. In 1912, Pfeifer took over leadership of the chair for chemical technology at the Technical University. From 1913 to 1923, Professor Pfeifer represented the Technical University in the Industrial Section of the National Council of Industry. During WWI, he was given the title of lieutenant-colonel for his achievements in water cleaning and supplying the army with fresh water. In 1922, he resigned from his position at the Technical University and became the first leader of the Tungsram Research Laboratory.
The principles cited above lead Pfeifer when he created the organizational structure of the Tungsram Research Laboratory. His remarkable colleagues’ achievements – such as the great-crystal tungsten wire or the incandescent lamps filled with krypton – demonstrated Pfeifer’s talent to choose, lead, and inspire his people. The Research Laboratory Pfeifer led played a significant role in Tungsram becoming a leading producer of light sources and radio valves between the two world wars. After his retirement in July 1937, he supported Tungsram as a counsel. Besides working for Tungsram, Pfeifer, as acting director of the Association of Hungarian Chemists, revived and reorganized the association after WWI, contributed to the dissemination of the latest scientific achievements as journal editor, continued his own research on Hungary’s energy, and was member of the Hungarian delegation to the World Power Conferences. He died on September 7, 1941. We at Tungsram remember him with greatest respect.
Citation from Kémikusok Lapja 5 (1944) 1, 10 (translation by Mária Hidvégi), in copy: MNL Z603_37_90
Picture: Kémikusok Lapja 5 (1944) 1, 9