Howard Tracey Hall

howard hallKnown simply as Tracy Hall by colleagues, friends and family, he was the first person to successfully create synthetic diamonds in a lab. In return for this ground breaking invention, the company for whom he worked, General Electric, rewarded Hall by giving him a $10 savings bond. While at GE, Hall constructed a pressure chamber. He called this chamber the half-belt. This chamber was designed to be used to create high pressures in a rundown Watson-Stillman press. When Hall requested funds from GE to build a superior pressure chamber, he was turned down. Eventually, through persuasion and multiple favours, he managed to build his pressure chamber.

On 16 December 1954, in an empty lab, Hall finally tested his process with his new equipment. Upon checking the results of his experiment he said, “My hands began to tremble; my heart beat rapidly; my knees weakened and no longer gave support. My eyes had caught the flashing light from dozens of tiny . . . crystals.” On this day, Hall became the first person to make artificial diamonds.

After several tests confirming Hall’s results, GE announced to the world that they had created artificial diamonds, but the press release didn’t mention Hall. Unrecognized, Hall eventually left GE and began working at Brigham Young University. Hall went on to invent a better apparatus to create synthetic diamonds, the tetrahedral press. With this new invention, he and two friends founded a new company, MegaDiamond. Via Facebook.

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