Medicine: Mechanical Minutemen

Jack Reichart, a 64-year-old inventor and appliance manufacturer of Muncie, Ind. had never seen an "iron lung" respirator in his life. Last week he was asked to make one in a hurry. Muncie's Ball Memorial Hospital, which owned the only iron lung in three counties, suddenly had 28 polio (infantile paralysis) patients on its hands. That lung was in use when Rue Steel, an eight-year-old boy who urgently needed a respirator, was brought in. Hospital Superintendent Nellie Brown asked Reichart if he could turn out an emergency job.

Reichart studied data on the complex machine at his little factory, then called for...

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