Richard T. Cornelius
(1911 1978) was a self-taught engineer and one of Minnesota’s most prolific inventors, holding 180 U.S. patents and hundreds of foreign patents. He received his first patent at age 20 for a humidifying system and by age 30 had been granted 18 patents. His early inventions included foam-free dispensing valves that revolutionized the draft beer business and are the basis for the draft beer dispensing systems of today. During World War II, responding to war-time needs, he designed and manufactured a wide range of hydraulic and pneumatic systems for military aircraft, some of which were used on the B-19s and other military planes for actuating the Bombay doors and ejecting ammunition cartridges. His other inventions range from sophisticated aircraft equipment to "oil-less" diaphragm pumps to consumer items such as sprayers, insulated pitchers, and equipment for soft drink dispensing and merchandising. Using his system, drinks are dispensed directly from 5 gallon stainless containers through attractive counter dispensers. He founded The Cornelius Company of Anoka, the world’s largest manufacturer of beverage dispensing equipment. Other examples of his inventiveness include the original steak plates with metal inserts and the insulated "Thermo-Serv" plastic pitchers. More than 1500 Minnesotans make products designed or inspired by Cornelius.