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Peter D. Petroff

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Biography

Peter D. Petroff was an electrical engineer who worked on a range of projects central to twentieth century technological history, from the space program to the first digital wristwatch.

Petroff was born in Brestovitsa, Bulgaria. After World War II, he moved to France and Germany, where he graduated with a degree in electrical engineer from Stuttgart University in 1947. In 1951, he moved to Toronto and worked on engineering projects for the United States Air Force along the Arctic Ocean. Later in the 1950s, he moved to Indonesia, where he helped build bridges and power plants.

In 1959, he moved to Florida to join the precursor company to the Harris Corporation. As an aerospace engineer, he worked on early weather and communications satellites. He also created the company’s semiconductor division.

In 1963, Wernher von Braun recruited Petroff to work on the new Saturn rocket for the Apollo project. Petroff worked for NASA and its contractors Boeing and Northrop.

Petroff created his own high tech venture, Care Electrics, in 1968. His first major product was a wireless heart monitor for use in hospitals. Care Electrics soon became Electro/Data, and it focused on creating a prototype digital watch. In 1971, the Hamilton Watch Company marketed this watch as the Pulsar and sold it for $2,100. James Bond would wear this unusual watch in 1973's Live and Let Die.

Petroff and his sons founded ADS Environmental Services in 1975. The company made pollution monitoring equipment. In 1995, Petroff sold his shares in this company but became a consultant for Time Domain Corporation, which was developing ultra-wideband communications technology.