Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Fuller heightened Americans’ awareness of how to employ natural resources to full advantage—a principle exemplified in his design of the geodesic dome.
Richard Buckminster Fuller was born on July 12, 1895, in Milton, Massachusetts. His parents were Richard Buckminster and Caroline Wolcott Andrews Fuller, both of prominent New England families. Mrs. Fuller’s ancestors included Roger Wolcott, a royal governor of Connecticut. Mr. Fuller’s family had arrived from England in the 1630’s; his aunt was the feminist and Transcendentalist, Margaret Fuller.
Buckminster Fuller’s father was a successful merchant of leather and tea. Young Fuller, or “Bucky” as the family called him, was one of four children. They enjoyed a comfortable childhood in Newton, Massachusetts, in a large house with servants. Fuller, however, had very poor eyesight; he was fitted with powerful glasses at age four and for the first time in his life saw clearly. He claimed to have been delighted at his wonderful new sense (he maintained that sense of delight throughout his life).
One of the boy’s early triumphs occurred when he was six and a kindergarten student. Given dried peas and toothpicks with which to sculpt, he constructed three squares that combined into eight triangles to complete his first tetrahedronal octet truss. He entered Milton Academy as a day student and did well in his...
(The entire section is 2495 words.)
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Richard Buckminster Fuller, a self-described “design scientist,” believed that human beings, by using technology to transform the environment, could do anything they needed to do and become whatever they wanted to be. A descendant of a distinguished New England family, Fuller was born in the Boston suburb of Milton, Massachusetts, in 1895. The glasses that corrected his badly defective vision when he was four years old imbued him with positive feelings about technology that lasted a lifetime. For nine years he attended Milton Academy, where he excelled in science and mathematics but did poorly in such humanistic subjects as English and Latin. After his graduation in 1915, he, like five generations of Fullers before him, entered Harvard University, but unlike those men, who had become ministers, merchants, and politicians, he found his classes “chores” that crushed his spirit. He cut classes and deliberately got into trouble; consequently, he was expelled.
The Fuller family sent their son to work at a Canadian factory, and so successful was he as an apprentice mechanic that he got a second chance at Harvard, but he fell again into his maverick role and was “fired” (his word) in 1915. After working in a variety of jobs and after several unsuccessful attempts to enlist, Fuller was finally accepted into the Navy and sent to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Here he enthusiastically absorbed the practical scientific and technological...
(The entire section is 1557 words.)