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65 years ago...

Richard Hunter dreamed how color science
could make a difference in the world

Richard Hunter loved studying why things looked the way they looked. From the first day he started as an apprentice in colorimetry at the Bureau of National Standards in 1927 he was hooked.

He became one of the world’s foremost color scientists. Over the years he listened. He learned. And he observed. The more he observed the more possibilities he saw.

One day the light bulb went on. Richard Hunter would show the world the power of color science.

He was a visionary who understood human vision and color like no one else.

There was no one better than Richard Hunter at understanding how the human eye interprets appearance. He understood how our brain makes split second judgements about what our eye sees. Judgements about safety. About quality. About so many things. Richard had an aha moment.

What if we could express numerically what our eyes see? What if we could “see” and compare color just like our eyes do by using those numerical values?

We could literally measure the most subtle difference in colors. Industries of all types could ensure consistent quality in the appearance of their products and materials. Richard Hunter was on to something big. And he was determined to share it with world.

He started a company to achieve his dream.

Hunter Family House

HunterLab April 1973

Richard Hunter set out to build the only company in the world devoted to designing technology to measure appearance. So in 1952 in his childhood home in Fairfax, Virginia, Richard and his wife Elizabeth opened the “world headquarters” of Hunter Associates Laboratory.

He wasn’t driven by money. But by a simple goal: To research and design solutions that would help people make their products look their absolute best.

He would combine science and technology to measure appearance as never before. No matter what the measurement challenge whether gloss, luster, haze -- you name it. He would find a way to measure it.

Richard Hunter followed his plan. Until one day Proctor & Gamble came calling with a problem.

It was the best thing that ever happened to Richard’s young company.

He created ingenius practical solutions that could measure the appearance of anything.

Richard Hunter was a whiz at turning optical science into practical solutions. That’s exactly what P&G needed. They needed a practical way to measure the color quality of their soaps.

Richard’s Color Difference Meter was the perfect solution. So perfect P&G ordered 26. Now his company was not only developing solutions. But manufacturing them too.

Soon the chemical giant Dow heard about Richard’s work. It needed to reliably measure color samples in its Styrene labs all over the globe. Again Richard solved the problem. His Colorimeter provided the sample consistency and confidence Dow needed across labs and across continents. The sample challenges kept coming. Molten samples. Viscous samples. Even samples that shouldn’t be inhaled.

For every new challenge, he innovated a new way measure it. The world’s manufacturers were discovering the engineering genius of Richard Hunter.

He pioneered advances that took color science to a whole new level.

Even before he launched his company Richard Hunter launched the entire field of color science.

He created technology. He expanded knowledge. He made breakthroughs with new color measurement formulas, tools and techniques. He applied artificial intelligence to color technology before AI was even cool. His numerical system led to instruments that could “see” and “think” like humans in comparing color differences.

Richard Hunter’s son Phil (CEO) with LabScan spectrophotometer

Inventor of the Hunter L, a, b color scale, Richard Hunter brought the first electronic controlled colorimeter with the direct opponent color display to market, making color control practical for all types of industries.

And he literally wrote the book on color science with his classic, “The Measurement of Appearance” which is still used by thousands of color professionals today. Richard Hunter kept innovating, advocating and educating. And his legacy of firsts continues to this day.

Today HunterLab innovation is redefining the impossible.

HunterLab today is the world leader for practical solutions to the toughest color measurement challenges. From liquids to solids, from transmitted to reflected color, we are reimagining technology to measure it. And we’re doing it with the closest match to human eye viewing in the industry.

Now comes HunterLab’s Vista. With our new generation of instruments, our innovation continues. For the first time ever we make it possible to measure color and haze simultaneously. We are taking Richard Hunter’s dream to a new level. And with every breakthrough we’re impacting lives for the better.

Vista Spectrophotometer

We are taking color science from the lab to the marketplace in ways that were just a gleam in Richard Hunter’s eye. Our instruments play a vital role in organ transplants all over the world. Our solutions measures the quality of the protective fluid surrounding organs during transport so they arrive in the best possible condition.

Our solutions helps protect your windshields and windows from accidents, hurricanes and even bullets. Kuraray uses our instruments to measure the transmittance color of its Butacite® safety film for safety glass.

And our solutions helps ensure the quality and freshness of tomatoes on your dinner plates and menus. Leading producers rely on our instruments to achieve their goal of “the redder the better.”

From food to pharmaceuticals, from paper to plastics, our instruments help protect and perfect the appearance of things people depend on every day.

65 years later we’re still pushing color science further to make a difference in the world.

Our history drives our innovation. And our innovation drives the industry. Today HunterLab is the global leader in spectrophotometer solutions for every sample shape, size, viewing condition and challenge.

Associates Summer Picnic 2017

We are one company with an amazing heritage. 100% employee owned. 100% committed to pushing color science further to make a difference in the world.

Find out what Hunterlab’s solutions can do for you.

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Hunterlab's Digital Assistant