Robert C. Switzer usually known as Bob Switzer (19 May 1914 — 20 August 1997) was the co-inventor along with his brother Joe Switzer of the first visible-light-excited fluorescent paint which he called "Day-Glo".
Bob Switzer was born in Fromberg, Montana and raised in Berkeley California. In 1932, he received a scholarship from the Scaife Scholarship Foundation of Oakland, California, so he attended the College of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. He hoped to become a medical doctor, but while unloading crates at the Heinz Ketchup factory in Berkeley, California, he tripped and fell, entering into a coma for several months after the accident. He was still a teenager, and his vision was permanently damaged. He was told to stay in a dark room until he recovered.
He spent his time playing with fluorescent minerals. When he recovered he carried on experimenting with these, mixing them with varnish, and eventually made a fluorescent paint under the name of Day-Glo. A book has been published in 2009 entitled "The Day-Glo Brothers" about how Bob and Joe Switzer invented daylight fluorescent color initially used in WW2 and later Magnaglo and Zyglo flaw detection material licensed through Magnaflux Corporation of Chicago.
Initially he sold it to magicians for creating illusions, but eventually the army became interested as a means to reduce friendly fire deaths. He made a form suitable for fabrics, turning his wife's wedding dress into the first piece of high-visibility clothing.
He and his brother founded Switzer Brothers, now the Day-Glo Color Corporation, in 1946 in Cleveland, Ohio to manufacture fluorescent products. When the company was sold in 1985, he and his wife set up the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation to fund students working on applied environmental problem solving.
He married his wife Patricia (a Berkeley native) in 1936.
- The Guardian, How the world turned Day-Glo
- Day-Glo Color Corporation website
- Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation biography