David P. Bushnell

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David P. Bushnell
David Bushnell is seated on a porch and holding a baby.
Bushnell in late 1949 in Pasadena, holding a child.
Born David Pearsall Bushnell
(1913-03-31)March 31, 1913
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Died March 24, 2005(2005-03-24) (aged 91)
Laguna Beach, California
Known for Founder of Bushnell optics company

David Pearsall Bushnell (March 31, 1913 - March 24, 2005) was an American entrepreneur who founded the Bushnell optics company in 1948. Through a strategy of importation from foreign manufacturers who provided optics to his specifications, Bushnell made binoculars widely available to middle-class Americans for the first time. As of 2006, Bushnell Optical remained the leading seller of binoculars in the United States.

Early life and education[edit]

Bushnell was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota and raised in Los Angeles, California. From 1930 to 1933, he studied engineering at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), paying for his tuition by selling newspapers. He then dropped out to travel around the world. Bushnell returned after 8 months and attended the University of Southern California where he earned a business degree in 1936.


After graduation, Bushnell began an import-export business, which included importing Belgian cement and Iranian bracelets, and exporting asbestos and old Salvation Army shoes to China. During World War II, Bushnell worked for Lockheed. In 1948, on an extended honeymoon with his second wife who was also in foreign trade, he bought some binoculars in Japan. When he and his wife returned to California, his success selling 400 pair in otherwise awkward circumstances put him in the optical business. Binoculars were soon joined by riflescopes and various other optical equipment, such as spotting scopes and telescopes. Half of a pair of Bushnell Custom Compact binoculars served as part of the backup navigation system in a Gemini space flight.

Bushnell sold his company to Bausch & Lomb (B&L) in 1971 and retired in 1974 as a vice-president of B&L.


In 2005, Bushnell died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma at his home in Laguna Beach, California, a week before his 92nd birthday.