THE CHAPANIS CHRONICLES: 50 Years of Human Factors Research, Education, and Design


251 pages * Hard Cover * 9 by 6 inches
ISBN 10: 0-9636178-9-3
Fully Referenced


The Chapanis Chronicles: 50 Years of Human Factors Research, Education, and Design, is the professional autobiography of Alphonse Chapanis, Ph.D., a pioneer and articulate promoter of human factors and ergonomics in design. Starting with the outbreak of the Second World War, Chapanis describes, first-hand, his applied research at the Aero Medical Laboratory at Wright Field, his studies of new problems with high-altitude military aircraft, and the development of solutions for design-induced pilot error. He chronicles his evaluation of "wheels-up" crashes of B-17s and describes the simple changes to cockpit controls that immediately solved this major problem.

Recounting the rapid development of human factors as a design discipline in the post-war era, Chapanis recollects his early work at the Systems Research Laboratory and Johns Hopkins University and his preparation, with Garner and Morgan, of the first text book in the field - - Applied Experimental Psychology: Human Factors in Engineering Design. The Systems Research Laboratory, perhaps the most prolific human factors laboratory of the time, was followed by the Communications Research Laboratory and a litany of projects on evolving technologies including push-button telephone keysets, teleconferencing, voice interaction, oil exploration techniques, commercial shipping operations, and PhonemailTM. His 36-year relationship with IBM and the introduction of human factors and ergonomics to literally thousands of IBM engineers and managers is a valuable case study in and of itself.

After his retirement from Johns Hopkins, Chapanis embarked on an expansive consulting career. He provides his assessment of the business of human factors, working with industry, and expert witness testimony, all with an eye on the future and the importance of trying to make our material world safer, more comfortable, and easier to cope with.