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David Hon, Chinese-American, is a well-known American aerospace expert, laser physicist and entrepreneur. Born in Shaoguan, Guangdong in 1941, he moved to Hong Kong with his parents at the age of 9 and immigrated to the United States at the age of 19. He completed his studies at the University of California, Berkeley College, Los Angeles College, and the University of Southern California, where he received his Ph.D. in physics.
Dr. David Hon was a keen and studious scholar, who scored highest on the IQ test at the University of California, Berkeley, and obtained the UCLA doctoral qualification joint examination, and was promoted to the youngest assistant professor of physics at California State University at the age of 26. In 1972, Dr. David Hon was hired by Hughes Aircraft Company, the world's top aerospace technology company, to lead some of the earliest tactical laser research and development, and became a highly respected leader in laser technology during the "space race" period in the 70s. In 1978, Dr. David Hon's co-authored "Laser Handbook" caused a sensation in the industry and became a common textbook for many universities, and Dr. David Hon's personal achievements were also recognized, he was promoted to senior physicist, and promoted to work at the Hughes Research Institute in Malibu, the world's first research and development location for lasers and satellites.
Although Dr. David Hon has made some achievements in his career, he knows the truth of industry and has always cherished the dream of starting a business. In 1975, when the oil crisis broke out, people realized that there was a need for better urban transportation, combining public transportation and economical and lightweight transportation, powered by human or electric power, to reduce the dependence on cars, which also led Dr. Hon to change and innovate the way of travel. Recalling his college days, he had to disassemble his bicycle and stuff it into a car every day so that he could ride on campus, so Dr. Hon, who is good at thinking and loving cycling, began to study how traditional bicycles can be more portable and had the idea of folding the bicycle.
After tens of thousands of times of disassembly, assembly and destructive testing of bicycles, Dr. Hon has continuously improved and optimized the chains, steel beams, handles and other components of bicycles, while improving materials and processing technology, and gradually explored a variety of safe and fast folding and assembly methods for bicycles.
At the beginning of the business, Dr. Hon received the help of his brother Henry, and Dr. Hon and 35 visionary investors raised $2 million to establish DAHON to conduct reliability testing, commercial operation and large-scale production research on folding bicycles. In 1982, the related folding bicycle products came out and won the first 7 patents of bicycle folding technology. In 1984, DAHON established a factory in Taiwan, China, and the 6,000 folding bicycles produced in the first year were quickly sold out, and the products swept the market, and the Dahon brand entered people's field of vision, enjoying a high popularity and reputation, and Dr. Hon was also known as the "father of folding bikes".
Having coauthored the "Laser Handbook", the internationally referenced authority on laser technology published in 1978, Dr. Hon was promoted to Senior Physicist in recognition of his accomplishments. Now well recognized in the field, he was called to the prestigious Hughes Research Labs in Malibu, where the very first laser and western satellites had been developed. Here, scientists were encouraged to indulge in independent exploration. Dr. Hon subsequently developed and published a technique for efficient compression of high-power laser pulses by SBS in a tapered optical fiber, which has become a standard for high quality/power laser fusion and in aeronautics and engineering.
Laser nuclear fusion was viewed at the time as the ultimate answer to Man’s need for energy. The development of this green solution had long been the fire in Dr. Hon’s research, but as high technical hurdles kept success in these endeavors elusive, his enthusiasm increasingly turned to impatience. A more tangible method was needed to quench his thirst for a solution to modern energy needs. The decision to leave the limelight and privileges at Hughes Research was painful but inevitable. He chose to devote his talent to more rapid results and, in keeping with his environmental convictions, Dr. Hon said farewell to lasers.
Leaving the space trade was not without prospect or impetus, however: the first DAHON working prototype, presented at the New York Bike Show, had already gained footing with rave reviews, both there and in the media. Now launching his second career in green transportation, the enterprise was fortified by $2 million raised among 35 visionary investors, including The Carpenters and later, Acer computers. Dr. Hon and his brother Henry were in business!
Hoping to find an OEM partner to produce the spritely new DAHON folding bike, the brothers called on many of the major bicycle brands in the U.S., Japan, Taiwan and China—but no one was interested in this kind of “niche” product: “too big a technical bite”, “too risky”. As Taiwan was already emerging as the future center of bicycle manufacturing, a bold decision was made to set up DAHON’s own factory there. Dr. Hon, who had been educated in English, now had to learn Mandarin and acquaint himself with a whole new set of social and industrial structures and customs. This truly was a big bite – and he took it.
Shiny, stainless steel “city hoppers” began rolling from the assembly line in the new Taiwanese factory by 1984 – and they were a success. In the first six months of that year, 6,000 folders were built and sold, and Californians loved them. Soon, word spread throughout the country, and they were rolling out bikes by the tens of thousands. David Hon’s star is born: DAHON!
Over 40 years later, DAHON is the best-known name in folding bicycles around the world. But their pursuit of newer, better light mobility technologies always continues.