Encyclopedia of Color Science and Technology

2016 Edition
| Editors: Ming Ronnier Luo

Wright, David

  • Robert W. G. Hunt
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-8071-7_318

W. David Wright was a British physicist and color scientist who made very important contributions to colorimetry and visual science. In fact he is generally regarded as one of the fathers of colorimetry as it is practiced today.

Wright graduated at Imperial College, London University, in 1926 and received a Ph.D. in 1929 and a D.Sc. in 1937. He was a Medical Research Council student at Imperial College from 1926 to 1929, and in this period, the spectral color-matching properties of ten observers were measured.

He was a Research Engineer at Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Co., Pittsburgh, USA, in 1929–30, where he undertook early research on color television.

On his return to England, at Imperial College, he became a Lecturer and Reader in Technical Optics in 1930–1951 and Professor of Applied Optics in 1951–1973. He was a Research and Consultant Physicist to Electrical and Musical Industries in 1930–1939. He became Kern Professor of Communications at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1984–1985.

Main Interests

W. David Wright had a number of interests which included optics, vision, photometry, colorimetry, color perception, color applications, and color paintings. He supervised a succession of research students in color science, many of whom subsequently held senior positions in academia and industry.

Wright’s most important research work was the measurement, for ten observers, of the way in which the colors of the spectrum are matched by beams of red, green, and blue light added together. This work, together with a similar study carried out by John Guild (at the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington, England, with seven additional observers), forms the basis of the international standard for measuring color established by the Commission International de l’Éclairage (CIE). The quality of this experimental work was so high that the standard, although now more than eighty years old, is still in universal use.

Wright’s researches also led, for the first time, to definitive descriptions of the main types of color deficiency (color blindness). His book Researches on Normal and Defective Colour Vision, published in 1946, summarizes the results of his research on color vision. He also wrote the book The Measurement of Colour, the four editions of which provided a widely used practical guide to colorimetry from 1944 to the present time. His leisure interests included an appreciation of paintings and religious service and church activities.

Wright’s books and key publications include:
  • The Perception of Light, Blackie, 1938.

  • Researches on Normal and Defective Colour Vision, Kimpton, 1946.

  • The Measurement of Colour, Hilger, 1944 (2nd ed., 1958; 3rd ed., 1964; 4th ed., 1969).

  • Photometry and the Eye, Hatton, 1950.

  • The Rays are not Coloured, Hilger, 1967.

He also authored about 80 original papers, mainly dealing with color and vision.

Wright received numerous awards and was a member of several professional bodies which included:
  • The Physical Society Thomas Young Oration, 1951.

  • Honorary D.Sc. City University, 1971.

  • The AIC (International Colour Association) Judd Award, 1977.

  • Honorary D.Sc. University of Waterloo, Canada, 1991.

    He also provided public and professional service which included:

  • Founder of the Physical Society Colour Group, 1941.

  • Chairman of the Physical Society Colour Group, 1941–1943.

  • Vice-President of the Physical Society, 1948–1950.

  • Secretary of the International Commission for Optics, 1953–1966.

  • Chairman of the Physical Society Optical Group, 1956–1959.

  • President of the International Colour Association (AIC), 1967–1969.

  • Chairman of the Colour Group (Great Britain), 1973–1975.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Colour ScienceUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK