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Walton Musser: Inventor of strain wave gearing

The creativity and value of the inventive contributions of Walt Musser and the protection thereof by patenting is demonstrated by the sheer number of patents issued to Mr. Musser. Walt Musser is credited with over 250 major inventions and discoveries. One of those inventions: the Harmonic Drive® Strain Wave Gear.

Inventor of strain wave gearing

C. Walton Musser was a contemporary man encompassing the past and the future in his thinking and inventive ways. The depth of his thoughts could be understood by the complex and multi-layered levels of discussion on any subject that he felt worthy of pursuing. His restless and analytical mind demanded to experience it all and not be restricted to a single category. Walt was very patriotic and loved this country for the many opportunities it affords its citizens for those willing to put forth the effort to succeed. Equal to his patriotic stance were his ethics and honesty which were ever-present character traits. His intellectual capability was legendary as was his sense of humor.

A day with Walt was always an adventure indelibly etched in your mind. All one had to do was listen to C. Walton Musser to realize his genius. Further character delineation is evident in Walt's choice of friends. He disliked snobbish or pompous people avoiding them and maintaining a close contact with those he preferred, regardless of their position in society. His friends emanated from all walks of life possessing one inherent quality - honesty of character.


Early life

Clarence Walton Musser was born in Lancaster Pennsylvania in 1909. His parents, Ezra Nissley Musser and Cora Grace Weidman had three sons. His brother Clair Oman Musser, became an internationally famous conductor for the Marimba Orchestra and President of the Musser Marimba Corp., and L. Willough by Musser, was a Borough Squire and Justice of the Peace in Lancaster County, PA. Walton Musser graduated from Manheim Borough Public High School in 1926. He was a registered Engineer in the States of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. He was a professional inventor who deeply studied topics that were of specific interest to him and was schooled at a number of universities including Chicago Technical College, The University of Pennsylvania and MIT.

In the early 1930’s he worked as a machinist and tool maker, and then started his own company designing and manufacturing special machinery where he was employed on a consulting basis by the United States Government, General Motors, Olin Mathieson, United Shoe Machinery Corp and many other business organizations.

While working at The Frankford Arsenal in the early 1940’s he developed the recoilless rifle. This was a revolutionary invention for which he received the “Commendation for Exceptional Civilian Service”; The highest civilian award bestowed by the US government. He developed many life saving devices, such as cartridge-activated catapults, canopy removers and parachute release devices for aircraft. After the war, he pioneered strain wave gears, a new family of mechanical systems controlled by elastic deflection. Mr. Musser has over 200 domestic patents, and patents in at least 28 foreign countries.



One of the major responsibilities of our Universities is the certification to all those who may be concerned as to the specific qualifications of their graduates. By degree, diploma or transcript they certify that a particular student was indeed subjected to a certain rigorous course of training, and, by various conventions and tests was found to be proficient in certain designated and specific fields. However, while it is universally accepted as being a most important attribute, I know of no University that furnishes a certification for creativity. To the best of my knowledge, this is left solely to the Patent Office. The Patent Office does offer such certificates covering many lines of Endeavor - they are called Patents. In this specific capacity they play a very important role in the relevant art or science methodically review the prior art, and, by the issuance of the Patent certify that the named inventor was creative.

The creativity and value of the inventive contributions of Walt Musser and the protection thereof by patenting is demonstrated by the sheer number of patents issued to Mr. Musser. Walt Musser is credited with over 250 major inventions and discoveries. Some of them are the Army recoilless rifle, aircraft personnel catapults, instrumentation for underwater detonation testing, automatic machine guns, hollow charge projectiles, mechanical and electronic oscilloscopes, heat cells, guided missiles, sporting arms, jet engine test cells, inventor of strain wave gearing ... and dozens of additional devices and types of equipment for industrial, commercial and defense use.

"It is never a question as to whether it can be done – 

it is only whether one cares to spend the time and effort."

C. Walton Musser

Harmonic Drive® Strain Wave Gear