S.W. Parr
Professor S.W. Parr

Parr Instrument Company was founded in 1899 in Champaign, Illinois as the Standard Calorimeter Company by S.W. Parr, a professor at the University of Illinois. Professor Parr had developed a simplified instrument for measuring the heating value of coal at a time when such devices were not generally available. Parr’s ‘calorie meter’ (written and pronounced Calorimeter) and other fuel testing devices were contributing factors in the development of a market for the extensive reserves of bituminous coal available in Illinois at a time when most users believed that the only useful coal had to come from eastern United States coal fields. Manufacturing operations of the Standard Calorimeter Company were moved to East Moline, Illinois in 1911. Then, following World War I the company moved to a new facility at 222-52nd Street, Moline which housed both the calorimeter business and an alloy foundry for producing a line of acid-resistant stainless steels developed by Professor Parr, primarily for use in Parr calorimeters but marketed to other users as well.

In 1927 the Standard Calorimeter Company joined with the C.F. Burgess Laboratories of Madison, Wisconsin to form a new firm called the Burgess-Parr Company. This linkage was terminated in 1933 with the Burgess interests retaining all interest in the stainless alloy operation, and the newly incorporated Parr Instrument Company retaining the calorimeter and laboratory apparatus segment of the business with Harold L. Parr, son of the founder, as president. During World War II the company manufactured high precision machine parts under contract with suppliers to the war effort, while continuing to produce calorimeters and other laboratory apparatus to the extent permitted by the limited availability of critical raw materials. In the years following WWII the company introduced a new line of laboratory pressure vessels and apparatus for handling chemical reactions and tests under elevated temperatures pressures which soon became a fast growing part of the business.

Having devoted its attention specifically to these specialty products for over one hundred years, the Parr Instrument Company has developed a fine reputation among chemists and scientists throughout the world as a dependable supplier of top quality laboratory equipment.