From AstronomyOutreach network
John C. Diebel (born 1943) is the founder of telescope manufacturer Meade Instruments Corporation and a recipient of the The Franklin Institute's Bower Award for Business Leadership.
Soon after receiving a doctorate in electronic engineering from the California Institute of Technology, Diebel landed an engineering job at Hughes Aircraft. It was there that he realized that he wanted to start his own business, and after doing some research in a public library, he concluded that he would start a small mail-order business selling products for amateur astronomy.
In 1972, after procuring a loan of $2500, John made his first purchase from a telescope supplier in Japan and placed an ad in Sky & Telescope magazine. Eventually Diebel was able to quit his job at Hughes and work on his mail-order business from his one-bedroom apartment full time. He named his company Mead, but eventually added the "e" at the suggestion of a co-worker at Hughes. John used the name Mead, because of his affinity for Lake Mead, a place where he would often go to relax.
Meade Instruments eventually became the world's largest telescope manufacturer for amateur astronomy with distribution in over thirty countries. John's continual product improvements and the production of millions of telescopes resulted in many discoveries of comets (including Comet Hale-Bopp), asteroids, and supernova by "backyard astronomers.
John Diebel retired from Meade Instruments in 2003. He leaves a legacy of many industry innovations inspiring everyday people to develop a knowledge of science and the desire to explore the universe for themselves.
The Bower Award
Diebel was recognized for "his courage and insight, and leadership of a commercial venture founded on the premise of making astronomy accessible and affordable to the public. As an intellectual descendant of Benjamin Franklin, helping ordinary people experience the discipline, wonder and excitement of scientific inquiry. Mr. Diebel's efforts support science and technology literacy among the populace - the mission of The Franklin Institute".
15276 Diebel (1991 GA10)
On April 14, 1991, minor planet (1991 GA10) was discovered by astronomers Carolyn S. Shoemaker and David H. Levy at Palomar Observatory. They named the asteroid 15276 Diebel in honor of John C. Diebel, a lifelong amateur astronomer and telescope enthusiast. Thanks largely to his vision in making complex optics and computer electronics available to many, Diebel has made a significant contribution towards encouraging the public to enjoy the night sky.
Meade 4M Community
John Diebel's commitment to support the astronomical community's organizations, events, and individuals who were committed to public outreach in astronomy inspired former Meade Vice President of Brand Community, Scott W. Roberts to form and launch the Meade 4M Community in 2005. It became one of the world's largest organization devoted to astronomy and space exploration enthusiasts with members worldwide.