Walter Shewhart

Dr. Shewhart was a prominent scientist with the Western Electric Engineering Department back in the 1920s.  In 1924, Dr. Shewhart devised a framework for the first application of the statistical method to the problem of quality control.  Shewhart wrote a note to R.L. Jones, responding to his request for some type of inspection report that “might be modified from time to time, in order to give a glance at the greatest amount of accurate information”.  He attached a sample chart “designed to indicate whether or not the observed variations in the percent of defective apparatus of a given type are significant; that is, to indicate whether or not the product is satisfactory.”

Shewhart’s example was the world’s first schematic control chart.  In one short letter, he had set forth the essential principles and considerations of quality control.  As he pursued this work, Shewart gave birth to the modern scientific study of statistical process control.

In 1931, Shewhart’s book ‘Economic Control of Quality of Manufactured Product’ contained his findings on statistical sampling techniques.  A Western Electric colleague, W. Edwards Deming, spread the word on Shewhart’s work when he joined the US War Department, and later when he taught the fundamentals of quality in Japan.