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John William Holter Edit Profile

medical instrument manufacturing company executive

John William Holter, American medical instrument manufacturing company executive. Achievements include invention of valve for controlling hydrocephalus; research on artificial heart; patentee medical, mechanical and yacht devices. Recipient Australian Computer Society award, 1957; named Man of Year, Norristown, Bridgeport (Pennsylvania) Veterans of Foreign Wars, 1958.


Holter, John William was born on April 1, 1916 in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Son of Charles Robert and Favian (Erskine) Holter.


Graduate, Spring Garden Institute, Pennsylvania, 1938. Doctor of Science, University Sheffield, England, 1976.


Shortly after birth he contracted meningitis, which caused his head to expand rapidly. As luck would have it Holter's son was being looked after in Philadelphia, where the surgeons Nulsen and Spitz had already demonstrated that a ventricle-to-atrium diversion system could work. What they needed was an inexpensive and practical valve that could control the direction of the flow and maintain normal cranial pressure.

A chance discovery showed Holter, after a failed attempt in which a young boy died, that he could use a silicone one-way valve (pressure sealing). After a medically suitable grade of Silastic (silicone and rubber) was found, the device was patented, and John Holter set up a company, Holter-Hausner International, to manufacture the cerebral shunts.


  • Achievements include invention of valve for controlling hydrocephalus. Research on artificial heart. Patentee medical, mechanical and yacht devices.


Vice president Montgomery County chapter for Retarded Children, 1960-1966. Public relations chairman Metric association United States, 1969. Served with Army of the United States, 1941-1945.

Member Society for Research into Hydrocephalus and Spina bifida (honorary), International Society Pediatrics Neurosurgeons (honorary), European Society Pediatric Neurosurgery (associate).


Charles Robert Holter

Favian (Erskine) Holter