Charles A. Yost – Developer of Memory Foam & Founder of Dynamic Systems, Inc.
High energy dissipation cushions were initially developed in the 1960s during a NASA project contracted to Stencel Aero Engineering Corporation (SAEC) in Arden, NC. The aim of the project was to explore ways to improve crash safety in airline passenger seating. The report, "Human Survival in Aircraft Emergencies" (NASA Contractor Report CR-1262), January 1969, was researched and written by Charles A. Yost and Ronald W. Oates, staff engineers. Mr. Yost was Director of Systems Analysis at SAEC from Sept. 1966 to late 1969.
The work was subsequently continued through NASA Ames Research Center to design, develop and evaluate a prototype seat/restraint system for improved crash and vibration protection. Mr. Yost was the co-inventor of the high energy dissipation cushions for this prototype. After Yost left SAEC, he continued development on the cushion technology through his own business, Dynamic Systems, Inc. (DSI) which he incorporated in 1967.
He called this foam, "Temper Foam". Through the airline seating safety project, Mr. Yost became involved with several individuals at NASA Ames Research Laboratories, Palo Alto, CA, and NASA Biomedical Applications at Southwest Research Institute (SRI), San Antonio and Houston, TX. Several of these individuals are acknowledged by NASA as being contributors to the development of the seating technology along with Mr. Yost and Dynamic Systems, Inc. Part of NASA’s aim, throughout its history, has been to coordinate with the manufacturing industry to develop applications for products originating from space research that would benefit society. It awards individuals and businesses who are successful in acheiving that end.
In 1973, Mr. Yost received a Technology Utilization Award from NASA for viscoelastic polyurethane foam. In 1977 and 1999, he received Certificates of Recognition from NASA for the development of Temper Foam technology. In 1998, Mr. Yost and Dynamic Systems, Inc. were inducted into the U.S. Space Technology Hall of Fame for the successful development and commercialization of seating technology.
Following the completion of the 1969 NASA project, Yost began looking at potential medical applications for the cushion technology, e.g., prosthetics, wheelchair seating, foot support, etc. In 1974, he sold the formulation to Beckton-Dickinson (B-D) who was interested in it for a football helmet lining application.
Mr. Yost lived off the profits from the sale for a few years and built a house and eventually a manufacturing facility on land he purchased in Leicester, NC. His primary focus was to pursue his personal research in high voltage electrostatics. In order to generate more income to fund his hobby, he modified the Temper Foam formulation to create an improved polyurethane cushion material called “Dynafoam”. That formulation was modified yet again to make the third-generation cushion materials Dynamic Systems manufactures to this day: SunMate, Pudgee, and Liquid SunMate Foam-in-Place Seating (FIPS).