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Robert Smith

Hall of Fame Class of 2014

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Dr. Robert Smith, dentist turned goggle inventor who changed the face of skiing in the 1960’s when he developed a thermal lens goggle that didn’t fog and founded his eyewear company, Smith Optics.

A passionate powder skier and dentist, Bob Smith, had problems with his goggles in the late 1950’s. They would fog up, or snow would come through the goggle air vents on the side and through the face. Bob had the idea that would solve these problems. He did this by inventing the thermal lens goggle and inventing a new foam that kept the snow out and let air in the goggles from the side. He also developed a face foam that kept the snow from coming in through the nose area. Finally, he created a new strap that held the goggles tighter against the face.

He filed a patent for these features in 1966, and in 1968 he received the approval for U.S. Patent 3,377,626. It gave birth to goggles that are enjoyed world-wide by skiers and snowboarders.

He founded Smith Optics in Sun Valley, Idaho, a place that has served as an inspiration for snow sport industry dreamers and builders. Within three years, Smith Optics was the largest goggle manufacturing company in the United States. Today it has annual worldwide sales exceeding $60 million and continues to improve the skiing experience as evidence by the fact that thermal lenses are used on nearly all performance goggles today.

Dr. Robert Smith changed the entire skiing world in 1966 and it still shows to this very day. Famous ski film producer, Warren Miller once wrote: “Bob Smith changed skiing…”

Career Highlights:

1968: Receives Patent 3,377,626
1970: Smith Optics becomes the largest ski goggle manufacturer in the United States
1981: With Charles Ferries and Richard Sudgen, they purchased Scott USA
2013: Elected to the Sun Valley Ski Hall of Fame and the Inter Mountain Hall of Fame

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