Don Nicholson was born October 16, 1918 in Pasadena, California. His father was a member of the staff of the Mount Wilson Observatory and Don spent much of his youth at the Observatory where he began a lifelong interest in science. He attended Pasadena schools and graduated from Pomona College in 1940 with a major in physics. In the spring of 1942 he received a Masters degree in Meteorology from Caltech after which he joined the Lockheed Overseas Corp. in Northern Ireland as a meteorologist. After a short stint with Lockheed he was given a commission in the United States Army Air Force. He was discharged four years later after having served as a meteorologist in the United Kingdom and in the then Soviet Union.
Upon his discharge, he was employed by Technicolor where much of his time was taken with liaison with Superscope and the Tushinsky brothers and with Panavision and Bob Gottschalk and Skip Nicholson. In 1948 he married Jean Simpson and they enjoyed a very happy marriage until Jean's death in 1996. After thirteen years at Technicolor he joined the Nortronics Division of the Northrop Corp. where he had the very good fortune to work with Glenn Wooters, George Matter and Bud Silvertooth among other creative engineers and scientists. In 1965 he left Northrop for The Aerospace Corporation from which he retired in 1984. While at Aerospace he headed the Optical Systems Dept. for a time and as a Senior Engineering Specialist was involved in support of many Air Force space programs. From 1966 to 1970 he moved through the chairs of the OSSC, first as a Councilor and lastly as President in 1969-70. He also served as Arrangements Chair for the 1972 ICO meeting in Santa Monica.
Since his retirement he has been active as a member and is currently (1999) President of the Mount Wilson Observatory Association, a support group for the Mount Wilson Observatory. Recently he participated in the preliminary optical design of the successful adaptive optics system now in place on the 100 inch telescope at that observatory. Don is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and served that organization, among other capacities, as Chair of the Aeronautics and Space Systems Technical Group.