SANDS POINT, N.Y., July 5 (UPI) -- Jay Monroe, who invented the Tensor lamp used by jewelers, students, bedtime readers and stamp collectors, died in his Sands Point, N.Y., home. He was 80.
His wife, Barbara, said he shot himself June 12 after he and his doctor discussed the possibility he had cancer, The New York Times reported.
Monroe invented the high-intensity, low-voltage lamp to soothe his wife's unhappiness about the light he needed for bedtime reading. It gained notoriety in 1973 when, during the Watergate scandal, White House officials attributed the 18-minute tape deletion on a combination of hums from the electric typewriter and the Tensor lamp of Rose Mary Woods, President Nixon's secretary. Monroe doubted the claim, his wife told the Times.
Monroe's other inventions included an early telephone answering machine, a metal tennis racket, a disposable flashlight, a light bulb made to last for three years, a machine to remove indoor pollution and an electric pencil sharpener.
At 22, Monroe partnered with Gerald Starr to form Tensor's predecessor, which developed sound systems for U.S. submarines and components for missiles, among other government work.
Besides his wife, Monroe is survived by four daughters, a son, a stepson and seven grandchildren.