William David Compton, born in DeLeon, Texas (1927) took B.S. and M.S. degrees at North Texas State Teachers College and a Ph.D. at the University of Texas. He taught chemistry at West Texas State College, Colorado School of Mines, and Prescott College (Arizona). While at Prescott he took a years leave to study history of technology, earning an M.Sc. from the University of London (Imperial College of Science and technology) in 1972. In 1974 he was awarded a contract to write NASA's history of the Skylab project in collaboration with Charles D. Benson. Living and Working in Space: A History of Skylab was published in 1983 as NASA SP-4208. After three years of working for a Houston engineering consulting firm, Dr. Compton won a second contract from the Johnson Space Center to write the present volume. He also contributed a chapter on NASA and the space sciences to a commemorative volume, 100 Years of Science and Technology in Texas, published in 1986 by Sigma Xi on the occasion of the society's centenary and Texas' sesquincentennial. In 1983 he wrote the prize essay in the Dr. Robert H. Goddard Historical Essay competition sponsored by the National Space Club of Washington, D.C.