Professor Bram van Heel (1899-1966) initiated applicable optical techniques in the Netherlands. His optical aligning methods helped to accelerate the rebuilding of his country after the second world war. He lowered the threshold to successful optical design by creating, together with his pupils, practical formulae and algorithms, which were dug out of the existing, but rather forbidding, theory of geometrical optics. The resulting optical calculation schemes enabled designers, equipped with electromechanical and/or the first small 'modern' computers to create optical systems that were used worldwide. He also helped to establish state of the art optical industry in the Netherlands. Many of his pupils were and are working in optics, mainly in the Netherlands and the U.S.A., but also in the Middle East and South East Asia. As a talented teacher he popularized optics in the technical world. Even students not majoring in physics attended his attractive lectures, spiced with experiments and witticisms. The prominent opticists of his time were his friends. Therefore it is not surprising that van Heel was among the founding fathers of the ICO, which was established during an optical conference in 1948 in Delft, and of the thentime European journal Optica Acta, which came into existence in 1954. In the following paragraphs we briefly give some details in van Heel's optical career, his research, its spin-off, and the impact of his teaching.