The field of microwave engineering
contributed a lot to the efforts of both sides (all sides?) during
World War II. Building on the work done earlier in the century,
engineers developed microwaves theories and techniques for military
and commercial applications that are still in use today. And they
didn't have computers!
Go back to the first
page of the Microwave Hall of Fame.
Go on to the third
page of the Microwave Hall of Fame.
Shintaro Uda (July 1, 1896 to August 18, 1976) invents and
patents a high-gain antenna in 1926, while attending Tohoku
Imperial University, in Sendai, Japan. His faculty adviser
is Hidetsugu Yagi (January 28, 1886 to January 19, 1976).
The Yagi-Uda concept
uses reflector and director elements to drive a "live"
dipole. Yagi published an English translation describing the
work in 1928, from that time on his name was associated with
the invention of his pupil. The Japanese war machine largely
ignored this outstanding antenna, which the Allies put to
good use. Nominated to the Microwave Hall of Fame by Justin!
Wallace Hull was born Connecticut in 1880. He earned a
Ph.D. in physics at Yale, then worked at General Electric's
research lab in Schenectady NY. He was a noted vacuum tube
inventor. One of his tubes used magnetic control; it was called
the magnetron. Hull's
magnetron only operated at kHz frequencies, but it cranked
out 15,000 watts of power and could be used as both an amplifier
or an oscillator. By WW II, the magnetron became an important
component of many radar systems. Today, all commercial microwave
ovens use mass-produced magnetrons. Nominated by Ed Reilly,
VP, Schenectady County Historical
Society, and webmaster for the Edison
Exploratorium in Schenectady, NY, which has its own electrical
engineering Hall of Fame, thanks, Ed!"
Heinrich Georg Barkhausen (1881-1956)
was a German Physicist with many interests. Dr. Barkhausen
was also the world's first chair professor in the communications
branch of electrical engineering, at the Technische Hochschule
(technical academy) in Dresden (1911). Among his accomplishments,
he was first to provide physical evidence of magnetic domains
in materials, in an experiment that came to be known as the
effect. Later work led to the Barkhausen Noise Analysis
technique for inspecting stresses in materials. His contributions
to microwave technology include theory of electron tubes,
and development of a high-frequency oscillator (a near-microwave
tube) with co-inventer Karl Kunz, which led to understanding
of velocity modulation. He established the Barkhausen
Stability Criterion which is used to predict when oscillations
begin in feedback circuits. After the war he returned from
West Germany to Dresden (East Germany) to aid in reconstruction
of his Institute of High-Frequency Electron-Tube Technology,
which had been fire-bombed. A move that must have taken no
small amount of courage! Nominated to this Hall of Fame by
The early years of radio and television form an illustration of the despicable use of lawyers by big companies attempting to crush the claims of independent inventors; the first example was Edwin Armstrong. Philo Taylor Farnsworth (1906-1971) among other things may be regarded as the father of electronic television, which was contested by evil-empire RCA for many years. Although the display tube suitable for television had been demonstrated as early as 1897 as the cathode ray tube by Karl Braun, early attempts to create a system for capturing images using mechanical means were failures. Farnsworth received a patent in 1927 (when he was 21 years old, for an idea he conceived of as a freshman in high school) on an electronic image dissector tube, and went on to demonstrate it satisfactorily by 1928. Previously German inventors Max Dieckmann and Rudolf Hell had patented such a device but had not managed to make it work. RCA's David Sarnoff's legal battles against Farnsworth easily set the adoption of television back 10 years in the US, but in the end RCA licensed his patent for $1,000,000. There were limited transmissions of television images from Berlin's 1936 Olympic Games as well as at the 1939 World's Fair in New York from the RCA building (with speeches by Sarnoff and President Roosevelt). The BBC began regular broadcasts in 1936, but it was not until 1939 that true network television began in the United States by the National Broadcast Company (NBC). Early displays were more green-and-white than black-and-white. See how TV was broadcast in 1939 here.
Farnsworth received 165 patents on a wide variety of inventions, including radar and nuclear fusion. Although he was born in Utah, his early death was linked to abuse of alcohol. See him win a carton of Winstons for his appearance on I've Got Secret in 1957!
Nominated by Ernest, and Keith, almost simultaneously!
Although Farnsworth worked for Philco, the origin of the name Philco predates his employment there. "Philco" is a portmaneau of "Philadelphia company".
Charles Édouard Guillaume (1861-1938, pronounced "gee-ohm"
with a hard g, as in "get") was a Swiss physicist
who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1920 in for his
work on the anomalies in nickel steel alloys. One of Guillame's
discoveries (dating to 1896) is the low-expansion
alloy Invar, which was named by shortening the word "invariant".
Invar can be created to have a near-zero thermal
expansion coefficient. Work on nickel-steel alloys proceeded
rapidly after the invention of the transistor, in order to
provide a package material that has low thermal expansion
(to match semiconductor substrate materials) as well as the
ability to provide an extraordinary glass hermetic seal for
feedthrough pins (although this serendipitous discovery was
not an outcome of Guillaume's research). Invar is used in
space missions where wide temperature variations must not
affect dimensions of key components, such as mounting hardware
for telescope mirrors.
In 1932, Sir
Robert A. Watson-Watt came up the idea of RDF,
Radio Direction Finding. He wrote a paper (with A.F. Wilkins)
describing this new technique of Radio Detection and Ranging
giving it the code name of "radar in 1935. It
was proved that the theory would work, but with a range
of only eight miles using the state-of-the-art devices of
the day. By the autumn of 1938 radar systems were in place
along the south coast of Britain. Watson-Watt became scientific
advisor to the British Air Ministry in 1940 and in 1941
went to the United States to set up radar systems there.
He lived from 1892 to 1973.
Watson-Watt published his autobiography, entitled "The
Pulse of Radar". This 434 page tome is a treasure
trove of information on the development of all types of
radars and countermeasures during WWII. The 1954 story about
the 62-year-old Father of Radar getting a $12.50 speeding
ticket from a Canadian cop who doesn't know who he's giving
the ticket to, much less how his "electronic speed-meter"
works is solid gold! Watson-Watt wrote a poem about his
speeding ticket experience, Microwaves101 keeps it here!
Last time we checked there were five used copies of The
Pulse on Amazon.
Also at Bell Telephone Labs in the 1930s, Dr. George Clark Southworth (1890-1972) discovered that radio waves could be transmitted efficiently through
a hollow, water-filled copper pipe. He and his team at Bell found that electromagnetic energy
traveling through an enclosed structure moved in distinct patterns
that we all know and love called "modes", and that the
optimum diameter for a waveguide pipe was slightly greater than
one-half wave length. They also experimented successfully with square,
rectangular and oval waveguides, and ultimately tested five inch diameter waveguide at length of 875 feet.
At the same time, W. L. Barrow had been
studying antennas and reflectors of various shapes, which
led him to experiment with hollow tubes. His successful propagation
of waves through a tube 18 inches in diameter was published
in May 1936. Today, the most common shape for waveguides is
rectangular, with dimensions about one half wavelength by
one quarter wavelength at the center frequency.
Johannes Jauman (sometimes spelled Jaumann) was born in
1903 in Bruenn (now Brno in the Czech Republic). A citizen
of Germany From 1933 to 1945, he was professor theoretical
electro-technology in Bruenn. During World War II Jaumann
was involved in work on "black submarines" - to
reduce the radar cross section of submarine snorkels and
periscopes. At the same time countries were pouring money
into radar research, his efforts helped Germany develop
radar absorbing materials.
The project's code word was "Schornsteinfeger",
which translates as "chimney sweep", a reference
to the use of carbon black in the material. The first applications
for Jauman's RAM was in the periscopes of U-boats, as well
as flag poles of surface ships. However, the larger efforts
in the U.S.A. and England to develop microwave, radar and
other technologies were more crucial in winning the war.
(Danke, Peter B!)
need a picture!
Cosmopolitan" Abram Fedorovich Ioffe was born in
1880. After studying in Germany at the Roentgen laboratory,
in 1918 Ioffe founded the State Institute for Roentgenology
and Radiology in St. Petersburg, one of the first research
centers of Russia. In three years, the Physico-Technical
Department of this Institute separated to become the Physico-Technical
Institute, which today is simply called the Ioffe
Why is Ioffe in the Microwave
Hall of Fame? The Ioffe Institute made a specialty out of
studying the properties of semiconductors, way back in the
1930s, long before the transistor was invented. If you've
ever searched the world wide web for, say, the DeBye
temperature of gallium nitride, then you've probably
stumbled onto the biggest treasure trove of semiconductor
info on the planet. Thanks to Dr. Ioffe!
Ioffe ran his research
institute until 1950, and died in 1960.
A student of Ioffe's , Russian radio
and television engineer Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Léon
Theremin, 1896-1993) created the electronic musical
instrument that bears his name in 1920. The Theremin
is the only instrument that you don't touch when you play
it! Check out this video
of Theremin demonstrating his art, he was obviously
a pretty good cello player as well.
Theremin was not a one
trick pony, he was quite an RF engineer. He invented interlacing
for video signals, and developed an ingenious
electronic bug powered by 330 MHz RF illumination (like
RFID) that went undetected for seven years in the American
ambassador's house in Moscow.
In 1933, two Bavarian
physicists, Dr. Lothar Rohde (1906 - 1985) and Dr. Hermann
Schwarz (1908 - 1995) formed
a company based on a frequency meter they developed
together, six years before Hewlett
and Packard launched their test equipment company in
a garage in Silicon Valley. Based in Munich, the “Physikalisch-Technisches
Entwicklungslabor" company soon prospered; during World
War II, PTE earned the distinction of becoming a target
of Allied bombing. Temporarily shut down after the war,
the company soon did brisk business with the Occupation
as an equipment depot, maintaining and repairing radio equipment
Sam. By the 1950s, the newly renamed Rohde
and Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG. was back at the forefront
of research and development, and were the pioneers of commercial
FM radio in Europe, among other achievements. Today Rohde
and Schwarz brings in over one billion Euros of business
and employs over 7000 people world wide, and surely is a
feared competitor if you are an Agilent employee.
Thanks to Brian, of the
Philippines! And thanks to Ulrich Rohde for pointing out who's who in the photo!
Herren Schwarz und Rohde
In 1937, funded by $100 by Stanford University, Sigurd
(top of photo) and Russell
Varian demonstrated the first klystron
tube, later used in American radar systems during WWII
to locate and lay waste to the Luftwaffe. In 1949 they founded
Varian Associates, one of the very first technology-based
companies in what would soon become silicon valley. The
photo was taken by famed fotog Ansel Adams, but it looks
more like a promo for a 1950's sci-fi thriller. Lifelong
environmentalists, variations of their klystron tube provide
millimeter-wave power today.
Varians had considerable help in their enterprise from the
start from Edward
Leonard Ginzton, who was born in 1915 in the Ukraine
and emigrated to the United States in 1929 after a war-torn
childhood. Ginzton was an early researcher on the klystron
tube, was also known for his work on megawatt sources for
linear particle accelerators, gaining 50 patents. He hit
his stride managing Varian Associates, helping define a
management style that attracted top talent, that at the
time was unique but is now the norm for high tech startups.
Ginzton died in 1998. Thanks to Daniel for making sure ELG
is not forgotten here!
Harold Alden Wheeler (1903-1996) is
remembered today in microwave circles for the equations
he developed for the characteristic impedance of microstrip
(curiously, he disliked both terms, characteristic impedance
and microstrip, and refused to use them). Wheeler had a
remarkable career. While still at college in the early 1920s
he worked part-time for the then National Bureau of Standards
and developed equations for estimation of the inductance
of solenoidal coils; these are still known today as Wheeler's
equations. He is also know for the Incremental Inductance
Rule which calculates loss due to skin depth on arbitrary
transmission line geometries. The "Wheeler Cap Technique"
is used in finding an antenna's efficiency, by allowing
one to separate the radiation resistance from the loss resistance.
Wheeler was involved
in the development of the Neutrodyne receiver and the first
receiver with diode automatic volume control and linear
detector. He then worked on FM and television development
until WW2 when he designed IFF and radar systems.
After the war he founded
Wheeler Laboratories, Inc. The company developed systems
and antennas for missile tracking and guidance. In his later
years Wheeler served his country as an expert consultant;
he was one of some 40 members of the Defense Science Board,
advising the Government on scientific matters relating to
180 US patents and many foreign ones in his 40-year
career and received numerous awards and commendations.
He appears in the Microwave Hall of Fame due to the
efforts of Kerry from Down Under!
As of June 2010,
he still doesn't have a page in Wikipedia, what's
up with that?
By the end of the thirties, secret work
was afoot in both the USA and the United Kingdom. At Bell
Telephone's Radio Research Lab in New Jersey, Phillip
Hagar Smith, born in Lexington Massachusetts, developed
a circular chart form in 1939 that shows the entire universe
of complex impedances in one convenient circle. Wait, that's
not entirely correct, as pointed out thanks to Jim... the
Smith Chart only shows one half of the entire universe of
complex impedances. The negative impedances (with a negative
real part; where gain lives) still reach out to infinity
in all directions around the circle. The Smith
chart remains in wide use today, and will be around
long after we're all gone. Les Besser recalls that Philip
Smith submitted an article on his development to the IRE,
which was rejected. The picture of handsome Phil is courtesy
of his wife Anita, and just might be the only picture of
him you could find on the entire worldwide web! By the way,
Anita's company, Analog Instruments of New Providence, NJ,
still supplies the ubiquitous chart in paper form to the
Paul shared this story
about following in the footsteps of Phil Smith. As a starting
engineer he took over the desk and chair of Phillip Smith
when Smith retired from Bell Labs in 1970. To welcome
me, my colleagues decorated the desktop with a Plexiglas-covered,
poster-sized Smith Chart which served as a humbling reminder
that I was occupying a pretty special place.
Doherty worked for Western Electric's Bell Laboratories
in the development of high-power transmitters for transoceanic
broadcasting when he invented the "Doherty
Amplifier". His development of a method for greatly
improving the efficiency of RF power amplifiers makes his
name familiar in the RF industry today. Doherty was awarded
the Morris Liebmann award by the Institute of Radio Engineers
in May 1937 for his idea. He was still twenty nine years young!
His invention was quickly brought to market by a devoted team
of Western Electric engineers. By 1940 Western Electric had
incorporated the Doherty concept in 35 commercial radio stations
worldwide, at powers up to 50 kilowatts. This concept has
been exploited many times by microwave designers in the last
twenty years, including MMIC representations; the 2004 IEEE
Microwave Symposium lists about 10 papers with "Doherty"
in the title! We are still waiting for Bill's daughter to
dig up a better picture of her famous Dad to replace the one
on the right...
of kystron pioneers.
left to right are Sigurd Varian, David Webster and William
Hansen. In front are Russell Varian and John Woodyard
Robert Woodyard was born in West Virginia 1904. He began
as many did in the early decades of the 20th century; he tinkered
with radio, cars and electricity. He worked as a radio operator
on cannery ships in the Alaska fishing industry. Later, he
decided to formalise his education and studied at University
of Washington. He went on to Stanford University for his Ph.
D; his thesis was on the Doherty grid-modulated amplifier
with Frederick Terman. The Terman-Woodyard amplifier (a relative
of the Doherty amplifier) was the result.
Although several others
carried the idea forward, it was John Woodyard who had the
initial idea for "slabline" used in the HP 809
Up to and during WWII
he worked with the Varian brothers as a key player in development
of the klystron. After WWII his work was more in physics
than in microwaves. He was a major contributor to the Berkeley
Laboratory/Stanford Linear Accelerator. Woodyard died in
1981. Contributed by Kerry!
William Webster (Bill) Hansen (1909 -
Bill Hansen invented
the electromagnetic resonant cavity which is the basis of
several microwave devices (including the klystron).
He entered Stanford University
at the age of 16; Russell Varian was also at Stanford and
the two became lifelong friends.
Hansen joined the faculty
at Stanford in 1934. In the late 1930s he worked with the
Varian brothers, John Woodyard and others to develop the
klystron. Of the origins of the klystron, Russell Varian
said "among other ideas, Dr. Hansen proposed the use
of a concentric line resonator for generating high voltages.
Hansen and I discussed this possibility at considerable
length and considered what form of concentric line would
have the maximum efficiency."
In 1941 Hansen and his
research group moved to the plant of the Sperry Gyroscope
Company in Garden City, N.Y., contributing to developments
on Doppler radar, aircraft blind-landing systems, electron
acceleration and nuclear magnetic resonance. During World
War II he worked in New York on defense applications of
physics and electronics, including radar. Hansen was also
a scientific consultant on the Manhattan Project during
the World War II.
Bill Hansen died at age
39 from lung disease caused by beryllium from the devices
with which he worked. Also contributed by Kerry!
Frederick Emmons Terman (1900 - 1982)
Fred Terman had an early interest in the then-novel field
of wireless; he built his own receivers and transmitters
in his teenage years and later became a well-known radio
amateur. He studied for his undergraduate degree in chemistry
and master's degree in electrical engineering at Stanford
University before finishing his Ph.D. at MIT in 1924. It
was at MIT that he learned a "business" approach
to education and engineering.
After MIT Terman joined the Stanford
faculty and taught electrical engineering. He convinced the authorities
that there was a future in radio and electronics and so began the
many years of education and research that made Stanford a world
leader in that field.
In 1932 Terman published the
seminal textbook, Radio Engineering; it became a standard reference.
In 1943 he published the Radio Engineer's Handbook which, like its
predecessor, also became a standard. From 1942 to 1945, he directed
800 staff at the Harvard University Radio Research Laboratory in
research and development of radar countermeasures. He returned to
Stanford as Dean of Engineering after WWII and never left again;
he was Provost & Vice-President on his retirement in 1965. Terman
was a great leader and many of his students went on to play key
roles in the development of Silicon Valley. Two such were Bill Hewlett
and Dave Packard; Terman was instrumental in helping them set up
the famous Palo Alto garage. Another contribution by Kerry!
At the Battle of Britain in 1940 the British were able to detect
enemy aircraft at any time of day and in any weather conditions,
proving the value of microwaves to the world. The Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT) opened the Radiation
Laboratory to research applications for radar early in the 1940s.
But back in England, the British needed help.
Two British scientists, Henry
Albert Howard Boot (June 2011: we have his complete name thanks
to his son!) and John T. Randall at the University of Birmingham
had devised a valve (the Limey word for "tube") which
could generate 1000 times the power of any other existing microwave
generator at the time. They named it the "cavity
magnetron" (see Albert Hull). The problem
was that it took them a month to create a dozen of the complex units.
Watson-Watt suggested they talk to MIT, and MIT in turn suggested
that the British meet with a small company called Raytheon,
which had been founded by an ex-MIT professor, Vannevar Bush.
According to the book The
Creative Ordeal, by Otto J. Scott, "Vannevar" rhymes
with "Beaver". Not so! We recently talked to Norman Krim,
curator of Raytheon's historic archive, and he knew Mr. Bush personally,
having been hired by Raytheon in 1935. Otto Scott was a contract
writer, an outsider to Raytheon. The correct pronunciation is "VAN-uh-var".
Happy 94rd birthday, Norm!
In 1942, Harald T. Friis, working in Bell Labs in Holmdel
NJ, developed the theory of "noise
figure" that allows engineers to calculate the
signal-to-noise ratio at the output of a complex receiver
chain, and thus has a powerful equation named after him.
Harald was born in Naestved
Denmark, in 1893. He graduated 1916 in Electrical Engineering
from the Polytechnic Institute (founded 1829 by H.C.
discoverer of electromagnetics). In 1919 he received a fellowship
which enabled him to come to the United States where he
radio engineering at Columbia University. In 1920, Friis
research group headed by at the Western Electric Company
apparently got stuck in the U.S.A. He eventually became
a U.S. citizen, which later did not prevent him from being
awarded the Valdemar Poulsen Medal of the Danish Academy
of Sciences. He held 31 U.S. patents submitted over five
decades of research. In 1971 he published a book on his
life titled "Seventy Five Years in an Exciting World".
This gem not only contains some great history, but also
strange glimpses of Harald's life, such as drinking near-beer
instead of milk as a child, apprenticing as a blacksmith,
being bitten by bedbugs in a New York hotel, and naming
his favorite pipe tobacco.
Alfred Lee Loomis (1887-1975) is a rare example of a tycoon who cared more about science than money, and he was really good at promoting both. Indeed, Loomis lived his life about as close a person could to that of fictional Bruce Wayne. His interest in science was life-long, during WWI he studied and improved artillery shell velocity measurements. Loomis made a fortune during the boom days of the 1920s buying utilities. He took a cash position before the crash, later buying up depressed securities. His well-equipped private laboratory in Tuxedo Park New York became known for gathering of prominent scientists during the 1930s, and Loomis turned his attention to a wide variety of topics, including ultrasonics, electroencephalography, cyclotrons, atomic weapons and radar. His team built a radar that they fitted into a van and tracked planes at a local airport. This was before the US army even had a radar... Loomis personally invented the navigation system LORAN.
Can you spare $2M? Last we checked, Loomis' house in Tuxedo Park was for sale. It would make a great museum....
Loomis was instrumental in founding the Radiation Lab. Whenever federal money was tight (which was often) Loomis never hesitated to kick in his own funds to carry on the research. Along with Bill Gates, Loomis is that one rich man in a million that proves that the camel canfit through the eye of a needle. Read Jennet Connant's bio on Loomis: Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II, our book page will point you to it.
If you are studying this era, you really need to be listening to Charlie Barnet's Pompton Turnpike.... fire it up!
on photo for high-res jpg! Photo courtesy of Raytheon historical
Percy was a Marlboro Man!
One of Raytheon's engineers,Percy
Spencer, took home one of the super-secret magnetrons,
and figured out a new manufacturing process that cut manufacturing
time to a mere fraction of what it was AND improved the power
efficiency. Within a month, Raytheon was making thousands
of magnetrons a day for the war effort. Throughout the war
years, new efficient sources were rapidly developed for transmitting
microwave radar pulses which by the end of the war had reached
peak power levels as great as several million watts. One more
story about Percy Spencer. Just after the war, Percy Spencer
was still working with magnetrons when he noticed that a chocolate
bar in his pocket melted when he walked in front of the magnetron.
After a bunch of experiments, he found that popcorn popped!
Eggs exploded! You guessed it, Percy Spencer had invented
the microwave oven.
Kompfner was born in 1909 in Austria, and originally
trained as an architect but soon turned his interests to
physics and electronics. He spent some time incarcerated
in England early in WWII. You can't be too careful about
Austrian architects! Soon he was released and drafted to
help out in a secret tube research center at the University
of Birmingham. In 1942 Kompfner invented the traveling
wave tube, although his lab notebook shows he had the
field lines sketched sketched incorrectly about the helix!
He moved to the United States after the war and worked at
Bell Labs with John Pierce on other exciting microwave stuff,
earning more than 50 patents. Kompfner died in December
1977. Contributed by James, who works at NASA!
Dr. Nathan Marcuvitz (1913-2010,
three degrees at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute) headed
up the experimental group at the Rad Lab at MIT during WW
II, and for decades after served as the industry's number
one scholar on electromagnetics. It's about time we had
a page on the Rad Lab.
One of the areas that Marcuvitz developed from scratch was
he literally wrote the book
on it. The Waveguide Handbook, first published in
1951, typically sells for at least $80 used, and belongs
in every serious microwave engineer's library, it's volume
10 of the Rad Lab series. Waveguide theory is like Newtonian
physics, once someone figured it all out, it is done for
all time. Marcuvitz taught at Brooklyn
Poly from 1957-1966; Brooklyn is where Bugs
Bunny got his accent and at least one
tree grows there. Wikipedia offers an excellent bio
Keisler Markey, a.k.a. glamorous Hollywood actress
Hedy Lamarr, (not to be confused with Hedley Lamarr
of Blazing Saddles
fame), made a single but significant engineering contribution
to today's microwave wireless networks. At her Austrian
husband Fritz Mandl's armament company, she observed that
radio-guided torpedoes were susceptible to jamming. Leaving
Das Vaterland in order to avoid personal participation in
the Holocaust, she later obtained a secret U.S. patent on
the idea of frequency hopping, shared with artist George
Antheil. Their scheme used a mechanical device similar to
the guts of a player piano to modulate the RF signal. Stonewalled
by the good-old-boys of the Pentagon, Ms. Keisler's invention
was not put to use by the military until the mid 1950s,
after the patent expired. However, her work is regarded
as the basis for all spread-spectrum techniques, including
those used in today's wireless networks. Nominated by Pete
F. from MA!
Robert Henry Dicke (May 6, 1916 – March 4, 1997 was a physicist.
Dicke was also a member of the Radiation