Hall of Fame
In the second half of the twentieth
century, microwave innovators kept busy inventing. If you've been
involved in microwaves for a few years, you might have had lunch
with some of these people!
Go back to the first
page of the Microwave Hall of Fame.
Go back to the second
page of the Microwave Hall of Fame.
Go to our main microwave
In 1939 Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started a business
in Dave's garage using $538. After fooling with inventions
such as a bowling alley foul-line-roll indicator, their
first successful product was an audio oscillator. Another
California entrepreneur, Walt Disney, was one of their first
big contracts when his company ordered a few oscillators
for use in creating the film "Fantasia". Now known
as Agilent, HP products have been used by generations of
microwave engineers and have always presented a problem
during capital equipment requests, because this is equipment
that never dies, so why would you ever need to replace it?
HP alumni (and alumnae)
have put together an excellent web site with history of
the company and other reminiscences, check
After the war, Navy veteran
William (Bill) Taft Slayton, Jr. (1914-2000) joined Naval
Research Labs (NRL) where among other things he studied horn
antennas. His research was published and remains the gold
standard for horn antenna gain data to this day. Working for
the Navy, Slayton never profitted from his discoveries, but
soon there were many suppliers of his microwave horn antenna.
Thanks to his daughter Charlotte, Microwaves101 now has an
improved copy of Slayton's report (and other Slayton artifacts
including a speech he gave in 1980) in our download
area! Charlotte also contributed the photo to the right...
thanks! Born in Vermont, Slayton studied electrical engineering
at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, and at George
Washington University in Washington, D.C. and eventually worked
for NASA on unmanned space programs. Note the lightning bolts
on his insignia, indicating that he was in the radio electronics
division. We have additional information on Slayton on our
horn antenna page.
William Slayton was nominated to the Hall of Fame by Chris.
Technician First Class Bill
Ed Purcell, Taffy Bowen,
and Doc Ewen
The first radio astronomy
Edward Mills Purcell
("Eddie P", 1912-1997) and Harold Irving Ewen
(born 1922) gave birth to the field of radio
astronomy in 1952 when they were the first to detect
the elusive 21 cm (1420 MHz) hydrogen
line. This feat allowed for the first time a mapping
of the spiral structure of our Milky
Way galaxy, including the relative velocities of the
"arms", determined by Doppler
shift. Purcell and Ewen performed this research at Harvard
University, using a $500 grant and working on weekends for
Purcell was previously
a Nobel prize winner for discovering Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
(a shared prize with Felix Bloch), and he worked on the
development of radar at the MIT Rad Lab during WWII.
Check out the historical
Nominated by Randall!
Seymour B. Cohn was born in Stanford
Connecticut in 1920, and earned his PhD in applied science
at Harvard in 1948. During the war he was employed as a
scientist/observer on the Mediterranean front. During his
long career he worked at Sperry, Stanford Research and later
Rantec. Cohn published dozens of papers in the IEEE (or
we should say IRE?), on a diverse set of topics including
stripline, isolators, waveguide to coax transitions, power
dividers, ridged waveguide, filter theory, and much,
much more. His writings are in depth, easy to understand,
and above all still relevant today. In case you haven't
noticed, some of the best reference material on the topic
of microwave engineering was created in the 1950's. He was
also a major contributor to the book Microwave Filters,
Impedance-Matching Networks, and Coupling Structures
by Matthaei, Young and Jones.
Repeat after us, Dr. Cohn we're not worthy! In 1964
Seymour Cohn won the IEEE Microwave prize. Nominated by
Leo Esaki (born in 1925), researched heavily doped silicon
and germanium while working for Sony Corporation in Japan,
and invented the Esaki tunnel diode during the 1950s. This
device constitutes the first quantum electron device, and
today it is used in many microwave detectors and oscillators
(due to its negative resistance region). Later as an IBM employee,
Esaki pioneered other semiconductor quantum structures such
as man-made superlattices. He won the Nobel
Prize for Physics in 1973. Read the fascinating history
of the Sony company
here. Did you know that the word "Sony" is a
mixture of "sonic" and "sunny"?
Schiffman's 1958 paper titled A New Class of Broadband
Microwave 90 Degree Phase Shifters described a simple
device that bears his name today. Schiffman's idea was
that the phase difference between a quarterwave coupled
section, compared to a 3/4 wave straight section, would
provide a nearly flat 90 degree phase differential. Schiffman
went on to publish a second article extending the analysis
to multi-section coupled lines. Check out our page on
Schiffman's phase shifter!
Jack Kilby (born in 1923), working for Texas Instruments,
is credited with the invention of the integrated circuit,
which ranks up there with "fire" and "wheel"
as an invention that changed the world. The first public
announcement of a "solid circuit" was made at
the IRE conference in 1959. Not three months later, Robert
Noyce independently came up with the same idea at Fairchild,
and the patent feud brought corporate lawyers for all the
way to the supreme court. Jack's insistence that he was
a "co-inventor" with Noyce speaks volumes about
the man, and later the two shared the Nobel
Prize in Physics in year 2000. An engineer's engineer,
Jack Kilby stayed technical throughout his long career (60
patents!) , never got rich from his invention, and was by
all accounts a humble man. Jack died on June 20, 2005, at
81 years young.
Frederick W. Kulicke and Albert Soffa form an equipment
manufacturing corporation in 1951 with $500 and an old Plymouth.
Shown to the right they stand next to an early
K&S offering, a machine that cleans returnable beer
cases. Soon the semiconductor industry was getting off the
ground, and here is where K&S focussed their company.
Known for innovative solutions to a variety of semiconductor
manufacturing problems, perhaps their greatest contribution
to the industry is the commercialization of the wirebonder.
Soffa passed away on April 10, 2005, here's
a link to his obit.
While working at Sarnoff Labs, in 1956 Ralph Walter Klopfenstein
published an IRE paper on an electrical taper, titled
A Transmission Line
Taper of Improved Design. This design has been known
ever since as the Klopfenstein
taper. Klopfenstein employed some elegant mathematics
to derive the conditions for a high-pass element that provides
an equal-ripple response out to infinite frequency, realized
at first in coax. This paper is just as relevant today as
the day he wrote it.
an annual math prize through his estate with the Mathematical
Association of America. It's been awarded annually for over
15 years now. It's called the Merten
Hasse Prize for Best Expository Work of a Mathematical Topic.
It was named after a high school math teacher he had, who
greatly influenced his career choices. What will be your
legacy to math, science or engineering?
Ernest J. Wilkinson Jr.'s paper in the 1960 IRE Transactions on
Microwave Theory and Techniques entitled simply "An N-way
Hybrid Power Divider" sealed his fate of entering the
microwave Hall of Fame, for who hasn't heard of a Wilkinson
power divider? Mr. Wilkinson's demonstration of the technique
consisted of a circular 8-way coaxial divider with center
frequency of about 500 MHz. For this development he was awarded
U. S. patent number 3,091,743. He was born in Fall River,
Massachusetts (home of
Lizzy Borden!) in 1927, and was employed at Sylvania's
Missile Systems Laboratory during his career. You might find
artifacts from this building if you excavated under Waltham's
charming Home Depot.
Update March 2012: Ernest J. Wilkinson, Jr. passed away on March 10, 2012. We were informed of his passing by his proud granddaughter Lissa, who began her message appropriately with "what a smart man he was"... If you read his obituary you will also notice how humble he was toward his contributions to the microwave industry. Perhaps no name is spoken more often in microwave engineering that that of "Wilkinson".
Using 4000 Hewlett
Packard Schottky diodes and a drill motor borrowed from
his home shop, Brown kept this helicopter aloft for 10 hours,
powered by microwaves!
Cyrus Brown was born in 1916 and earned his degree at
Iowa State University. Initially working at RCA in Camden
NJ on high-power tubes, he took an opportunity to go back
to school (MIT) in 1939. Later he moved on to the Raytheon
Company and soon was in charge of the magnetron
product line. He invented a cousin to the magnetron, the amplitron,
another version of a crossed-field amplifier. Seeing a new
possibility enabled high-power microwave energy, Brown investigated
wireless power transmission
for the rest of his career. In 1964 his microwave powered
helicopter was featured on Walter Cronkite's newscast. He
studied the concept of space-based power generation, beamed
to earth using WPT, an idea that has been attractive to energy-staved
countries such as Japan ever since. Brown set efficiency records
that to this day remain unbroken: 92% RF-DC efficiency, DC-RF-DC
efficiency of 54% at 1 KW, and later 34 kW transferred at
one mile with collection efficiency of 82.5%! He died
in 1999. Thanks to his daughter Barbara for reminding us that
Bill Brown belongs in the Microwave Hall of Fame! Learn more
about his life from this
IEEE talk on youtube.
John Rollett's 1962 IRE paper entitled "Stability and
Power-Gain Invariants of Linear Twoports" forever links
his name with the stability factor
K, and puts him into our Hall of Fame. Dr. Rollett (rhymes
with wallet) was working for Marconi's Wireless Telegraph
Company when he performed this work. His derivation built
upon previous work by Sam Mason of MIT. Update March,
2006! We have been in contact with Mr. Rollett, and
he's provided us with some historical
perspective on his work! He modestly admits that K-factor
was purely a theoretical exercise, and he has been pleasantly
surprised that it has had such widespread practical application
all these years! Here's the photo he sent us - this was
taken in the early 1960s. Thanks, Mr. Rollett!
Walter Rotman (1922 -2007) had a long and distinguished career at Air Force Research Labs and MIT Lincoln Labs. His 1962 showed a new
type of beamformer that allows multiple simultaneous beams to be formed, which is known as the Rotman Lens. A large number of US patents and IEEE papers reference Rotman for this work. In addition he was known for early investigations into metamaterials, surface wave antennas and trough waveguide. His patents were assigned to the United States of America because of his affiliation with the Air Force. According to Google, "Walter Kotman" and "Walter Rotnian" each own US patent 3,170,158. "R" and "K" are often confused by optical character recognition as are "m" and "ni", but let's get these fixed, OK? Rotman served in WWII as a radar technician, and according to Wikipedia was of Jewish faith.
Battiscombe Gunn (1928-2008) was known to his associates
& friends as J. B. Gunn, or Ian Gunn. He is recognized
for inventing the negative-resistance Gunn
"diode" in 1963; the effect he proved had
been predicted by the theoretical work of Watkins and Hillsum.
Gunn diodes have been used to build cheap oscillators up
to 100 GHz. Next time you get a speeding ticket measured
by radar, remember to thank Mr. Gunn for his contribution!
In recognition of his
distinguished career at IBM, Gunn was made an IBM
Fellow in 1971 and retired from IBM in 1990. In
addition to his scientific expertise, Ian Gunn had a great
interest in mechanical things, especially vintage autos
by Murat from MITEQ, with additional info from Kerry from
Down Under, and more info and corrections from Janet Gunn!
The following additional information
on Ian Gunn was submitted by Janet, Ian's daughter. Thanks!
Although sometimes referred
to as Dr. Gunn (Microwaves101 was guilty of this, but we
copied the mistake from the IEEE!) Gunn was not a "Dr."
His only academic degree was a BS from Cambridge in 1948. (He
was actually the third member of his family to be mistakenly
called "Dr. Gunn". His father, Battiscombe Gunn, was
professor of Egyptology at Oxford, but had no formal post-secondary
education. Oxford gave him an honorary MA so they could hire
him. His mother "Meena" trained with Freud, and was
a practicing psychoanalyst from the 20s to the late 60s, but
had no academic degree. Both were commonly called "Dr.
During his professional
career he was known formally as "J. B. Gunn" and informally
as "Ian Gunn" or "Iain Gunn". No one outside
the family was allowed to know what the J. B. stood for, and
his full name appeared only on legal documents such as his passport
and his driver's license.
He was a Permanent Resident
Alien in the US for almost 50 years (1959 to 2008), and was
born in Egypt. He remained a British subject.
He did have ONE tractor
which he used for earthmoving, etc., but his primary mechanical
outlet was vintage cars and racing motorcycles (of which he
had eight and 40 respectively at the time of his death). He
raced for another 10 years after he retired from IBM.
Here is a link to his
obituary in Road
Racing World, a monthly motorcycle racing magazine, which
contains more information about his racing career.
In 1964, George Matthaei, Leo Young, and EMT Jones published
a 4.5 lbs. (2 kg) book called Microwave Filters, Impedance-Matching
Networks, and Coupling Structures. Most often referred
to as simply "Matthaei, Young and Jones" or even
"MYJ", the book is also known as the "Black
Bible" because its original cover was black. The best
filter designers still refer to this masterpiece,
five decades later. Look for it on our book
page, go to our download area and grab a free copy of this 1,000 page book, which lately sells for $114 on Amazon. These three researchers worked together at Stanford
Research Institute in Menlo Park, California, when the book
was written and published by McGraw Hill. Seymour
Cohn was also a major contributor to this effort. Dr.
Leo Young was born in Austria but came to America to get his
Ph.D. at JHU. Matthaei and Jones were both born in the USA.
Dr. Matthaei (rhymes with paté) served in the military
in WWII, then earned his Ph.D. from Stanford, and later spent
the better part of three decades as a Professor at UC Santa
Barbara teaching and doing research. Thanks to Richard the
lawyer and former microwave guy, with further inputs from
We are sad to report
that Leo Young died September 14, 2006,
click here to view his obit.
Someone please help us out... what does
EMT Jones' initials stand for???
Dr. Kaneyuki Kurokawa was born in Japan in 1928. While on
leave of absence from from his position at University of Tokyo,
he worked during the early 1960s at Bell Labs in New Jersey.
His March 1965 IEEE paper entitled Power Waves and the
Scattering Matrix, makes Kurokawa the first to popularize
the concept of S-parameters. This
profound yet simple idea is one of the concepts that sets
microwave engineers apart from other "normal" electrical
engineers. Note: we have found references to S-parameters
in microwave engineering as far back as 1957, by Collin, Bolinder
and others, but these earlier authors casually mentioned the
scattering matrix and did not follow up with the analysis
and depth of understanding that Kurokawa provided. Thanks
for the tip, Ingemar!
Julius Lange invented the microstrip interdigitated quadrature
coupler at Texas Instruments in 1969. The name "Lange"
is probably second only to "Smith" in terms of its
widespread usage in the microwave community. Please visit
our page on Lange couplers,
which is just getting started! He got the idea for the famous
coupler from the interdigitated emitter/base junction of a
power transistor, thus making the proverbial lemon into lemonade.
He holds ten patents on microwave components and subsystems.
Dr. Lange turned 72 on December 14, 2006, and we wish him
many happy more!
Cheng P. Wen is the inventor of coplanar waveguide. Working
at RCA's Sarnoff Laboratories in Princeton NJ, his 1969
IEEE paper titled "Coplanar waveguide: a surface
strip transmission line suitable for nonreciprocal gyromagnetic
device applications" is proof enough to us that the
concept belongs to him alone. After publishing this paper
he continued to develop all the bits and piece for CPW
circuits, such as lumped element inductors and bumped
flip-chip interfaces. One thing we've always wanted to
ask Dr. Wen... did he make up the name "coplanar
waveguide" so that the acronym CPW is the same as
his initials? Here's a note from the handsome doctor himself,
from June 9, 2005:
"I have been keeping
active, helping young engineers since my retirement seven
years ago. Currently, I am with the Peking University
in Beijing, China, sharing with the students some of my
experience. Attached please find a picture taken while
I was at the RCA Laboratories, where the Coplanar Waveguide
was invented. As to the origin of (the name) CPW, it was
suggested by Lou Napoli, who pioneered the development
of power microwave MESFET at RCA in the late 1960s."
C.P. later told us
that he originally wanted to call the structure "planar
Robert (Bob) Eugene Munson is regarded
as the father of practical microwave
patch antennas. Ubiquitous today (entire books
are published on this subject!), the patch antenna was
first theorized by G. A. Deschamps in 1953, but it was
not put to use for many years (by Munson), first on a
datalink for Sidewinder missile, then on Sprint missile's
Munson's success could
be partially chalked up to being in the right place at
the right time. The 1960s and 1970s witnessed (1) the
move to higher frequencies and solid state devices, (2)
the move away from chassis and terminal wiring to printed
circuits, and (3) a demanding need for conformal arrays
(the Sprint missile array was on the curved surface of
the nose cone). Being a defense worker at Ball Aerospace
probably provided a pretty healthy charge number for this
Cold War research! But let's remember that there was little
analytic capability at the time, so Munson must have also
(1) been an innovative genius and (2) spent considerable
time in the lab to find designs that worked. Munson's
name appears on many U.S patents, we counted
29 of them limiting the search to just antennas! Today
he's retired and living on a 160 acre vegetable farm outside
Munson was nominated
to the Microwave Hall of Fame by Chris from LockMart!
Les Besser started the microwave computer-aided design industry
in 1973 when he created COMPACT software (Computerized Optimization
of Microwave Passive and Active CircuiTs). Amazingly, his
original submission to the IEEE of a paper describing COMPACT
was turned down. Today Besser is a familiar name to all
in the microwave industry, not only because Les co-wrote
some great textbooks and a ton of technical articles, but
because of Besser
Associates, a company he founded in 1985 that offers
continuing education courses in all microwave topics, way
beyond the scope of Microwaves101. Les is Hungarian-Canadian-American,
and we thank the American Hungarian Federation for permission
to use their logo for the flag above. You can learn more
about Les and the history of microwave CAD on our Microwaves101
History of CAD page!
In 1975, a paper published by Ray Pengelly and James Turner
entitled "Monolithic Broadband GaAs F.E.T. Amplifiers"
sealed their fate as the inventors of the MMIC.
Working at Plessey, their little single-stage amplifier
provided 5 dB of gain at X-band using 1 micron optically-written
gates. They used computer optimization to design their
lumped element matching structures, which included capacitors
and inductors, but no DC blocking on the input/output.
Backside processing had not yet been worked out, so the
FET's source was grounded externally. Nice effort, guys!
Ray P. now works at Cree, James passed on to the great
clean room in the sky a few years ago.
Peter Gibson in 1983, celebrating 25 years at Philips
| While working at Philips Research Laboratories in the UK, Peter J. Gibson invented a unique antenna that is sometimes called a tapered notch, sometimes called a flared notch radiator, but most often called the "Vivaldi antenna". Peter published his results at the Ninth European Microwave Conference (IEEE) in 1979 in a paper entitled The Vivaldi Aerial. In the
abstract he describes it as "a new member of the class of aperiodic
continuously scaled antenna structures, as such, it has theoretically
unlimited instantaneous bandwidth." It is not often that an engineer invents something that receives such widespread usage and perhaps a singular event when he humbly suggests such an interesting name for it that sticks. Learn why he named his antenna element "Vivaldi" here (and see another photo of him). Peter Gibson died in 2010. Thanks to Peter's wife Pat and friend Peter for helping us out with his photo and history.
Eric W. Strid and K. Reed Gleason were Tektronix employees
when they began fooling around with methods of RF probing
circuits. By 1983 they'd invented the RF
probe and started a new company, Cascade Microtech,
which now employs almost 300 people and does close to
$100M in business each year. This single innovation changed
the industry forever, helping pave the way for cheap wireless
products that we can't live without today. Before 1983,
MMIC devices could not be delivered to assembly as known-good
parts, the true electrical performance of these tiny microwave
circuits was impossible to measure at the wafer level.
US Patent 4,827,320 on May 2, 1989 is titled "Semiconductor
with Strained InGaAs Layer". Five names from the University
of Illinois appear on the patent, Hadis Morkoc, John Klem,
William T. Masselink, Timothy S. Henderson, and Andrew A.
Ketterson all share the distinction of inventing the pHEMT
transistor. In the patent they discuss their method to improve
the "MODFET" transistor, the name pHEMT didn't
come about until later. This technology was just what the
doctor ordered to extend the performance of MMICs in gain,
bandwidth, noise and power.
David M. Pozar
David Pozar wrote the book on Microwaves,
literally. Pozar earned his doctorate at Ohio State, and
became a professor at University of Massachusetts at Amherst
starting in 1980. During 1988 to 1990 he had produced a
draft text book that he used on his microwaves classes,
which was published in 1990 under the title Microwave
Engineering, To quote Dr. Pozar from the preface,
Education should be an accumulation of understanding,
not just an accumulation of facts. Right on! If you
are only allowed one college graduate-level reference book
on microwaves, this is the one. It provides the best reference
on network theory, Maxwell's equations, wave propagation,
S-parameters and everything else you need to know. The Unknown
Editor wants you all to know that he does not consider himself
in the same league when it comes to writing about the topic
of Microwave Engineering, but he will keep at it. Pozar
is also a renowned expert on antennas and phased arrays,
and is hereby invited to write about any topic he likes
W. Waugh was an engineer at Hewlett Packard, when he came
up with a huge improvement for voltage-variable attenuators
using PIN diodes, first published in 1992. His configuration
has become the de-facto industry standard for multi-octave,
compact, high linearity attenuators. This invention solved
the asymmetrical drive requirement of the previous three-diode
design and also improved linearity by distortion self-cancelling
in the anti-series PIN diode arm. He also served the society
in the Editorial board of MTT Transactions 1999-2000.
He has written or co-written over 20 papers.
Because Waigh was
"anti-patent", his practical idea became widely
used across the industry. You can learn more about Waugh's
attenuator on this
Nominated by Chin-Leong,
In the late 1980s Michael Ury and colleagues
experiment with new ways to create light. By 1989 Ury's
sulfur lamp earns US patent 4,859,906, and represents
an illumination revolution. (Try to say that fast five
times...) It uses a magnetron to excite sulfur atoms in
a small bulb. It's more efficient and environmentally
friendly that other industrial light sources, contains
an eye-pleasing full color spectrum, lasts longer than
fluorescent bulbs, and contains less harmful UV rays than
sunlight; seemingly the perfect light bulb. However, issues
with interference with other users in the ISM
band (in particular, satellite radio) have stymied
the adoption of this cool technology at least for now.
Welcome to the Microwave Hall of Fame, Mike! We're working
on a page on RF lighting
to discuss this topic further.
Kroemer's semiconductor work from the 1950s proposed what
are now called hetero-structures, but it took several
decades to realize the technology to build them. He was
one of the pioneers of molecular beam epitaxy, in part,
to realize some of his invented structures. One outcome
of his work known to all microwave engineers is the hetero-junction
bipolar transistor (HBT), which
has given the microwave field-effect transistor a run
for its money in recent years. Dr. Kroemer won the Nobel
Prize in 2000 for his work, and currently is a professor
His picture appears to the right, in which the King of
Sweden is awarding the Nobel prize. We can't resist, any
reference to the "K of S" always reminds us
of Cab Calloway's Minnie
"She had a dream
about the King of Sweden
he gave her things that she was needin'
gave her a home built of gold and steel
a diamond car, with the pulatinum wheels!
Hidey hidey hidey hi!!!"
(Herb K. was nominated
by Prof. X. of U of A!)
Want more microwave history?
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the Microwave Hall of Fame? Drop
us a line!