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Developer of RADAR and Loran dies

Jan 1, 2003

Oone of the principal developers of radar during World War II, and later of loran, died in late October. Professor of physics at MIT for 41 years, Albert G. Hill was one of the most influential members of the Radiation Laboratory, known as Radlab, which was established by Franklin Roosevelt in WWII to develop radar for the war effort.

"Al Hill was one of the early members of the laboratory right from the earliest days of the first year," said Lou Smullen, a colleague of Hill during the war and also a professor emeritus of physics at MIT. "He had a very great talent for encouraging people and played an important part in keeping all the different groups going."

Before the war the Navy was working with long waves, according to Professor Smullen, which could only be used from land stations because of the tremendous size of the antennas. Radlab set up groups to develop radar with short waves for use on ships and airplanes. This approach was aided when British researchers developed the magnetron, a device for generating the necessary microwave signals.

In the early 1950s Hill become director of Lincoln Laboratory at MIT and oversaw the development of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line of radar stations from Alaska to Greenland, designed to detect an attack by Soviet bombers. He was also founding chairman of the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, which developed the gyroscopes and inertial guidance systems used by Apollo 11 for its lunar mission in 1969.


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