Albert Hoyt Taylor, Ph.D. (January 1, 1879 - December 11, 1961) was an American electrical engineer who made important early contributions to the development of radar. He served as a professor on the staff of several universities and was known for studying short frequency radio waves. His work earned him a prominent position in the U.S. Navy, where he was involved in extensive research, especially during World War II. His study of radio waves bouncing off of various surfaces would contribute to the creation of Naval radar systems. Not only did radar greatly assist the Allies in the world war, but its peacetime use has helped to make the airways, highways, and shipping lanes, and travel itself much safer. The radar has also improved weather forecasting and is used in space astronomy. It has become an often-unseen but indispensable part of modern life.
Dr. Taylor entered Northwestern University in 1896. In 1899, he was employed by Western Electric Co. He returned to Northwestern in 1900, lacking only one semester of graduating when lack of funds forced him to accept a position as an instructor at Michigan State College. He was awarded his bachelor of science degree by Northwestern University in 1902. He taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1903-1908, before going to Germany for his graduate studies, receiving a Ph.D. degree from the University of Göttingen in 1909. He then joined the faculty at the University of North Dakota, where he built an experimental radio station and studied antennas and wave propagation. Following this, he became an instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1908, he was granted a year's leave of absence, which he utilized to take postgraduate work at the University of Goettingen, Germany, where he obtained his doctorate. Returning to America, he accepted the position as head of the Physics Department, University of North Dakota. He continued in this capacity until 1917.
On March 13, 1917, Dr. Taylor was appointed Lieutenant, U.S. Naval Reserve Force, Provisional, and assigned to the 9th, 10th, and 11th Naval Districts, Great Lakes, IL through Oct. 12, 1917. Upon the outbreak of the war, he was assigned duty as District Communications Officer, Ninth Naval District, Goat Lake, IL. He was Director, Naval Communications, Washington, DC until October 17, 1917. He was Communication Superintendent, Naval Radio Station, Belmar, NJ, until July 25, 1918. He was appointed to head an experimental division of the Naval Air Station in Hampton Roads, VA, where research on aircraft radio was undertaken through Sept. 30, 1918. He then became head of the Aircraft Radio Laboratory at Naval Air Station, Anacostia, Washington, DC. He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Naval Reserve Force, Provisional, on June 8, 1918, and to Commander on November 14, 1918. He resigned from the Navy in 1922, and stayed at Anacostia as a civilian until his retirement in 1950.
In the fall of 1922, Dr. Taylor and Leo C. Young were conducting communication experiments when they noticed that a wooden ship in the Potomac River was interfering with their signals; in effect, they had demonstrated the first continuous wave (CW) interference radar. The next year, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) was founded and Dr. Taylor became head of its Radio Division. In the early 1930s, the idea of pulse radar occurred to Taylor and Young, as it had to German and British scientists. Taylor instructed an assistant, Robert W. Page to construct a working prototype—a problem solved by 1934. By 1937, his team had developed a practical shipboard radar that became known as CXAM radar—a technology very similar to that of Britain's Chain Home radar system.
In 1929, Dr. Taylor was President of the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE), and from 1936 to 1942, he served on the Communication Committee of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. Both of these organizations were predecessors to what is now the IEEE.
Dr. Taylor remained at NRL until his retirement in 1948. He died in 1961, a few weeks before his 83rd birthday.
Albert Hoyt Taylor was indeed an important figure in the history of the United States Navy. His research would yield new discoveries for those in his field and give life to the use and development of radar systems. He was a pioneer in the area, experimenting first with radio echoes. His work has won him the title, "father of Naval radar."
All links retrieved February 24, 2016.
Alfred N. Goldsmith
|IRE Medal of Honor
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