Archive for May, 2006

Albert Hoyt Taylor

Seventy-five years ago this month, the PROCEEDINGS OF THE INSTITUTE OF RADIO ENGINEERS (IRE) included a paper by A. Hoyt Taylor on the subject of concealed radio receiving systems. He had submitted the paper almost three years earlier, but, like a number of other technical papers perceived to be of military importance, it was not published until after World War I. Taylor had written the paper while he was still a physics professor at the University of North Dakota, but he had become a U.S. Navy officer during the War. He was to become a pioneer in the field of radar during along career at the Naval Research Laboratory and was author or coauthor of 14 IRE papers published between 1916 and 1936.

In his June 1919 paper, Taylor reported that he had discovered that he could dispense with a conventional outdoor antenna with ground connection and still get good reception. He stated that he had been able to pick up time signals from the Navy’s station in Arlington, VA, and had received several other stations hundreds of miles away using a rectangular loop of many turns of wire located inside a building. He pointed out that a loop antenna of this type could be easily concealed behind a curtain or inside a wall if it should be desirable to do so for military or other reasons.

Taylor was born in Chicago, IL, in 1879 and graduated from Northwestern University in 1902. He undertook his first radio investigations during 1899, which led to his first published paper in 1902. He taught at the University of Wisconsin from 1903 to 1908 before going to Germany for graduate studies. He received the Ph.D. degree from the University of Gottingen in 1909 with a thesis on aluminum rectifiers. He returned to the United States as Professor of Physics and Department Head at the University of North Dakota, where he remained unti1 1917. While there he built an experimental radio station which he used in pioneering studies of wave propagation and directive antennas.

In 1917, Taylor accepted a Naval Reserve commission and was appointed District Communication Officer at the Great Lakes Naval station in Chicago. He established a laboratory and began research on the use of underground and underwater antennas for very-low-frequency radio reception. Soon afterward, he was transferred to Belmar, NJ, as transatlantic communications officer in charge of several

high-power stations on the East Coast. In 1918 he was assigned to head an experimental division of the Naval Air Station at Hampton Roads, VA, where research on aircraft radio was undertaken. The following year he became head of the Aircraft Radio Laboratory at Anacostia, DC, with a staff of fifteen people. Taylor resigned from the Navy in 1922 but remained at Anacostia as a civilian employee.

During 1922, Taylor and Leo Young observed reflections of high-frequency radio waves from ships on the Potomac River as they passed between a transmitter and a portable receiver. This led to a radar development project directed by Taylor and a 200-MHz radar was ready for installation on a ship by 1937. When the Naval Research Laboratory was established in 1923, Taylor became superintendent of its Radio Division, a position he held until 1945. He participated in systematic investigations of high- frequency propagation phenomena including ionospheric effects.

Taylor received the Morris Liebmann Memorial Prize of the IRE in 1927 for his research on short waves. He served as President of the IRE in 1929 and was recipient of the IRE Medal of Honor in 1942. He also served on the Communication Committee of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers from 1936 to 1942. He retired from the Naval Research Laboratory in 1948 and died in December 1961 at age 82.

James E. Brittain
School of History, Technology, and Society
Georgia Institute of Technology

 

Submitted by Dick Reiman, Historian

 

Copyright 1994 IEEE. Reprinted with permission from the IEEE publication, “Scanning the Past” which covers
a reprint of an article appearing in the Proceedings of the IEEE Vol. 82, No.4, June 1994…

 

May 1st, 2006


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