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Leslie E. Flory

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Leslie E. Flory

Leslie Flory was an electrical engineer for RCA Laboratories, helping to invent or lead the development of television, night-vision cameras, medical electronics, and pre-World War II computers.

Flory was born in 1907 to a farm family in Sawyer, Kansas. Between the practical work of helping to run a farm and the intimacy of his small school, he grew up in an environment that encouraged his curiosity and his interest in invention. For example, as a high school freshman, his physics teacher helped him build his first radio, using a line that he strung a quarter mile from town to his parent’s house, and he also attached electric lights to tractors to help his family farm at night.

He paid his own way through the electrical engineering program at the University of Kansas by running the Kappa Eta Kappa fraternity house and spending his summers harvesting wheat and selling cream separators for International Harvester. Although these jobs left him little time to study, he did well in the study of electronics and completed a senior thesis project on the converstion of an RCA medium frequency transmitter to amateur frequencies.

Flory moved to Camden, New Jersey, to take a job at RCA after graduation. He worked closely with Vladimir Zworykin, who was conducting the first experiments in television systems. Between 1930 and 1971, Flory was a leader in RCA’s research into television, computers, night-vision cameras, electronic-character recognition, extraterrestrial video systems, highway control systems, and medical electronics. In 1957, he was named a fellow of the Institute of Radio Engineers, the IEEE’s predecessor.

Leslie Flory's grandson curates a website with photographs of Flory and a catalog of many of his inventions.