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John H. Bryant

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Biography

Born: April 15, 1920
Died: June 10, 1997

John H. Bryant was an electrical engineer who made significant advances in the miniaturization and commercialization of microwave tubes and circuits.

Bryant was born in Baird, Texas, in 1920. He earned a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1942 and a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1949. Before graduate school, he served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps as a commissioned officer in radar and communications. In 1942, he attended radar school in the United Kingdom and served as an officer at a Royal Air Force radar station in England. Between 1943 and 1946, he was posted at a United States radar company in Italy, France, and Germany. There, he would likely have operated cavity magnetron tubes, small and efficient radar devices that used high-power microwaves to detect enemy planes and ships from long distances.

After earning his Ph.D, he worked at the IT&T research laboratories, where he developed microwave electron tubes. Six years later, in 1956, he joined the Bendix Corporation research laboratories. As a supervising engineer, he developed technologies for miniaturizing microwave systems that continued to be used today.

In 1962, he broke off with Bendix to found Omni Spectra, Inc. (now part of AMP, Inc.) with two collaborators, James Cheal and Vincent McHenry. They designed, engineered, and produced miniature coaxial microwave components and connectors which became standard in the industry. This technology was used for the space program. Existing microwave components were too large to fit in space vehicles. Omni Spectra’s designs led to weight and size reductions of 10:1 and produced better electrical performance that expanded access to the microwave spectrum to higher frequencies.

Following his retirement in 1980, Bryant became a historian in radar, electromagnetics, and the work of Heinrich Hertz at the University of Michigan’s department of engineering and computer science.

An IEEE Life Fellow and the holder of fourteen patents, Bryant earned a number of prestigious awards for his scientific research. They included the 1996 Microwave Career Award from the IEEE’s Microwave Theory and Techniques Society and the 1997 Pioneer Award.from the IEEE’s Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society.