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Rudolf Kompfner

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Title: Rudolf Kompfner  
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Subject: John R. Pierce, John Roy Whinnery, Stuart Ballantine Medal, Backward-wave oscillator, List of British Jewish scientists
Collection: 1909 Births, 1977 Deaths, Academics of the University of Birmingham, Alumni of the University of Oxford, American Electrical Engineers, Austrian Electrical Engineers, Austrian Jews, British Electrical Engineers, British Jews, British Physicists, Ieee Medal of Honor Recipients, Jewish American Scientists, Jewish Inventors, Jews Who Emigrated to the United Kingdom to Escape Nazism, Jews Who Immigrated to the United Kingdom to Escape Nazism, National Medal of Science Laureates, Scientists at Bell Labs
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Rudolf Kompfner

Rudolf Kompfner
Born (1909-05-16)May 16, 1909
Vienna, Austria
Died December 3, 1977(1977-12-03) (aged 68)
Stanford, California, U.S.
Residence United States
Nationality American
Fields Electrical engineering
Notable awards Duddell Medal and Prize (1955)
Stuart Ballantine Medal (1960)
IEEE Medal of Honor(1973)
National Medal of Science (1974)

Rudolf Kompfner (May 16, 1909 – December 3, 1977) was an Austrian-born engineer and physicist, best known as the inventor of the traveling-wave tube (TWT).

Kompfner was born in Vienna to Jewish parents.[1] He was originally trained as an architect and after receiving his university degree in 1933 he moved to England (due to the rise of anti-Semitism), where he worked as an architect until 1941. However, he had a strong interest in physics and electronics, and after being briefly detained by the British as an enemy alien at the start of World War II he was recruited to work in a secret microwave vacuum tube research program at the University of Birmingham. While there, Kompfner invented the TWT in 1943. After the war he became a British citizen, continued working for the Admiralty as a scientist, and also studied physics at the University of Oxford, receiving his PhD in 1951.[2]

Late that year Kompfner was recruited to Bell Labs in the United States by John R. Pierce, where they together developed the TWT into an important element of the communications age. He received the IEEE Medal of Honor for his invention, and in 1974 received the National Medal of Science.

Kompfner died on December 3, 1977, in Stanford, California.


  1. ^ Concise Dictionary of National Biography
  2. ^ IEEE Global History Network (2011). "Rudolf Kompfner". IEEE History Center. Retrieved 14 July 2011. 

External links

  • IEEE Medal Of Honor Recipients, 1973  PDF, p. 4
  • National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir

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