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Eric Christopher Stanley Megaw

forging, on 14 September 1925, the first link with the west coast of America.

Radio Waves

At Queen’s University in 1926 Megaw worked with the Royal Geographical Society monitoring an Arctic expedition and operat- ed an experimental short-wave radio on board the Lord Antrim en route to Montreal to investigate the possibilities of ship-to-shore radio. Upon graduation he became the youngest recipient of a Beit Fellowship at Imperial College in London which helped him to prepare for “his lifelong interest in the generation and application of very short length radio waves”.

In 1930 he was employed at the General Electric Co (GEC) at Wembley where he continued to win awards, particularly for his work on the magnetron – a valve for very high frequency use which employs a magnetic field. In 1935 he was asked to demonstrate his own apparatus at public lectures given by two Nobel laure- ates associated with wireless transmission – Lord Rutherford and Guglielmo Marconi – who were both impressed.

In 1936 (whilst still with GEC) he was engaged by the Admiralty to work on valves and other electronic equipment, and became the leader of this team three years later. As there was a growing antici- pation of war with Germany, his work became critical. A commis- sion was formed in 1938 under the auspices of the Admiralty to hasten the development of microwave systems, and the first cavity magnetron was tested on 21 February 1940. Megaw and his team – who had been investigating a pulse transmitter suitable for short- wave airborne interception radar – were brought in to transform it into a workable design for airborne use and mass production. Megaw completed the design for the E1189 magnetron on 25 May 1940, and it first operated a month later. Tere are those who have argued that it was this, as much as anything – particularly after the


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