Oral-History:George F. Smith

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About George F. Smith

Smith was born in Franklin, Indiana, in 1922. He went to Cal Tech and received his BS in 1944. After a stint in the Army working in electronic intelligence, and a year after the war at Engineering Research Associates in St. Paul, he returned to Caltech for graduate school. His thesis advisor was Byron Nichols; his thesis covered the measurement of the thermionic emission properties of a single crystal tungsten (a subject which became irrelevant once transistors replaced vacuum tubes). After he received his PhD, Smith went to Hughes Aircraft Company in 1952. He first worked in the storage tube department, where he made measurements of the secondary emission properties. He then rose to management positions at the Hughes Research Laboratories—he was in charge first of Exploratory Studies, then of many other departments. Most notably, he managed the department which included Ted Maiman, whohad just produced the world’s first laser. Smith helped foster applications of Maiman’s laser, including the laser rangefinder, the laser target identification equipment, and other items. Smith also did considerable work on device physics and the development of devices. He supervised Robert Bower, who developed the ion-implanted self-aligned gate MOSFET device. Smith was also involved with work on electron beam lithography, the gallium arsinide field effect transistor, liquid crystals for projection displays and ion engines for NASA. He retired in 1987.

About the Interview

GEORGE F. SMITH:An Interview Conducted by David Morton, IEEE History Center, 4 June 2000

Interview #398 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, Rutgers - the State University, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
George F. Smith, an oral history conducted in 2000 by David Morton, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.


Interview: George F. Smith
Interviewer: David Morton
Date: 4 June 2000
Place: Los Angeles, California