Kenneth Norton

Kenneth Norton
Associated organizations
National Bureau of Standards, Western Electric Company
Fields of study
Radio, Television
IRE Harry Diamond Memorial Award


Kenneth A. Norton (IRE Associate, 1929; Member 1938; Senior Member, 1943; and Fellow, 1943) was born in Rockwell City, Iowa, on 27 February 1907. He received the B.S. degree in physics from the University of Chicago, Illinois, in 1928, and continued his studies at Columbia University, New York, N.Y., from 1930 to 1931.

During 1929, Norton was with the Western Electric Company, Chicago, Illinois. From 1929 to 1934, he was in the radio section of the National Bureau of Standards, Washington, D.C. He then joined the technical information section of the Federal Communications Commission, Washington, D.C. from 1934 to 1942, and was responsible for a technical study of clear-channel broadcasting and the initial technical studies leading to the allocation of frequencies to television broadcasting.

Norton was Assistant Director of the operational research group and a Consultant on radio propagation in the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, Washington, D.C. from 1942 to 1943 and from 1944 to 1946. He also served as a radio and tactical counter-measures analyst in the operational research section of the Eighth Air Force in England from 1943 to 1944. Beginning in 1946, and until at least 1962, Norton was worked in the Central Radio Propagation Laboratory of the National Bureau of Standards where he organized and was Chief of the Frequency Utilization Research Section. In 1962, he was Chief of the Radio Propagation Engineering Division in Boulder, Colorado, working on radio guidance systems for missiles and satellites, long-range radio communications systems involving transmission via satellites, tropospheric scatter, and propagation at very low frequencies.

Norton was a delegate to several international radio conferences, including the Provisional Frequency Board, Geneva, Switzerland, 1948, and the High-Frequency Broadcasting Conference, Mexico City, 1948. He was Vice President of the United States delegation to the 1950 meetings of Television Study Group 11 of the International Radio Consultative Committee (CCIR) in the United States, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. He was a United States delegate to the Interim Study Group Meetings of the CCIR, Geneva, 1958, and to the Ninth Plenary Assembly of the CCIR, Los Angeles, California. he was also a delegate to the Eleventh and Twelfth General Assemblies of the International Scientific Radio Union (URSI), The Hague, The Netherlands, 1954, and London, England, 1960, respectively, as well as Chairman of the Local Arrangements Committee for the Twelfth General Assembly, Boulder, Colorado, 1957.

Norton was awarded the Stuart Ballantine Medal by the Franklin Institute, for his work on radio propagation and FM and television frequency allocations. In 1960, he received the IRE Harry Diamond Memorial Award, the highest award offered to a government employee in the field of radio and electronics. He was cited for "contributions to the understanding of radio wave propagation." In 1962, he received the Exceptional Service Award for the U.S. Department of Commerce for "outstanding contributions and leadership in the field of radio propagation research." In 1962, he was a Fellow of the IRE, the AIEE, the AAAS, and the American Physical Society; and a member of the Scientific Research Society of America, the American Geophysical Union, the American Mathematical Society, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and the American Statistical Association.