Raymond W. Ketchledge


Raymond W. Ketchledge
Raymond W. Ketchledge
Harrisburg, PA, USA
Death date
Associated organizations
Bell Labs
Fields of study
IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal


Raymond W. Ketchledge was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on 8 December 1919, into the home of a Presbyterian minister. The family moved to Johnstown, New York, where Ketchledge attended high school. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1942.

Ketchledge joined Bell Laboratories that same year. During World War II, he worked on the development of detection devices for enemy aircraft and submarines, including radar, infrared, and sound detection. He was reassigned to telecommunications transmission work after the war, and was associated with the development of the first repeatered submarine cable system and, later, the L3 coaxial carrier system. His next assignment was in device development with responsibility for electron beam and gas discharge tubes.

In 1954, Ketchledge joined the new group being formed to develop electronic switching, a transformative project to replace older electromechanical equipment. In 1956, he was made Assistant Director of Switching System Development and three years later Director of the Electronic Switching Laboratory. As such, he served as both innovator and manager. He was responsible for the circuits and equipment for a trial of the Electronic Switching System (ESS) at Morris, Illinois in 1960 and the first No.1 ESS central office at Succasunna, New Jersey in 1965.

In 1966, Ketchledge was appointed Executive Director of the Electronic Switching Division which then transferred to the new Indian Hill Laboratory at Naperville, Illinois. As the top ranking executive at the new facility, he had 1,500 engineers and technicians working for him. While in Illinois he served as a Director of the Naperville National Bank and was a member of the Illinois Science Advisory Council.

Ketchledge left Illinois in October 1975 to assume his post as Executive Director of the Ocean Systems Division of Bell Laboratories, in Whippany, New Jersey. In this role, he continued to make contributions to military technology. He retired in 1982 and moved to Florida in 1984, where he built a home lab to continue experimenting.

Over the course of his career he was granted over sixty patents, including some developed in pursuit of his hobby of remote controlled airplanes.

In 1970, Ketchledge was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for his pioneering contributions to ESS. Previously he had been made a Fellow of the IEEE. He is also a member of the scientific honor society Sigma Xi. He was co-recipient of the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal in 1976, along with Amos E. Joel, Jr., and William Keister 'For conception and development of Electronic Switching Systems and their effective introduction into a nation-wide telephone system.'

Further Research

Joel, Amos E. "Raymond W. Ketchledge: 1919-1987." Memorial Tributes, Volume 5.  (Washington DC: National Academy of Engineering, 1992)

"Raymond Ketchledge, 67, an Electronics Inventor."  New York Times.  October 29, 1987