Richard R. Hough

Richard R. Hough
Richard R. Hough
Death date
Associated organizations
Bell Labs, Ohio Bell Telephone Company
Fields of study
IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal


A native of Trenton, New Jersey, Richard Ralston Hough received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1939 and a graduate E.E. degree in 1940, both from Princeton University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, and Tau Beta Pi, honorary societies. In May 1977, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree by Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania.

In 1940, Hough joined the Bell Telephone Laboratories. During his seventeen-year career at Bell Laboratories, Hough worked chiefly on the development of various military weapon systems, including guided missiles. In 1955, he was appointed director of military electronics development and was elected vice president of the laboratories in 1957. Later that year, he went to AT&T as assistant chief engineer. In October 1959, he was elected vice president-operations of the Ohio Bell Telephone Company. In 1961, he returned to AT&T as vice president in charge of engineering and remained there for five years, until his appointment as president, AT&T-Long Lines, in December 1966. He was appointed to his present position in July 1978.

Hough served as consultant to the Defense Department, first as a member of the Radar Panel of the Research and Development Board and then as a member of the Technical Advisory Panel on Electronics. In March 1961, President Kennedy appointed him to head Project Beacon, a task force to study safe and efficient use of air space. From 1962 to 1966, he served as chairman of the Technical Advisory Board to the Federal Aviation Agency. From 1971 to 1974, he was member of the Defense Science Board of the Department of Defense. From 1967 to 1976, he was a member of the Advisory Board of the United States Naval Postgraduate School.

Hough married Jane Jackson, of Brookline, MA, in 1942, and they had six children. His hobbies included skiing, flying, and swimming. Skiing linked him with his wife, who was a competitive skier and served as an official at the 1980 Olympics. His love of flying ultimately ended in his death. Hough and his wife were killed in a private plane crash in New Hampshire on 9 July 1992.

Hough was a Fellow of the IEEE, a charter trustee of Princeton University, and a trustee of Wilson College and the Turrell Fund. He was a director of the American Can Company, the Alleghany Corporation, the Dravo Corporation, Midlantic Banks, Inc., Midlantic National Bank, and AT&T-Long Lines. He served as chairman of the Long Lines Department Board and of Bellcomm, Inc., and as director of The Bell Telephone Company of Canada, The Mountain States Telephone Laboratories, Inc., and Communications Satellite Corporation. Hough also served as president of the Telephone Pioneers of America. In 1947, Hough received the Eta Kappa Nu Award as the "Outstanding Young Electrical Engineer." Hough was the recipient of the 1980 Alexander Graham Bell Medal "For his contributions to the nationwide and international telephone network and, particularly, the introduction of electronic switching therein."

Further Research

"Richard R. Hough of Bell System Dies at 74 With Wife in a Crash." New York Times.  July 11, 1992.

Willcoxon, L.R. "Richard Ralston Hough 1917-1992." Memorial Tributes Vol. 6.  (Washington D.C.: National Academy of Engineering, 1993)