Fact File about the Invention of Radar: Invention: Radar *** Date of Invention: 1939 *** Name of Inventor: Robert Watson-Watt *** Lifespan of Inventor: 1892 - 1973 *** Nationality of Inventor: British *** Historical Period: WW2 (1939 - 1945) *** Category: Science and Technology *** Country of Origin: Great Britain *** Facts about the Inventor,
Sir Robert Watson-Watt, and the invention of
Fact 1: Who invented Radar? The Radar was invented by Robert Watson-Watt in 1939 during the WW2 (1939 - 1945) era of inventions.
Fact 2: Who invented Radar? Prior to the invention of Radar in 1939,
important discoveries were made into animal behaviour that were vital to the
invention of RADAR. In 1793, the Italian biologist and physiologist Lazarro
Spallanzani, studied the ability of bats to use sound and their ears for
navigation in total darkness (now called Echolocation). Lazarro Spallanzani
concluded that bats navigate by hearing and not by vision.
Fact 3: Who invented Radar? In 1939 the American zoologist Don Griffin
proved the Echolocation phenonomen and confirmed that echolocating bats
emit ultrasound calls out to the environment and are able to navigate by
listening to the echoes of their calls that return from various objects near
Fact 4: Who invented Radar? Notable physicists also played an important
role in the development of RADAR. In 1864 Clerk Maxwell formulated a set of
equations that would govern the behavior of electromagnetic waves and the laws
of reflections. In 1886 Heinrich Hertz discovered that electromagnetic waves,
travelling at the speed of light, could be transmitted through some types of
materials while other objects reflected them.
Fact 5: Who invented Radar? The 1900's produced further developments that
would result in the invention of RADAR. In 1903 Christian Hulsmeyer developed
the "Telemobiloscope" that used radio waves as an "obstacle detector" for ships
- but it could could not directly measure distance to a target. Guglielmo
Marconi, who had invented the Radio in 1895,
Fact 6: Who invented Radar? In 1906 Lee De Forest invented the
thermionic valve, an electronic amplifier device he called an Audion. In 1918
Edwin H. Armstrong invented the superheterodyne radio receiver, aka the 'superhet',
an important addition to radio communications. In 1921 Albert W. Hull invented
Magnetron tubes that used electromagnetic waves instead of sound waves so that
the resonant energy it makes could not be heard.
Fact 7: Who invented Radar? During the 1920's use of the oscilloscope
made it possible to display time intervals between events, and consequently
distance on a cathode ray tube. The oscilloscope addressed the issues of the
Telemobiloscope and this together with Lee De Forest's Audion and Albert Hull's
Magnetron tubes eventually paved the way for the invention of RADAR by Robert
Watson-Watt in 1939.
Fact 8: Who invented Radar? The inventor of Radar, Robert Watson-Watt, was born on 13 April 1892 in Brechin, Angus, Scotland, UK and died on 5 December 1973.
Fact 9: Who invented Radar? The early years of Robert Watson-Watt were spent in Brechin, Angus, Scotland, UK where he was raised by his family.
He was the son of a carpenter and a proud descendant of James Watt, the famous
inventor of the steam engine.
Fact 10: Who invented Radar? Robert Watson-Watt was educated at University College, Dundee
and gained a BSc in Engineering. During this time he became interest in
'wireless telegraphy' or radio which had been invented by Guglielmo Marconi in
Fact 11: Who invented Radar? Following his education in 1915 his first job was as a
as a meteorologist at the Meteorological Office in 1915. This was a period of
major inventions which rapidly escalated due to the outbreak of WW1 (1914 -
1918. The Wright Brothers had invented the Airplane
in 1903 and the newly invented, fragile planes were used in the Great War.
Robert Watson-Watt worked on developing equipment to detect thunder and
lightening to help the pilots.
Fact 12: Who invented Radar? In 1916 Robert Watson-Watt began to develop
the idea of using a cathode ray oscilloscope in aircraft to measure and plot
electrical signals on a display screen.
Fact 13: Who invented Radar? His pioneering work at the Met Office and
his great interest in radio led Robert Watson-Watt to be appointed Head of the
Radio Department in Teddington, Middlesex in 1924. His focus was on defence and
one of his projects was to investigate radio interference caused by transmitters
and electrical equipment. In 1927 he became director of the Radio Research
Station and began the invention of RADAR.
Fact 14: Who invented Radar? The idea of RADAR was not a new concept.
Christian Hulsmeyer had developed the "Telemobiloscope" that used radio waves as
an "obstacle detector" for ships. And following the disastrous sinking of the
Titanic, Guglielmo Marconi, who had invented the Radio
in 1895, predicted that new types of marine radio apparatus would be invented.
Fact 15: Who invented Radar? Marconi had envisaged that it would be
possible to project radio waves and detect their reflections from metallic
objects in order to “immediately reveal” the presence and bearing of other ships
in the dark. Robert Watson-Watt was about to make this concept a reality.
Fact 16: Who invented Radar? Robert Watson-Watt and his team were aware
of all of the previous discoveries that had been made in relation to radio waves
and developed a 'squegger', a self-blocking oscillator that produced an
intermittent or changing output signal that was used to develop a 'time base'
display - a crucial element to an "obstacle detector".
Fact 17: Who invented Radar? By 1933 the threat of Nazi Germany became
evident and alarm spread as rumors circulated that the Germans had developed a
"death ray", which used radio waves said to be capable of destroying targets in
Fact 18: Who invented Radar? Robert Watson-Watt was requested to develop
a British "death ray" that could destroy German airplanes before they attacked.
Fact 19: Who invented Radar? Robert Watson-Watt realized that the
required technology was not available to create a British "death ray" but
believed that he could invent an "obstacle detector" device that would be able
to detect an aircraft in flight before it was visible.
Fact 20: Who invented Radar? Work began on the "obstacle detector"
device, electronic system for locating objects by means of radio waves. It was
called 'radiolocation' system but was renamed RADAR is an acronym for RAdio
Detection And Ranging.
Fact 21: Who invented Radar? In 1935 Robert Watson-Watt demonstrated the
first radar system detected aircraft at a range of 8 miles. On 2 April 1935,
Robert Watson-Watt was granted a patent on a radio device for detecting and
locating an aircraft, Further work was needed until the radar system detected
aircraft at a range of 40 miles.
Fact 22: Who invented Radar? In 1939 WW2 erupted and the newly developed
radar system was seen as an early warning defense for Britain. There was a
problem. The Radar system used Magnetron tubes, which were at the heart of
radar’s function, but these required more power. John Randall and Henry Boot
developed the resonant cavity magnetron in February 1940 massively increasing
the power of the Magnetron tubes.
Fact 23: Who invented Radar? Britain was unable to mass-produce the tens
of thousands of magnetron tubes required for the Radar system and looked to the
United States for help. The US defense contractor Raytheon Manufacturing Company
became the major Allied supplier of magnetrons during the war. (Raytheon' chief
engineer, Percy Spencer, became an expert in the field and using magnetrons went
on to invent the microwave oven).
Fact 24: Who invented Radar? A fixed radar radio tower system, known as
Chain Home, was established consisting of a chain of fixed radar towers along
the east and south coast of England. The invention of Radar system provided the
vital advance information that helped the Royal Air Force to win the Battle of
Britain. In 1941 Robert Watson-Watt helped to establish the US radar system
Fact 25: Who invented Radar? After the war was over Robert Watson-Watt
was knighted by King George VI in 1942 and received the US Medal for Merit in
Fact 26: Who invented Radar? Sir Robert Watson-Watt died in Inverness,
Scotland on 5 December 1973 and buried at the Episcopal Church of the Holy
Trinity at Pitlochry.
Fact 27: Who invented Radar? Sir Robert Watson-Watt will always be
remembered with gratitude for his invention of Radar and as a hero of WW2.