Blumlein, Alan Dower

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b. 29 June 1903 Hampstead, London, England
d. 7 June 1942
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English electronics engineer, developer of telephone equipment, highly linear electromechanical recording and reproduction equipment, stereo techniques, video and radar technology.
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He was a very bright scholar and received a BSc in electrical technology from City and Guilds College in 1923. He joined International Western Electric (later to become Standard Telephone and Cables) in 1924 after a period as an instructor/demonstrator at City and Guilds. He was instrumental in the design of telephone measuring equipment and in international committee work for standards for long-distance telephony.
From 1929 Blumlein was employed by the Columbia Graphophone Company to develop an electric recording cutterhead that would be independent of Western Electric's patents for the system developed by Maxfield and Harrison. He attacked the problems in a most systematic fashion, and within a year he had developed a moving-coil cutterhead that was much more linear than the iron-cored systems known at the time. Eventually Blumlein designed a complete line of recording equipment, from microphone and through-power amplifiers. The design was used by Columbia; after the merger with the Gramophone Company in 1931 to form Electrical and Musical Industries Ltd (later known as EMI) it became the company standard, certainly for coarse-groove records, until c.1950.
Blumlein became interested in stereophony (binaural sound), and developed and demonstrated a complete line of equipment, from correctly placed microphones via two-channel records and stereo pick-ups to correctly placed loudspeakers. The advent of silent surfaces of vinyl records made this approach commercial from the late 1950s. His approach was independent and quite different from that of A.C. Keller.
His extreme facility for creating innovative solutions to electronic problems was used in EMI's development from 1934 to 1938 of the electronic television system, which became the BBC standard of 405 lines after the Second World War, when television broadcasting again became possible. Independent of official requirements, EMI developed a 60 MHz radar system and Blumlein was involved in the development of a centimetric radar and display system. It was during testing of this aircraft mounted equipment that he was killed in a crash.
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Bibliography
Blumlein was inventor or co-inventor of well over 120 patents, a complete list of which is to be found in Burns (1992; see below). The major sound-recording achievements are documented by British patent nos. 350,954, 350,998, 363,627 (highly linear cutterhead, 1930) and 394,325 (reads like a textbook on stereo technology, 1931).
Further Reading
The definitive biography of Blumlein has not yet been written; the material seems to have been collected, but is not yet available. However, R.W.Burns, 1992, "A.D.Blumlein, engineer extraordinary", Engineering Science and Education Journal (February): 19– 33 is a thorough account. Also B.J.Benzimra, 1967, "A.D. Blumlein: an electronics genius", Electronics \& Power (June): 218–24 provides an interesting summary.
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Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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