Colpitts, Edwin Henry

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b. 9 January 1872 Pointe de Bute, Canada
d. 6 March 1949 Orange, New Jersey, USA
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Canadian physicist and electrical engineer responsible for important developments in electronic-circuit technology.
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Colpitts obtained Bachelor's degrees at Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick, and Harvard in 1894 and 1896, respectively, followed by a Master's degree at Harvard in 1897. After two years as assistant to the professor of physics there, he joined the American Bell Telephone Company. When the Bell Company was reorganized in 1907, he moved to the Western Electric branch of the company in New York as Head of the Physical Laboratories. In 1911 he became a director of the Research Laboratories, and in 1917 he became Assistant Chief Engineer of the company. During this time he invented both the push-pull amplifier and the Colpitts oscillator, both major developments in communications. In 1917, during the First World War, he spent some time in France helping to set up the US Signal Corps Research Laboratories. Afterwards he continued to do much, both technically and as a manager, to place telephone communications on a firm scientific basis, retiring as Vice-President of the Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1937. With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1941 he was recalled from retirement and appointed Director of the Engineering Foundation to work on submarine warfare techniques, particularly echo-ranging.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Order of the Rising Sun, Japan, 1938. US Medal of Merit 1948.
Bibliography
1919, with E.B.Craft, "Radio telephony", Proceedings of the American Institution of Electrical Engineers 38:337.
1921, with O.B.Blackwell, "Carrier current telephony and telegraphy", American Institute of Electrical Engineers Transactions 40:205.
11 September 1915, US reissue patent no. 15,538 (control device for radio signalling).
28 August 1922, US patent no. 1,479,638 (multiple signal reception).
Further Reading
M.D.Fagen, 1975, A History of Engineering \& Science in the Bell System, Vol. 1, Bell Laboratories.
KF

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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