Louis Ridenour

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Louis Nicot Ridenour
File:Louis Ridenour.jpg
Born (1911-06-27)June 27, 1911
Montclair, New Jersey, United States
Died May 21, 1959
brain hemorrhage
Citizenship United States
Nationality American
Fields Physics
Institutions Princeton University Instructor 1935 ~ 1938
University of Pennsylvania 1938 ~ 1941
M.I.T. Assistant Director of Radiation Laboratory 1941 ~ 1946
University of Illinois 1947 ~ 1950
International Telemeter 1952 ~ 1955
Lockheed Aircraft Corporation 1955 ~ 1959
National Security Agency
Alma mater University of Chicago (B.S. Physics)
California Institute of Technology (Ph. D. Physics)
Known for Radar

Dr. Louis N. Ridenour (June 27, 1911 – May 21, 1959) was a physicist instrumental in U.S. development of radar, Vice President of Lockheed, and an advisor to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Biography and positions held

During World War II, Ridenour worked at the MIT Radiation Laboratory. He was co-leader with Ivan A. Getting of the group that developed the SCR-584 radar. He directed a committee in 1949 that recommended the establishment of a separate Research and Development Command and a new Air Staff Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development. In 1950, Dr Ridenour was named the first Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force.[1]

He served on the Scientific Advisory Committee for Ballistic Research Laboratories, Aberdeen Proving Ground,[2]

In 1941 he became the assistant director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Radiation Laboratory and helped transform primitive radar into a reliable defensive and offensive military tool. In 1946 Dr. Ridenour returned to the University of Pennsylvania for one year and then in 1947 he became dean of the Graduate College of the University of Illinois. During the next three years as dean, he was instrumental in establishing the Control Systems Laboratory, the Digital Computer Laboratory, and the Radio Carbon Laboratory, as well as a microbiology group and solid state group.[3]

He was Chairman of the National Security Agency Scientific Advisory Board Panel on Electronics and Data Processing from its inception 27 January 1959 until his death in May.

In 1960 he received the Theodore von Kármán Award from the Air Force Association.[4]

Dr. Ridenour was married to Gretchen Kraemer; they had two daughters, Nancy Page Buchanan (née Ridenour) and Eleanor Fay.

Dr. Ridenour died of a brain hemorrhage at age 47.[5]

Major contributions

Ridenour led the development of airborne microwave radar nicknamed "Micky" which allowed bombing through clouds.[6]

Along with Gilbert W. King, Edwin L. Hughes, and George W. Brown, Ridenour patented an information storage system which combined optical disk storage of large capacity and a magnetic drum memory of low capacity. The write-once-read-many optical disk memory would be updated monthly, and recently changed data is held on the re-writable magnetic drum memory.


2,473,175 Radio-Direction-Finding System
2,843,655 Subscription Television with Scrambled Transmission and Marquee and Barker
2,843,841 Information Storage System
2,875,269 Video Scrambling and Unscrambling System
2,918,522 Subscription Television Distribution System
2,972,008 Coding Methods and System


Author of Radar System Engineering, volume 1 of MIT Radiation Laboratory Series. McGraw-Hill, New York, 1947.[7]

Contributed to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists


  1. "Establishing Air Research and Development Command: Two Civilian Scientists Played Key Roles". Oai.dtic.mil. Retrieved 2011-01-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Pamphlet; Ballistic Research Laboratories, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Ordnance Corps, Department of the Navy, November 1953
  3. http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA166671
  4. "Previous Award Recipients". Afa.org. 2008-06-01. Retrieved 2011-01-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Monday, Jun. 01, 1959 (1959-06-01). "Milestones, Jun. 1, 1959". TIME. Retrieved 2011-01-06. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Historical Markers Virtual Campus Tour". Publicaffairs.illinois.edu. Retrieved 2011-01-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "The MIT Rad Lab Series". Web.mit.edu. Retrieved 2011-01-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>