Laurance Leeds’ mastery of technology made him an integral player in two revolutionary developments in American history: the introduction of television on a mass scale, and the use of radar during World War II. Leeds, one of the world’s leading experts in the technology of high-energy propagation of electrical waves through space, worked with David Sarnoff, the father of American television, in devising the first television broadcast standards. In the late 1930s, Leeds was put in charge of General Electric’s first television station in upstate New York. But as America’s involvement in the war became imminent, Leeds realized that the high-power transmitters he was developing for television had applications in the navigational aid known as radar. He worked, mainly in secret, with Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson to install radar on ships and planes and at military bases around the world. After the war, Leeds returned to GE and ran its first unified Electronics Laboratory in Syracuse, New York. He died in 1997 at age 90, leaving a bequest of nearly $1 million to Rutgers for engineering scholarships. At the time, it was the largest gift the university had ever received.
Inventor, U.S. Army Colonel
School of Engineering 1934
Hall of Distinguished Alumni Class of