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Sir Ambrose Fleming Death
June 1945 Radio-Craft

June 1945 Radio-Craft

June 1945 Radio Craft Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio-Craft, published 1929 - 1953. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.

The June 1945 edition of Radio-Craft magazine published a death notice for diode electron tube ("valve" in British parlance) inventor Sir Ambrose Fleming. The date given was April 19th, but every source I can find says he died on April 18th. With having been born on November 29, 1849, that made the good fellow 95½ years old. According to a calculator on the TimeAndDate.com website, that's a grand total of 34,900 days. Who's going to argue over a potential 0.00287% error, especially from back in a era when communications and fact checking was not as easy as it is today?

Sir Ambrose Fleming

 - RF CafeSir Ambrose Fleming inventor of radio's first vacuum tube, the Fleming valve, died April 19 in Sidmouth, Devon, at the age of 95. Fleming's fame in the radio world rests not only on his discovery of the radio possibilities inherent in the "Edison effect" between a hot and cold electrode in an evacuated space, but also on one of the earliest fundamental treatises on radio, published early in the century. This book, which contained more than 1700 pages, was for a number of years the authority on the subject, and is now regarded as one of the classics of radio literature.

The invention of the Fleming valve was the result of researches made while working for Marconi (at which time he designed the wireless signal apparatus of the famous station in Cornwall from which the first transatlantic message was transmitted in 1901). The object was to discover a more sensitive and stable detector than any in use. The new "valve" while not more sensitive than the detectors commonly employed at the time, was remarkably more stable and reliable. Its real significance was, however, that it paved the way for our modern electron tubes, which came into existence when Lee DeForest put a third element - the grid - into the two-element Fleming valve.

Knighted for his contributions to radio-electronic science, he became Sir Ambrose Fleming in 1929. He was the last survivor of the group of radio pioneers in England which included Marconi, Clerk Maxwell and Sir Oliver Lodge.



Posted January 10, 2022
(updated from original post on 2/5/2015)

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Kirt Blattenberger,


RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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