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Ralph Hartley

Ralph Vinton Lyon Hartley (November 30, 1888 - May 1, 1970) was an electronics researcher. He invented the Hartley oscillator[?] and contributed to the foundations of information theory.

Hartley was born in Spruce, Nevada[?] and attended the University of Utah, receiving an A.B. degree in 1909. He became a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and received a B.A. degree in 1912 and a B.Sc. degree in 1913.

He returned to the United States and was employed at the Research Laboratory of the Western Electric Company[?]. In 1915 he was in charge of radio receiver development for the Bell System[?] transatlantic radiotelephone tests. For this he developed the Hartley oscillator and also a neutralizing circuit to eliminate triode singing resulting from internal coupling. A patent for the oscillator was filed on June 1, 1915 and awarded on October 26, 1920.

During World War I he established the principles that led to sound-type directional finders[?].

Following the war he returned to Western Electric. He later worked at Bell Laboratories. He performed research on repeaters and voice and carrier transmission and formulated the law "that the total amount of information that can be transmitted is proportional to frequency range transmitted and the time of the transmission." After about 10 years of illness he returned to Bell Labs in 1939 as a consultant[?].

During World War II he was particularly involved with servo[?] problems.

He retired from Bell Labs in 1950 and died on May 1, 1970.



Probably incomplete.

  • Hartley, R.V.L, "Transmission of Information", Bell System Technical Journal, July 1928, p.535.

See also Shannon-Hartley law.


  • Ralph V. L. Hartley, Legacies, IEEE History Center, updated January 23 2003, [1] (http://www.ieee.org/organizations/history_center/legacies/hartley)
  • US Patent 1,356,763, October 26, 1920, United States Patent and Trademark Office, [2] (http://www.uspto.gov/); page images can be downloaded.

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