John Ambrose Fleming

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Fleming, John Ambrose


Born Nov. 29, 1849, in Lancaster; died Apr. 18, 1945, in Sidmouth. British radio and electrical engineer. Fellow of the Royal Society of London (1892).

In 1870, Fleming graduated from University College in London. From 1877 to 1881 he did research under J. C. Maxwell in the Cavendish Laboratory. Fleming taught at the university colleges in Nottingham and London. He became a scientific consultant for the Edison Electric Light Company in London in 1881 and for Marconi’s Wireless Telegraphy Company in 1899. In 1901 he took part in the first transatlantic radio transmission. Fleming studied the effect discovered by T. Edison whereby an electric current flows one way from a heated wire to a metal plate in a vacuum and, in 1904, invented the vacuum-tube detector. With this invention, Fleming inaugurated a new period in the development of radio engineering. He also proposed the right-hand rule and wrote a number of works on electrical and radio engineering.

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Dear Editor, Chris You-ett's revelation (Memory stack of facts on computing, Post, Jan 12) that the thermionic valve was invented by Prof Tommy Flowers in 1938 will cause surprise, not to say consternation, among those of us who have long believed that it was the work of Sir Ambrose Fleming in 1904 and also of Doctor Lee de Forest in 1907.