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British Industrial History

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Louis Heathcote Walter

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Louis Heathcote Walter (1870-1922) M.A., A.M.I.E.E.

1870 Born in London

Educated at private schools in England and at Hanover, Germany

1894-8 Trinity College, Cambridge

1898 Honours in Natural Sciences.

Became experimental assistant to Sir Hiram S. Maxim

1903 he was appointed Editor of Science Abstracts, when that publication was taken over by the Institution of Electrical Engineers

He has invented several forms of detectors of electrical oscillations, and for his magnetic type of oscillation galvanometer was awarded the John Scott Medal.

1905 he drew attention to the advantages of directive wireless telegraphy, and, associating himself with Captain Tosi and Dr. Bellini, at that time making their first experiments, he introduced the directive system, and the wireless compass, into England.

1922 Obituary[1]

"The late Mr. L. H. Walter, M.A.—It is with sincere regret that we announce the death of Mr. Louis Heathcote Walter, editor of Science Abstracts, and a well-known worker, especially in the field of radiotelegraphy.

Born in London in 1870, he was educated privately ; he went to Hanover before proceeding to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1894, where he took the Natural Science Tripos in 1898. Having conducted research work in the University Engineering Laboratory, he joined the Institution of Electrical Engineers and the Institution of Civil Engineers as associate member, and was for some time experimental assistant to Sir Hiram Maxim, He then became interested in directive radio telegraphy, associated himself in 1907 with Dr. Bellini and Captain Tosi, and introduced their system into England; these rights were subsequently acquired by Marconi’s company. Already, in 1903, when the Institution of Electrical Engineers had taken over the management of Science Abstracts, he had been appointed editor of that exceedingly useful publication; his predecessors in that position were Mr. J. Swinburne and Mr. W. R. Cooper.

He was also indexer in Physics for the International Catalogue of Scientific Literature and found time, in spite of his onerous duties, to revise the volumes on Electrical Engineering and on Steam and Internal Combustion Engines of the Deinhardt-Schlomann Technical Dictionaries, to write a book on “Direction and Position Finding” in 1921, and to contribute various scientific papers to the Institution of Electrical Engineers, the Royal Society and other bodies. Prominent among his researches and discoveries were a selective system of wireless control, various detectors and coherers, researches on increase of hysteresis loss due to oscillations superposed on a rotating field, on self-restoring detector action of a tantalum-mercury contact, and on electrolytic valve effects, especially with tungsten and zirconium electrodes. His oscillation galvanometer brought him the John Scott medal in 1907. Mr. Walter married a daughter of the late Captain Edward Williams in 1900. He was a man of reserved disposition. He died after a very short illness of endocarditis, on September 13, and leaves a gap among friends and colleagues difficult to fill."

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