Watson-Watt, Robert Alexander (1892–1973)

Robert Watson-Watt

Robert Watson-Watt was a Scottish physicist largely responsible for the development of radar, patenting his first 'radiolocator' in 1919. He perfected his equipment and techniques from 1935 through the years of World War II, his radar being largely responsible for the British victory in the Battle of Britain. Watson-Watt was a descendant of James Watt, inventor of the practical steam engine. He adopted his double-barreled name after receiving his knighthood.

Watson-Watt studied at St Andrews University, taught at Dundee University, and in 1917 worked in the Meteorological Office, designing devices to locate thunderstorms, and investigating the ionosphere (a term he coined in 1926). He became head of the radio section of the National Physical Laboratory (1935), where he began work on locating aircraft.