The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 55.0°F | Overcast

Radar Developer Hill Dies at 86

Albert G. Hill, a former vice president for research who was one of the leaders in the development of the World War II radar, died last Monday of pulmonary disease at the age of 86 at his home in Needham.

Hill came to MIT in 1937 as a physics professor after having earned his doctorate degree in physics at the University of Rochester and a BS degree in mechanical engineering and an MS degree in physics from Washington University in St. Louis.

In 1941, Hill joined the staff of the new Radiation Laboratory at MIT, whose major goal was the development of a radar-based navigational system for military use in World War II, according to The Education of a College President, the autobiography of former institute president James R. Killian Jr. '26.

In 1946, Hill became associate director of the newly-formed Research Division of the Radiation Laboratory, which became the Research Laboratory of Electronics. A year later Hill became a full professor of physics, and in 1949, he succeeded Julius A. Stratton '23 as the director of the RLE.

In 1951 the Lincoln Laboratory was established in Lexington for the study of problems in air defense, with the financial backing of the government. In 1952, Hill became the laboratory's second director.

During his four-year long stint as director, he advocated the building of an early-warning defense line against possible Soviet attack, and he spoke at a National Security Council meeting presided over by President Harry S Truman.

Hill led the development of the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment air defense system and the Distant Early Warning line of radar sets stretching from northern Alaska to Greenland. Killian wrote that Hill waged "an evangelical campaign to gain acceptance of the idea of early warning as a defense against Soviet bomber attack."

In 1970, Hill was appointed to the new position of vice president for research, a position that he held until 1975. He was also the chairman of the board of directors of Draper Laboratory from 1970 to 1982. The new Draper Laboratory building that was dedicated in 1984 at One Hampshire Street was named in honor of Hill.

From 1976 to 1978, Hill was the director of the Plasma Fusion Center. Robert A. Duffy, retired president of the Draper Laboratory, described Hill as an "unsung hero, the kind of guy who always worked through people. He was wise enough to let other people get the credit for the achievements he was involved with."

Hill was also a "strong but generally unrecognized early advocate for equal opportunity and affirmative action," said Chairman of the Corporation Paul E. Gray '54. Hill chaired the committee that proposed and organized the Office for Minority Education and led to the establishment of Project Interphase in 1969.

Among the many honors that Hill received were the Presidential Certificate of Merit in 1948, the Air Force Distinguished Civilian Service Medal in 1955, and the Secretary of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Medal in 1959.

Hill is survived by three nieces and a nephew. Donations may be made in his name to the American Lung Association, 1505 Commonwealth Avenue, Brighton, MA 02135-3605.

A memorial service for Hill at MIT is being planned and will be held at a time to be announced.

Copyright 19,95, The Tech. All rights reserved.
This story was published on Tuesday.
Volume 116, Number 54.
This story appeared on page 13 .

This article may be freely distributed electronically, provided it is distributed in its entirety and includes this notice, but may not be reprinted without the express written permission of The Tech. Write to for additional details.