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IEEE Milestone Award Event | Development of the Cavity Magnetron, 1939-1941

On the 4th of June 2024, there will be an IEEE Historical plaque unveiling event to celebrate the development of the cavity magnetron by J Randall & H Boot & J Sawers at University of Birmingham in 1939.


In 1939, at the start of the war, there was a need to efficiently achieve higher power microwave energy to enable the advance from land based into airborne radar. John Randall and Harry Boot at Birmingham produced, in 1940, their first working magnetron incorporating their novel resonant cavity design, which enabled the generation of hundreds of Watts of power at 10 cm wavelength.

Subsequently the engineers at the General Electric Company (GEC) in Wembley, re-engineered this device for mass production, enabling it to generate well over a kilowatt of pulsed power. These high-power microwave pulses could then be transmitted from an antenna only centimetres long, reducing the size of practical radar systems and improving the resolution of targets. This enabled the realisation of British and American long-range night-fighter and anti-submarine airborne radar systems.

This event celebrates these technical advances with the unveiling of an IEEE Historical plaque at the University of Birmingham.

Milestone Event

The event will consist of a morning ceremony unveiling the plaque, followed by an afternoon technical symposium.


The venue, Poynting building, School of Physics and Astronomy, is located on the University of Birmingham main campus. The main campus is directly served by its own rail station, called University. Just eight minutes’ journey from New Street, the station makes the train a quick and convenient travel option from across the West Midlands and beyond. For all timetable information visit National Rail or check live departures from University on the campus map app.

The venue is within walking distance (under 10 minutes) from/to the Edgbaston Park Hotel that sits in landscaped gardens off Edgbaston Park Road, on the north east part of the University of Birmingham main campus.

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