28 Facts About Ambrose Fleming


Sir John Ambrose Fleming FRS was an English electrical engineer and physicist who invented the first thermionic valve or vacuum tube, designed the radio transmitter with which the first transatlantic radio transmission was made, and established the right-hand rule used in physics.

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Ambrose Fleming was the eldest of seven children of James Fleming DD, a Congregational minister, and his wife Mary Ann, at Lancaster, Lancashire, and baptised on 11 February 1850.

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Ambrose Fleming bequeathed much of his estate to Christian charities, especially those for the poor.

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Ambrose Fleming was a noted photographer, painted watercolours, and enjoyed climbing the Alps.

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Ambrose Fleming entered St John's College, Cambridge in 1877, gaining his BA in 1881 and becoming a Fellow of St John's in 1883.

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Ambrose Fleming went on to lecture at several universities including the University of Cambridge, University College Nottingham, and University College London, where he was the first professor of electrical engineering.

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Ambrose Fleming was a consultant to the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, Swan Company, Ferranti, Edison Telephone, and later the Edison Electric Light Company.

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In 1892, Ambrose Fleming presented an important paper on electrical transformer theory to the Institution of Electrical Engineers in London.

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Ambrose Fleming started school at about the age of ten, attending a private school where he particularly enjoyed geometry.

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Ambrose Fleming's schooling continued at the University College School where, although accomplished at maths, he habitually came bottom of the class at Latin.

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Ambrose Fleming even built his own camera, the start of a lifelong interest in photography.

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Ambrose Fleming enrolled for a BSc degree at University College London, graduated in 1870, and studied under the mathematician Augustus de Morgan and the physicist George Carey Foster.

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Ambrose Fleming became a student of chemistry at the Royal College of Science in South Kensington in London .

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Ambrose Fleming was among the two or perhaps three University students who attended Maxwell's last Course.

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Ambrose Fleming again graduated, this time with a First Class Honours degree in chemistry and physics.

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Ambrose Fleming then obtained a DSc from London and served one year at Cambridge University as a demonstrator of mechanical engineering before being appointed as the first Professor of Physics and Mathematics at University College Nottingham, but he left after less than a year.

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In 1884 Ambrose Fleming joined University College London taking up the Chair of Electrical Technology, the first of its kind in England.

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In 1897 the Pender Laboratory was founding at University College London and Ambrose Fleming took up the Pender Chair after the £5000 was endowed as a memorial to John Pender, the founder of Cable and Wireless.

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Ambrose Fleming contracted Fleming, an expert in power engineering, to design the radio transmitter.

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Ambrose Fleming honoured his agreement and didn't speak about it throughout Marconi's life, but after his death in 1937 said Marconi had been "very ungenerous".

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In 1904, working for the Marconi company to improve transatlantic radio reception, Ambrose Fleming invented the first thermionic vacuum tube, the two-electrode diode, which he called the oscillation valve, for which he received a patent on 16 November.

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Ambrose Fleming's diode was used in radio receivers and radars for many decades afterwards, until it was superseded by solid state electronic technology more than 50 years later.

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Ambrose Fleming contributed in the fields of photometry, electronics, wireless telegraphy, and electrical measurements.

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Ambrose Fleming coined the term power factor to describe the true power flowing in an AC power system.

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Ambrose Fleming retired from University College London in 1927 at the age of 77.

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Ambrose Fleming remained active, becoming a committed advocate of the new technology of Television which included serving as the second president of the Television Society.

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Ambrose Fleming was knighted in 1929, and died at his home in Sidmouth, Devon in 1945.

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Ambrose Fleming was awarded the IRE Medal of Honor in 1933 for "the conspicuous part he played in introducing physical and engineering principles into the radio art".

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