Warren L. Smith

Warren L. Smith, Oscillator Designer and Author

Warren L. Smith, 84, of Allentown, PA passed away Tuesday, December 9, 2008, in Good Shepherd Speciality Hospital, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Born in Wayne, Nebraska, on July 6, 1924, he was the son of James Morrison Smith and Mattie (Meng) Smith.

Warren made major contributions to both resonators and oscillators, as evidenced by his seminal papers and reports, including R. A. Sykes, W. L. Smith, and W. J. Spencer, “Studies on High Precision Resonators,” Proc. 17th Annual Symposium on Frequency Control, pp. 4-27, 1963, AD423381; R. E. Paradysz and W. L. Smith, “Crystal Controlled Oscillators for Radiation Environments,” Proc. 27th Ann. Symp. Frequency Control, pp. 120-123, AD-771042; “An Ultraprecise Standard of Frequency,” W. L. Smith, final report for U. S. Army contract DA 36-039 SC-73078, p. 13, 1 Dec. 1960, AD-253034; W. L. Smith and W. J. Spencer, “Quartz Crystal Controlled Oscillators,” Final Report, U.S. Army Contract DA36-039 SC-85373, Report No. 25335-H, 15 March 1963, AD-419717; and his reviews, chapter 8.1 on Bulk-Acoustic-Wave Oscillators, and chapter 8.3 on Quartz Frequency Standards and Clocks in the book, E. A. Gerber and A. Ballato, Precision Frequency Control, Vol. 2, pp. 45-98, Academic Press, 1985.

He was raised in Yankton, South Dakota, and graduated from Yankton High School in 1942. After graduation, Smith entered Michigan College of Mining and Technology. During that year, he joined the Naval Reserve Officers Training Program and was assigned to the USNR training program at the University of Wisconsin, where he completed the work for a BSEE degree in 1945. Smith completed his midshipman training at Columbia University and was then assigned as an instructor at the Underway Training Center in San Diego until released to inactive duty.

He returned to the University of Wisconsin for Doctoral work in Physics. Weeks before graduation, he was recalled to active duty in 1951 to serve aboard a navy destroyer in Korean waters. He was soon transferred to the Atomic Bomb Task Force headquartered in Washington, D.C., where he supervised a group of civilian scientists responsible for carrying out various experiments during two of the Pacific test operations on the Bikini Atoll in 1953 and 1954.

Upon his honorable discharge, Smith joined the Bell Telephone Laboratories as a member of the technical staff in the Piezoelectric Department. In 1962, he was promoted to supervisor of the Precision Frequency and Selection Group responsible for the design and development of precision controlled oscillators and associated circuits, design of crystal filters, and the design and specification of quartz crystal resonators. Smith was the author of 17 articles. He was granted several United States and foreign patents. In 1968, Smith and William Spenser were awarded one of the IR-100 awards from the Industrial Research Magazine. He also received the C. B. Sawyer Award in 1975 for continuing contributions to the field of precision frequency control and selection. He was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers in 1973. The Electronic Industries Association named Smith the Quartz Devices “Man of the Year” in 1986 for outstanding service and many contributions to the industry.

In 1971, Smith was appointed a US Delegate and Technical Advisor to Technical Commission 49 of the International Electro Technical Commission. He became chairman of Working Group 6 on Measurements and Working Group 7 concerned with crystal oscillators. He served on these commissions until 1990 and was the author of several standards publications and guide documents on behalf of the United Nations National Committee for the IEC. He retired in from Bell Laboratories in 1987. He continued to serve on the IEEE Standards Committee until 1994 and made significant contributions to work on piezoelectric crystals.

Warren married Frances Dowd in 1948. They are the parents of five children, Marjory, Catherine, James, Jerry, and Janine. Warren has 11 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren and one brother, James.