Eisler, Paul

Eisler, Paul
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b. 1907 Vienna, Austria
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Austrian engineer responsible for the invention of the printed circuit.
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At the age of 23, Eisler obtained a Diploma in Engineering from the Technical University of Vienna. Because of the growing Nazi influence in Austria, he then accepted a post with the His Master's Voice (HMV) agents in Belgrade, where he worked on the problems of radio reception and sound transmission in railway trains. However, he soon returned to Vienna to found a weekly radio journal and file patents on graphical sound recording (for which he received a doctorate) and on a system of stereoscopic television based on lenticular vertical scanning.
In 1936 he moved to England and sold the TV patent to Marconi for £250. Unable to find a job, he carried out experiments in his rooms in a Hampstead boarding-house; after making circuits using strip wires mounted on bakelite sheet, he filed his first printed-circuit patent that year. He then tried to find ways of printing the circuits, but without success. Obtaining a post with Odeon Theatres, he invented a sound-level control for films and devised a mirror-drum continuous-film projector, but with the outbreak of war in 1939, when the company was evacuated, he chose to stay in London and was interned for a while. Released in 1941, he began work with Henderson and Spalding, a firm of lithographic printers, to whom he unwittingly assigned all future patents for the paltry sum of £1. In due course he perfected a means of printing conducting circuits and on 3 February 1943 he filed three patents covering the process. The British Ministry of Defence rejected the idea, considering it of no use for military equipment, but after he had demonstrated the technique to American visitors it was enthusiastically taken up in the US for making proximity fuses, of which many millions were produced and used for the war effort. Subsequently the US Government ruled that all air-borne electronic circuits should be printed.
In the late 1940s the Instrument Department of Henderson and Spalding was split off as Technograph Printed Circuits Ltd, with Eisler as Technical Director. In 1949 he filed a further patent covering a multilayer system; this was licensed to Pye and the Telegraph Condenser Company. A further refinement, patented in the 1950s, the use of the technique for telephone exchange equipment, but this was subsequently widely infringed and although he negotiated licences in the USA he found it difficult to license his ideas in Europe. In the UK he obtained finance from the National Research and Development Corporation, but they interfered and refused money for further development, and he eventually resigned from Technograph. Faced with litigation in the USA and open infringement in the UK, he found it difficult to establish his claims, but their validity was finally agreed by the Court of Appeal (1969) and the House of Lords (1971).
As a freelance inventor he filed many other printed-circuit patents, including foil heating films and batteries. When his Patent Agents proved unwilling to fund the cost of filing and prosecuting Complete Specifications he set up his own company, Eisler Consultants Ltd, to promote food and space heating, including the use of heated cans and wallpaper! As Foil Heating Ltd he went into the production of heating films, the process subsequently being licensed to Thermal Technology Inc. in California.
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Bibliography
1953, "Printed circuits: some general principles and applications of the foil technique", Journal of the British Institution of Radio Engineers 13: 523.
1959, The Technology of Printed Circuits: The Foil Technique in Electronic Production.
1984–5, "Reflections of my life as an inventor", Circuit World 11:1–3 (a personal account of the development of the printed circuit).
1989, My Life with the Printed Circuit, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: Lehigh University Press.
KF

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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