Hans Hollmann

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Hans Erich (Eric) Hollmann (4 November 1899 — 19 November 1960) was a German electronic specialist who made several breakthroughs in the development of radar.

Hollmann was born in Solingen, Germany. He became interested in radio and even as a teenager subscribed to the technical magazines of the day. Late in World War I he became a prisoner of war of the French and did not return to Germany until 1920. He then studied at the Technical University at Darmstadt until he received his doctorate in 1928.

Hollmannn's doctoral research included the development of an ultra-short-wave transmitter and receiver for centimeter and decimeter waves. This gained the attention of Telefunken, and ultimately led to their development of the first microwave telecommunication system.

In 1930 Hollmann moved to the Heinrich-Hertz Institute for Oscillatory Research in Berlin. There he continued studies in microwaves and cathode ray tubes and also worked on the ionosphere research and radio astronomy. In 1933 Hollmann became a lecturer at the Technical University in Berlin.

In January 1934, Hans-Karl von Willisen and Paul-Günther Erbslöh started a company called Gesellschaft für Elektroakustische und Mechanische Apparate (GEMA). With Hollmann as a consultant, GEMA built a system using interference detection in the autumn of 1934. It operated at 50 cm wavelength and could detect ships up to 10-km distance. By 1935, they used pulse-moduletion, allowing measurement of range (distance to the target), and developed the technology into two applications. For naval use, the Seetakt system used a wavelength of 80 cm. A land based version at 120 cm wavelength was also developed as Freya.

Telefunken set up a radar business in 1933 based on Hollmann's work and developed a much shorter-range gun-laying system called Würzburg. During World War II, Freya and Würzburg worked in pairs. Freya would spot the incoming aircraft while the Würzburg calculated the distance and height.

In 1935, Hollmann wrote two books on microwaves, Physics and Technique of Ultrashort Waves and Seeing with Electromagnetic Waves, which were the inspiration for the development of centimetric radar in other countries despite some censorship of their contents.

During the war he supervised many research institutes in occupied countries and saved many scientists from being deported to Germany. His home and his laboratory in Berlin were destroyed during the war. After the war he was not allowed to work on microwaves but he turned his attention to a wide range of other fields in electronics. He eventually accepted an offer from the US Government to work in California.

He was married to Gisela Schimmelbusch and had three children. He died in Los Angeles in 1960.

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