Frank Gray (researcher)

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Frank Gray (13 September 1887, Alpine, Indiana – 23 May 1969) was a physicist and researcher at Bell Labs who made numerous innovations in television, both mechanical and electronic, and is remembered for the Gray code.

The Gray code, or reflected binary code, appearing in Gray's 1953 patent,[1] is a binary numeral system often used in electronics, but with many applications in mathematics.

Gray conducted pioneering research on the development of television; he proposed an early form of "flying spot scanner" for early TV systems in 1927,[2][3] and helped develop a two-way mechanically scanned TV system in 1930.[4]

With Pierre Mertz, Gray wrote the classic paper on the mathematics of raster scan systems in 1934.[5] He later participated in the early days of the digital revolution, with Raymond W. Sears, William M. Goodall, John Robinson Pierce, and others at Bell Labs, by providing the binary code used by Sears in his PCM tube, a beam deflection tube of the type that Sears and Pierce collaborated on, which was used in Goodall's "Television by pulse code modulation".[6]

Early life[edit]

Gray graduated from Purdue University in 1911 with a degree in Physics.[7]

More patents[edit]

With Herbert E. Ives as co-inventor, Gray filed for two US patents in 1927: "Electro-optical system" (US 2,037,471, issued April 14, 1936) and "Electro-optical transmission" (US 1,759,504, issued May 20, 1930), and one in just his own name: "Television system" (US 2,113,254, issued April 5, 1938). He patented many other similar-sounding inventions over the years that followed.


  1. ^ F. Gray. Pulse code communication, March 17, 1953. U.S. patent no. 2,632,058.
  2. ^ F. Gray, J. W. Horton, and R. C. Mathes, "The production and utilisation of television signals," Trans. AIEE 46, pp. 918–39, June 1927.
  3. ^ F. Gray, "The use of a moving beam of light to scan a scene for television," J. OSA 16, March 1928
  4. ^ Herbert E. Ives, Frank Gray, and M. W. Baldwin, "Image Transmission System for Two-Way Television", Bell System Technical Journal, July 1930, pp. 449–69.
  5. ^ Pierre Mertz and Frank Gray, "A Theory of Scanning and Its Relation to the Characteristics of the Transmitted Signal in Telephotography and Television," Bell System Technical Journal, Vol. 13, pp. 464-515, July 1934
  6. ^ W. M. Goodall, "Television by Pulse Code Modulation," Bell Sys. Tech. J., Vol. 30 pp. 33–49, 1951.
  7. ^

External links[edit]