Henry Paynter

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Henry M. Paynter (August 11, 1923 – June 14, 2002) was an American scientist, best known as the inventor of bond graphs.

Bond graphs[edit]

Bond graphs are a unique way of describing dynamic models, designed to model the interaction between different kinds of physical systems, like electrical, mechanical, hydraulical and chemical. This is possible because one thing all these components have in common is power. Power can flow from one component to another and bond graphs are designed to keep track of these flows in an easy way .

Bond graphs were invented on April 24, 1959:

In 1954, I moved over to the MIT mechanical engineering department to establish the first systems engineering subjects at MIT. It was this specific task which 5 years later produced bond graphs, drawing naturally upon all the attitudes and experience indicated above. So it was on April 24, 1959, when I was to deliver the lecture as posted below, I awoke that morning with the idea of the 0,1-junctions somehow planted in my head overnight! Moreover the very symbols (0,1) for [Kirchhoff's current law] and [Kirchhoff's voltage law], respectively, made direct the correspondence between circuit duality and logical duality. (The limited use of these 3-ports in the hydro plant bond graph above hardly does justice to their role in rendering bond graphs a complete and formal discipline.)

— Prof. Henry M. Paynter, The Gestation and Birth of Bond Graphs (c. 2000)[1]

He published on a wide variety of subjects in more than 100 papers, patents, articles, and book chapters, as well as several books. The Bond graph modelling approach was presented for the first time in the "Ports, Energy and Thermodynamic Systems" on April 24, 1959 at MIT, which was later published (Paynter, 1961). Paynter was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1997, one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer.

Academic career[edit]

Paynter received the B.S. in civil engineering in 1944, the M.S. in mathematics and science in 1949, and the first Sc.D. ever awarded in hydroelectric engineering in 1951, all from MIT. Paynter joined the Department of Civil Engineering in 1946 and became an assistant professor in 1951. He was regarded as a creative, charismatic, and passionate teacher who deeply influenced the careers of his students. He urged them to think "big" and "deep" about engineering and science. He joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1954 on a half-time basis to initiate a Systems Engineering curriculum. He became full time in mechanical engineering in 1959 and was promoted to associate professor the following year. He became a full professor in 1964. After he retired, Paynter was a senior lecturer in mechanical engineering.

In his work, he became one of the world's leading experts in analog computing. His work was closely associated with George Philbrick, who is credited along with Lovell as the developer of the operational amplifier. Paynter's earliest research lead to the formation of the Pi-Square Engineering Company. This company applied fast electronic analog computing to industrial process control. Paynter also collaborated closely with the Woodward Governor Company on hydro plant control.

Personal life[edit]

Henry Martyn Paynter IV was born in Evanston, Illinois and grew up in New York City and its environs. He was married to Gayllis Anne Beasley and fathered six children.


  1. ^ "The Gestation and Birth of Bond Graphs". 2000.

Further reading[edit]