Uno Lamm

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August Uno Lamm (May 22, 1904 – June 1, 1989) was a Swedish electrical engineer and inventor.[1] He was sometimes called "The Father of High Voltage Direct Current" power transmission.[2]


Lamm was born in Gothenburg on May 22, 1904 to Fredrik Hjalmar Lamm and Aino Maria Lovisa Wilhelmina Wijkander.[1] He obtained his master's degree at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm in 1927. After a short time in compulsory military service he joined ASEA, the Swedish electrical conglomerate, initially working in their training program. In 1929 he was made manager of the project to develop a high-voltage mercury arc valve. Valves at the time operated only at about 2500 volts, and if higher-voltage valves were available they could have practical use in the transmission of large quantities of electric energy over long distances.

In 1943 Lamm obtained his Ph.D. from the Royal Institute of Technology, studying part-time while developing the mercury arc valve. After twenty years or so of development work to produce a valve with the necessary rating for HVDC transmission, ASEA obtained a contract for the HVDC Gotland project in 1950, which when completed in 1955 became the first modern fully commercial HVDC system.

In 1955 Lamm was made head of the ASEA project to develop Sweden's first commercial nuclear reactors.

Lamm was appointed by ASEA in 1961 to work with General Electric on the Pacific DC Intertie project, which combined AC and HVDC transmission systems to move electrical energy from the hydroelectric generators of the Pacific Northwest to consumers in southern California.[3] By the end of 1964 Lamm had moved to southern California.[4] From 1967 to 1988 he served as an IEEE director at large.

He died on June 1, 1989 in Burlingame, California.


During his career Lamm obtained 150 patents and wrote about 80 technical papers. He also wrote extensively on social issues in articles published in Swedish newspapers and magazines, often critical of the Swedish government. Lamm was described as a staunch anti-Communist who admired some of the positive features of the United States economy. During the Second World War, while required to travel to Nazi Germany to carry out ASEA business, Lamm was criticized by his supervisors for his anti-Nazi attitude, such as refusing to give the Nazi Party salute at patent hearings.[4]

Lamm learned to play the violin in his youth and retained an interest in the performing arts. He was married twice and had four children.[2]

Lamm's Ph.D. thesis was titled, in English, "The Transductor, DC Pre-Saturated Reactor". While describing this device at a lecture in the United States he also mentioned that the same principle could be applied to resistors, making a transistor. This was the name later applied to the solid-state amplifier.


During his life Lamm received many awards including the Lamme medal in 1965. In 1980 the IEEE developed the Uno Lamm award for contributions to the field of high voltage electrical engineering. In 1981, he was awarded the Howard N. Potts Medal. [4]


  1. ^ a b "A. Uno Lamm". IEEE. Retrieved 2015-02-28. 
  2. ^ a b William R. Gould, "August Uno Lamm", in Memorial Tributes, Volume 5, 1992, National Academy of Engineering. retrieved from" August 24, 2005
  3. ^ "Voltage Expert Holds Power Key". New York Times. July 26, 1964. Retrieved 2015-02-28. This Swedish expert in the field of high voltage is the electro‐technical director of ASEA, which is the common name for Allmänna Svenska Elektriska Aktiebolaget of Västéras, Sweden ... 
  4. ^ a b c Katherine Wollard "Uno Lamm: inventor and activist", IEEE Spectrum, March 1988