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Top 10 Scottish Inventors.

Biography of Sir Robert Watson-Watt Inventor of Radar

Inventor: Sir Robert Watson-Watt

Most Famous Invention: Radar


            Born April 13,1892 in Brechim, Angus, Scotland, Bobbie Watt, as he was then known, went on to lead a prodigious life of service to his country and indeed to the world.   

          He received his early education at Damacre Primary School and Brechin High School where he excelled in his studies, even though he was known to have a bit of a reputation as a prankster.

Sir Robert Watson-Watt

          He later graduated from the University of Dundee with an honors degree in engineering.   One of his professors, Dr. William Peddie by name, saw the great promise in the young man and offered him a position as his assistant, an offer which Robert immediately accepted.

          Robert Watt later applied for and received a position working for what was then called the War Office, that part of the British Government which oversaw the British Army.  Because there was no position available working in the field of radio or telegraphy, Watt accepted a position in the weather dept.  where he greatly distinguished himself.

          Because there were rumors abounding that the Nazi’s had perfected what was being termed a death ray, Watt was asked to see if he could make an English equivalent.  Watt assured them that in his opinion such a machine was impossible and so it was decided that if it was impossible for the English it was in all probability impossible for the Nazi’s also and the rumors of such a machine died.

          Watt did however suggest that what was really needed was some sort of an invention that would detect aircraft in the air that could not be seen.  With this in mind, he went onto do experimentation and the end result was the invention of what we call radar. 

          Because of his great contributions to the war effort, Watt became knighted in 1942 and became known as Sir Robert Watson-Watt.


Sir Robert Watson-Watt  beside the original British Radar Apparatus made at
Ditton Park in 1935. This equipment is now in the London Science Museum.

Sir Robert Watson-Watt Radar Equipment


          As an older man, Sir Robert loved to tell the story of how his own invention backfired on him.  It seemed that he was speeding along the highway and was stopped by a police officer who had clocked his speed with the help of a radar detector.  Upon finding out how the police officer had known his speed so accurately, Sir Robert had quipped “If I’d known what you’d do with it, I never would have invented it.”

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