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James Hillier
James Hillier.jpg
Born (1915-08-22)August 22, 1915
Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Died January 15, 2007(2007-01-15) (aged 91)
Princeton, New Jersey
Citizenship Canadian
Nationality Canadian
Institutions RCA
Alma mater University of Toronto
Known for Commercializing the electron microscope
President of the Electron Microscope Society of America (1945)
Notable awards IEEE Founders Medal (1981)
Not to be confused with the British actor James Hillier (actor).

James Hillier, OC (August 22, 1915 – January 15, 2007) was a Canadian-born scientist and inventor who designed and built, with Albert Prebus, the first successful high-resolution electron microscope in North America in 1938.[1]


Born in Brantford, Ontario, the son of James and Ethel (Cooke) Hillier, he received a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Physics (1937), Master of Arts (1938), and a Ph.D (1941) from the University of Toronto, where, as a graduate student, he completed a prototype of the electron microscope that had been invented by Ernst Ruska. This transmission electron microscope was used as a prototype for later electron microscopes.

In 1941, he went to the United States of America and joined the Radio Corporation of America in Camden, New Jersey. He became General Manager, RCA Laboratories (1957); Vice President, RCA Laboratories (1958); Vice President, Research and Engineering (1968); Executive Vice President, Research and Engineering (1969); and Executive Vice President and Chief Scientist (1976). New technologies developed during his tenure include the system that became RCA SelectaVision. (Note: RCA Laboratories, located in Princeton, NJ, became independent of RCA as a result of the corporate take-over by General Electric in 1986 and became Sarnoff Corporation, a subsidiary of SRI International through 2011, when it was absorbed by SRI.) Hillier spent many years refining the electron microscope and marketing it to research laboratories and universities, receiving a total of 41 patents for devices and processes.

After retiring from RCA in 1977, Dr. Hillier advised on the role of technology in the Third World and promoted science education. Although he became a U.S. citizen in 1945, Hillier remained involved with the Brantford community throughout his lifetime. The James Hillier Foundation, established in 1993, awards annual scholarships to Brant County students pursuing education in science.

In 1936, he married Florence Marjory Bell, a union that lasted until Florence's death in 1992. They had two sons: James Robert Hillier and William Wynship Hillier.

On January 15, 2007, Hillier died in Princeton, New Jersey due to a stroke.



  1. ^ Newberry, Sterling (September 2007). "Obituary: James Hillier". Physics Today 60 (9): 87–88. Bibcode:2007PhT....60i..87N. doi:10.1063/1.2784698. 
  • Ball, Vicent and Bauslaugh, Cheryl (January 18, 2007). "James Hillier". Brantford Expositor, pp. A1-A2, A8, A10-A11.

External links[edit]

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Brantford Expositor

Brantford Expositor
Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:22:30 -0800

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Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:33:45 -0800

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Mon, 23 Feb 2015 01:45:00 -0800

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Wed, 18 Feb 2015 15:03:45 -0800

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BBC News

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Gloucestershire Echo

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Sun, 22 Feb 2015 07:33:45 -0800

In the 30th minute Scott Manning outpaced the Cheltenham defence for the home side's sixth try and after several off the ball flare-ups Cheltenham were reduced to 13 men with first prop Ross Griffiths shown a yellow card and then captain James Hillier ...
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Official London Theatre

Official London Theatre
Thu, 12 Feb 2015 05:52:30 -0800

Directed by James Hillier, The Armour takes inspiration from the long history of the prestigious venue's unique surroundings, immersing audiences in three very different time periods. Former S Club 7 star Spearritt will follow London stage appearances ...

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