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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.



  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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39 news items

Gloucestershire Echo

Gloucestershire Echo
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 11:16:26 -0700

JAMES Hillier will captain new-look Cheltenham as they bid to make a good start to life in Western Counties North. The second row or back row forward takes over from Tom Lait and leads the side at Coney Hill tomorrow. Coney Hill, like Cheltenham, are ...

Birmingham Post

Birmingham Post
Thu, 25 Sep 2014 20:56:15 -0700

But with six years with the Life Guards (a unit of the Household Cavalry) under his belt, the 40-year-old former Captain James Hillier Blount (he dropped the o for his stage name is used to that reaction. “I have said before that I used to go round the ...
Gloucester Citizen
Sun, 21 Sep 2014 09:00:42 -0700

Shortly after Cheltenham's cause was hampered when captain James Hillier was shown a yellow card for a ruck infringement. Newent were roared on by a crowd close to 300 and extended their lead through 18-year-old left wing Reuben Goatley's try which ...

Nottingham Post

Nottingham Post
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 22:31:41 -0700

"They were lovely, they really got the audience going for us," says the former Army captain who was born James Hillier Blount in Wiltshire. You don't have to be a big band to get involved, he insists. "In Dublin, our support was Gavin James. One man ...

Brantford Expositor

Brantford Expositor
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 17:11:15 -0700

"We have a magnificent trail system and we need to market it and the fact that we're home to Alexander Graham Bell, Wayne Gretzky, Joseph Brant, James Hillier and Her Majesty's Chapel of the Mohawks. "Our proximity to the 403 and the 401 and to Detroit ...
Andover Advertiser
Tue, 09 Sep 2014 03:13:51 -0700

The pupils harvested their potatoes and tucked into a potato themed snack, where they looked at all the different things potatoes can be made into. They were even able to take some potatoes home for their tea. The children also planted sunflower seeds ...

The Stage

The Stage
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 09:56:25 -0700

Defibrillator artistic director James Hillier said: ““After such an amazing experience with the Langham on The Hotel Plays, I was over the moon when Defibrillator was asked to create a production to mark this significant anniversary of one of London's ...
The Press, York
Sat, 06 Sep 2014 05:31:31 -0700

While he finished behind winner James Hillier on a Kawasaki and Bruce Ansty on a Yamaha, Mountford posted the fastest lap of 120.88 miles an hour. Said team manager Pearson: “It's an all-York team - besides Russ - and is backed by businesses in and ...

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