WILBUR L. PRITCHARD
BY YVONNE BRILL AND JOHN F. KELLY
DR. WILBUR L. PRITCHARD, a pioneer in satellite engineering and the development of international satellite communications, died in Bethesda, Maryland, on March 18, 1999. Dr. Pritchard was president of W.L. Pritchard & Co., Inc., a Washington, D.C., consulting engineering firm doing technical and economic studies in telecommunications and specializing in satellite communications for clients around the world.
He was born in New York City and as a child had an enormous interest in how things worked, building crystal radio sets, taking apart telephones and clocks, and frequently putting them back together. He graduated in 1939 from Townsend Harris High School, a public school open only to the city's brightest students. He received a bachelor of electrical engineering from the City College of New York and did graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He started his career at the Philco Radio & TV Corporation before joining Raytheon in Massachusetts in 1947. While at Raytheon he helped develop a system for sending information by microwave transmission. Employing microwaves for a different purpose, he was among the engineers who invented the Radarange, the first microwave oven. For microwave ovens to work, difficult problems had to be solved, such as uniform heating and acceptable loading on the magnetrons despite the apparent short circuit presented by an empty oven. Bill and his colleagues solved these problems by a variety of in-