OSA | Living History

Robert M. Burley

OSA Fellow Robert M. Burley graduated from Harvard in 1929 but remained at the School of Electrical Engineering to complete his postdoctoral work in electronics.

From 1936 – 1946 he worked as part of the Eclipse Pioneer Division at Bendix Aviation Corporation from This work included driftmeters, gyro horizons and gyro-controlled computing airborne sights. He then spent two years on inertial and electromagnetic guidance systems at the Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation, before joining Specialties, Inc. in 1948 to work on servo and gyro systems. Burley joined Baird Corporation in 1952.

Throughout his career he was involved with the development of a great range of optical and electro-optical devices such as night vision and optical tracking systems. He is known for his development of the night vision goggle system and fiber optic bundle beam expander with image intensifier. The first recipient of the Joseph Fraunhofer Award, Burley was recognized “for the unique leadership and technical contributions that he has given to the vast number of optical and electro-optical projects with which he has been associated during a career that began nearly 50 years ago,” in 1982.

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Document Created: 10 Feb 2020
Last Updated: 24 Apr 2020