1980 OSA President Warren J. Smith was born August 17, 1922 and regarded as one of the most influential leaders in the optical design and engineering field. Smith graduated from Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester in 1944. He then went to work for Eastman Kodak in Oakridge, Tennessee.
In 1946, Smith became chief optical engineer at Simpson Optical Manufacturing Company in Chicago, Illinois, and then, in 1959, he moved to Raytheon in Santa Barbara, California where he was manager of the Optics Section until 1962. From 1962 until 1983, he was director of R&D at Infrared Industries in Santa Barbara, and vice president of R&D at Santa Barbara Applied Optics until 1987. That year he joined Rockwell Collins Kaiser Electro-Optics and remained there part-time as chief scientist emeritus.
As author of Modern Optical Engineering, first published by McGraw-Hill in 1966, Smith was one of the best-known authors in the field. He also wrote Modern Lens Design and Practical Optical System Layout.
Smith served in numerous leadership positions for SPIE and OSA. He was a Fellow of both organizations. For his research, Smith received the SPIE Gold Medal and the Directors' Award. He also received the Joseph Fraunhofer/Robert M. Burley Prize.