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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Warren P. Waters

Physicist, Inventor, Electrical EngineerLos Alamos, NM

Military VeteranPostwar Nuclear ProgramScientist
Warren P. Waters

Warren P. Waters was an American physicist, electrical engineer, inventor, and a machine gunman during World War II.

Waters joined the US Army in 1942 and began training to become a pilot. He later transferred to the 386th Infantry stationed in Northern France, where he was wounded in action. Waters was awarded with the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his service. 

Between 1947 and 1951, Waters spent summers at Los Alamos, New Mexico testing rockets after the conclusion of the Manhattan Project. He worked alongside several Manhattan Project scientists, such as physicist Edward Teller. During this time, Waters was an undergraduate student studying physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, CA.

In 1952, Waters was hired by Hughes Aircraft Company, where he conducted research with transistors and semiconductors. He was later employed by Texas Instruments, Rockwell International, and Western Digital. He became a solid-state engineer in 1954 after receiving his Master’s in Physics. Waters pursued doctoral research, but refused to quit his job to write the dissertation as required by USC at the time. 

Waters has 11 patents contributing to the advancement of the field of integrated circuits. He was on the team that invented the silicon wafer, which provided a cheap, lightweight, and durable product that could carry the charge of integrated circuits for use in telecommunication satellites. He is also responsible for designing the landing mechanisms used during the 1967 experiment that launched the first unmanned spacecraft to the Moon, in a mission known as the Surveyor Project.

For more information, you can visit the website, “Warren P. Waters: An Early Pioneer in Semi-Conductors and Micro-Chips,” and his Wikipedia page.

Warren P. Waters's Timeline
1922 Sep 8th Born in in Sanger, California.
19421946 Served as a pilot during World War II.
19471951 Tested rockets at the Los Alamos lab in New Mexico.
1949 Received his Bachelors degree in Applied Physics from the California Institute of Technology.
1951 Married Lois Lockwood.
1954 Received his Masters in Physics at the University of Southern California.
19521962 Worked as the Manager of their Device Development Department for the Semiconductor Division of Hughes Aircraft Company.
19621966 Worked at the Semiconductor-Components Division of Texas Instruments in Dallas, Texas.
19661967 Returned to work at Hughes Aircraft Company in their Solid State Research Center in Newport Beach, California.
1980 Started work with Rockwell International.
1987 Worked for Western Digital in Irvine, California.
2000 Jul 17th Passed away in La Jolla, California.

Waters working in lab with colleague. Photograph Courtesy of Dr. Carolyn Waters Broe.

Integrated Circuit Chips Patent by Warren P. Waters and Richard J. Belardi- 1967. Accepted into the Smithsonian Chip Collection-  Photograph Courtesy of Dr. Carolyn Waters Broe.

Photograph of New Mexico Desert c. 1950. Photograph Courtesy of Dr. Carolyn Waters Broe.

Warren Waters (Front Right) Los Alamos c. 1947. Photo Courtesy of Dr. Carolyn Broe

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