InfoAge Wall of Honor – 2012

Born in 1922 in Herrnskretschen, Czechoslovakia, Mr. Rittenbach received his B.S.E.E. degrees in electrical and communication engineering at the College of Technology in Bodenbach, Germany (summa cum laude) in 1941 at the age of 19, one of the youngest college graduates in Germany. His favorite subject was usually mathematics.  He received an M.S.E.E. in electronics at the Institute of Technology in Braunschweig, Germany, in 1953, and he deliberately chose the most difficult technical subjects in order to challenge himself.  During his lifetime, he held about 50 U.S. patents, plus about 50 foreign patents, most of them for his work at Camp Evans, and received numerous awards. 

From 1953 to 1958 he developed cable transmission & video broadcasting equipment at Siemens Corp. in Munich, Germany, receiving several patents for his work there.

In 1958 “Operation Paperclip” brought Mr. Rittenbach and his growing family to New Jersey. From 1958 until his retirement in 1995 he worked for the U.S. Army, mostly at Camp Evans. Working mainly in the research and development of ground surveillance radars, he quickly became a recognized expert in the field of radar, publishing four papers on correlation radar and continuous wave (CW) radar just within his first five years. 

He also became an expert on MTI (doppler) radar, and radar signal processing.  Several of his patents use signal processing for automatic target discrimination, for example to distinguish between various types of aircraft.  Other patents have to do with electronic intruder detection systems and electro-optic sensors. He also received several patents for his work on antennas, including phased array antennas.  His earlier work used analog techniques, and then in the 1970’s he applied his knowledge to digital electronics as well, with quite a few patents relating to digital signal processing.  

His inventions made significant improvements to the state-of-the-art in radar and signal processing.  His patents were used and implemented in a variety of radars, including the AN/PPS-15.  The AN/PPS-15 is a lightweight, coherent doppler very short range ground-to-ground combat surveillance radar operating at X-band at very low power. This radar set provided the capability for locating and recognizing moving targets under varying conditions of terrain, visibility and weather. It can penetrate smoke, haze, fog, light rain, and snow, and is equally effective day or night.  

His phased array antenna work was applicable to the AN/TPQ-36 & AN/TPQ-37 Firefinder Radars which are used for locating hostile mortar, rocket and artillery trajectories.  They can detect, verify and track projectiles in flight, and  automatically extrapolate both the firing position and impact point.

By having the government,  rather than contractors, own key patents , he saved the government large amounts of money in royalties.  He also frequently  pointed out contractor proposals for radar systems that had serious design flaws, thus saving the government millions of dollars in cost-overruns to fix the design flaws.

Mr. Rittenbach was a tireless advocate for math and science education.  In his retirement, he continued to work and document some of his creative ideas, including novel ways to present and teach mathematics. 

Posted April 4, 2017