Milestones:Invention of Holography by Dennis Gabor

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Invention of Holography by Dennis Gabor



Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the Milestone Plaque Sites

51.4987997, -0.1748772, Imperial College, London

Details of the physical location of the plaque


How the intended plaque site is protected/secured

There is a staffed desk at the Exhibition Road entrance of Imperial College, where visitors could ask for admittance or guidance; a walk across an open courtyard to the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Building is required.

Historical significance of the work

Gabor’s invention of holography was an unanticipated step and relied on his understanding of images in the Fourier domain. He understood the importance of phase information, whereas previously only the magnitude spectra had been considered of any importance in the processing and reproduction of images. With the aid of phase information, a three-dimensional reconstruction of an image is possible. The practical realization of this concept requires a coherent light source, and therefore had to await the invention of the laser before substantial applications of holography could be achieved. However prior to that, the invention led to improvements in electron microscopy and to new understandings and viewpoints on image processing and other forms of signal processing. At the time of the invention, Gabor evidently had a good opinion of his own achievement, and wrote in a letter to Max Born in June 1948 [9]: “……. a new thing and I have no doubt that it is my luckiest find yet …. ….. made me happier than anything I have done in the last 20 years …..

Features that set this work apart from similar achievements

The invention of holography by Gabor was in many respects ahead of other work and ideas in the processing of images, and as such was unique. G. Saxby [10] reports in his 1988 book that there were six and a half thousand papers on holography, of which he judged ‘….. more than a thousand … contain material of importance’. X-ray holograms were achieved by 1987 at Lawrence Livermore laboratories, and it can be considered that some aspects of synthetic aperture radar systems have concepts in common with holography. For addit1. Biography of Fellows of Royal Society. Written by T.E. Allibone: doi: 10.1098/rsbm.1980.0004, Biogr. Mems Fell. R. Soc. 1980 26, 106-147 2. “Dennis Gabor – Contributions to Communication Theory & Signal Processing”, by P.C.J. Hill, EUROCON 2007 proceedings. 3. 4. At IEEE GHN site: 5. Wikipedia: 6. Biography (in Hungarian): 7. Wikepedia entry in Hungarian (some added information not in the English language version): 8. Information about some of his inventions, etc. (in Hungarian): 9. R.R.A. Syms ‘Practical Volume Holography’, Oxford Science Publications, Clarendon Press, 1990 10. G. Saxby ‘Practical Holography’, Prentice Hall, 1988. 11 D. Gabor, Inventing the Future, Secker & Warburg, 1963, [and Pelican Books, London, 1964].

Significant references


Supporting materials