The Man behind the CAT Scan – Sir Godfrey Newbold Hounsfield

His Tryst with Airplanes


This brain scanner, designed by Godfrey Hounsfield at EMI, was the first production model with which the first trials on patients were undertaken in 1971. These established CT (computerised tomography) scanning as a key imaging technology, particularly for the brain. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

Right from his childhood days, Sir Godfrey Newbold Hounsfield showed a keen interest in airplanes. While he kept studying planes as a machine, he took the idea more seriously around the 2nd world war.

At this juncture, he had volunteered to participate as a reservist. There were plenty of books made available by the RAF for radio mechanics. When Hounsfield finally appeared for the trade test, he did so well that he was inducted as a Radar Mechanic Instructor.

He then changed base to shift to the Royal College of Science in South Kensington. This was followed by his journey to the Cranwell Radar School. He did seem to have some spare time in Cranwell Radar School. During this time, he engaged in two different activities. Firstly, he appeared for the City and Guilds examination in Radio Communications and passed it with flying colors.

Secondly, he also spent his time building large-screen oscilloscope equipment. For the latter, the English engineer was also awarded a Certificate of Merit. As a result of these factors, his work came into the limelight and was acknowledged by Air Vice-Marshal Cassidy.

When the 2nd World War finally ended, upon Cassidy’s recommendation, Hounsfield received an academic grant. This took him to Faraday House Electrical Engineering College in London.

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