Kenneth R. Shoulders

Kenneth Radford Shoulders (1927 – June 7, 2013) was an experimental physicist. He is known for various work related to the field of energy and has also been credited as an early pioneer of electron beam lithography, which has become a key mask-making technology for modern microelectronics.[1][2] He has additionally been attributed the title, ‘Father of Vacuum of Microelectronics’[2][3] and been known as a founder of microelectronic field emission devices.[4]


In the 1950s, Shoulders worked as a researcher at MIT in applied research on microminiature data-processing components and systems and worked with Dudley Allen Buck in making thin-film cryotron integrated circuits.[5][6][7] In 1958, he moved to California to work as a Senior Research Engineer, Applied Physics Laboratory created by Charles Rosen at Stanford Research Institute (SRI).[8] Shoulders established SRI’s microelectronics program.[9] Early in his career at SRI, Shoulders made the first 12 quadrupole mass spectrometers[10] and then later worked with others such as mouse inventor, Douglas Engelbart and Jerre Noe.[11]

During his time at SRI, Shoulders also worked on ideas for a flying car, the Gyrodyne Convertiplane. It combined features of a car, a helicopter (a rotor on the roof for take-off and landing) and a small airplane (rigid wings and a rear propeller). Shoulders developed preliminary sketches and specifications, promoting the idea of a ground-to-air vehicle that could rescue long-distance commuters from hours of grid-lock traffic. In 1963, Shoulders asked the California State Senate’s Transportation Committee for permission to use his invention on public roads, and in 1964 they agreed. However, a number of nearby municipalities banned the Convertiplane from their airspace.[9]

Unable to get the flying car off the ground, Shoulders created his own company, Vertitek, and began developing remote-controlled drones. He imagined a wide variety of drone applications, from children's toys to agricultural crop dusters. One example, the Boomerang, sent out sound waves to detect and avoid collisions, and looked like giant maple seed.[9]

In the 1980s, Shoulders moved to Austin, Texas to work at Jupiter Technologies as Chief Inventor and focusing on electron condensed charge technology (referred to as EV's) along with Hal Puthoff.[9][3]

In 2000, Shoulders' work related to high energy electron charge clusters was incorporated into a Future Energy Technologies briefing presented to The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Selected bibliographyEdit

  • D.A. Buck and K.R. Shoulders, An approach to microminiature systems, in Proceedings of the Eastern Joint Computer Conference, Amer. Inst. of Elect. Engrs.: New York, 1958, p. 55-59.
  • K.R. Shoulders, "Microelectronics Using Electron Beam Activated Machining Techniques," in Franz L. Alt, ed., Advances in Computers, vol 2 (New York: Academic Press, 1961), pp. 135–293. ASIN: B0007HV7DK
  • K.R. Shoulders, "Toward Complex Systems", from Symposium on Microelectronics and Large Systems, Nov. 17 and 18, 1964, Washington, D.C., Mathis, S. J., Wiley, R. E. and Spandorfer, L. M., editors, Spartan Books and MacMillan, 1965, pp. 97–128.
  • C.A. Spindt and K.R. Shoulders, Research in micron-size Field-emission tubes, in IEEE Conference Record, 1966 Eight Conference on Tube Techniques, 1966, p. 143.
  • K. R. Shoulders, EV—A Tale of Discovery, Austin, TX, 1987. A historical sketch of early EV work having: 246 pages, 153 photos and drawings, 13 references.

US Patents:

  • 3,497,929, "Method of making a needle-type electron source" (with Louis N. Heynick), 1970
  • 3,398,317, "Information storage tube", 1968
  • 3,430,213, "Data Storage and Logic Device", 1969
  • 3,453,478, "Needle-Type Electron Source" (with Louis N. Heynick), 1969
  • 3,458,745, "Thin Wafer-Channel Multiplier", 1969
  • 3,500,102, "Thin Electron Tube With Electron Emitters at Intersections of Crossed Conductors" (with Munsey E. Crost and Mortimer H. Zinn), 1970
  • 3,500,112 "Electron Device With Improved Secondary Electron Collection Means", 1970 (with, Kendal T. Rogers and John Kelly)
  • 3,533,429, "Pneumatically Operated Valve", 1970
  • 3,755,704, "Field Emission Cathode Structures and Devices Utilizing Such Structures" (with Charles A. Spindt and Louis N. Heynick), 1973
  • 3,789,471, "Field Emission Cathode Structures, Devices Utilizing Such Structures, and Methods of Producing Such Structures" (with Charles A. Spindt and Louis N. Heynick), 1974
  • 3,915,414 "Rotating aircraft and aircraft control system", 1975
  • 3,969,039 "Vacuum pump", 1974
  • 5,018,180 "Energy conversion using high charge density", 1991
  • 5,054,046 "Method of and apparatus for production and manipulation of high density charge", 1991
  • 5,054,047 "Circuits responsive to and controlling charged particles", 1991
  • 5,123,039, "Energy conversion using high charge density", 1992
  • 5,148,461, "Circuits responsive to and controlling charged particles", 1992
  • 5,153,901, "Production and manipulation of charged particles", 1992


  1. ^ Davies, Owen (February 1991). "Volatile Vacuums". Omni. 13 (5): 72. ISSN 0149-8711. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b Zhu, Wei (2001). Vacuum Microelectronics. Wiley-Interscience. pp. 2, 181. ISBN 978-0471322443.
  3. ^ a b "Does Jupiter have new bolts?". The Economist. 313 (7624): 99. October 1989.
  4. ^ Davies, Eric W. (May 2003). "Ball Lightning Study" (PDF). Air Force Research Laboratory: 26–37. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 November 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  5. ^ Dudley Allen Buck
  6. ^ "RESEARCH IN SELF-ORGANIZING MACHINES" (PDF). SRI Proposal for Research. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  7. ^ "This Month in Physics History". Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  8. ^ D. A. Buck, K. R. Shoulders (1958). "An approach to microminiature system". Proceedings of the Eastern Joint Computer Conference, Amer. Inst. Of Elect. Engrs: 55–59.
  9. ^ a b c d Jaehnig, Kenton G.; Roberts, Jacob (2015). "The Frontiersman". Distillations. 2 (3). Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  10. ^ Hubschmann, Hans-Joachim (2008). Handbook of GC/MS: Fundamentals and Applications. Wiley-VCH. p. 5. ISBN 978-3-527-31427-0.
  11. ^ Markoff, John (2005). What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry. US: Penguin. pp. 16–17. ISBN 978-0-670-03382-9.

External linksEdit