Jim Brittain and the Allure of Electrical History [Scanning our Past]

Alexander B. Magoun, Trinity College Hartford


© 1963-2012 IEEE. James E. 'Jim' Brittain, Fellow of the IEEE, Professor Emeritus at Georgia Institute of Technology, and founder of the 'Scanning Our Past' section of this journal, died March 3, 2018, not far from where he grew up in Henderson County, NC, USA. Well trained and educated to pursue a terminal degree in electrical engineering in the 1960s, the soft-spoken Brittain made the astonishing career change to history, with significant consequences for the history of IEEE and IEEE technologies. This article draws largely on Brittain's documented, unpublished memoir to explore aspects of his background and career that successfully fed what he called 'the increase and diffusion of knowledge about the contributions of electrical engineers.'1