John George Trump

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John George Trump

Birthplace: Woodhaven, Queens, NY, USA
Death: Died in Boston, MA, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Friedrich Trump and Elisabeth Trump
Husband of Elora Gordon Trump
Father of John Gordon Trump; <private> Philp (Trump) and <private> Ingraham (Trump)
Brother of Henry Trump; Elizabeth Walter and Fred C. Trump

Managed by: Geoffrey David Trowbridge
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About John George Trump

John George Trump (August 21, 1907 – February 21, 1985) was an American electrical engineer, inventor, and physicist. He was a recipient of U.S. President Ronald Reagan's National Medal of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. John Trump was noted for developing rotational radiation therapy. Together with Robert J. Van de Graaff, he developed one of the first million-volt X-ray generators. He was the uncle of Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States.

Early life

Trump was the youngest of three children and the second son of German immigrants Elizabeth and Friedrich Trump.

Following his father Friedrich's untimely death, John was financed through college, from bachelor to doctorate, by his brother Fred. He had joined their mother in real estate development and management while still in his teens (Elizabeth Trump & Son). Initially, the brothers tried working together building houses, but they had differing expectation. The brothers dissolved their partnership, and John pursued a career in electrical engineering.

Trump received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (1929), his master's degree in physics from Columbia University, and his doctorate in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (1933). He was a professor at MIT from 1936 until 1973.

War service

During the war years, Trump switched from work on hospital X-ray machines to research into similar technologies with a more direct application to warfare, especially the development of radar. In 1940, he joined the newly formed National Defense Research Committee (NDRC), as technical aide to Karl Compton, President of MIT and the Chairman of the Radar Division.

In 1942, Trump became Secretary of the Microwave Committee, a sub-committee of the NDRC. The head of the Microwave Committee was Alfred Lee Loomis, the millionaire physicist, who decided to create a laboratory. He selected a site for it, chose a suitably discreet and ambiguous title for it and funded the construction, until the Federal administration was set up. The new institution was the MIT Radiation Laboratory, or the "Rad Lab" to those in the know. The British were also working on radar, which they called Radio Direction Finder (RDF), and had started much earlier. Their Tizard Mission to the US showed how far ahead they were in some of the technologies, particularly the magnetron. The US decided to send a team to Britain to help coordinate the efforts of the two Allies. The unit was known as the "British Branch of the Radiation Laboratory" (BBRL) and operated as a department of Britain's Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) at Malvern, in Worcestershire. From February 1944 to the end of the war in Europe, Trump was the Director of the BBRL. During this time, Trump also served in the Advisory Specialist Group on Radar, advising USAAF General Carl Spaatz on navigational radar, precision-bombing radar, and also defenses against the German radars found in their night-fighters and in their flak units. The systems included: Gee, Oboe, LORAN, H2X, MEW & SCR-584. Trump worked with all the leading British radar experts, including Sir Robert Watson-Watt, A.P. Rowe and Bernard Lovell. At the end of the war, Trump also had interviews with Germany's leading radar technicians. Trump received recognition for his war-work from both the United States and the United Kingdom.


John G. Trump married and he and his wife had three children: John Gordon Trump of Watertown, Massachusetts, Christine Philp of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and Karen Ingraham of Los Alamos, New Mexico; and six grandchildren. His nephew Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States.

Later life

In 1946 Trump, Robert J. Van de Graaff, and Denis M. Robinson founded the High Voltage Engineering Corporation (HVEC) to produce Van de Graaff generators.

He returned to MIT to teach and lead research for three decades after the war. Trump died in Boston on February 21, 1985.

The National Academy of Engineering described Trump as "a pioneer in the scientific, engineering and medical applications of high voltage machinery".

Awards and Honors

Trump received a number of awards including:

  • 1947: The King's Medal for Service in the Cause of Freedom (KMS), given by George VI
  • 1948: The President's Certificate of Merit, presented by President Harry S. Truman
  • 1960: The Lamme Medal, given by the American Institute of Electrical Engineers
  • 1983: The National Medal of Science, presented by President Ronald Reagan
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John George Trump's Timeline

August 21, 1907
Woodhaven, Queens, NY, USA
November 10, 1938
Age 31
February 21, 1985
Age 77
Boston, MA, USA