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Manfred von Ardenne (1907-1997)

A boy genius who obtained his first patent at 15, Baron Manfred von Ardenne left school to develop his ideas into money-generating works. Although he studied briefly at the University of Berlin, he was largely self-taught, and he used his family fortune to build an independent lab in the Berlin suburb of Lichterfeld. In 1931, he developed a primitive television, and during WWII, he contracted with the German communications office, which was under the auspices of the post office, to work on a destructive atomic device. After the war, he lived in Soviet Georgia and contributed to the Russian atom bomb project, for which he won the Stalin Prize. He returned to Dresden to work at a research institute named in his honor; the third edition of his autobiography, says Paul Lawrence Rose, gives him a role in the events that led to the downfall of communism in East Germany. Von Ardenne held six hundred patents and made contributions to medical technology as well as to communications.

Karen Rae Keck

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