Emmett Leith: Early work and influence

Sean F. Johnston
University of Glasgow, UK
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Emmett Leith is recognized today as one of a handful of key innovators in the subject that became holography. He can be remembered for distinct accomplishments and attributes. During the 1950s, Leith played a crucial role in synthesizing a new subject from previously quite separate ones. During the early 1960s he dramatically extended the possibilities of wavefront reconstruction and, with equal modesty, publicized them. His ideas and competence inspired a generation of colleagues at Willow Run Laboratories, many of whom went on to contribute to the modern subject, art and business of holography, and he displayed an uncommon coherence in his own intellectual interests, although his own career mutated from classified work, to popularization, and to an academic role.