Herbert E. Grier
Grier at the firing console during Operation Plumbbob in 1957
Herbert Earl Grier

(1911-07-03)July 3, 1911
DiedMarch 17, 1999(1999-03-17) (aged 87)
EducationMassachusetts Institute of Technology
OccupationElectrical engineer

Herbert Earl Grier (July 3, 1911 — March 17, 1999) was an American electrical engineer. While starting his engineering career with MIT during the 1930s to 1940s, Grier co-invented a miniature stroboscope and handheld flash with Harold Edgerton and Kenneth Germeshausen. During World War II, Grier built a firing mechanism during the Manhattan Project that was used in the Fat Man bomb.

After he, Edgerton and Germeshausen created EG&G in 1947, Grier was involved in several nuclear tests including Operation Sandstone and Operation Ranger. With EG&G, Grier was president until 1976 and served as a consultant from 1983 to 1994. Apart from electrical engineering, he took part in NASA safety boards that assessed Skylab and the preparation of the first Space Shuttle. Grier was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal in 1985 and the National Medal of Science in 1989.

Early life and education

Grier was born on July 3, 1911, in Chicago, Illinois. At the age of eleven, Grier and his family left Chicago to live in New York City.[1] For his post-secondary education, Grier graduated with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the early 1930s.[2]


Grier started his career as an electrical engineer for MIT from 1934 to 1947.[2] During this time period, Grier co-invented a miniature stroboscope alongside Harold Edgerton and Kenneth Germeshausen in 1934. Years later, Grier and his colleagues created a Kodak handheld flash for newspaper photographers in 1940.[3] While working on aerial photography for Edgerton during World War II, Grier joined the Manhattan Project and built the firing mechanism used in the Fat Man bomb.[4][5]

After forming EG&G with Edgerton and Germeshausen in 1947, Grier was involved in nuclear testings between the late 1940s and early 1950s. These included Operation Sandstone, Operation Ranger and Operation Ivy.[6] With EG&G, Grier was the company's president until 1976 and was a consultant from 1983 to 1994. Other executive roles Grier had were president of GEC Geonuclear Company from 1965 to 1983 and chairman of Reynolds Electrical & Engineering Company from 1969 to 1971.[7] Outside of electrical engineering, Grier was selected for a 1973 NASA advisory board on safety that reviewed Skylab.[8] He also led a 1980 safety committee that assessed the preparation of the first NASA Space Shuttle.[9]

Awards and honors

Grier was a recipient of the NASA Distinguished Service Medal in 1985 and the National Medal of Science in 1989.[1][10]

Personal life

Grier died on March 17, 1999, in La Jolla, California. He was married and had three children.[11]


  1. ^ a b Krapp, Kristine M., ed. (1998). "Herbert E. Grier, Jr.". Notable Twentieth Century Scientists. Vol. 5 (Supplement ed.). Gale. p. 183. ISBN 0-8103-9181-3.
  2. ^ a b "Grier, Herbert Earl". Who's Who in America. Vol. 1 (53rd ed.). New Providence, New Jersey: Marquis Who's Who. 1999. p. 1747. ISBN 0-8379-0192-8.
  3. ^ O'Gorman, Ned; Hamilton, Kevin (2016). "EG&G and the Deep Media of Timing, Firing, and Exposing". Journal of War & Culture Studies. 9 (2): 185, 187–89. doi:10.1080/17526272.2016.1190205. S2CID 159826498.
  4. ^ O'Gorman & Hamilton 2016 p. 192.
  5. ^ "Nuclear Blasts Were His Bag For Many Years". Nevada State Journal. 1 June 1976. p. 3.
  6. ^ Hall, Michael D. (January 13, 2017). "Remembering EG&G, Part IV Pioneering Days". National Atomic Testing Museum. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  7. ^ "Grier, Herbert E.". American men & women of science. Vol. 3 (19th ed.). New Providence, New Jersey: R.R Bowker. 1994. p. 394. ISBN 0-8352-3466-5.
  8. ^ "Herbert Grier appointed to NASA safety panel". Lowell Sun. January 26, 1973. p. 13.
  9. ^ "Space shuttle A-OK, panel report says". Billings Gazette. January 17, 1980. p. 13–A.
  10. ^ Clason, Lauren. "Herbert E. Grier". National Science & Technology Medals Foundation. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Herbert Grier; EG&G co-founder, specialist in stroboscopic lighting". Boston Globe. 21 March 1999. p. F8.