Obituary: Shipton, engineer, EEG machine pioneer, 86

Harold Shipton, professor emeritus of electrical engineering, died Monday, April 9, 2007. He was 86.

Shipton was a distinguished biomedical engineer who helped pioneer the electroencephalograph (EEG) machine, which measures the brain’s electrical activity.

He was a principal member of the team that developed the first EEG machine in the immediate postwar years. Devised under the leadership of Grey Walter at The Burden Neurological Institute in England, the machine was one of the first in the world to measure brain activity.

Shipton was educated at Shrewsbury Technical College in England. He joined the Royal Air Force in 1939 and, applying an already formidable grasp of electronics, worked on the secret development of night-fighter radar during World War II.

Shipton left England in 1957 to become a research associate at the University of Iowa. There, he continued to work on EEG machines, in particular developing a multichannel toposcopic display system in the early 1960s.

He became director of the Medical Electronics Laboratory at Iowa in 1963, moving to a similar position at Washington University in 1979.

He was briefly head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and became professor emeritus on his retirement in 1989. He continued teaching intermittently until 1994.

He was a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and in his later years, worked on several experiments with NASA on measuring brain activity.