Shipton, Harold William 1920 - 2007


(1920-2007), electrical engineer

Harold William (‘Shippy’) Shipton was born 29 September 1920. He was educated at St Michael’s School, Shrewsbury and Shrewsbury Technical College, before joining the Royal Air Force in 1939. During the Second World War, Shipton’s worked as an electrical engineer in a secret project developing night-fighter radar.

After the Second World War, Shipton joined the Burden Neurological Institute, Bristol, an independent research unit specialising in the investigation and treatment of neurological, psychological, and psychiatric disorders. Shipton was part of the team responsible for developing electroencephalographic (EEG, related to the measurement of the electrical activity of the brain) equipment under the direction of neurophysiologist William Grey Walter (1910-1977). While working at the Burden, he met his wife, Janet Helen Attlee (1923-), a psychologist at a local hospital. The couple married on 20 November 1947 in a wedding considered ‘the society event of the year’ due to a reception at Chequers held by Janet’s father, then-Prime Minister Clement Attlee (1883-1967).

The Shiptons immigrated to the United States in 1958, where Harold had been offered a research associate position at the University of Iowa. There, he continued his EEG research, developing a multichannel toposcopic display system in the early 1960s. In 1963, he became director of the Medical Electronics Laboratory in Iowa, before becoming Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Washington University, St Louis, in 1979. He retired in 1989, but continued working in the field of brain research, including collaborations with NASA on experiments investigating the measurement of brain activity.

The couple moved to Utah following Harold’s diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease in the early 2000s. He died on 9 April 2007.