Dr. Dan Porat, a pioneer of modern electronics and the State of Israel, died Thursday, February 7, in San Francisco. He was 96 years old.
Dan’s parents and two sisters perished in the Shoah, and he escaped Vienna at 16 for pre-state Israel where he arrived as a refugee. Two years later, he enlisted in the British Army, Royal Engineers. He fought in Montgomery’s Army in the Italian and North African campaigns, including both battles at El-Alamein, where he was decorated. He also served in the Haganah and the Israeli Defense Forces.
At war’s end, Dan continued the education that he had been denied after the eighth grade. While he never attended high school or university, he earned an MSc in physics and a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Manchester.
Upon graduation, he accepted a position as a joint Research Fellow in Physics at Harvard and M.I.T., having been sponsored for a visa by Senator John F. Kennedy. In 1962, he joined the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and oversaw the group that designed controls for the new accelerator, still the longest of its kind in the world. He later designed instruments for high-energy physics research. He stayed at Stanford for the remainder of his career. Dan held many patents, published 42 scientific papers, and his six textbooks were translated into five languages.
Dan’s life has been documented by the USC Shoah Foundation Institute and the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism. He is survived by his three children Marc, Ruth, and Naomi, and ten grandchildren.
Dan arrived in Palestine, England and the United States not knowing a soul and left each a far better place. Contributions in his memory can be made to the Dan Porat Post-Doc Fellowship, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University.