Mervin Joe Kelly (February 14, 1895 Princeton, Missouri – March 18, 1971) was an American physicist, and director of Bell Labs from 1951-1959.[1]


Mervin Kelly received his B.S. in Physics from the Missouri School of Mines (now the Missouri University of Science and Technology) in 1914, his M.S. degree in Mathematics from University of Kentucky in 1915, and his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1918[2]. He worked at Western Electric Company, from 1918 to 1925.[3] He was a long time researcher at Bell Labs, becoming president from 1951 to 1959. He formed the research group which developed the transistor, led by William Shockley.[4][5]

In 1961, he advised NASA Administrator James E. Webb.[6]

His work for the World War II effort was classified. He was asked several times to take government positions, but always refused.

He traveled overseas to Europe to promote the work Bell Labs was doing. He had a regimented day, that began with tulip gardening at 5 am, having his driver drive at top speed to work, and after work reading until 12. After he retired, he worked for IBM as a consultant.[7]



  1. ^ "Bell Labs Presidents: Mervin J. Kelly". Bell-labs.com. Archived from the original on 2012-04-18. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  2. ^ "Mervin Joe Kelly" (PDF). National Academy of Sciences. 1975. Retrieved 2018-01-07. 
  3. ^ "UK Alumni Association - Mervin Joe Kelly". Ukalumni.net. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  4. ^ "IEEE-USA Today's Engineer". Todaysengineer.org. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  5. ^ Ernest Braun (21 October 1982). Revolution in Miniature: The History and Impact of Semiconductor Electronics. Cambridge University Press. pp. 226–. ISBN 978-0-521-28903-0. 
  6. ^ "Kelly, Mervin". Astronautix.com. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  7. ^ Gertner, Jon (2012). The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation. Penguin Group US. ISBN 978-1-101-56108-9. 


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