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In memoriam: Allen Mann, infrared zoom lens designer

22 April 2014

Allen Mann memoriam Barry Johnson Iain Neil
SPIE Fellow Iain Neil, SPIE Fellow Allen Mann, and SPIE Past President Barry Johnson at the SPIE annual meeting in 2012.

 

SPIE Fellow Allen Mann, a former program manager from Hughes Aircraft Company who had continued to work as an independent consultant on lens design after his retirement, passed away in February.

"He was a true gentleman with a professional and respectful demeanor who enjoyed sharing his enormous wealth of knowledge of lens design and infrared systems," wrote SPIE Past President Barry Johnson in a tribute to Mann. "He loved lens design next only to his beloved wife, June, and their family."

Mann was named an SPIE Fellow in 2011. He served on the SPIE Symposia Committee and the SPIE Fellows Committee, and also served as conference chair and session chair at SPIE events. He chaired the first SPIE conference on zoom lenses in 1995 and remained the principal organizer of that conference until 2001.

He was the editor of the SPIE Milestone series volume on Selected Papers on Zoom Lenses from 1993, which was republished as Infrared Optics and Zoom Lenses in 2009 and remains the only current publication devoted exclusively to infrared zoom lenses.

His paper on "Developments and trends in infrared zoom lenses from 2000 to 2010" was published in the SPIE journal Optical Engineering in 2013. Also that year, at the age of 83, Mann taught a course on Infrared Optics and Zoom Lenses at SPIE DSS.

Mann received his B.S. in physics from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1961. He began his career in the Infrared Laboratory at Lockheed Aircraft Corp., where he worked as a lens designer of an infrared gun sight for the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter.

He learned the art of designing zoom lenses in his next position at Northrop Nortronics, which became a career-long passion.

Mann joined the lens design group at Electro-Optical Systems (EOS) in 1966; when Xerox acquired EOS, he was asked to design the first zoom lens for a Xerox copier, which was successfully delivered in 1969.

He served as program manager of a variety of complex electro-optical systems at Hughes Aircraft Company until his retirement in 1992.

In the 1950s, before attending UCLA, Mann was a member of the U.S. Air Force Intelligence Service. He received a Certificate of Recognition for promoting peace and stability during the Cold War from William Perry, Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration, for his contributions during that time.

"Allen will be missed by a multitude of those in the lens design and infrared community as well as by his many other friends who all likely say, as I do, 'Thanks, Allen, for everything you did for optics, SPIE, and your nation,'" wrote Johnson.