Finding Aid for the

James Dillon Cobine Papers



0.5 Linear Ft.


Finding Aid Compiled by

Joshua Hauck-Whealton

September 2010


Schenectady Museum Archives

15 Nott Terrace Heights

Schenectady, NY 12308

(518) 382-7890, ext. 241


Creation of this finding aid was supported by a grant from the Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics




Biographical Note


Dr. James Dillon Cobine (1905-1980) was born in 1905 in Oklahoma City. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1931 and a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology in 1934. After graduation, he joined the faculty of the Graduate School of Engineering at Harvard University, where he became involved in research involving applications of electrical discharges in gases. While at Harvard he wrote a book, still widely used, "Gaseous Conductors: Theory and Engineering Applications." He joined the General Electric Research Laboratory in 1945 and continued his research of gas-discharge related problems. He was instrumental in the development of the first commercially available power vacuum interrupter, used to control the distribution of electric power.

Cobine was also involved in professional societies. He helped found the Schenectady Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and was a fellow of both the IEEE and the American Physical Society. In 1969 he received one of the IEEE's highest awards, the Benjamin Garve Lamme medal, for "meritorious achievements in the development of electrical or electronic apparatus or systems." He retired from GE in 1970, and became a part-time instructor at the State University of New York at Albany. He died in 1980.


Scope and Content


Primarily patents, papers, and press releases relating to Cobine's career at the General Electric Research Laboratory. Also includes materials relating to Cobine's 1969 Lamme Medal from the IEEE, the award certificate accompanying the Lamme Medal, and copies of papers that he wrote while with the State University of New York at Albany Atmospheric Sciences Research Center. Also includes some basic information on Benjamin Lamme. The two bound volumes of technical papers, and patent and press releases were presented to Cobine upon his retirement from General Electric. 2 folders, 2 bound volumes. Monograph "Gaseous Conductors: Theory and Engineering Applications," moved to SMA 206. See also 1999.27a and 1999.27b for Cobine's Lamme Medal and medal case. The Lamme Medal award certificate is stored with oversized materials.



Box #1


  1. Articles, 1967, undated
  2. Biographical Material, 1963, 1969, undated
  3. SUNY Albany Atmosphere Science Research Center Papers, 1977, undated
  4. Patents and Press Releases, Bound Papers, 1940-1970
  5. Technical Papers, Bound Papers, 1931-1969


OV Box #1

  1. Lamme Medal Award Certificate, 1969