University of California Seal



Ellis Fabra King

Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering

Los Angeles



Born in Falmouth, Kentucky on May 25, 1913, Ellis Fabra King received his E.E. and M.S. degrees at the University of Cincinnati and was a member of Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Xi and Eta Kappa Nu honor societies. He served briefly as an engineer in industry in Cincinnati and Detroit before coming to California to work for United Airlines in the training of flight personnel in radio communications. At the beginning of World War 11 the military took over the airline school and he was hired by RCA and loaned to the armed forces to teach radio communications and the installation of radar equipment. As a senior field engineer for RCA he oversaw the installation of the transmitter for radio station KMPC in Los Angeles and several other stations around the country.


During his long tenure at UCLA Professor King taught courses and laboratories spanning the entire subject range of electrical engineering of the period. His early courses included circuit analysis, electrical machines, engineering dynamics, and vacuum tube amplifiers. He moved with the times and taught courses not only in transistor theory but in laboratories where transistors were used to build amplifiers and oscillators. He was an active radio engineer and ham operator, designing and building his own circuits, and schooling students in the art. He designed and built circuits for radio control of models, including the early use of pulse width modulation. His courses and laboratories included printed circuits, speech reproduction for hearing aids, an electronic distance measuring device, capacity switches, and digital transistor logic circuits. These subjects attest to Professor King’s clever ability to learn new technology as it evolved, to use it in working devices, and to teach its use to students.


He was active in professional societies, especially the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (later the IEEE), the Institute of Radio Engineers, and the American Society of Engineering Education. He received an award for outstanding service as Chairman of the Los Angeles Section of the IRE in 1959, and was awarded an Initial Paper Prize by the AIEE in 1969. He served as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Western Electronics Education Fund for the period 1964-1966. He developed an educational training film in electrical engineering for the National Science Foundation. He served as an expert consultant on military electronics for a committee of the U.S. Congress, for the National Academy of Engineering, and for the U.S. Navy Missile Center at Point Mugu. Professor King’s first sabbatical was spent as a staff engineer with AT&T in Los Angeles. Another sabbatical was with the Advanced Projects Division of the U.S. Naval Missile Center, at Point Mugu, California.


In 1947 Ellis King married Maxine Lykins of Missouri, a nurse he met as a consequence of an auto accident near Denver. Maxine had served in the Army Nurse Corps during WWII. Following his retirement from UCLA in 1970, the family moved to Ventura County. For the next 15 years, using his Professional Engineer License, King worked as a forensic engineer investigating electrical accidents. This required extensive traveling throughout the country.


In 1990 Ellis and Maxine moved to Stockton, California to be near their family. They have two daughters - Louise, a school principal, and Linda, a medical librarian. They also have two sons - Lawrence, an RN, and Leonard, the youngest, who is an electrical engineer. Ellis and Maxine have ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.


On August 28, 2001, Ellis F. King succumbed after a six-year bout with Parkinson’s disease. He is remembered by his colleagues as a warm, friendly person, as a clever engineer, and as an excellent and versatile teacher. His family remembers a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.


R. C. Mackey

F. G. Allen

R. S. Elliott

C. R. Viswanathan