Robert James Ballantine

July 22nd 2013 marked the centenary of the birth of Robert James Ballantine, Stamp founder Matt’s grandfather.

Robert was born and brought up in Northern Ireland, and completed his higher education at Belfast’s Queen’s University in 1936. He then moved to London, taking up a role with General Electric Company, where he spent almost all of his career.

During World War II he remained in London contributing to work on analogue computing as part of the war effort. In peacetime he developed thermionic valves (the precursors to the transistor) and then his work moved towards satellite communications. He designed circuits through which the first two decades of trans-atlantic television flowed at Goonhilly Down, and then towards the end of his career he accepted a role becoming the first manager of the satellite earth station that connected the country of Zambia to the rest of the world.

That last project was of such significance to the African nation that a set of commemorative stamps was issued by the Zambian post office in 1974. Stamp takes its name from that act, and in it encapsulates the aim of the organisation: to find work that uses technology to help people communicate in ways significant enough that they would be celebrated in an equivalent way.