In memoriam: Dr. H. Tracy Hall (1920-2008)

July, 2008Contributed by Leo Merrill


A Diamond Forever

Dr. H. Tracy Hall, the father of man-made diamond, passed away July 25, 2008 at the age of 88.

While a student at the University of Utah in 1941, he married his sweetheart Ida-Rose Langford. After completing his B.S. and then an M.S. in chemistry in 1943, he served for two years as a Navy ensign. Returning to the University of Utah in 1946, he became Henry Eyring's first graduate student, completing his PhD in 1948. Two months later he started work at the General Electric Research Laboratory in Schenectady, NY.

While at GE Tracy joined a team focused on synthesizing diamond in the laboratory. On December 16, 1954 Tracy had the privilege of becoming the first person to produce diamond from carbon using a verifiable and reproducible process.

Of the experience Dr. Hall later recalled "My eyes caught the flashing light from dozens of tiny crystals. My hands began to tremble; my heart beat rapidly; my knees weakened and no longer gave support-I knew that diamonds had finally been made by man."

In 1955 Dr. Hall became Director of Research at Brigham Young University. To continue his research, he invented the tetrahedral and cubic press. At BYU Tracy became a popular chemistry teacher and mentor of many graduate students, while continuing his research in high pressure chemistry and further development of high pressure apparatus.

In 1966 Tracy partnered with two BYU professors, Bill Pope and Duane Horton, to form Megadiamond, a Diamond company that was eventually sold to Smith International and still operates today. Many diamond-producing companies have emerged world-wide based on Dr. Hall's inventions and a large variety of man-made diamond products are used throughout all of industry.

In his personal life, Tracy was a devoted husband and father of seven children, thirty five grandchildren and fifty three great grandchildren. One of his greatest joys in life was to serve as a Bishop for the LDS church where he counseled youth and adult members, and served others daily. Following his service as a bishop, Tracy and his wife served a Church mission to Zimbabwe and South Africa, and often recalled the joys they felt at serving the local people there. In his retirement years Tracy returned to his farming roots and spent his days working hard growing trees at his farm in Payson, Utah.

During recent years, Tracy suffered the effects of long-term diabetes and advancing age. He was cared for by his wife Ida-Rose until her death in March 2005, and by his youngest daughter Nancy and other devoted caretakers.

Dr. Hall passed away at home early on the morning of July 25, 2008. He is survived by four brothers, seven children, thirty-five grandchildren, and fifty-three great grandchildren.

In memoriam


Prof. Karl Syassen (1945-2023)

Prof. Eugene G. Ponyatovsky (1930-2021)

Gérard Hamel (1946-2021)

Prof. Vladimir E. Fortov (1946-2020)

Prof. Moshe Paz-Pasternak (1937-2018)

Prof. Gérard Demazeau (1943-2017)

Prof. Svetlana Vladimirovna Popova (1935-2015)

Dr. Vladimir V. Shchennikov (1952-2014)

Prof. Helmuth H. Schloessin (1924-2013)

Prof. Rikimaru Hayashi (1939-2013)

Dr. M. Nicol (1939-2009)

Dr. H. Tracy Hall (1920-2008)

Prof. I. Goncharenko (1965-2007)

Prof. I. N. Makarenko (1938-2005)

Prof. Ph. Pruzan (1941-2005)

Prof. S. C. Bayliss (1955-2004)