In Memoriam: Richard D. Rallison

September 16, 2010

In Memoriam: Richard D. Rallison, 1945-2010


Richard Dennis Rallison, an OSA Fellow Emeritus known for his contributions to display holography, died on 16 September 2010 in a paragliding accident near his home in Cache Valley, Utah. He was 64.

Rallison earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Utah. An avid inventor and pioneer in the field of optics, he was one of the first to make holograms on dichromated gelatin (DCG holograms) and he was the creator of the first mass-produced white light reflection holograms. He crafted holographic pendants and other jewelry, becoming one of the few people, if not the only one, to make a long-term living from commercial holograms. More significantly, he was the inventor, with IBM's Lee Dickson, of a prototype holographic barcode scanner. In the later part of his career, he concentrated on making DCG gratings, producing 1 meter diameter discs for the Hubble Space Telescope. He also contributed to the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii. In 1995, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Electro-Optical Engineering from Utah State University for his accomplishments.

Rallison had an adventurous spirit and he could often be found riding his motorcycle around hairpin curves, wind-surfing, or flying whatever aircraft he happened to own at the time. He was an inveterate builder and flyer of ultra-light planes and the survivor of numerous accidents.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth, three children and four grandchildren.

If you would like to make a donation to the OSA Foundation in memory of Richard D. Rallison, please visit