Lloyd Gerald Cross, world-renowned physicist and holographer, died peacefully at his home in Point Arena, California on April 28, 2015 at the age of eighty.
Lloyd was born in Flint, Michigan to a working class family of autoworkers and his life reflected in many ways the development of American society in the late 20th century. The first of his family to attend college, he became at a young age a leading member of teams designing and implementing innovative technology as a part of the Science push of the 1960s. His work with lasers led him to co-found Trion Instruments, one of the first companies commercially producing lasers for research and commercial use in the world. He was an early pioneer of laser light show technologies, claiming the world’s first laser light show performance in New York in the late sixties.
However, rather than amass a fortune like latter-day entrepreneurs, Lloyd rejected the simplistic use of technology for military and purely commercial activities. Working with artists during the heyday of the counter-culture movement, he turned away from business to develop economically viable ways to use the new technologies that would be accessible to everyone.
For example, in a period in which making holograms required massive steel beds for stability, both incredibly expensive and cumbersome to use, he co-developed a simple “sand box” design that floated a large wooden box filled with sand over inner tubes, creating a platform that was both economical and versatile. His designs, which he freely shared, allowed him to set up the School of Holography in San Francisco and helped a whole generation of scientists and artists to immerse themselves in this new medium.
Lloyd also invented the technique of creating “multiplex” holograms that made moving three-dimensional images from movie reels, a technique used in the science fiction movie Logan’s Run.
Continuing with the counter culture theme, Lloyd developed a number of innovative ways in which to harness solar power using inexpensive materials and tools. For example, he developed a powerful solar power concentrator using pine boards, paste, a kitchen roller, 6 inch nails, and aluminum foil that could turn water running through a pipe into steam within seconds. Another device using curved Plexiglas mirrors could focus solar power into a point capable of melting copper.
In 1980, Lloyd moved to Point Arena, California, where he continued his innovative work, and where he became a beloved and respected member of the community. He is survived by his loving wife Cecil, children Lloyd, Elizabeth, John and Jennifer, grandson John Cuauhtemoc, great-granddaughters Xochitl and Elena, sister Arlene, and numerous friends and colleagues. Lloyd will always be remembered by those whose lives he touched for a mind that constantly brimmed, right up to his last days, with scientific, social, artistic, domestic and comedic creativity.