Mr. Neal, who retired from SLAC in 1985, was part of a small group that met in 1957 at the home of Wolfgang Panofsky, who would later become SLAC's first director, to discuss preliminary plans for building a giant linear accelerator. The machine was authorized by Congress in 1961 and was constructed during 1962-66.
Mr. Neal came to Stanford as a graduate student in 1947 and received his doctorate in physics in 1953. He worked on a series of linear accelerators at the university. His thesis was a report about the 220-foot-long Mark III accelerator, a precursor to the two-mile-long accelerator. At SLAC, Mr. Neal served as associate director of the laboratory and head of the technical division responsible for the design and constructor of the accelerator.
After completion of SLAC, Mr. Neal continued as professor of physics and associate director of the laboratory until his retirement. After retiring, the family moved from Menlo Park to Solana Beach.
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Gail Annette Neal; daughter Martha "Marti" Neal of Solana Beach and son Richard F. Neal of Bonny Doon.