Philip Sporn, 81, retired president of the American Electric Power Co. and a recognized authority on both coal and the atom as energy sources, died Monday in New York City.

He had been an engineer and executive with AEP from 1920 to 1963. He also had been a consultant and adviser to various federal agencies and educational institutions.

AEP is one of the largest investor-owned electric utility systems in the world. Mr. Sporn directed its pioneering advances in electric power technology.

He was responsible for many innovations in his field, including higher pressures and temperatures in power generation, large generating units, natural-draft cooling towers and tall stacks.

While he was president of AEP, he helped form the Ohio Electrical Corp.

Born in Austria, Mr. Sporn came to this country as a child. He was naturalized in 1907. He earned a degree in electrical engineering from Columbia University in 1917.

He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. He was a fellow of the American Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Nuclear Society.

Mr. Sporn had worked closely with the engineering schools of Cornell. Columbia and Princeton Universities and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He did work for the government of Israel and was founder and first chairman of the American Society for Technion (the Israel Institute of Technology). He was a governor of the Weizman Institute of Science.

Mr. Sporn's many honors included this country's highest engineering honor, the John Fritz Medal.

He is survived by his wife Sadie Posner Sporn of the home in New York City: three children. Mrs. Andrew Gilbert and Arthur D., of New York City, and Dr. Michael B., of Bethesda; a brother Dr. Harry of Old Westbury, N.Y. and six grandchildren.