Buckley was born in Sloan, the son of lawyer William Doubleday Buckley and schoolteacher Sarah Elizabeth Jeffrey. He received his primary education at public schools and obtained his bachelor's degree (B.S.) in 1907 at the Grinnell College in 1914 and his doctorate (Ph.d.) in physics at Cornell University.
In 1914 he was by Frank Jewett adopted by Western Electric Company to New York City as a physics researcher, a position he held until 1925. In that year, the Bell Telephone Laboratories established, a joint venture between the research centres of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT & T) and Western Electric Company, which took over the science and research work in the field of telecommunications in the United States.
At the new company served Buckley as Assistant Director of research from 1925 to 1933, Director of 1933 to 1936, and then he was Executive Director until 1940. In 1940 he was president of Bell Labs and remained that until 1951 when he became a member of the Board of Directors, a post he held until his retirement in 1952.
As an expert in field of submarine telephony from 1914 Buckley began working on the problems of trans-Atlantic radio communication. He guided the production and testing of vacuümbuizen capabilities that were used to strengthen the signals of the first transatlantic phone messages in May 1915.
Together with his colleagues AT AT & T, h. d. Arnold and Gustav Elmen (inventor of permalloy), he was responsible for the method of wrapping the veins of undersea data cables with permalloyband. The advantage of this construction was the huge improvement of the induction balance with the result that the capacity of submarine telegraphy cables rose by a factor of four. Such a telegraphy cable was first laid in 1924 betweenNew York City and the Azores. Then he worked on the development of the trans-Atlantic telephone cable (1929) and the multi-channel cable telephony (1932).
For his research he received 43 patents, including an induction unit (1926), a telegraph conductor (1928), a submarine cable (1928), a telecommunications conductor (1930), an undersea cable telephony (1933) and for submarine cables with balance rinse (1936).
Buckley received honorary doctorates from Grinnell College in 1936 and from Columbia University and Case Institute of Technology in 1948. For his contributions during World War II he was a medal of merit (Medal of Merit) receive.
In 1954 he was awarded the Edison medal of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (current IEEE) "for his personal contributions to the science and arts with which a transatlantic cable was possible; for wise leadership to a large industrial laboratory and for outstanding services to the Government of his country ".