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In footnotes or endnotes please cite AIP interviews like this:
Interview of Sidney Charschan by Joan Bromberg on 1984 November 13,
Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics,
College Park, MD USA,
For multiple citations, "AIP" is the preferred abbreviation for the location.
This interview covers Charschan's memory of laser experimentation and techniques; the development of procedures for boring and drilling diamond dies; scribing ceramic plates for improved circuitry; the role and duties of the research center at Western Electric (AT&T Technologies); and the establishment of the ANSI laser safety standards (ANSI Z-136).
What I’d like to know to begin with is when laser activity first came to your attention, what you were doing at the time.
Well, as I recall the laser activities, there were two groups working. One was doing high power laser interaction studies, and at that time I had what was called the laser measurements group in low powered lasers, to see what we could do with them. That’s what’s sort of evolved nowadays into what the physics professors teach their kids about diffraction problems. We were wondering about that at that time. I remember, one of the first applications of that kind of study, I believe, is currently embodied in wire diameter measurements systems that are used by people who extrude wire at high speed. It actually measures the diameter of the wire as it 5 running along at a couple of thousand feet a second. So that was the beginning of the laser exposure. It was really to the low powered laser in the department that I had.
Now, how did that start? When did you start even looking at the low powered lasers and how did it begin?
Well, that’s a good one. Let’s see. I had a department. I was doing work relative to inspection systems. We were using white light with scanning microscopes. I think the first study was on monitor. We were trying to measure very accurately the spacing as we were making the particular product. So it evolved, from the light that we used and the optics we used to other kinds of light sources, and color differentiation. One of the problems at that time at Western Electric was, we used so many different colored wires. They were trying to automate the sorting of wires also, so they could pick them out automatically and do things like an array of maybe connectors or terminations. So in those days, we were working with light, not laser light, optics, ways of coupling them with inspection systems, and then they combined the two departments and I got the high powered lasers and the low powered lasers for a while.
Now, before they combined the two departments, there was a transition then from using ordinary conventional light sources for these various research tasks, and getting the laser in there. When did your first lasers come? Was it because you were in touch with Bell Labs, or was it some other?
What it boils down to, interestingly enough, we did get out first argon laser from Bell Labs, and the requirement was, here, we’ll give you a laser, just tell us what we can do with it. So it was a freebie.
Was that through Gene Gordon too or some other group?
No, it was another group. I’m trying to remember who. I remember we also got a YAG from Joe Guesic’s group. Guesic’s YAG was probably one of the first or maybe number 2 I’m not sure which. The big argument then was, why do you have losses when you do the Q switch, inside or outside the cavity, and how do you describe the output here? But in essence, we were able to get lasers from Bell Laboratories at no cost because in return they wanted to know what they were good for. So we did a processing study, a material interaction study, and they were the ones who built the lasers and we tried to find out what they could be used for.
Did they actually come around to your laboratory and look and see what you were doing?
Well, both, actually, we had a certain responsibility to them, if we took their laser and promised to tell them what we were doing with it. So afterwards when they came out with some publications, I think in the BELL LAB RECORD, they actually had photographs that we supplied.
That’s very interesting. And then you know, this is obviously not in any other — so it sounds as if you would have people actually walk into your lab and look in?
The first year I had that job, I did put on a symposium, and we held that for the bell system, a symposium up here for Bell Laboratories and Western Electric, all around the company, and I do recall that I believe my keynote speaker was Gene Gordon at the time. I probably still have some old records of that first symposium, where we talked about —
— that would be very interesting to have those records.
Those probably there are a couple of plywood — but maybe by now they’re all terrible. I can look into that. It would give you an idea, the initial studies that we were going through.
Yes, it would give an idea of the very early ideas perhaps that people might have had on how to apply these things, and what was needed to make them more — what you first began to do with the lasers as they came in, for example. And then, I must establish a little bit at what stage these two departments came together. Now, you were in the low powered department, and there was a high powered department. What did you do before the two departments came together with the lasers, that you got the argon laser and so on?
No, the argon laser came after we got together, and the same thing for the YAG lasers.
They came after.
Just about, after we got together.
Then before that must have been ruby and stuff.
Yes, before it was ruby and CO2, I recall, yes. We had — yea, I think we had a Perkin-Elner CO2.
The CO2 is just coming out, he’s just inventing that in ‘64 and ‘65.
Yes. We had one just around maybe ‘67, that period of time.
I see. So ‘67 you still had a situation before the two departments combined.
The arson was about ‘64 too.
All right, but that we did get from Bell Laboratories. The YAG we got from Bell Labs. I guess my dates are kind of hazy, on that particular period.
Well, as long as we know what comes first and what comes second, we can fill in the dates later.
Right. What came first, definitely, we did have a ruby laser. In fact we had a couple of them, and a glass laser. And the question of what to do with the ruby laser sort of cropped its head up, oh, maybe about 1962, when we had a couple of guys who were interested in this new thing called a laser and what could they do about it. This was in the other, the high-powered department. So they had a couple of lasers at that time, yes. One was a Westinghouse. (?) to remember the other one. I think it was Spare Rays. Yes. Now, a Westinghouse laser and — yes. And we had another department that had people who worked very nicely with optics and optical aids, like I mentioned about the microscope.
So at the time we actually had the guy who worked on the microscope work up a system of TV viewing so that we were able to do our laser drilling work fairly safely. And that’s where we introduced in that Buffalo Diamond drilling job, optics that was developed by this guy from a different department, lasers that were worked on in our lab by two guys, let’s see — Don Young and Phil Eperson were the two engineers at the time who were working on it, and I think they had two engineering associates. I don’t recall their names. Let’s see, they worked with a guy, I never could spell his name right, but this is the guy who was at Buffalo at the time and we worked with him on the process and found out what the requirements were for diamond dye drilling, what the advantages hopefully would be in terms of time, what precautions we should be aware of and installed up at their plant. Joe — he’s got a name with no vowels. I’ll think of it. Joe Gryzwa. An interesting thing is, he was at Buffalo for most of his career. When we closed that plant we actually got him the updated version of a diamond driller, and he’s now at another one of our plants continuing in that area.
Now, we want to get up to that point. You were first looking at the ruby lasers. Did you figure out any particular use for them?
Oh, everybody ran the usual studies, in Gillettes, how many razor blades could you put holes through, they did that. But then I don’t recall how they got together with the Buffalo people. You know, the way of actually putting holes in diamonds for diamond dyes was sort of a whole art, like a very slow grinding process that takes a day and a half, and the question was, could it have been improved or accelerated by using the laser? And obviously it was. I don’t know where the question came from, whether it came from the people in the plant or the people in our lab. I’m not too sure how it originated.
You may also be wanting to mention the people who would be worth getting in touch with, like whoever was in — were you the one who was in charge of this project, or was there a project leader who might be worth —?
At that time, let’s see. I think there was Cliff Henderson, who may have had that department at that time. There was someone else there too. I don’t remember his name right now. But Phil Eperson was still around in the company. Don Young has gone elsewhere. So in terms of being able to find some of the people, yea, I think you still can.
OK. And Eperson and Henderson would be principally people who worked with Buffalo on this?
I think Eperson was the principal. He was the primary engineer on that job, so he’d probably be the star.
OK. And as we go along, if other people occur to you in connection with particular things we’re talking about, people to talk with.
Well, the material that has been published has the names. The guy who developed the optics has got his name on a publication, and so have some of the others who worked with Eperson. So that’s easy to dig out.
What about the stuff you were most intimately involved with? What kinds of applications were you people — you looked at the, or did you look immediately at applications or did you look at other aspects of the ruby and the optical lasers you were getting?
There were two primary areas that we were very interested in. I’m trying to remember which came first. I think that was about the time of the birth of the thin film revolution, for making electronic circuitry, like the beginning of the ESS was coming around, and here we had substrates, they were high aluminous ceramic substrates, and they wanted to put multiple circuits on these substrates made out of tannelum, tannem oxides, and the question was how are you going to do two things — one is, how do you get a connection from the front surface to the back surface? and the second was, how do you divide up all of these multiple circuits that you may have on one ceramic substrate? Now, from what I recall, we probably developed the ceramic scribing application. I’m not too sure now if that was before or after the ceramic drilling application. They’re both different. They both require different processes to optimize the results. But what it really did was, it showed that there is a need for using a laser in an area where sharp tools, even if they’re made out of diamonds, just aren’t going to last very long. So economically we could see why there was a tremendous advantage to using a laser.
You know, it’s not really clear to me how one goes about that kind of research.
You mean, the economic analysis?
Well, just what you do, what you have to do. You have to do an economic analysis as part of the research. You have to actually go to the lab and scribe the things? What happens when you are evaluating that kind of thing in a group?
We probably have a different response, because what we had was a company captive laboratory which served the needs of the Bell system. The first thing we would do was to make sure that whoever brought a question to us did some homework. Why do you want to use the laser? You know, not because it’s a brand new toy. That’s maybe a valid reason sometimes, but it’s just too expensive for having that as a good answer. We wanted to make sure that people knew all the alternatives and had gone through some sort of evaluation about why the other alternatives were not adequate for their needs. At the same time, if it was something that didn’t take a heck of a lot of time, maybe a couple of days or even a week, we may go into our labs, if the facilities are available, and do a quick and dirty experiment to see if we thought it may be feasible. And then if we got past the first hurdle and it looked like with more time and money and fixtures, we might be able to do something, we would probably sit down and evaluate, what would happen if it was able to be done? Would you be able to shell out the money required to buy a system? No one appreciated the cost of lasers. Even then they were high. Now, they’re too high.
I didn’t know that. But why is it that these divisions, people who were coming to you, didn’t just go directly to the devices group at the laboratory? What was the difference between the function you were serving and the function that Bell Labs device group was serving?
First of all, Bell Labs had the primary task of designing products. Western Electric had the job of manufacturing products. So it was sort of a good way to have a teamwork approach. We were set up to improve manufacturing process. Our research lab was unique in that it was probably the first one in the world that had that particular aspect of an assignment. We had no product design responsibility. We had no production responsibility, and we were set out in the middle of nowhere, because the first engineering vice president Tim Shea had a great idea. He figured, if we’re away from the day to day pressures, you can work on projects which could take an appreciable amount of time, maybe six months to possibly five years. So what he did was, with that concept and the approval of the board of directors, he started the Research Center down at —
So the divisions would come in to you with an idea for something they wanted to manufacture better? Western Electric — I’m assuming it’s broken up into divisions or groups —
Well, at that time I guess they wanted that formally broken up into divisions, but in essence that’s right. What we really had was, like I was imported from Kearny back in 1958. What they did was, initially the staff of the Research Center, they started out with about 30 people the first year, and then probably 25 of the 30 went around the company and found what they thought were the right development people to bring in to start the Research Center up. So after the first year we just kept on going until I guess we reached approximately 500 people, and we’ve been floating at around that level. We’re sort of bulging at the seams in the building we’re in now, but —
That is really fascinating. I’ve been around to a lot of research laboratories, but this is the first time I’ve really encountered this kind of a laboratory setup. So then what you are telling me, telling us about how a particular laser job would get done, how a group would come to you and say, ‘We’d like —”
It goes two ways. At that time, for example, some people at Bell Labs may have a very good product idea which they may or may not submit to a manufacturing location, and Western Electric, or they may discuss with us what seems to be a good way of trying to make it. So we were never really on an official line between people, but we were available as a resource, and if they knew of our capabilities and the facilities we had and the expertise we had, then they would more and more involve us in the early stages of their design. We have some very nice examples of that. Way back in the beginning Bell Laboratories also had some groups with lasers and expertise. One of the guys I specifically recall is Mel Cohen. Mel at that time was working with another friend, Bert Unger, on taking these tin films, and at that time making trimmed resistors out of them for thin film circuitry. And I still remember when the Bell Labs elected not to try for a patent, and they’ve been kicking themselves ever since! But Mel, I guess he was in a very small group that had some facilities there and expertise in a particular kind of processing. It wasn’t too much later that he was transferred over to our place, and we sort of combined efforts, and Bell Labs sort of died out in having any facilities that they can make these kinds of samples with to determine product feasibility. So what it really boils down to is, I guess, the more you are recognized for the contributions you have made, and the more people knew about what you could do with them, the more we were able to interact with both the labs and the rest of Western Electric.
When was the date that you got brought into this engineering center?
Oh, I was down there in 1958. I started with the company at Kearny, which was a manufacturing location, Kearny, New Jersey, between Newark and Jersey City. I was there for seven years working on a variety of different manufacturing problems, and I sort of worked my way out from the plastics department, resins, eventually getting into a development department, where we would do anything that seemed to be worth doing in the way of improving manufacturing technology, and from there I was transferred down to Princeton.
Now, you said that, the scribing and drilling of semiconductors was one of the important things your group was doing.
Not semiconductors. This pre-dates the semiconductor. This is the ceramic substrates. That was even before the semiconductor scribing.
OK. Then what actually went on in getting those things to a stage where they were worth doing? Can you recall what might have been the obstacles or promises or how that particular research went along, how long it took? A sample story of the way in which you were working.
Well, one of the guys — I’m pretty sure we had Jack Longfellow at that time, who happens to have a material science background, metallurgy background, physics background, and we also had a CO2 laser. Now, I don’t know how the question started, but we were able to perform different experiments with both the scribing and drilling of ceramics, and one of the biggest applications we had was in the scribing of ceramic substrates so that you can cut down on the inventory that you had to carry of different sized circuit substrates out of ceramic, so that you can drill them accurately and at a more rapid rate. So I used to end up with lower cost circuit boards made out of ceramic. And that was a very interesting innovation, sort of the beginning of the thin film revolution at the time. And I don’t think we could have done it without the use of the laser.
I didn’t know that. How long did that kind of project take? Is that a quick and dirty one?
Oh, I think even there, that probably took a good two years. No, quick and dirty means, maybe we’re going to be able to run some experiments to see if we can do it, do it, meaning, put a hole in ceramics. Then you’ve got to put the right hole. Then you’ve got to determine, what are the parameters that will allow you, if you’re going to scribe, to do it at a preferred rate, whether — the aspect was, you need to be able to break the parts without cracking them in the wrong place — and after you get all of those parameters settled, you are finally going to come out with a set of specifications, then look for supplies, and by the time you get the systems installed and the people trained in how to use them safely, it takes time.
So you go right up through the systems and the training in those.
Yes. Like I said, we’re different, (?) have we have a captive lab where the fun part of the job is, you could carry it through from the concept all the way through to really getting it into the production stage.
Now, is it because you get into the production stage and training people that you have this early connection with safety issues?
How did that arise?
The company, way back in the beginning, always was very safety-conscious, and they have, I’d say, 20 feet of books with what they call CI’s, Company Instructions. These Company Instructions would cover anything and everything with respect to how you do things in the company. One section was on how to do things safely in and around the laser area, and in the early days, when the diamond drilling job just came along, there was so much that was unknown about it, that you were not going to be allowed to eat in an area where there was a laser, for fear of radiation contamination. The laser itself when it was going to be operative would be in an enclosed area which was going to be evacuated, and the way we actually put the diamond driller in, we had a completely enclosed, in effect class 1 system for the operator, and she was inside of a completely enclosed room which was evacuated and monitored from the outside with another TV system. You don’t know what to expect, so you go overboard.
This is something you designed?
That was something that I think was jointly designed between the Buffalo works and our people.
I see. Now, at this point was there a lot of hullabaloo? I notice that at one point in the late sixties, a lot of articles are appearing, a lot of concern, people are starting to pass legislation — was that already at a point where you were getting this kind of thing?
With that kind of background, I think around 1968, there was a meeting held in New York at ANSI headquarters, at which time there were probably about a hundred people invited from any company interested in laser safety, any company, any group, any society, and we actually, under George Wilkonning who was the first chairman, established the ANSI Z 1-6 Committee as a result, and its primary duty was to come up with a standard for the safe use of lasers. George was from Bell Laboratory, this is the telephone group’s secretariat at the time. George was from Bell Labs.
This was entirely internal?
I don’t know what you mean by internal.
I mean within the Bell system.
No. No. At the ANSI headquarters, it was then the ANSI umbrella, for a standard that would be developed in their standard fashion. But he was asked to become the first chairman, and the secretariat, or the one who assumed the secretarial duties as well as correspondence, etc.
And you became the secretary.
Yes. And the interesting questions in those days were sort of debates on interpretation of the different results, and whether or not there was a continuum in damaged (?) of different lasers on tissue, and I remember them talking about the East Coast contingent under Dr. Ham, the West Coast contingent under Dr. Zweng, and then they had a middle of the country group under Leon Goldman.
These were in the ANSI or ?
They all became part of the ANSI group.
And they came out with a standard shortly afterwards which sort of combined all the information under — well, let’s see. It ended up with quite a number of outstanding people who became subcommittee chairmen of that first standard.
What kind of issue was among these three groups of doctors? What were they disputing?
Well, it wasn’t a question of disputing as much as to show how the data may be blended into each other. They had, each of them had different sets of data, and as you initially looked at them, they didn’t necessarily correspond. So along came our friend Mike Wolbarsht, who was the subcommittee chairman of, let’s see, the Committee on the Eye.
From this same group?
Oh yes. In other words, we actually started out with about a half a dozen different subcommittee chairmen who in turn would take different segments of an overall approach, and they in turn would get another 20 people to work with them in their own subcommittees, and formulate a chapter of the standard. So if you want to look at it in the overall plan, we sort of came up with an outline first of what we thought we would like to see in a standard, and the outline obviously would start out with the purpose, on the introductory part of it. You clear the scope with approval up the line through ANSI. And after that you get into such areas as what are the hazards, and then what are the control measures, and control measures, we still had Jim Rockwell working in that particular area. As far as defining the hazards and recommending what could be done about it, there was Dave Sliney then still working with us, and Dave I think at that time had been working on the standard for the Army and Navy for TV-MED with some sort of number, I forget what, so he really had a beginning. And Western Electric already had what we called the Compan Instruction which was a beginning, an instruction on how to do things safely. And then Mike established, by pulling all these groups together, he established a data base and was able to show that Ham’s data and Zweng’s data did have a continuum. Now, we also had Wordy Parr who worked in the skin area. He’s still around. And let’s see — Dave Sliney also picked up all these other hazards in the way of gasses or high voltage. So the document we have it today is still essentially chaired in each of its chapters by the same subcommittee chairman that we had in the beginning.
When did the first one come out?
I think the first one was issued in ‘72.
That’s about ‘68 through ‘72.
I think that’s about right. And at that time, I know that the federal government became interested in coming out with a document that they were going to use for manufacturers, and they modeled most of that after the inputs that they got from us.
I see. That was what I was really going to ask you. Were the states also?
No, the states were very dormant at that time.
I see, so it was only your interaction with the federal government.
Yes. We had put a number of governmental agencies, still do, on the list of members of the ANSI Z-136. I don’t know if you’ve seen the index of the members, but that gives you a cross-section of how broad it is.
No, but that would be another nice document that would be worth — what about the deliberations of this group? Did you have minutes and stuff like that?
Oh, of course —
— or do you know where they might be? —
— of course we had minutes, and I probably have them in my files, because I was the secretary. I didn’t throw anything out yet, I think. I’m not sure. I do have some of the earliest ballots, what people wanted to do at that time. Yes.
It might be interesting to go through those sometime and separate out a core part. You know, there probably are some things that are just routine, but there might be a couple of inches, I don’t know how many, but some material which really should be kept as the records of that committee. If you were secretary I suspect you were the absolute central person as far as the records go.
I think I’m reaching the point where I’d be delighted to find another repository. I think there’s probably a whole file drawer full of that old stuff.
Good. So what we should probably do is talk a little bit about, later about my next trip to New Jersey.
But is there any part of that which you recall, which you don’t think is going to appear in print, but which was an interesting part of the process?
I think what we ought to really clarify too is that most of these people talked to each other because of — well, I guess, sort of knowing the early experts in the field and who was working on it, and getting together at a Gordon Conference, I believe, probably about, oh, maybe 1967, ‘66. So at the Gordon Conference — it’s sort of nice and informal but there aren’t any notes, obviously — they had a chance to discuss what was going on, and I recall going to many of these conferences and listening to the presentations and ending up in the recreation room around a few beers, arguing about interpretations.
Did these conferences directly, did these feed into the safety, the ANSI meetings?
Practically every one of the Gordon Conference people was a member of that ANSI Z-136. Because we accepted anyone who seemed to be competent, who was expert in this area, and wanted to contribute to making a good standard.
I see. But the Gordon Conferences, themselves, what would they be on, stuff like laser applications or what?
No, that one was lasers in medicine and biology, and I think it still goes on like every other year. There probably are about 50 different Gordon Conferences but that’s the only one that I’m talking about.
Now, how does that — here you are, you’re working on things like materials useful in Bell system, how do you get involved in a conference on lasers and applications to medicine and biology?
Also the thresholds, if you will, for biological damage happen to be what you want to be setting as the thresholds in laser safety.
I see, in your systems, for example.
Right. In other words, when you determine what is a threshold for damage, you put some safety factor on it and say, “OK, anything below that safety factor, that particular value, is considered safe.” We call that Class 1. And we’re able to set up a system of classifications based on the data that was debated at the Gordon Conference.
Were you the chief person in your group involved in that, in the safety part?
So you would be the chief person who would be attending the conference from your group.
Yes. Now, obviously, as I Mentioned, George Wilkonning was there, and I’m trying to remember if we had anyone else from Bell Labs. I don’t recall that. I think George and I were probably the only Bell system representatives at the Gordon Conference. But George is an industrial hygienist. I think his background at that time was such that he knew anyone working with problems in industrial hygiene.
Whereas it sounds as if you came to it —
I came to it trot the industry part of it. So it was a very interesting combination of, how do you come up with a practical document now which is going to be aimed at the users of the lasers, based on biological data established by these hygienists?
What kinds of problems did you, just as an example, would have come up in that connection? For example, did the safety you imposed on the die drilling, did that — was that costly?
Oh, of course it was costly, to make a special room, totally enclosed, with TV monitoring. It was costly, but you know, when you’re interested in safety and Western Electric and the Bell system is, then you say, OK, if you’re not too sure there’s a problem, make sure that the problem doesn’t occur. So you went overboard.
But doesn’t that make a difference in your very decision to adopt the system? Whether it’s going to be cost effective?
It depends on how much you — well, that’s it, you’ve got to see how much you’re going to spend in order to effectively install it on that basis. That’s considered part of the cost. And then you see what your return is. You factor it in. But nowadays, what we found is, you can take systems such as that one was, and put it side by side with any other manufacturing machine tool. It’s completely buttoned up. There’s no radiation that gets out. And in Western Electric, with ATT technologies, we practically try to do that with every manufacturing laser installation, make it Class 1.
And you still get economic gain out of it.
Oh sure. Sure. Or you don’t do it.
Economics is, can you make the product any other way? Then maybe it’s not a question of economics any more. If it’s a product that you have to make, and it can’t be made any other way, then that’s the way you’re going to do it. But you sort of evolve into that stage. Like in the beginning, when we were trimming thin films, making resistors, etc., and patterning than, at that time the circuits were big enough so that people could use an anodizing technique and change the oxide and therefore change the value. Now, anodizing was a mechanical contacting procedure using a chemical conversion, making the tantalum into more of an oxide film, and adjusting resistance in that way. But then, as the designs got smaller, you mechanically had no room to get in with an anodizing kind of equipment. So what you were doing essentially was designing a product that could only be made with a laser. And it would do it not only faster and more accurately but you have less restrictions and you’re not making any contact with it, under computer control. But look at the cost of the systems. Unfortunately they’re pretty expensive.
Now, that is, you say, all published, but do you think there’s any material which is not published which is really of interest, in how these discoveries were made, how the systems were put together? Maybe false starts that never panned out but were still interesting as part of the historical record?
Well, I recall one particular product that we made for one of our works locations. This was a carbon resistor which encapsulated in a glass envelope, and at the time they were making quite a number of them per year, but after you encapsulated them, because of the heat of encapsulation, the resistor would drift out of value. So what we did is, we developed a way of trimming the resistor value after encapsulation, right through the glass envelope. So it worked beautifully, and they were in production and they had a very nice, and we even had some beautiful pictures, high speed pictures of what occurred. We even looked into the mystery of, where did the evaporated material go when you blasted it off? We never could find it. But it was a very nice application, which petered out in two years, of course. The product itself was changed. I never figured out, I never even checked to find out what happened to the laser system when they finished with the product. It was designed only to make that one product. Then what?
I see, and you had to design it.
Oh, they had no other way of shipping that product. It had a tight requirement. It was a very nice design effort, an excellent development, it worked very well, it served a purpose. They shipped the product. Then the product just petered out. They came along with new designs and didn’t have to use the process.
Just to get a little bit of the organizational picture, how big a group are we talking about here?
How big a group?
What are its articulated parts, how many, what are the people from different backgrounds who make it up?
Well, what we always try to do in my department is get people from different backgrounds so that we can sort of rely on the different expertise it would bring. I mentioned Jack was a metallurgist, material science, and we probably had people with electrical engineering background, another one with a physics background. I’m sort of mixing it up with what we have now. Another one with a quantum electronics background. Another one with chemical engineering background.
Is that now, or then?
It’s sort of the same way we used to do it then, but I’m bringing it up to date. We never used chemical engineers back then because we weren’t interested in laser chemistry then. So that’s sort of the way it’s evolving, we pick up different people.
I see. Did you have the quantum mechanics person then?
Quantum electronics. I’m trying to remember when he first started. I don’t believe he was there that early, but he sure came in when we were doing a lot of trimming of thin films. He’s been with us quite a while, Ami Keseenbaum. He’s published quite a bit on trimming of thin films.
So it sounds as if you’ve got n well, from what you’ve enumerated, it sounds on the order of five to eight. Is that at all right or am I way off?
At one time it was down, in the beginning, I’d say, it was probably at the level of two, and then it grows. It probably did grow up to about eight, and sort of fluctuated between five and eight, with support people in addition to professional people.
So does that count in the support people, that five to eight or?
No, they’re additional. Almost another five, I think.
Are those technicians?
So in the beginning it was just you and nobody else essentially.
In the beginning there was a guy by the name of Frank Gagliano who was sort of left over from the original group besides Epperson and Young. So we sort of had a shift in personnel. Epperson went someplace else. Young went someplace else; Frank stayed with me a few years and then he went someplace else, within the company, and I kept getting different people with different backgrounds, as we got into different areas.
Is that something else you’ve got in your file, some record of how the group grew, or contracted, or separated off?
What we have in our files is probably the directions that we were looking for or going to over the years, but I don’t know that we actually matched the people with them.
OK, the directions is an interesting thing.
In other words, what we work on at the Research Center are allocations which sort of describe what it is we describe to do. And of course then the authorizations for funds, both salary and experimental budgets. And they probably exist quite a way back. That’s one of the things that Tim Shea said, we would be centrally funded, therefore no one could ask us to do something and insist that we do it if we didn’t think flat we should. It’s sort of like a two-edged sword. We didn’t have to do what they wanted, but they didn’t have to use what we worked on or developed.
So you had to start talking to each other pretty early, to make sure that your ideas got used, or you don’t justify your existence.
Yes. Let’s stop for a little bit here...