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Interview of Lewis Goodfriend by Richard Peppin on 2001 December 6, Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics, College Park, MD USA, www.aip.org/history-programs/niels-bohr-library/oral-histories/31671
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Discussion includes Lewis Goodfriend's work as an acoustical engineer; his membership and participation in the Acoustical Society of America; his childhood and education; his military service; working with Paul Ostergaard and Richmond Cardinell; using noise criteria curves.
Well, I’m Richard Peppin. I’m interviewing Lewis Goodfriend at the Florida Marriott Hotel on December 6, 2001 and we’re doing an ASA oral history. I’ll just begin. It’s about 11:15 a.m. on Thursday, and we’re at an ASA meeting. Okay, now here we go. What’s your present address?
My work address is Whippany, New Jersey. I live up the Hudson River in Cold Spring, New York.
Okay. Better put your address in. Go ahead.
The business address is 760 Route 10 in Whippany and the zip code is 07981.
Okay. What’s your present telephone number?
Okay. And you’re the head of L. S. Goodfriend and Associates?
Yes. Lewis S. Goodfriend and Associates.
Okay. And what’s your position there?
What do you do?
Well, we’re consulting engineers in acoustics and we’re a broad range firm dealing in architectural acoustics, environmental noise and equipment, noise control for in particular the utility industries — gas, water, electricity — and plant noise control and environmental compliance work.
Okay. How many people are in your company?
We have five engineers.
How long have you been with Lewis S. Goodfriend and Associates?
The original firm started in 1953 and its present organization was reorganized in 1972.
Oh. That’s a pretty long time. And you work there part of the time now?
Yes. I’m there, I take off a few weeks at a time to travel and but when I’m in the East I generally go to the office every day.
Do you do technical things or administrative?
Both. I don’t do fieldwork anymore, but I do take on projects, especially projects that are related to planning, and also environmental projects involving litigation.
Okay. Taking a side view, what happens is, after this gets recorded it goes to ASA, and they type what they think is correct. I go through it, and you go through it, and you can edit anything out, or whatever. Okay, let’s go to the Acoustical Society of America. When did you join the ASA, do you remember?
Probably around 1947.
How old were you about?
Twenty-four? And what were you doing?
I was on the staff of the noise control project at Stevens Institute of Technology.
As an engineer?
I was staff engineer.
What kind of interest in acoustics were you at that time?
Architectural acoustics, and theater acoustics, and sound control in the theater.
And was that what caused you to join ASA? Did Stevens want you to?
My immediate boss, Professor Harold Burris-Meyer, thought that it would be appropriate for me to join since he was active, and I was doing work that was leading to various papers that he presented.
Did you join any committees at that time?
Not at that time. Eventually I joined the Noise Committee.
Okay. What positions do you hold in ASA?
I’ve never held any positions in ASA.
You’ve been just a member most of —?
I’ve been a member and I’ve attended, participated in the Architectural Acoustics Committee and the Noise Committee and the various ANSI Standards Committees.
Okay. Did you become a Fellow?
Yes. I became a Fellow. I became editor of Noise Control magazine, which I helped to start for the Society in 1953. And its first publication was the January 1954 issue, and at that time the Executive Council thought it appropriate that if I was going to be the editor, I should be a Fellow.
That’s nice. Where were you at ‘53? Were you still at Stevens?
No. In 1953 I had been with the Audio Instrument Company for two years and had just left to start my own consulting firm.
Helps. Yeah. Do you remember, was any ASA meeting especially important to you or different?
Well, the 20th Anniversary meeting —
That was in the fifties?
1949. I assisted in setting up the meeting and I think Professor Burris-Meyer was, I believe he was chairman of that meeting, and we helped to produce a sound show at the banquet.
So he was active in ASA at the time.
He was active. He was on the Council at various times.
Were there any ASA members that you met that had specially influenced your future?
Well, Ted Hunt was kind of — was one of the people for whom I had great respect, and his work influenced — kind of gave me some goals to look at. And then Harry Olson was very kind to me and on many occasions recommended me to prospective clients.
Oh yeah, that’s good. And you met them at the meetings here?
I met them at the meetings and met them through my work as an editor of Noise Control.
Were there other professional organizations you belonged to?
Yes. I belonged to the Audio Engineering Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, among others.
And INCE. Oh, at that time you were Audio and IEEE. Yeah.
Later of course, when a group of engineers working in the field of noise control started INCE, I was one of the original members and participated in the various activities that took place to get it organized.
Yeah. And since that time how about ASHRAE? Were you a member?
I’ve been a member of ASHRAE and I’ve been member of the ASHRAE Noise Committee on various occasions, and I also became a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association during the period when OSHA and its impact on industrial noise control was particularly strong.
Okay. Do you have any comments about ASA, as an organization in the past or where it’s headed? Anything about that?
Well, I think that ASA — first of all, the meetings are extremely important. I think the — as a venue for presenting papers with up-to-date information and exchanging information between members and guests, it’s of tremendous importance. And the fact that it’s a — the Journal publishes a large volume of papers, many of which are of importance in documenting the state of the art. And even though there has been criticism over the years of the Society, or the Journal, as not dealing with applied acoustics, the presentations at meetings certainly fulfill the need to have information presented on applied acoustics.
Good, good. Okay, now we switch a little bit and go into past history, and that’s a lot of that stuff. So, when and where were you born?
I was born in New York City in 1923.
Where did you live before you went into college?
I was raised in Scarsdale, New York, just 21 miles north of New York City.
And where did you go to high school?
Scarsdale High School.
And then where did you go to college?
I went to Stevens Institute of Technology. I started in 1940, and the summer of 1942, I began working on the Sound Research Project funded by the National Defense Research Committee at Stevens, under Professor Burris-Meyer’s direction, and continued to work throughout the fall semester, leaving school in November to continue work on the Sound Research Project. And in the spring of 1943, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, and after going through boot camp in Paris Island, I was assigned back to the same project that I had been working on, with a team that was headed for the South Pacific. I went back and finished up my degree at Stevens after the war. Graduated in 1947.
Now were your parents from the United States? Were they immigrants?
Yes. No, my parents were, my mother was born in North Adams, Massachusetts, and my father was born in New York City.
And what did they do?
My mother had been a social worker and my father was an importer of pearls and precious stones.
Do you have any siblings?
I have a sister who has been in the publishing field for many years.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you have any idea?
Well, after I got over wanting to be a policeman I was interested in radio and possibly working in — I worked in the local radio store in high school, and thought that I might want to continue that, but after the war, I wanted to work in audio and sound.
So after the war, and you finished your degree?
I had already been working on the acoustics project.
Yeah. Right, right.
So that kind of cemented my interest in that.
Right. Did you have any special hobbies as a kid?
My hobbies were photography and radio — building radios and traveling around on my bicycle and later in the car taking pictures and —
With a Brownie kind of camera, or did you have a more sophisticated one?
I had originally a folding Kodak Hawkeye camera, and then I was given a present of a Zeiss Recomar camera with double extension bellows and sheet film and plate holders so that I could do some interesting things. And then the service manager in the radio store owned a Contax 35 millimeter camera, which he taught me how to use, and he had an old Graflex camera, the kind that you look down through a hood. But it had a focal plane shutter and took 4 by 5 pictures, so that I learned how to take sports photographs with both the 35 mm and the Graflex, both of which had focal plane shutters, and could be used with the old-fashioned flashbulbs.
Do you do photography to this day?
I still do photography. I have always used photography as a means of taking notes out in the field. I haven’t had my own darkroom for some years, but hopefully that’s going to change.
All right. That’s good. Was there anybody in your early days that was influential on you?
The service manager at the local radio store in Scarsdale, New York had gone to Stevens Institute of Technology, and he also made sure that after school when I went to the store, that I got my homework done, and then every day I had a lesson of some kind or another related to the electronics of radios and how things worked, so that I really never got out of school.
And so what was the reason that you picked Stevens — because of him?
Because of him.
Did he help you in any way or —?
No. He just was a career model in a way. And then a friend of my father’s was at CBS and was in early television production, and he had recommended that I should go to Stevens and meet this professor who was doing some very exciting things with sound in the theater. And that reinforced my interest in going to Stevens.
Did you apply to any other school or just Stevens?
Did you go in as — I guess they didn’t have acoustics at that time.
No. Stevens had only one degree, offered only one degree from the time it was founded up through the 1950s, and that was the degree, Mechanical Engineer. So that’s the course that I took.
And so you went for a whole — even with a break, that was it? You didn’t even think about maybe electronics or —?
Well, the course structure included civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and electrical engineering work, and it had a few more course hours than most other institutions at that time, at least more than for a bachelor’s degree. And the work in both mechanical engineering — where I learned something about vibration and fluid mechanics, where I learned something about fluid flow, and electrical engineering, where I learned a little bit about power systems — turned out to be all very valuable later in my career. Acoustics, I learned, because I had too. Professor Burris-Meyer gave me assignments that, again, they were both — it was, it was like an internship, and I was very fortunate, because he would assign some tasks to me and if I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, I was supposed to go to the library and find out.
Stevens always had a good reputation, I’m sure. It’s pretty good. When you went into the Marines did you do that to avoid the draft or [for] patriotic reasons?
Well, I had been threatened by an Army Colonel who was the military liaison for our project. He wanted to get me into the army and to work for him, and part of the groups we had been training — included some Army personnel, Navy personnel and some Marines — and as I began to get experience dealing with these men, I reached the conclusion that if I was going to go in the service I would rather be in the Marines. So at that point, I enlisted rather than be taken into the Army.
Was the idea that you would be a like a fighter kind of person overseas?
Well, these were specialized deceptive warfare techniques units that used both the audio and visual systems to provide false information to the enemy, and so they were designed to be either front line or landing activities. And the Marine Corps unit — when I came back to it as a Marine private — went out to the South Pacific where it was going to be used on the invasion of Bougainville —which never came off. And the unit was broken up. But that was the intent. And I ended up in an artillery fire control unit as a radio maintenance man and radio operator, which activities I performed during the invasion of the island of Guam. We captured the island and then —
You were over there? Where were you at the time? Where were you actually physically —?
Physically? I was there. I was onboard ship.
Oh, I see, on a ship.
I was onboard ship and then landed on Guam on the second day — and then the next year after going back to a base on Guadalcanal — I was reassigned to an acoustic gun ranging unit as a radio operator and took part in the invasion of Okinawa — unloading ship for three days and then landing and participating in the capture of the island.
Wow. Were you living at Stevens or did you commute?
I lived at Stevens. I lived in a dormitory.
Okay. I didn’t know they had that. Did you participate in any extracurricular activities or anything like that?
Yes. I participated in the Dramatic Society and I worked in almost every department including lighting and scenery construction as well as the sound department.
Did you have to pay for school or was it free or did your folks pay?
My family paid for it for the first two years, and then after the war, I was there under the GI Bill.
Did you have any special inspirational model at that time? I know your teacher was.
Not really. I was just excited by the field. So much was going on, and going to Acoustical Society meetings I would hear — And meetings in those days — there was one session for three days, not multiple sessions, so that I got to hear all the psychoacoustics presentations, all the speech and hearing presentations, as well as the architectural acoustics and noise papers. So it was an education.
Would you go back there again if you had to do again the same school?
Did you go on to get a Master’s or anything further?
Yes. I went to Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn and got a master’s in electrical engineering with courses in the electrical instrumentation area.
And were you sort of a single guy on your own then or did you still live at home?
Uh, no, I’d gotten married to Betty Hofstadter, who was the secretary to Wallace Waterfall, who was the executive secretary of the Acoustical Society.
Right. How did you meet her, through ASA?
I met her through ASA, because when Harold Burris-Meyer was the meeting chairman, she had come to visit the Institute, and then later I met her socially, because she was a friend of the wife of the editor of Audio Engineering magazine.
Okay. So did you choose Brooklyn Poly because of — I guess there were a couple of schools in the area you could have gone to, Columbia, whatever, but you chose Brooklyn Poly because of their reputation or location?
Basically because I had taken one summer school course there which fit my program, and then I felt that they offered a course, a curriculum that seemed to have the course structure that I needed.
Where did you live then?
So you just commuted by subway?
Yeah, right. Chase Street. How were you supported? Still on the Army?
No. The school was paid for by the GI Bill and I was doing some writing for Audio Engineering magazine and I was doing some instrument design work for the Audio Instrument Company.
Did you do any special projects on your master’s degree?
Yes. My master’s thesis was related to the development of a synthetic reverberation unit for music recording.
Yeah. That’s pretty good. That’s a great [inaudible word]. I always think about that. And how about did you do any further formal education?
No. No. Yes, I did actually. I started work on a doctorate at Columbia. But by then I had become the staff electrical engineer for the Audio Instrument Company and was still writing for Audio Engineering magazine, and I eventually dropped out of the doctoral program.
That Audio Instrument Company — I’m not familiar with it. Did they make meters or —?
They don’t exist anymore, but in the 1950s and ‘60s they made test equipment for audio systems. They made distortion analyzers, one of the first intermodulation distortion analyzers, they made a logarithmic amplifier, they made a pre-amplifier for the Western Electric 640AA microphone, and we ended up designing a high-speed level recorder using the electronic logarithmic amplifier.
How did you get that job? Did you apply and was it in a [inaudible phrase]?
I had been working with the Audio Engineering Society which was formed in 1947 and met C. J. LeBel, who was president of the company, who was the secretary of the AES. LeBel and I had been doing some instrument design for him on a kind of consulting basis, part-time basis. And when the company received a Navy contract to design an analog fire control computer for the Navy, he asked me to come onboard as the staff electrical engineer to design the amplifiers for this analog system.
That’s pretty good. When you were in the military, what was your rank?
I was a private, all the way.
All the way through? Did you ever attend any other kind of schools — technical, trade schools, anything like that?
We’re moving along here. So your first place of employment after college, aside from the military, I guess, was that Audio —?
The first place, there was one summer after I finished —
Okay, after a year at Stevens, Yes?
I spent a summer working for Richard Ranger, who was developing a magnetic tape recorder based on the German magnetophone which was also the basis for the Ampex recorder. And Ranger had a company called Rangertone which originally produced electronic chimes, but Ranger had been a colonel in the Army and came back from Europe with a magnetophone — and started making broadcast quality tape recorders. And he asked me if I could design a power supply to operate off aircraft — 24-volt aircraft power — that would produce a precise 60 hertz signal so that the magnetophone or the Rangertone recorder could be used by the military in aircraft. And so I spent the summer designing a precision —
Did you have a title or were you just like a trainee?
No, I was just a staff engineer.
Then, from then you went to Poly?
From there I spent a year doing audio system design and went to Poly in 1950. And as I say, I was doing part-time work [at] the Audio Instrument Company, got my degree in 1952, and I spent the next year working full time for the Instrument Company.
Okay. And then what happened after Poly?
Well I got my degree and spent a year at the Instrument Company, and then I had been doing some architectural acoustics work for a couple of people, and our Navy contract ended, and rather than take a cut in pay, I decided that I would go into consulting. And started out with one client, for whom I designed some microphones — studio recording microphones, condenser microphones. And another client, for whom I was doing architectural acoustics for schools, and that’s how it started.
So from that point on really you were sort of the head of the company from that point on. It went from —
From August 1953 on, I had a one-man business, and then I had it — it was a two-man business, and then it was a three-man business and —
What was it called at first?
Lewis S. Goodfriend, PE.
And where was it located?
It was located in Scarsdale, New York.
And then, and you stayed there until sometime, and you joined up —
In 1958, I moved the business to New Jersey with an associate, and a year or two later, Paul Ostergaard came in the firm.
What made you move to New Jersey?
Better access to the clients. The road system was — um, opportunity to move in a bigger office, better rent, just business.
Were you in Morristown area?
No, it was in Montclair.
Okay. And so then how did you meet Paul Ostergaard?
I believe that we got an inquiry from him about a position and —
You were looking for people at the time?
Yeah. And he had taken a Master’s at MIT and was certainly very well qualified. And he had been working at Carrier, so he had just the right mix of experience and education.
So when he joined was he an underling at the time?
He became a staff engineer, but it was a very collegial environment. I mean the three of us with a part-time secretary. We sat in one big office.
Who was the other person?
A fellow named Richmond Cardinell, who had graduated from Stevens and worked with me on the Sound Research Project.
And then, at some time you decided that Paul and you would join up as a co-owner?
Yeah, in 1963.
Okay, and that lasted some years and then —
That lasted until we sold the business. He and I sold the business to a company that was a hardware company making environmental hardware — boilers, cooling towers, things of that nature, fans, exhaust fans and incinerators. They had a patent for moving grate incinerator, and they had a license for a Venturi wet scrubber, and they were building a team of environmental consultants to be a separate business called Zurn, Z-u-r-n, Zurn Environmental Engineers. And so, we sold the business to Zurn, and I became Vice President of the parent company and the Vice President of Zurn Environmental Engineers.
When was that about?
That was 1969. And what got Zurn interested was that, among other things, I had been interviewed by Playboy magazine about the wartime use of acoustics. And Paul knew Frank Zurn, the CEO, and it just all came together in 1969, and we sold the business. And we began to have differences with the parent company, the hardware company, and the consulting firm was not a good mix. And Paul left in, I guess 1971, and I left in 1972, and he went off and started his own consulting firm, and I started my business over.
You had a pretty big staff at that time?
In 1969 we had twenty-one people, probably eighteen engineering people, with an office in Los Altos, California where there were a couple people.
Wow. When I got to know you, you had just vacated something. I think it was the Cedar Knolls Acoustical Lab.
Yeah. In 1962 Paul and Skip Cardinell and I had been talking about the need for an acoustical testing laboratory similar to Riverbank but on the East Coast. And so we designed an acoustical lab with two reverberation rooms. Kind of just vague plan for what we wanted. And I was doing some work for the township of Hanover, New Jersey, related to their airport and — or the airport that they did not own, but located in their Township — and I was talking to the Township engineer about a site for a laboratory of this type, that would have good subsurface conditions. Because we wanted to have a floating floor, and I didn’t want to have cracks in the concrete. So, we found a couple of sites and a developer, a builder who was willing to build the building and to hire our architect’s to design it, so we hired an architect and worked with him to design the building. Found a contractor and the builder developed and built the building and leased it to us, and that’s how Cedar Knolls Acoustical Laboratories came into being. And then Ralph Huntley, who had been the director at Riverbank, was retired by Riverbank under their rules of retire at sixty-five, and I looked at Ralph and said, "This is a man that should come run our laboratory." So Ralph joined us in Cedar Knolls and ran the laboratory for many years.
Yeah, yeah. And then eventually, I guess, you left from Cedar Knolls and went to Morristown where you had your own. You got rid of Cedar Knolls Labs because —
In 1969 when we sold the business the laboratory went with it. And when I restarted my own firm in ‘72 I started it in Morristown.
Right. Now there’s another section here about publications. You have written many, many publications. I need not list them all.
The rest seems to be — let me just see something. There is still some more, but not too much. But I wanted to talk a bit about — maybe another twenty minutes or so. You were probably like, I think, I don’t really know the details, but I think you got some ASHRAE contract to do some noise measurement in offices and —
We received a contract from ASHRAE to evaluate the appropriate noise criteria. And we had a lot of measurements.
Previously. We had this file of measurements made in offices and we knew which, from client responses, which were appropriate and which were problem spaces. And we did a lot of — we looked at the data in a lot of different ways and reaffirmed that the NC criteria were an appropriate method of rating noise level in spaces in terms of — at least in terms of air conditioning noise. This was before Warren Brazier came out with the RC criteria. It turns out that using the old octave bands the NC criteria went down into the 20 to 75 Hz band, which was the lowest band. It wasn’t an octave band, but was the band below the 75 to 150 band. And when Leo Beranek first published the noise criteria, the NC curves, he also published some NCA curves which included higher levels of low-frequency noise, which in certain spaces might be acceptable. So at that time the criteria included very low frequency room noise. And then when the preferred frequency bands came into use, when the NC standard for preferred octaves came into — or preferred octaves and third octaves came into — uh, was adopted — the NC curves were modified slightly, but only went down to the 63 Hz band. And I think that was where the trouble began.
Although still used today by 90 percent, everyplace.
It’s still used. Yes. But the problem of how to deal with low frequencies in standard were really I think became more of a problem when that 20 to 75 Hz band disappeared.
Yeah. Gotcha. Okay, a couple of quick things, now. Now what is your present marital status? Tell me anyway.
I’m married to Susan Banker and we live up on the Hudson River.
What does she do?
Well, she has been an Office Manager for legal firms for many years.
How did you meet her?
How long ago?
Four years ago.
How long have you been married?
Three. And did you and Betty have children?
Yes. We have one daughter, Karen, who is now the Head of the Science Department at the Madeira School in the Great Falls area of Virginia.
I’ve heard of it, yeah. What are your plans? Do you plan to stay up in the Cold Spring area?
Yes. We have a house there and stay there. It’s a sizable commute to my office, but I’m not here all the time, so —
Okay, some personal stuff. How about — do you do anything for fun?
Well, out in the West we ride, we hike in the hills. Our house borders on the badlands and is — and travel, visit. We traveled through Yellowstone Park. We spent some time at Jackson Hole.
Do you go there frequently to your house in Montana?
Well, we spent the last two summers there. I have an office in the house, and when I’m not — when I’m in the house I can take [care] of work. With the email, I might as well work there as in New Jersey.
Yeah, oh sure. Incredible. What about, do you have any political interests?
How about religious or anything like that? Okay, let’s see. They have questions, here but maybe it’s not relevant but — do you like movies? Do you go to movies or sports things, any of that kind of stuff?
We go to plays in New York, concerts in New York, on occasion. But that’s about it.
Do you think that if you had your druthers, you might move to New York someday — finally, as a place to settle in?
If the rents in New York ever came down, the answer is “yes”.
All right. There is only one other question. Is there anything you would like to add? What this will be — will be a documented — we’ll have the tape of course and there will be a documented thing that goes into the ASA archives. So, and it always can be added to, but if there is something you want to say, you can. About anything, acoustically or personally.
Well, my life’s work has been in acoustics, one way or another.
The Society has played a very important role, even though I haven’t been an active participant in recent years. I still receive the Journal in paper format, I read several articles in each issue, and I wish I could get to more meetings, because I find it very stimulating to attend sessions and to interact with other people who — Clearly there is a lot going on in the field in my area — or areas — and I enjoy the opportunity to participate.
That’s great. We’re glad. I mean it’s wonderful to see you here. And I often see you here. It’s great. Well, that’s the close of this. I don’t have anything else to say. I’ll be sending this to Elaine Moran and she’ll get it typed up and she’ll send it to me. That goes quick so far. I’ll send it to you marked up. You’ll see my comments — basically, to get rid of the pauses and stuff like that. And then, yeah, then it gets in. It’s as simple as that. I’ve done already Dave Lubman and Per Bruel. So I feel — I want to thank you too, because I’ve always wanted to hear about you, and I never had an excuse to do so.
Well, it’s my pleasure, sure.