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In footnotes or endnotes please cite AIP interviews like this:
Interview of Marc Brodsky by William Thomas on 2008 January 8,
Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics,
College Park, MD USA,
For multiple citations, "AIP" is the preferred abbreviation for the location.
The interview discusses Brodsky's family and education in Florida and Pennsylvania, and his undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania. He also received his Ph.D. in physics there under the supervision of Elias Burstein. He also discusses his participation in ROTC, and his subsequent work at military research facilities, including Frankford Arsenal, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, the Naval Ordnance Laboratory, and the Army Night Vision Laboratory.
Brodsky began his work at IBM Research in 1968. There is substantial discussion of early research work at IBM, particularly on amorphous silicon, and his transition to management circa 1980, interactions with John Armstrong, James McGroddy, Ralph Gomory, and others.
There is some discussion of later involvement in consumer products development, particularly the patent for digital video recording technology.
Finally, he discusses his transition to Executive Director and CEO of the American Institute of Physics in 1993, including the mission of AIP and the move from New York to College Park.
So, we’ll have a backup recording on — okay, what is this — Tuesday, January 8, 2008. Let’s see here.
Okay. So, before we begin, I guess, is there any restriction on the amount of time that we have available to us?
My wife’s going out and I’m going to have to pick her up, after she gives a tour, in about a couple hours.
Maybe a couple of hours.
Also, the electricity’s going to go off this afternoon for a few minutes. [Laugh]
Okay. Well, I figured that what we’ll try and do is just go through the length of your career. That’s the way we do most of the stock interviews for our collection. So, yeah, I mean I think we’ll try and get, you know, both the scientific aspects from your work at IBM and also some of the, a view of kind of the broader organizational picture. And, it will also match nicely with our Physicists in Industry interviews too, I think.
So, yeah, are you ready?
I’m ready. Yeah.
All right. This is Will Thomas, on Tuesday, January 8, 2008, at Marc Brodsky’s apartment in-home in Washington D.C., and we are here to do an oral history interview. So, I guess to begin why don’t you tell us a little bit about your life background, where you grew up, a little bit about your parents, their occupation, and so forth. So we have that for the record.
I grew up — I was born in Philadelphia and grew up in South Philadelphia until the age of ten, to poor working-class parents, first generation. My grandparents on both sides, strangely enough in the same year, emigrated from Russia-occupied Europe. Mother’s side from what is now Poland. My father’s side from what is now the Ukraine. And, all four of them came in 1905. They were married [at the time they emigrated]. My father and mother were born in the United States. And, I have one sibling, an older brother five years older.
What were their names, your mother and father?
My mother and father? Okay. My mother was Esther, called "Pat," Patrick, and my father David Brodsky.
And, I went to public schools in Philadelphia. We moved from South Philadelphia, a relatively poor section, to a nominally more prosperous section, but still to row houses in a section called Wynnefield in West Philadelphia. I went to Sharswood, Sharswood Elementary School, to Beaver Elementary School, which also became Beaver, well Beaver Junior High School, for the rest of my elementary and junior high school. Two different schools in the same building. I used to walk across the street to school through junior high school and I graduated junior high school after ninth grade, that would be in 1953, at which time we moved to Florida. My father had gone down six months earlier, and my brother, mother, and I moved in July of ‘53 to Florida. I went to high school in Miami, Miami Senior High, which was a high school with tenth through twelfth grades. Pretty big school. Over 3,000 people. Over 1,100 in my tenth grade class. I think it was even 1,100 when we started senior year, but 840 graduated. A very good education in Philadelphia, very standard. I didn’t miss a day when I moved from South Philadelphia in October of ‘48 to, in fifth grade, to Wynnefield, and practically did the same thing. It was much different than now. And even similar when we moved to Florida. The [curriculum] structure was relatively similar but I had a little problem with the guidance counselors in Florida, that they insisted that I could not take six courses, which I normally would have taken, so I never got to take typing in high school. I had to take study hall instead. [Laugh]
Were you interested in science from early on or what...
From my earliest memories I wanted to be in science and engineering. I remember this friend in third grade, we used to talk about being engineers. We didn’t know what that meant. We thought it meant operating a [salt mine] or something. But, I had no idea that there was any difference between the scientist and an engineer, or what that difference might be. Actually, I didn’t understand that until after I got to college. And, I took an academic set of courses in high school. If I remember now, and I’ve forgotten all of that, I took Latin in ninth grade in Philadelphia. That would be the junior high. I wanted to continue Latin and add French when I went to high school and I had a hard time maneuvering that and getting that through, you know. It was too big a load to take that. But, there was sort of one set of classes in high school that was fairly academic. I used to joke in high school—Miami High was a big, athletic: football, basketball, band, marching band—a million-dollar marching band, some called it. We played the high school football games in the Orange Bowl. We’d draw a crowd as big as 25,000 people on Thanksgiving Day and ten or fifteen thousand on normal games. And, it was a big deal. And, I used to joke, "I never had a serious thought for three years," but that wasn’t quite true. There was sort of one thread of classes that had academically-minded students. I had an excellent math teacher [Verna Kimler], excellent English teacher [Ann Richarson], pretty bad history teacher [Hutchinson], fairly poor chemistry and biology [Zella McWhorter] and physics [Bromigan] teachers. So, it’s hard to say which was worse. The biology teacher was okay. [It’s just a course when we’re that age.] She usually would [Zella McWhorter], but at least she focused on students. But, the major thing I learned from her was the word "yes" was half a word. The full word was "Yes, ma’am." [Laughter]
Were there any sorts of activities outside of school that you did that were, that enhanced your interest in science? Earlier in the century a lot of people would discuss taking apart and putting together radios and that sort of thing.
Well, I guess I only took apart radios. Never quite got them back together again. That was early in the century. When I was in junior high school, particularly, friends of mine, particularly a friend named Jay Goldberg, he and I used to go down almost every Saturday morning on a, in those days kids eleven, twelve years old took public transportation. We’d take a bus across the city and then a subway or elevated train to downtown, and we’d take a, we’d go over to the Franklin Institute almost every Saturday, which was the science museum in Philadelphia. We’d first stop at the public library and get out books, some books, just return books, walk across the street to the Boy Scout headquarters, which was down the street from the Franklin Institute. We were — or Cub Scouts even, we were entitled to free admission tickets to the Franklin Institute. So, we picked those up first, then go into the Institute, go through there, the planetarium — the Fels Planetarium and then wander through the museum and see all the different exhibits. So I, I had science almost every week there. Then we’d go to the [stamp] stores, Gimbels, which you couldn’t afford, and then the smaller [stamp stores] in downtown Philadelphia.
And, what else stimulated science in those days? My father, he got to the to the eighth grade, when he quit school to drive a horse and wagon selling fruit and vegetables, was self-educated, in the army during the war, World War II, in the Pacific. He educated himself and he brought home a load of books. Books on geometry, trigonometry, science, astronomy. I remember reading them. Talked to him about the discovery of Pluto at a very young age.
Uhm-hmm. He brought these home...
From the war.
From the war? Okay.
The Army gave him free books, and also a Malaysian dictionary, I remember. And, I read those. He had a sister who died young, committed suicide, who was the only intellectual, the real intellectual of the family, although my father was a great reader. She was the only one that who tried to go to college, of his generation. No one in my parents’ generation of their siblings or cousins went to college. And, she was an intellectual, had all sorts of books. No science books. A lot of poetry books and things which I, we kept in a closet in the basement. I, from when I was ten to fourteen. And, I just read those all the time. But, always the science books. But, I guess the most significant thing would be the Franklin Institute as a child. And, I remember eighth grade science class. They had general science at Beeber in those days, in the middle, not in middle school, junior high school. In eighth grade you got general science, your first introduction to science. In ninth grade, what did we get? Maybe it was ninth grade we got general science, not eighth grade. I forget now, but we must have had something in science in ninth grade. We had algebra in ninth grade, but I couldn’t remember the differentiation between eighth and ninth of what you had in science. If you didn’t get, the standard curriculum then was biology, chemistry in eleventh and twelfth grade, and that was true in Philadelphia and true in Florida when I got to Florida.
Yeah. I think it was true of me.
Yeah. And then, I’m trying to think. Well anyhow, I remember one science project where we’d go around the block and pick leaves from all different trees and put them in a scrapbook, and after that exercise my — the teacher called my mother in, back then there was a PTA [Brodsky in proofing: actually called the Home and School Assoication at Beeber Junior High School], and said she should try to, the teacher said to my mother she should "try to persuade me from wanting to be a scientist," which she knew I wanted to be because I couldn’t, wasn’t cut out to be. And, it turns out the reason, after my mother probed, was I didn’t paste the leaves in neatly. The glue showed at the edge, [Laugh] and they weren’t well aligned, and things like that. So therefore, I was unfit to be a scientist.
I see. So, you went to, back to Philadelphia then for college?
Right. I had my three years in Florida for high school. And, while there I learned science more from the textbooks. I remember the level of questions on the exams were, "What’s the name of your textbook and who wrote it?" That was the kind of science we learned. But, I was very good in science and math, and we had an excellent math teacher. I forget her name. It’s on the tip of my tongue [Verna Kimler] Anyhow, she was great. She taught the lead classes and she taught the athletes, athletes too, whatever math they took. She was the academic qualification officer for the athletes. So, a football player couldn’t go out to play football unless she said so. And, she was very good. She lived to an old age, but got hit by a car eventually and died, long after I left high school. And, but she was good. I remember a little difficulty. We did not learn calculus in those days in high school. I remember she tried to introduce functions and I never could get the concept of what a function was. You know, first day in college I understood it, but last day in high school I did not. And in high school I remember my geometry teacher, it was a different guy named Theobald, Ron Theobald, who doubled as the guidance counselor. So, he was my guidance counselor. People were very, — down in Florida — are very friendly people. And, I remember talking to him and he says, "Oh, you’re good in science and math. You should be an engineer." I said, "Okay. I’ll be an engineer. And, where should I go to school?" And he says, "Well, you can go to the University of Miami, but if you really want to do well and get a more challenging education you should go upstate," which meant the University of Florida, Gainesville. And I said, "Is there anything, more options than that?" And he said, "Well, if you really think you’re good and can make it, you might go to Tech." That’s Georgia Tech. And I said, "Any other options than that?" He said, "No." So I talked around and, of course, being in a Jewish intellectual community people knew about schools up north. Of course, I knew about Penn. My brother went to the University of Pennsylvania. So, I applied to Penn. I applied to Harvard and Yale, because they were name schools. Applied to Duke, because a good friend in high school went. Did I apply at Duke? I think so [I did not apply to Duke. The only school that my friend Steve Shimm and I applied to in common was Yale.]. I think I — I applied at Carnegie Mellon, Carnegie. It wasn’t Carnegie Mellon then, Carnegie Institute of Technology, because a very smart kid, who was a good friend of mine the year before, graduated a year before, went to Carnegie. So, I applied to Carnegie. So, Penn, Carnegie, Yale, Harvard. It might have been, the fifth one might have been Duke, because my friend was there [that is, my friend, Steve Shimm was applying to Duke, which he eventually attended]. And those days you took College Board exams. You studied for them the day before. You didn’t study for them — you didn’t take prep courses and things like that. Oh no. You studied vocabulary for most of the spring, because everyone knew the SATs were big on vocabulary. I remember the only day of school I ever cut in my life was the day before the College Boards. This friend, who I mentioned wound up going to Duke, and he and I ate pizza, homemade pizza. Well, we called it pizza. It was mainly cheese and tomato sandwiches at home. And, joked around all day, supposedly studying for the college boards. And, then we went over to the University of Miami and took the exams the next day and did reasonably well. Got into all the schools I applied to except Yale. He got into all the schools he applied to except Yale. We always suspected it was because we were Jewish, was one of the reasons we didn’t get into Yale. But, I got a decent scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania and paid full tuition. I could not have gone — I found out later –- I would have gotten a scholarship to Harvard, which would have paid half the tuition. I still could not have afforded it if, by myself. For purely financial reasons I chose the University of Pennsylvania of all the schools because it’s the only one that gave the highest [that is, covering full tuition] scholarship. And as it was, I mean, I lived on five or ten dollars a week for my years of college. In those days you could earn your way through college. I mean, five or ten is what I got from my parents. In a good week they would send me a ten dollar check. And if they didn’t have a good [week], if they didn’t have the money my mother would mail it, misaddress it and mail it to the wrong address and pretend she was still sending me money. [Laugh] And so, at first I — oh, back to my conversation with Theobald where to go, what to study I said, "Well, what is an engineer?" And he says, "Well, here’s what an engineer is," and he showed me this chart which showed what engineers make. A civil engineer made ninety-five dollars a week, or ninety dollars a week. I forget what it was. [Phone rings] A mechanical engineer made ninety-five, and an electrical engineer made a hundred and fifteen, and a chemical engineer made a hundred and twenty-five dollars a week. I said, "I’ll be a chemical engineer. Why not?" So, I went to the college, signed up in the Chemical Engineering Department. To show how naïve I was, I didn’t understand that when you applied to college you actually applied to [a specific] School [within the university]. I didn’t realize the Engineering School was different than the Arts and Science where physics was, or the Wharton School where business was.
In those days there was actually a college for women at the University of Pennsylvania. So, all the women had applied to it. I didn’t realize there were different Schools. And, so I got there and I said, I remember the freshman orientation, first day of school. They sat us in the grandstand in the Chemical Engineering Department, Chemical Engineering Department in the [Towne] School of Engineering of the university. And, we sat in this grandstand. In front of us was something like an oil refinery, a bunch of pipes all over the place, and they told you what a chemical engineer did. And, I don’t remember what they told me but all I remember is seeing all those pipes and said, "I didn’t come to college to be a plumber." So, I walked across the street to the Physics Department and said, "I want to transfer to physics" and they said, said, "Well, you can do that but you have to apply to transfer from one School to the other." That’s where I first learned that the Engineering School was different than the College of Arts and Sciences. And I said, "Well, look, sign me up." You know, I started doing the paperwork and they said, "The curriculum you’re taking is fine for [the time] being, staying, you know. You have to finish your freshman year with the engineering curriculum that you signed up for until your transfer goes through and then you can start changing the courses that you take." So, I did that. And, the benefit of that is I had Mechanical [called Engineering] Drawing, which I guess is the one course I would not have had. I guess it [the physics class] was a special course for physics majors. But, the engineering [calculus-based physics] course was just as good as the calculus [-base physics] course. Taught by Ken Atkins, and they used then, and they used Sears and Zemansky. That was the textbook. And, so I signed up to switch to physics, because I didn’t want to be a plumber. Of course, I spent my career in physics as a plumber as what the physicist do in the laboratory is plumbing. [Laugh]
Could you tell me a little bit about the physics courses at Penn? In the late ‘50s.
For freshmen. Yeah. I arrived in September ‘56. And, Sears and Zemansky, I still remember the mechanics course very well. "A boy falls off the top of the Washington Monument, 555 feet, five and a half or eleven and half inches high. Superman arrives on the scene so many seconds later. How fast does Superman have to accelerate in order to catch the boy just before he reaches the ground?" I remember that problem very well. I remember the Washington Monument’s 555 feet and some inches high. It was a good set of courses. The standard four-sequence course. Physics was, you took it simultaneously with calculus. Physics course was taught by a professor. The recitation sections were taught by graduate students. The math/calculus course was taught by graduate students. It was okay. I think Thomas was the calculus book. I’ve got all those books in the basement here. Then your second, first semester was mechanics. Second was E&M, the third was I guess sound and optics. Things like that. Thermo. And, the fourth was so-called modern physics, or nuclear physics.
Okay. How, about how large were the courses?
Well, these were the engineering courses. There apparently was a simultaneous physics major sequence and then there was also physics, you know, for pre-med and things like that. Then there’s Gaylord P. Harnwell. Gaylord Probasco Harnwell, who was a well-known physicist at the time. He was president of the University of Pennsylvania at the time and he prided himself in going and teaching. And, his limo would drive up and, you know, from a half, from a block away his limo would come around the block, drive up in front of the physics building. He’d get out and he’d teach nurses a physics course. It was supposedly the driest, worst physics course in the whole department and probably the worst in the University. But, the president of the University thought he was still being a teacher when he taught that course. So, there were hundreds in that course, in a big auditorium. The Rittenhouse Laboratory had just opened up the year before, so it was second year, I think, in that new physics building, which was right next to the Palestra, which was the basketball stadium, and Franklin Field was the famous football stadium. In later years I remember when the Eagles, Philadelphia Eagles, temporarily were waiting for a new stadium and would play in Franklin Field, and would practice at Franklin Field.
I was just reading about that the other day. Yeah.
And, these very big people would walk by the Physics Department. They’d let you build tennis courts right in the space in between, between the physics building and the court, there’s sort of like a courtyard between the Palestra and Franklin Field. I would see very big people going by. And, we’d regularly go over and play basketball in the afternoon in the Palestra. Well, it was called Hutchinson Gymnasium, which was the smaller courts next to the Palestra. In those days, rather than take a physical your freshman year, you had to go right to the Gym and go through registration lines and then strip down naked and go into the pool and pass the swimming test and all that. I still remember registration, walking by where, unfortunately, I signed up for ROTC because I didn’t know what it was, and I went across the street to my chem engineering advisor, who was Humphrey. I forget his first name. [ed. Arthur E. Humphrey] He eventually became dean or president of Lehigh University. He was a chem engineering professor. And he said, "Well, ROTC is something you can quit after two years. So, if you don’t know, sign up." It was a disaster, because I eventually wound up in the Army during the Vietnam Era. So, I signed up for two years of ROTC. And, I tried first the Air Force. They wouldn’t take me because of my eyes. I tried the Navy. They wouldn’t take me because of the eyes. The Army takes anybody, so they took me. And then I also signed up for crew. Of course, as I was leaving registration the crew coach looked at me and said, "You have the perfect build for lightweight crew." I said, "What’s that?" He said, "It’s rowing." [Laugh] So, I went out for crew and rowed for four years, lightweight crew. But, back to physics. So, the sequence was there were four courses and then you did it all over again your junior and senior years. You got some more depth. And, you, your math course, I think I took two semesters of calculus and then a third of differential equations. And because I started in the engineering and then had to pick up my major requirements in the College of Arts and Sciences, I had very few electives until my senior year, very, very restricted. I didn’t do that well academically in my first year. I did well in the physics courses and in the math courses I got A’s and B’s. But, English and some of the other, I forget what they were, I didn’t do very well. By the time I was a senior I did very well. I think in physics I got As in everything for my four years. But, because of those academic limitations I was sort of limited in my graduate school options. My senior year I became very friendly with the physics faculty. Ralph Amado — I started taking the graduate courses. In those days you couldn’t take, now you can take the quantum mechanics your senior year. In those days you could not, but you were allowed to take the mathematical physics. So, I took that my senior year, I believe. Ralph Amado taught that and I became very friendly with him. Eli Burstein, who had just arrived, taught the optics course. I took an optional optics course with him. I became friendly with him. In retrospect I don’t know if there was a society for physics students or anything then. I never joined up with an AIP thing. I didn’t know whether there was an AIP yet, in those days. There was an old guy, [Enos] Witmer, who was not much of a physicist, in those days, who was sort of the undergraduate faculty counselor who administered the honors test at the end that you had to take to graduate with honors. He was sort of out of it. I remember I was away rowing, away out of town at a meet the day the test was taken. It was supposed to be given. So, they rescheduled me for the week after. And so, he gave me a test. It couldn’t be the same test that he gave the week before, so he gave me a back-year test. I remember as soon as he gave it to me I looked at it and said, "Well, this was a test from a previous year that I had studied from. I know all the answers." He said, "That’s okay." [Laugh] So, I took the test, passed, you know. So, I applied to graduate school. Eli Burstein, who is still alive, just had passed his ninetieth birthday. He suggested I go to Irvine where they were just starting a course, and a friend of his, Dick Wallis, Eli had come from the Naval Research Lab, and Dick, Richard Wallis had been at the Naval Research Lab and he was going to be the new chair. [It was Ken Ford who was going to be UCI Physics Chair in early sixties, not Dick Wallis, who went to UCI much later] I think the new dean, or president, was to be Ken Ford, who I didn’t know at that time, who eventually turned out to be my predecessor at AIP. So, I didn’t know anything about Ken at the time. In retrospect, Eli must have known Ken, because he’s socially friendly with Ken. They [UC Irvine] needed help at that time. I met him through Dick Wallis. Dick Wallis and I, our paths crossed later. I’ll tell you about it later. [Brodsky Note added in proof: Ken Ford was not yet in the Physics Department Chair at UC Irvine in 1960; R.F. Wallis was Physics Dept Chair much later 1972-75] So, I applied to Irvine. I applied to Columbia. And, I don’t think I applied to other places. Those are the places I got in. So, I got into Penn and Penn gave me an assistantship and the best financial package. And once again, I went to the University of Pennsylvania for financial reasons, and by then, of course, it was very familiar. There were, I think, six real physics graduates, graduates at Penn my year [year I receive my bachelor’s degree]. Very small class. I almost can remember, still, each and every one of them. All this was happening...
And this was undergraduate and graduate?
The graduate part was much bigger.
For some reason Penn has never been able to attract a cadre of, a reasonable cadre of physics majors. It’s always been very disappointing to me. I’ve gone back in the past, later years, and tried to encourage them to do more, but they really can’t seem to attract that critical mass of undergraduate majors. They’ve always had good people. Penn’s department is famous for its alumni faculty, that is people who start their careers there, they move on to bigger and better things, to Princeton, Harvard, Yale, etcetera. But, they have a very good – so anyhow I went to graduate school there and they had a very good cadre of incoming young professors, aside from undergraduate school faculty, aside from Eli Burstein who was their first big recruit for solid-state physics. Eli made his reputation during the war, and right after the war, World War II, at [MIT Rad Lab and] the Naval Research Laboratory in semiconductor physics in the very early days, and there’s something called the Burstein Effect [some call it the Burstein-Moss Effect], which is a shift in optical absorption of [the] semiconductor band [edge] when it becomes heavily doped. He never got his PhD and I think he studied chemistry as a graduate, went to Brooklyn College in Brooklyn. Went to Kansas, got a masters degree, war came, never quite finished his chemistry degree. He went to work during the war in Washington. He became very well known. So, he was giving out PhDs without a PhD of his own. Different kinds of physicist. I’ll get to that eventually. So, when I became, the first year’s assistantship in graduate school, before you settle in the lab, you help somebody else in teaching their courses. There was a recitation or a lab instructor, and I became a lab instructor for Eli’s optics course. Burstein. So, that was my beginning of a life-long connection with Eli Burstein. In fact, you want to hear more undergrad stories? I have an interesting story of my freshman lab.
Well, I think since our time is fairly limited I’d kind of like to get, you know, the meat of the experience of science classes.
But this, this actually affected my future career.
Okay, well then that’s good.
My freshman laboratory instructor was Phil Stiles, who turned out to be a student of Eli Burstein’s, and he was a first-year graduate student. He had come from Trinity College. And, he got handed off a freshman lab, studying the cold friction of sliding chalk along the ridge of the blackboard, and things like that. And, of course, I knew him well as Eli’s student and he helped me get my job at IBM. So, that started from my freshman lab instructor.
Okay. So, where do you want to go next?
How much can that record?
About seven hours.
I think I’ve used up five or six before.
You can set it so, you know, you can set it so it only can do eight. Higher fidelity.
We’ll wait a couple seconds.
Would you like some coffee?
Yeah, I could actually use some coffee.
Okay. Well, put that on pause. I’ll put that on pause. [Recording paused] Okay, we’re back recording after a coffee break. Still drinking coffee.
Okay, we are here drinking coffee.
We were just talking about Sputnik, which went up the beginning of my sophomore year. It was ‘57. Sputnik. I remember that. It seemed very exciting at the time. It resulted in a friend of mine, who was in Naval ROTC. He and I had started out as a chem engineer as well, and couldn’t hack the physics course, switching to law. Eventually, though, switching to something else. Making a bet with the Navy, the Army, the United States Navy, the Army would get a satellite in orbit first. He bet on Navy. I bet on Army, and won.
So, Sputnik goes along with kind of a strong growth in physics and so I was just asking you, while we were getting coffee, about the size of the courses that you were taking, the manner in which they were taught. I’m wondering if, you know, they got more specialized as time went on and fewer people were in them or tended to be?
Well, to me the engineering survey courses always stayed at a hundred and fifty or so. But the physics major courses were always, in that era, eight, nine, ten. What happened is the teaching loads went down because they got more research. There used to be a full teaching load with four courses for a physics professor. That’s a lot of time. And then, if they got some committee assignments and stuff it went down to three and they got research and it went down to two. Nowadays it’s much less, actually. There are, you know, most professors only teach one, but all through my graduate career, undergraduate career, a fully funded research professor taught two courses. Now physics really might involve, you know, only one with contact hours. The others doing something else. I mean, in lecture hours, the others may be in something, essentially lab. At the end of my — my jobs during the summer were completely not—had nothing to do with science. I’d go home and work back at Food Fair, the supermarket that gave me a scholarship to Penn, and would have given me one to Harvard had I gone there. And then, my junior, after my junior year I had my ROTC summer training. So, I went to that. After my senior year I applied for the technical jobs and I had, I remember at least three I applied for. One Jules Halpern, a nuclear physicist at Penn. He would have given me a summer job at Penn. I wanted, since I was going to go to graduate school at Penn, I thought, "Well, I better try something else." I remember going up to New York and interviewing at the Atomic Energy Commission. And, the guy in the interview asked me some fairly obscure question, about how something worked, and he described it all backward. I couldn’t figure out what he was asking. Basically, he was describing a Geiger counter. [Laugh] And when I realized, you know, because obviously he worked with it and that’s all he knew about; working with radiation safety somewhere. And, the way he described it I couldn’t understand what he was talking about. So, he said it was a Geiger counter and he was talking about electrons coming in and being gathered, setting off a pulse. But, he described it all backwards. So, I didn’t get that job. But, I got a job at the last minute at the Frankford Arsenal, which was an Army base and center that made weapons in Philadelphia, the other end of Philadelphia. And, I drove out there to work. And they assigned me an interesting problem. They had proposed some new weapon, some new — it was the days of trying to change the rifles and coming up with new lightweight rifles. So, they tried to make a lightweight bullet and told me to calculate whether it would kill anybody. So, I asked, "How do you do that?" "Well, we can’t show you the formulas. They’re classified. And, you got the job on such short notice you don’t have security clearance, so go figure it out." So, I took a look at their proposal. And, what was unclassified were a lot of captured German documents from World War II, which were in reports from Aberdeen. Proving Ground during the war. So, I got all those documents and figured out how to calculate what they wanted me to calculate, and I calculated it wouldn’t kill anybody. The bullet would barely be stable in flight and as soon as it hit anything of any different mass it would plop. [Laugh] It wouldn’t even go in. And, I said, "Well, if you change this little parameter a little bit," I forget, it was the diameter of the shell, "just a tiny bit from some number—fifteen to sixteen caliber." There’s a difference. I learned there’s a difference between caliber-15 and fifteen-caliber. One’s a ratio and one’s an absolute number. I forget which is which. And I said, "Well, if you change one of these numbers it would work." "Oh, we can’t change that to that number because that’s what Springfield Armory proposed. And, you know, we want our proposal to go through." So, that’s when I first learned about government bureaucracy, and, and so they were going to present my report at a meeting and they promptly classified my report, so I couldn’t read it anymore. So, they wouldn’t let me go to the meeting, because my report, which was going to be presented, was classified and I didn’t have the clearance. So, I spent the rest of the summer playing Battleship with some guy from Amherst University. [Laugh]
Okay. It’s funny. I wrote on some of that stuff in my dissertation research. A lot of the Rand Corporation people did a lot of that sort of thing during World War II. So, I’ve had a little...
What kind of things?
Ballistics. And, calculating the effects of weapons, and that sort of thing.
Yeah. Yes, I did that. This was the Post where they tried to make a, this thing that, this recoilless rifle that would mount on a jeep and shoot an atomic bomb. And, of course, the bomb was so heavy the rifle no longer became recoilless, so the bomb would go plop in front of the jeep and the jeep would shoot backwards [Laugh] when they shot them off. Anyhow, it was a — fortunately the government eventually closed that Arsenal down. It was pretty incompetent. And, the next summer after my freshman year [Brodsky in proofing: first year of graduate school] I worked at Los Alamos. Very interesting summer job. That’s my first real teaching -– learning that I had of experimental techniques in a laboratory. I worked, well I worked with two people. I mean, I nominally worked for Mike Hayne. Hayne or Haynes. Hayne, who had just gotten hired about six months before. He was a full-time employee of Los Alamos, but he didn’t get his security clearance, yet, because he had once visited East Berlin. And so, he was on the other side of the fence and I was on the inside with my security clearance. I was always making things in the laboratory, coming out to the fence and holding it up to him and asking him, "Am I doing it right?" [Laughter] But, I [also] worked for Paul Hartman, who used to go summers to Los Alamos. Paul Hartman, I don’t know if you know him. A very interesting guy. As an historian you should know of him. He just died recently. He was at Cornell University. Great experimentalist. Always ran the lab courses there. And, he wrote the History of the Physical Review, which had started at Cornell, after the first hundred years of it. A very interesting book on the history of the Physical Review. I think Hartmann has two "Ns" at the end. [ed. Paul Hartman, A Memoir on The Physical Review: A History of the First Hundred Years] Very nice man. Apparently he remembered me in later years. I never saw him again. I think I saw him once at some meeting, you know, this was after 1961. He just died a few years ago. But, I learned second-hand through his daughter, from a friend of his daughter’s, that he still sort of remembered me in later years. I was not very good as an experimentalist in building equipment and he was excellent. And, we were doing a very difficult experiment on absolute photometry, where we’re measuring the nitrogen afterglow of the electron beam in a low-pressure nitrogen atmosphere. It was part of Project Vela, which was started due to the test ban moratorium, the voluntary test ban moratorium between the Soviet Union and the United States. And, this was supposed to detect that the Russians were violating the test ban by exploding bombs in outer space. And, so we had, what we had to do is understand charged particles coming into the atmosphere, setting off some nitrogen glow, separating it from such things as the aurora borealis, separating it from lightning, separating from other natural phenomena, both in time and spectra. So, we were doing spectra -– absolute photometry of the nitrogen afterglow. I learned a little bit about experimental physics. Doing that was very fascinating. The only thing I think Project Vela ever detected was the South African test eventually, because that stuff on the satellite probably detected a South African test off the coast of Africa years later. I mean, I just deduced that from unclassified stuff afterwards. But, on the car ride back home, I listened on the radio and Russia tested an atomic bomb. So, the moratorium was over and all the people I worked with stopped working on peaceful detection tests and went to work testing bombs in Nevada again, including Mike Hayne, who eventually came to Penn as a graduate student years later, then died a mountain climbing accident. Everybody out there at Los Alamos did mountain climbing, were mountain climbers. But, a dangerous sport.
What was kind of the general culture of Los Alamos at that time? I mean, presumably you were with a particular section?
Well, it’s ‘61. So, you know, by today’s measure it’s fairly close to the end of the War. There was still a lot of people out there who had been there on the Manhattan Project during the War. It was an enthusiastic place. It was my first exposure to real outdoors people. Pickup trucks, in those days, there were not pickup trucks on the East Coast. [Laugh] Out there, there were pickup trucks in the parking lot, and Friday afternoon people would go out there. [Speaking to wife]
Okay. So, where were — oh, Los Alamos atmosphere. There was a real esprit de corps about the people who had been there the whole time. I went out there with a fellow graduate student, Sid Perkowitz, who eventually wound up at Emory, head of the Physics Department. Sid worked in something in shock waves while we were out there. Very nice esprit de corps out there. Challenging, of course they were state-of-the-art. They were trying to get state-of-the-art computers. There was this whole wing they were building for a, a computer with fantastic computing property. I forget the name of it. A famous IBM-Los Alamos project. I’ll think of the name, eventually. It had all the computing power of somewhat less than my cell phone right now. [Laugh] Like that, a pocket calculator. But, it was the super computer of the time. I learned a lot. I learned a lot and I read a lot about Fermi and the War, and Feynman, and heard all sorts of Feynman stories. Great stories about there — you could see the stuff that was going on. It was very mission focused. A lot different than later years in Los Alamos when it became a big science lab. In my experience, anyway. And, afterward it was very, very mission oriented. There was not too much going on there that I saw as a graduate student; beyond what was the mission of building bombs, to detect testing of bombs or detecting them.
Okay. So, that was in the summer?
Summer of ‘61.
So, the moratorium had ended in August or September of ‘61, when I got back. And then, I started doing research when I came back. Continuing my courses, where once again you repeat everything in mechanics and E & M and, but, you know, more of the quantum mechanics and specialized courses. Who taught my quantum mechanics course? I don’t remember who taught quantum [It was Herb Callen who taught my quantum mechanics course.]. It was before Bob Schrieffer arrived at Penn, so he, he taught in later years. A particle physicist, Al Mann, taught me electricity and magnetism. Mike Cohen taught mechanics as an undergraduate. Mike Cohen was a student of Feynman, a very interesting guy who was a great problem solver and never really could do research, for some reason. But, he gave the hardest mechanics problems you could imagine. Penn had two, their graduate education had two [tests to allow you to go on], the graduate education in those days is you went to graduate school if you were reasonably good as an undergraduate, and they would throw you out in two stages. First — a lot, so a lot of pressure — first stage was a pre-qualifying exam, which you took at the end of your first year, and if you didn’t pass that they gave you a consolation Masters [Degree], and away you went. And, if you passed that you went on. But, you could get a retry if you were determined. So a couple of my friends, who eventually got their PhDs, did not pass but then went on [and passed the second time]. And, the beginning of your third year, the end of the summer between your second and third year, you spent that summer studying. So, you’re studying you’ve got your qualifying exam, which were three days of written exams. Very, very difficult. Very hard. And, they screened out a lot in both those exams. Especially, terrible, a black woman in my first-year graduate class committed suicide because, you know, the pressure was just intense and she couldn’t fit in. First, being a woman, and being black, and not probably, not coming from a particularly great undergraduate education. The pressure was tough. I mean, in those days there were about two big offices all the graduate students shared, freshman graduate students. So, sort of a community office with desks around the wall. I’m not sure whether we had our own desk or just partial desks. A lot of talking, a lot of camaraderie, a lot of interaction. And the first-year graduate class, the class was much larger than my undergraduate class at Penn. It must have twenty or thirty first-year graduate students, and which got sifted down. Half of them got sifted out by the various levels of testing. But, the most remarkable thing about my graduate education were the young professors that had just arrived, particularly I think one of them arrived when I arrived, and one had been there a year. Alan Heeger, who eventually won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, but he’s a physicist, and Don Langenberg, who became head of the, you know, president of a university [Chancellor U of Illinois-Chicago Circle 1982-1990], president of the University of Maryland system, head of the NSF — acting head of the National Science Foundation — big time administrator. At that time he was doing research. Langenberg, in what was called Fermiology, measuring the Fermi surfaces in metals, and semi-metals. And Alan Heeger in magnetic phenomena, magnetic resonance. And Mike Cohen was still a young professor, although I had him as an undergraduate. And, a couple of the young professors, Howard Brody, a few others — we, we’d go out to lunch and where we generally had lunch was a university cafeteria in the women’s dormitory, diagonally across the street from the Physics Department, in an Eero Saarinen building, a famous architect. It looked like a moat-like,] prison-like enclosure for women. But, the dormitory, the lunchroom was open, and it was a good lunch cafeteria. And, we’d go there and we’d sit at the lunch tables and that was our social life. I just remember those lunch conversations would be stimulating. Made lifelong friends with Heeger and Langenberg — even though I didn’t work for those guys in my research — at those lunches. And, we talked about everything: politics, science. It was a very stimulating atmosphere. Sometimes we’d go over for an afternoon ice cream or milkshake breaks there, too.
Did you know going into graduate school what sort of work you would be going into when you arrived, or did that develop over time?
No. I had to make a choice, and because nuclear physics, particle physics, an extension of nuclear physics, was big deal in those days a lot of people went into that. I went into — I didn’t like the idea of being isolated or in a big group, of course in those days a group was five or six, I felt I wanted to do an experiment on my own — so I went into solid-state physics.
So, I’d had a very mundane thesis project on infrared spectroscopy of crystal lithium hydride, lithium deuteride. Strangely enough the samples came from Los Alamos, which probably helped me get my [summer] job out there, because of Eli Burstein’s connection to Los Alamos. You know, how the things vibrated differently when you just changed the mass and everything else was chemically identical, and you just measured restahlen spectra, the reflection spectra in those days, of the lithium hydride and lithium deuteride, and calculate the phonon vibrational frequencies, and eventually tried to do some related experiments on sound waves. Then eventually when lasers came along, I tried to do something with Raman scattering. But, the basic thing was infrared spectroscopy. Very pedestrian thesis. But, Eli Burstein was the kind of physicist — well [backing up], I didn’t want to do that [infrared spectroscopy]. I went to Eli [because] he was doing these very interesting things with tunneling. Where you make thin films with a little insulating layer between and you tunnel from one layer to the other. Esaki had done Esaki tunneling in junction diodes and Eli knew about that. He set up this group. He thought there’d be some interesting spectra you could do. He was a spectroscopist. And, he bet he could do some interesting spectra by doing tunneling. Of course, Barry Taylor was the lead guy. He said, "Oh, I have Taylor and I just assigned Roger Burley to that group. I’ve got too many people in that group tunneling. You’re going to have to go do this other thing." And, that was really disappointing because first, Burley didn’t –Roger didn’t pass the exam so he dropped out of the group and there could have been room for me in that group, but by then it was too late. And, that’s the group that eventually found the Josephson tunneling and found that you can measure the fundamental constants that way, and Barry Taylor has spent his career at the National Bureau of Standards [later renamed NIST] measuring, and defining the fundamental constants as we know them today. And, so they did really spectacular work. And, Don Langenberg switched part of his effort from Fermiology to do some of that tunneling. So, Taylor, and Langenberg, and — there’s one other name [Bill Parker] in that famous paper — I forget right now — did the Josephson tunneling for measuring e/h. So, I did this experiment, but Eli’s view was, "Let’s talk physics. And, when I think you’re a physicist I’ll, you know, you can then get a PhD." And so, you know, when he thought you knew enough physics he’d say, "Do you have anything to write up?" He was very distant from the work in the laboratory very distant from actually what you were doing day to day, but he was always working on some idea. And, you’d go talk to him about that idea, write a paper with him about some theoretical or semi-theoretical phenomenological interpretation of physics. Very interactive. A lot of famous physicists would come through there, because of him. You’d get to meet everybody. Get to meet — he had a nice [variety] graduate students from Japan and elsewhere, and lifelong friendships created that way, of course. And, it was a very exciting time. Sunday morning was the time to go out to Eli’s house. The graduate students would cook, the Japanese graduate students would usually cook the breakfast, and we’d talk physics, and he would call early Sunday morning. Never planned ahead of time. But almost every Sunday morning he’d call and say, "Come talk physics." "Okay Eli." Get up, you know, tired from the night before. And, you’d go out and you would talk physics. And, I remember one Friday I was out at RCA. In those days RCA had a very nice lab. And, Manuel Cardona was there at that laboratory. I was visiting Manuel for some reason and he said, "Oh, Eli and the family are coming over to visit on Sunday," a social visit. "Oh, that’s wonderful news. I’ll get to sleep late Sunday. Eli won’t be calling." Well, on Monday morning I went into Eli’s office and he said — of course, in those days we called him Professor Burstein. We didn’t call him Eli yet, though. Although, there’s a threshold where you got to Eli’s level and called him Eli. Eli says to me, "So, you don’t like coming over Sunday morning?" [Laughter]
And he said, "Well, I won’t call you anymore." I said, "No, Eli, that was not the point." So, next Sunday morning the phone rings. It was my roommate, Sid Perkowitz, to have him come out and talk physics. So, Eli still woke me up on Sunday morning but did not invite me out. [Laugh] But, the next Sunday morning he did, eventually he did. So.
So. So then your thesis research was this, I mean obviously you had a lot of other conversations outside of that? Was that something you’d just sort of do on your own then?
Yeah. Well, there was a post, was a research associate; a senior postdoc, actually, person. He was Aaron Filler, who’s a spectroscopist; who started the experiment and who I worked with. But basically you figured out things on your own. And, I figured out things that stood me in good stead afterwards. Actually, the thesis came out and stood me in good stead eventually. I was probably the only one to ever use the results of my thesis later, in a significant way. Aaron Filler would help you, you know, with equipment. He was the guy in the lab. And, you just learned from the older graduate students. I was Eli’s fifth graduate student. There were four ahead of me. And, so you just learned the techniques of the laboratory from other graduate students and you’d make your way through. You’d make a lot of blunders and mistakes, but eventually you learn how to build the equipment and maintain. I became an expert at aligning prism spectrometers.
So, you viewed it mostly as sort of a building up of a set of skills? You mentioned your thesis itself was...
Well, knowledge of physics.
What it taught me was to reason by analogy, and to reason beyond the experiment. I’m an experimentalist, but you know, in Eli you’re a physicist, so you just talk physics. You understand what it’s meaning, where it’s going. So, I became very good at putting together the whole big picture, the story of what it is, why you’re doing it. And, it stood me in good stead, later. But, I also learned about lattice vibrations. Became an expert on that. I had a great intuitive feel for lattice vibration, phonon spectroscopy in general, which, you know, I built my career on later, as we’ll get to. Eli was always arranging conferences, going to conferences; taught me how to run conferences. He had great theory of the conference. Charge high registration fees and pay, and pay, — and make sure everybody can come — pay for those who can’t afford it, particularly students and postdocs. You know, sock it to those who have the funding and just make sure everybody can come. He was a great organizer. I remember one, once just up from Florida, there was a conference that Per-Olov Lowdin, from Sweden, would run down at Sanibel Island every year on quantum chemistry. I’d say, "Eli, I’d love to go back to Florida for the winter." He said, "Okay." And, I went to this quantum chemistry conference, wrote a paper, some of it related to my thesis, first published paper. And, he always made you stand up and start talking, interacting. First March Meeting [American Physical Society March Meeting] after I started working with him was in Philadelphia. It was either March of ‘61 or ‘62, in Philadelphia. Ben Franklin Hotel. "You can give a paper." I said, "What?" He says, "Write up something. Write an abstract. You can go talk about your work, your thesis work." I said, "I don’t have the results yet." He says, "Well, speculate on what your results will be. Write it up. And, get the result by then." And, I did and I did, and I got up and talked at the meeting. It was a fantastic experience. We were learning. And, you’d meet people. I met tons of people at this conference. And then in ‘63, summer of ’63, there was this big conference on phonons, in Copenhagen, an international conference on lattice dynamics. Which, Dick Wallis eventually became the editor of the book. I told you our paths would start crossing again. Being run by, well, one of the organizers was Stig Lundqvist. Stig Lundqvist was a Swedish theoretical physicist in phonons and other things, collective phenomena, and a good friend of Eli. Stig Lundqvist and I shared our birthday, August 9. And then he ran a summer school afterwards in Aarhus, A-A-R-H-U-S, Denmark, a two-week summer school. So, this became a very long trip to Europe, a terrific trip to Europe. [Phone rings] Excuse me. Phone’s ringing. [Recording paused] Okay. So, I was talking about Stig Lundqvist running this summer school in Aarhus, which I learned an awful lot. Went to all these lectures for two weeks, my first trip abroad. Oh, Eli got me a MATS flight, Military Air Transport [Service] flight, because he had an AEC, Atomic Energy Commission, contract somehow entitling him to get free flights to Europe for his staff.
That’s not bad.
So, I took this flight to Paris from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey and it only took me three days to get to Paris by airplane. [Laugh] My little problem with military air transport, but fortunately a graduate student staff was equivalent to an officer. So, when we got stuck at Harmon Air Force Base after going halfway across the Atlantic, almost, and dropping a cylinder into the ocean, and turning around for a new engine, and had to stay overnight, at least I got to stay in the bachelor officer quarters rather than the enlisted men’s quarters. And then, fog wouldn’t let us land in Scotland, our next stop. We had to stop overnight in Cambridge, Mildenhall [Royal] Air Force Base in the middle of a strike in Paris that turned us back to Mildenhall. And, I eventually got to Paris three days later. And, Eli was in Paris with the family. In those days, five dollars, you know, Europe on $5 a Day, in those days of Frommer’s book. And, you almost could do it on $5 a day. Food and room.
I wish it were so now.
Junky place. I had to walk a floor to the toilet and walk down five floors to the kitchen and take my shower. But, it was cheap. It was a dollar or two a night or something like that. I still remember the hotel. It’s a fancy hotel now, Hotel of Two Continents [ed. Hotel Des Deux Continents] in rue Jacob near Saint Germain des Pres. But anyhow, Eli was there with the family[at a better hotel] and we were writing this paper for the conference. So, I had to go over every other day to his hotel, and would go up to his room and we’d work on the conference paper. You know, that was part of the education. I went to the conference. [Was] Niels Bohr was still alive, I don’t know? [ed. Niels Bohr died Nov. 18, 1962] I know Max Born was at the conference, and I was getting to hear him, and see him, and ask him about his book, because I had read Born and Huang, one of the most important books in lattice dynamics. Huang was a Chinese guy. So, I asked, "Who was Huang and where is he?" He says, "Lost in China somewhere." Resurfaced many years later. And, Peter Debye was there. He reminisced about the old days around the — in this boarding house where he and Born, and other people, would sit and talk about the early days of quantum mechanics. Fascinating to have that experience. And then I remember Lundqvist invited me over to Goteborg, Gothenburg, after the [Aarhus] Conference. And I said, "Well, I’ll go? — I don’t know — I’m going to go back to Paris. A nice social life there." And he said something like, "I’ll have my pretty young secretary meet you at the boat." [Tape case closing] [Pause in conversation] Do you have enough tapes? I have plenty of tape, I have extra tapes here if you run out of tape.
We’re all right. They definitely provided me with several. So.
So, Lundqvist said he’d have his pretty young secretary meet me at the boat and it would be a wonderful time. And, of course I went and his secretary met me. A lovely young woman. We went around town, [a bachelor] in those days. And, I had dinner with Lundqvist, visited his Institute. And, I remember dinner conversation, I asked, "How is the Nobel Prize in physics picked?" He said, "Oh, a bunch of old guys who don’t know anything about physics anymore and can’t remember any physics sit around and pick the prize winner." Of course, he eventually became chair of the Physics Committee that picked the Nobel Prize in Physics. I always had insight into who was going to win the prize for many years — [Through Stig,] through Eli, I could get pretty good guesses. I remember in my early days at AIP people started learning to ask me, "Well, who do you think is going to win this year?" [Laugh] But, I eventually lost track of that. So, Stig was a very, very nice man. And, interesting story about that is, when I got back, of course, I started bragging to all my fellow graduate students about being met by this pretty young woman, getting off the boat, ferry, in Gothenburg. And, Bill Salanek went to some conference in Europe a year or so later and says to Stig Lundqvist, "Well, you had Marc meet, you know, you got Brodsky met by a young lady. Why didn’t you get someone to meet me?" So, Stig arranged for that when he went to Gothenburg, and Bill married that young lady, and is now a professor in Sweden. Met his wife in Sweden. [Laugh]
Very nice. Exciting.
Yeah. Okay. So, I came back. Did my thesis. My problem was I [had] stayed in ROTC. And so, therefore I got deferred for graduate school by the Army, but I still had this Army obligation hanging over me of two years active duty, sometime. I had quit ROTC naturally, as I said, after, I was going to do it after two years if I didn’t like it, but my father thought I was a playboy because I rowed on the crew. And he said, "Your brother got drafted. I got drafted. You’re not going in as an enlisted man. You’re back in ROTC." So, I went back to ROTC, which actually turned out to be financially important, once again, because my parents, my father probably had lost his job again around that time. I wasn’t getting money from home, and it paid $30 or $90 a month or something. Some small amount of money that helped me live. So, after I finished my degree and I called up the Army and said, "Hello, Army, I’m ready to go in," and they said, "Well Lieutenant, sometime in the next year or so we’ll give you two weeks notice to report to active duty." And, "Go find a job." Oh, actually, one thing that happened, in between that, before that, very interesting. It shows our government. Berlin Wall went up. When did the Berlin Wall go up? Probably in the summer of ‘61?
I think that’s right.
Big crisis. And, that’s probably when it remained to be a function of bomb testing. Was it summer of ‘61? Anyhow, whenever it went up, it went in summer something or another, and so it went up in ‘61. In February of ‘62, six months later, it went up in August, I got emergency orders for mobilization to report to active duty to leave graduate school and go into the Army, in response to the Berlin Wall, to report the following August. That was an emergency. So, I picked up the phone and I called my congressman, who I knew from nothing, Dante Fascell from South Florida, and I spoke to some staffer. And all I said, "Look, I’m as patriotic as the next one. I’m willing to go to duty if it’s necessary. But, it does not seem very reasonable that, you know, I’m getting emergency response to this wall, which we’re doing nothing about, to go, six months after it goes up you get emergency orders to go a year later. It doesn’t make sense to me. Can you look into that?" So, apparently, five thousand of us did that, called our congresspeople or made complaints of this stupid call-up that was bringing people out of graduate school, and for no reason at all but to pretend we were doing something. And eventually the Army sent a colonel out to the school to apologize. And, I stayed in school. So then I called them and said, "I’m ready," and they told me, "Well, another year." [Laughter] So, I tried to get a job and this was really — the career — this really decided my whole career, this whole Army thing. Because, Eli let me stay on for a while as a research associate until I could find a position, and I started looking for a position. So, I called Fort Monmouth. I said, "Look, you’re an Army base. I’m going to be in the Army. You might eventually get me in time here," and all that. And, you know, there was some guy in there who I interacted with about infrared spectroscopy who had used something called Golay cells, which are these really oddball, essentially gas thermometers, used as an infrared detector. Very difficult to align and use. But, so I met this guy from Fort Monmouth and I’d gone to visit there once, talking science, you know, that’s my thing. That’s the thing about Eli. I always, to learn I had to go out and learn. So, I remember, I did go out of the lab. He’d send me out of the lab. I’d go to instrument makers and go learn about the equipment and then come back and do it. I’d usually have to drive and you did it in a very low-cost way. Anyhow, they wouldn’t hire me. They said, "Oh no. That’s influencing where you might be assigned and all. I can’t do that." So a guy named Jay Zemel, Z-E-M-E-L, very competent scientist, very creative, was working at the Naval Ordnance Lab in White Oak, Maryland, right here in Silver Spring, Maryland. It doesn’t exist anymore. A very successful lab in those days, mostly in magnetism and using magnetic things] from battleships and submarines for detection and stuff like that. He hired me. He had a little semiconductor group, surface properties of semiconductors. He said, "Oh, I’ll hire you. It’ll be great." So, he invited me down for an interview, and then I took the job. I went to work for him and we were studying lead selenide. The lead salts. Lead sulfide, selenide, telluride, a very interesting set of compounds. So, the people in Eli’s group were doing lead telluride Fermiology and stuff, but the detector part was being done down there. And, they’re very good infrared detectors, particularly alloys of them, and Jay was doing something about surface studies, a very interesting surface science. And, we discovered, I discovered with him, I actually turned a wrong valve in the vacuum system. I said, "Look, the conductivity is changing." He said, "Well, it can’t do that." I said, "Well, it only happens if I have the ionization gauge on," which was a pressure measurement device.
Were these sorts of experiments things that you could perform in real time? Like you’d adjust the vacuum?
You’re just measuring in a vacuum. You’d evacuate sometimes cooling samples and measure the temperature [dependence] of the conductivity. And, you learn something about the properties, and stuff. Actually, we weren’t doing a surface experiment then. We were just doing the thin film work. I remember Dick Schoolar grew the films and Jay and I did the measurements, you know. I did the measurements and Jay did the physics. I said, "You know, very funny in a vacuum, you know, it’s supposed to be evacuated so there’d be no contamination on the surface." I said, "You know, if I turn on this ionization gauge just to measure the pressure the conductivity changes." And here’s the sample and the ionization gauge is pretty remote, further down in a vacuum system. "What’s happening?" And so, he knew a lot about it and he understood it and that it’s probably — there’s something behind that’s caused by an ionization gauge creating hydrogen in the residual vacuum and the surface hydrogen changes the properties. So, I spent the next twenty-five years of my career doing hydrogen in semiconductors in some way or another. Very sensitized to it. And yeah, we discovered it and we wrote up the Physical Review article for how hydrogen effects... And it became somewhat useful. Jay then spent a lot of years on hydrogen and surface interactions. He left Naval Ordnance Lab and went off to the University of Pennsylvania, strangely enough, — in the Electrical Engineering Department — became a professor and eventually retired. But he had a good career there doing semiconductor sensors, what he was interested in. Not just for, not photo detectors but sensing chemicals, chemical sensing. And so, this sort of started, and that experiment started him in the career of chemical sensors. And, an interesting story there is I was working with these sulfides and I didn’t want to go to Vietnam. This was 19 — I started in December ‘65. I was going to go on active duty, it turned out, I knew eventually sometime in ‘66. '66-68, was a bad time to be in Vietnam. It turns out my eyes were so bad I probably was unqualified for military service. I mean combat service. So, I couldn’t go into a combat corps. I could have gone to a support corps in Vietnam. Anyhow, maybe not into a combat zone with my eyes. But anyhow, I didn’t want to. I wanted to go to a laboratory. Vietnam or not I wanted to go to a laboratory. And, I swung this deal that was absolutely amazing. I said, "Well, there’s this project coming up that the Air Force wanted this [Navy] laboratory to do to study materials and certain kinds of specialized infrared detection mechanisms for the Air force." So I said, "Well, why don’t I get the Army to assign me to do this thing for the Air Force in this Navy lab. It’d be a great tri-service venture." And, I did it. I got the — I pulled all these things. I talked to people. I mean, I had no connections or anything, but I talked everybody into, you know, that the Air Force would fund this project at this laboratory where I was working as a First Lieutenant and I would stay there in the military as an Army guy assigned to that laboratory." It was all just about set until some admiral got drunk at a cocktail party and bragged to some general that he was going to get this great scientist, Brodsky, to be working in his laboratory, the Air Force was going to pay for it, and he was going to get all the credit. And, the general went home that night and dictated into my file that "under no circumstances is Lieutenant Brodsky…," I think I might have been getting promoted to captain at that time. Although, because they had this [up or out], it had been so long since I got my commission that if they didn’t promote me they had to discharge me. Anyhow, I eventually turned captain. But, I might still have been a lieutenant. "…Brodsky, under no circumstance is Lieutenant Brodsky to be assigned to any laboratory in any other, any other duty, other than a laboratory in my command." And, that saved me from Vietnam. Because, I then went to Basic Officer Training in Alabama. I got my orders in July, two weeks later in July I went off to Alabama and started Basic Officer Training, running across the hills of Alabama in the Chemical Corps, Anniston, Alabama I was assigned. Lurleen Wallace, I think, was running for governor that summer. Or no, George Wallace. And, we would run over the hills every morning to exercise us, you know, and take our rifles and packs and stuff and run over the hills and then come back in for breakfast. There were fifty of us in that Basic Officers Training. Ten of us had PhDs, but the Chemical Corps would get Ph.D.s, the technical people, assigned there. And, there’d be forty young guys running up in front and ten of us straggling in the back, and then every day or so one of the ten of us would get ordered to go to Vietnam instead of going to the laboratory we thought we were going to.
And there’d be forty-one up front and nine in the back, and forty-two in the front and eight in the back. Eventually there were two of us left in the back. [Laugh] Everyone that’s running for their lives is going to Vietnam. And Dave Martin and I, we’re the only two that stayed, that they assigned us to laboratories. And, I wound up at the Night Vision Laboratory in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. That was my — I had been in Washington area before I went in, so I was back in the Washington area. Got married while I was at Fort Belvoir. Got assigned to a group … doing infrared detection there, and that’s when I switched to semiconductors. Well, I had switched to semiconductors with Jay Zemel. Oh, also while I was at Naval Lab I started doing experiments, continuing infrared spectroscopy. They had good infrared spectroscopy equipment. They had a pretty good spectrometer, like I knew how to use, and I hooked up with a guy name Gerry Lucovsky, who was then at Xerox, who Eli had known from his days of consulting at Philco Laboratories. There was a day when there was an electronic company called Philco, Philadelphia Company, that made televisions, and electronic equipment. And Gerry then went to Xerox. Gerry Lucovsky, he was interested in alloys of semiconductors and it turned out gallium, gallium indium arsenide, or something like that. And, the people at, this guy Dick Schoolar, who made the lead sulfide films could also make these gallium arsenide compounds, alloys. So, he made the materials. Gerry had some material so I started doing infrared spectroscopy on gallium indium arsenide, and gallium indium phospide] and gallium indium antimonide. And there were some systematics in there where you could do this stuff on phonon spectra. I learned an awful lot about defects in semiconductors and how alloys went from the defect phase to the alloy phase and whether you could see the defect spectra or not. A very, very interesting set of experiments in this system. And, we got — so I started doing it in there and then when I got to the Night Vision Laboratory I would go weekends back to — across from south of Alexandria, Virginia all the way across, diagonally across Washington almost to Silver Spring to use their spectrometer. So, I was going to that laboratory. So, I’d do weekends up there, continuing that experiment, and I would do daytimes — do my job as a program officer, contract officer, for Night Vision Laboratory, which was an interesting experience because I got to go to contractors at RCA, University of California Santa Barbara….And just as a government funder I got to have lunch with the president of the University of California Santa Barbara in his conference room, and things like that. And, I got out to Hewlett Packard. I really got a broad exposure to semiconductor physics from that. I made a deal with my civilian boss. I would spend all day physically what any other contract officer does, paying attention to the Navy…to the Army program, supervising these contracts, reviewing the contract proposals. They would give me a little laboratory there and a technician and I would run my own experiments and I did experiments on conductivity of lead salts. And so I’d do the experiment. So, I set up a laboratory, built my own lab, got it — eventually got a technician. Built it myself, to begin with. So, at night I would do those experiments at Fort Belvoir, and weekends I’d run up to -– [Brodsky looking at cell phone] my son’s there — the physics. I mean, if you’re an experimentalist you are all-consumed. You spent every night, you know, every minute, every day, nights, weekends, in the laboratory. And, I did that and got experiments out of each -– publishable experiments. A whole set of papers with Gerry Lucovsky, which made a very nice story, eventually. That’s the important thing I want to say. You connect to people. I mean, you do these things. I mean, "what do you know about gallium indium arsenide phosphide? What can I tell you about it?" The interesting thing is, to other physicists you could tell a story because each one is different. The band gap, the phonon band spectra, which it all looks like the semiconductor band structure, there’s a gap in there. And, this is the gap and if the impurity is putting light in the gap you saw its mode and if it got obscured in the background and you didn’t see it. And, you learned so much about spectra, and vibrations, and by systematically studying a system that had these great variations of uniformity and putting it in the heavier background or a light background, bigger gap, smaller gap, and it was nice set of things. Lucovsky was the intellectual driver behind that experiment. I did a lot of most the experiments. Together we created this wonderful set of stories we could go around talking about. So, when I finished my two years at Fort Belvoir and I was looking for a job I could have gone to the Naval Ordnance Lab. I could have gotten a job at Fort Belvoir, I could have gotten a job at NYU. I almost got a job at Harvard as a postdoc. I still don’t remember why that fell through. I remember walking through Harvard Yard thinking I had the job, but somehow a week or so later I didn’t have the job. I think I even had the offer, or something. I don’t know what happened there. But, I turned down the NYU one because I wanted to work at downtown NYU not uptown, because I didn’t want to work in the Bronx. And, I thought the more intellectual part of the group was downtown, except for Joe Birman. He was a theorist I had met through Eli. Went to conferences with Joe Birman. He was a very good theorist. But anyhow, it didn’t work out and eventually they put — wouldn’t let me work downtown because eventually they closed the uptown school and moved everyone to downtown. Of course, I didn’t know that was going to happen. [Laugh] So, I went to — and through this connection with Phil Stiles, my freshman laboratory instructor who then worked with Eli, I got an interview at IBM. I applied to the Esaki Group. Once again I wanted to get to this tunneling work, which Eli didn’t let me do. Unfortunately, the day before I interviewed, Rudy Ludeke, who eventually became president of the Vacuum Society and member of the AIP Governing Board, had just gotten the offer for the job. The day I interviewed, Rudy had accepted the offer or gotten the offer, and he came from the Harvard Group that I wanted to go to work with, Bill Paul’s group. He got the offer for the job in Esaki Group, so he got the job. So I, but I, you know, at IBM you go around interviewing, and you know if you’re doing well then you get to a second-level manager. If you’re doing well you get to a third-level manager. You get to the department head if you’re doing real well. I remember getting to this Seymour Keller, who’s the mysterious god, head of the Physical Sciences Department there. I remember the only question he asked me, "And what else did you do?" And I would tell him. Then he’d say, "And what else did you do?" And then I had to tell him. Fortunately, I had done [a couple of experiments]. So, I got a job there working on disordered materials, amorphous materials. There was a new group they were setting up on amorphous semiconductors.
Can we pause a little bit at this point and just go back and clean up one point that I’ve been wondering about? First of all, in graduate school and then leading into the military, what sort of expectations did you have moving forward of what sorts of jobs you were going to get.
I thought I was going to be a Postdoc somewhere. I was upset I had to go into the military because I thought, "Well, I’ll get a Postdoc and do like almost everyone else did." Phil Stiles was going off for a year to Cavendish. Other people were going off to Europe. And, I figured I’d, you know, go take a Postdoc in Europe, or if I couldn’t do that I’d turn my military into a Postdoc. But, I was willing to take a Postdoc anywhere, at an academic institution coming out. Although, I did, you know, I was willing to take a Postdoc at Harvard or take an assistant professorship at NYU.
And did you figure then move on, be… —?
And, IBM was my backup.
But, I tell you why I went to IBM. There’s two major reasons I went to IBM. One of the reasons I got hired at IBM is they thought I was interviewing at Bell Labs and Bell offered me a job. I never interviewed at Bell Labs. I think I talked to somebody. Someone else in the group, Lou Testardi, who was a contemporary of Phil Stiles, and was at Bell Labs. I guess I could have got an interview at Bell Labs. I think I got the flu, but the schedule never worked out, so I had never went to interview at Bell Labs. IBM was the second big lab competing with Bell Labs and so they thought I had an offer there and rushed the offer to me. So, I never got to Bell Labs to interview. But, there was a guy at the Naval Ordnance Lab named Bob Allgaier, Robert Allgaier, A-L-L-G-A-I-E-R, and he got interested in disordered materials. He took a very interesting trip to Romania — in those days, that was rare — and, wrote a fantastic trip report talking about this guy Grigorovici, [pron. grig-or-?-vich], spelled Grigorovici [pron. grig-or-?-vich?], G-R-I-G-O-R-V-I-C-I, and he was working on amorphous materials there. And, Allgaier spent some time with Neville Mott at Cambridge, who eventually won the Nobel Prize for his work in disordered systems. And,he was fascinated by disorder. You know, so much of our understanding of solid-state physics comes from the periodicity of crystal materials. The very naive view was, "Well, it’s not periodic. What can you understand?" Particularly bothersome in metals, but it was a problem in semiconductors too. So, I read all of his trip reports, his papers, started reading Mott’s papers, Grigorovici’s papers while I was at the Army laboratory. And so, IBM had this group starting up under Kurt Weiser and Marshall Nathan... Marshall was the second-level manager. Marshall is famous for his work inventing the semiconductor diode laser. Kurt I did not know at all at the time, but he was assigned a job to start this group and to hire somebody into it. They made me the offer. So, it matches the interests I had and the problem was not completely unrelated to the alloying work I did with Lucovsky in the materials. And, Lucovsky, who was at Xerox, where the most famous amorphous material at the time was selenium, which they used in the Xerox drums. So, I had this amorphous stuff in the background. The other thing was, IBM was a contractor to the Army Night Vision Laboratory. And there was a group under Max Lorentz, who was doing work in semiconductors. And, there was a guy named Frank Stern in that group. And, Frank had written a lot of papers on infrared spectroscopy and infrared stuff. I read his papers. He had been at the University of Maryland, which was closely related to the group at Naval Ordnance Lab. But, there was one remarkable thing about that group when they came in. They’re the only contractor [for the Army Night Vision Lab] that said, "No, we don’t want your money, because you’re starting to go in a direction that’s different than our research interests. We’re not just going to take your money for the money’s sake from the government." So, they turned down, they discontinued their contract. Well, everybody else who came in from all these other places, “Give us money. We’ll pretend to do whatever you want us to do." So, I was impressed by the honesty of the IBM people. And, I had gone — and I used to run around town to colloquiums all the time [Phone ringing] from the Night Vision Laboratory, and when I was at the Ordnance, Naval Ordnance Labs there was a monthly colloquium at the Cosmos] Club. You want to take it? [Referring to phone.]
No, that was just him leaving a message. I silenced it earlier, but for some reason it wasn’t silent.
I used to go to a solid states physics colloquium at the [Cosmos] Club that would be held on a Wednesday of each month, that Eli Burstein had started when he was at Naval Research Laboratory. I used to go [also] to Naval Research Laboratory colloquia. I went to the Bureau, the National Bureau of Standards for colloquia. Funny, the people from IBM remembered me. When they gave colloquia at the Bureau this strange guy would walk in with a uniform and start asking physics questions. [Laugh] Although, I didn’t usually wear my uniform. I was surprised. Maybe I was Duty Officer that day or something and had to wear my uniform. So, oh I think I had to wear it when I went to other laboratories, to get into the laboratories. I couldn’t get in with my military ID — you had to show ID and I couldn’t get in only with my military ID, so I wore the uniform. So, I wore uniforms into the colloquia. So, I had a good connection with IBM and so they remembered me. So, I got the job. It was fascinating. I mean, it was an exploding field and I went there for research in amorphous semiconductors. Everybody, almost everybody, was working in chalcogenides at the time — there when Stan Ovshinsky, and Ovshinsky had chalcogenides and memory switches, and memories. He hyped up unbelievably chalcogenides. So, Kurt was studying chalcogenides, but I wanted to study something in physics. In IBM you had a lot of freedom. I mean, they looked for potential applications. I said, "Well, if you’re ever going to understand what disorder’s like, you better pick a system where you understand the order better." And, we understood selenium somewhat from the Xerox work. That’s a chalcogenide, selenium, tellurium. Here I am back to where I was in the lead sulfide, selenium, [tellurium] and chalcogenides. But, we didn’t understand that much. Those semiconductors were pretty complicated and there were, you know, three, and four, and five mixtures of them. And, I said, "Well, why not study silicon?" And, people were studying germanium, but even germanium was a little more complicated. Selenium...silicon was the technology. I said, "Look, germanium’s interesting but silicon, if it’s ever going to be useful, not only do you have something to study by analogy." "You understand the crystal so well." "Well, you understand the technology for using this stuff, if it’s ever going to be useful, it’s going to be made out of silicon." I was right on all those counts. I was able to do things by analogy to silicon. When it actually became useful, the silicon processing, this technology, made it useful. Had a wonderful career at IBM. It was the glory day of IBM, you know. You got funding if you convinced your management, you know. You didn’t have to write real long reports or long proposals. The stuff you were doing was good, you accomplished things, you had good ideas, and you’d go ahead and do it. Once when there was a breakthrough in optical memory in chalcogenide, I got assigned, for a while, to work with somebody doing optical memory stuff. I learned stuff doing that, but I was able to continue all my own stuff exactly. So, I became one of the world’s real big experts on amorphous semiconductors, particularly on silicon, although I did work in chalcogenides. I did work in germanium. I did all these other things as asides, and of course at IBM you have all these great summer professors come in and anybody who was anybody in physics came by and gave talks. And, the guy I wanted to go to work with at Harvard, Bill Paul, came and worked for a summer. Switched his field to the stuff we were doing, became an expert in that field, eventually hired somebody we tried to hire at IBM for that postdoc position I didn’t get. And, great insight. And, you know, a whole series of papers from that whole conference. I’ve been around the world. A sabbatical in Paris for a year working on these materials, a combination of...related to my spectroscopy eventually. The secret of amorphous silicon was the forms that you can make it in. A very interesting semiconductor. It sort of looked more like a metal, like a dirty metal, a dirty semiconductor. Not particularly useful. Not very clear. Properties other than this one thing called "variable range hopping" that Neville Mott interpreted. It had a temperature dependence of inverse — exponential inverse — temperature to the one-fourth power. Very weird. Why would anything do that? Mott did this wonderful back-of-the-envelope calculations on variable rate hopping. Had really good assumptions that were greatly oversimplified. Explained the data outright. I remember asking about it. My first summer at IBM I went to a Gordon Conference and Neville Mott was there. Asked him about it. He explained it to me. It was terrific. [I] measured it. Showed some interesting aspects of T to the one quarter hopping. Showed it had happened in silicon. But, the thing that, that turned out to be useful for amorphous silicon. It turned out to be for photosensitivity. It turned out to be that this group in Dundee, Scotland could make thin-film transistors out of it. They didn’t dope it. They didn’t understand really what they were doing. Nobody believed it. But, they made it in a different way. They took a glow discharge of silane. Instead of just evaporating silicon from a crucible, or sputtering it and putting it on a substrate and making a thin film, the techniques I used for more all those other [amorphous] semiconductors I studied, they did it by taking silane, which is the silicon analog of methane, instead of CH4, four hydrogens with silicon, SiH4. Terrible chemistry of silane. Very interesting chemistry, explosive, pyrophoric, dangerous. But they did all those experiments with making it by the glow discharge. So, I started getting interested in the glow discharge and I said, "Look, they’re making it with something that has hydrogen. It probably has hydrogen in it." Remember, I did lithium hydride. I knew how to do spectra. And I, and but Gerry Lucovsky, by this time, had he moved to Case Western and then to North Carolina — or was he still at Xerox — I forget. He said, "No, there’s no absorption lines in the silicon hydride." We had been discussing hydrogen spectra. While you’re doing that I’ll go take a break.
All right. here we are again.
Okay. So, we’re at IBM? Silicon?
At IBM and we were discussing your work on amorphous silicon. And, I was wondering if at this point — I know that there was some question as to whether silicon or germanium was going to be the semiconductor that was being used? And so I was just wondering...
You’re talking about amorphous or crystal?
Well, I think I’m talking about crystal at this point, as to how big it was?
Well, that predates me, but originally, the original transistor work was done on germanium.
And, germanium was fine. But, germanium has a smaller band gap than silicon. What that means is... semiconductors are a material that either because of temperature conducts better or because of doping it conducts better. And, at low temperature both are nonconducting. They become insulators, if they’re pure. And, as you heat them up they become conducting, but then germanium has a smaller band gap, a little less than a volt and silicon has a little over 1.1 volt band gap..., in electron volts. It means that as you go from room temperature to slightly above... germanium gets more conducting and therefore the doping gets sort of slopped over and therefore it becomes a conductor and you don’t control it as well. While silicon is more resistant to high temperature, and the famous story of how Texas Instrument got started, so they went to silicon first and then it became a better semiconductor. That was in the days of bipolar. You also have to understand there are two kinds of semiconductor transistors: bipolar transistors and field effect transistors. The bipolar transistor works by having an emitter and a collector. No, it’s a source. Let’s see. An emitter and a collector. And, the body [base] of the, is in between. And, what you do is you have a p-n junction and you emit carriers, say electrons across the p-n junction. It has a base. And then, you bias the base and depending on how you bias the base the electrons will get across the base or not get across the base and get collected by the collector. It’s a very complicated thing to make. Very hard to get high levels of integration out of it. And, but those were all the initial transistors for that. And, it’s fairly high power, and it’s useful for the high power transistor. But nowadays people use field effect transistors. But, Shockley’s the one that started the field effect transistor revolution, and that group consists of a source and a drain with a channel in between, and a gate which is built above sort of outside this silicon or germanium with an insulator in between. And, that insulator is the gate oxide and you bias the gate and you open and shut this channel between the source and drain. It goes along the surface. Very much related to work I did with Zemel, especially in physics, and all the early work and papers I read in that day when people, Bardeen and Brattain that led up to the Bardeen-Brattain-Shockley transistor. But, so germanium lost out in bipolar because at higher temperatures these things would heat up during operation and therefore it was not be as effective a transistor, and silicon won out there, and Texas Instruments made its life on that. And then it lost out to the field effect game because it did not have a native, stable native oxide, silicon dioxide, which lets you passivate the surface of the silicon and then put a metal or even semiconductor gate at the top of the insulator. So, germanium lost out. So that’s, when I came along...
Sorry, what period was the...
Is this when germanium is losing out?
Well, transistors was ‘40s.
In forty-eight? Around there?
It was not until the ‘50s, where people started making, you know, late ‘50s where people started making applications of it. And probably late, early ‘60s I would guess, late ‘50s or early ‘60s was when Texas Instruments, when all the big switch went to silicon.
By the time I came along it was almost all silicon.
That’s what I was wondering.
Yeah. And, there are very interesting semiconductor physics reasons, which people don’t even talk about anymore, but I used to teach a semiconductor physics course about, you know, direct band gap, indirect band gap, and multiple kinds of band gaps that germanium has that it just makes it more complicated than silicon. Silicon’s much easier to work with. As is gallium arsenide... so... as far as theoretically from the semiconductor point of view. So, anyhow I chose silicon for these reasons so that by analogy I’d be able to understand the physics and by technology, make use of it, so it would become useful. Okay. So, I studied it. And, let me check my bibliography for a reference point. I’m pretty sure I remember today which paper it was. But, I got off to a roaring start at IBM and what I started doing was measuring the properties of silicon. I don’t have my bibliography.
I have a copy on hand.
You want the whole bibliography then?
Yeah, so what’s my first paper. My first papers were the dynamics ones. But, what’s my first paper at IBM? I know it was a chalcogenide paper. Okay. Right. In 1970, I started July 15, 1968 at IBM, and started measuring the properties. I guess it was ‘69 or ‘70 there was going to be a, ’69, there was going to be a conference in Cambridge, that Mott was running on amorphous semiconductors. And, I submitted a paper, but Seymour Keller, that great department head, wouldn’t let me go because I was too new, and he told Weiser, my boss, "Well, you can pick one of yourselves to go." And, you know, Weiser wasn’t going to not go. He was just going into the field too. So, I couldn’t go to the conference. But then this great piece of work we had, because I had done silicon and what I was the first to do is make it all the different ways. I started becoming a materials scientist. You can evaporate it, you can sputter it, you can do the glow discharge, and I had noticed this glow discharge work from Dundee, even though before they made the field effect transistor out of it, a thin-film transistor, and before all the applications. I said, "Well, some people are making it this way and it has different properties." The optical absorption was different. I was more interest in optical absorption. There was more insulating than other amorphous semiconductors. So, I said, "Look, I’m at IBM. I have all these ... I can go from lab to lab and get different people to make it different ways." I made it the evaporated way. I got someone to make it the sputtered way and the glow discharge way. I actually set up some of the glow discharge stuff. And, so I measured all the properties and I saw they were all similar, but I said, "Ah, there must be hydrogen," because this was made by silane, and we actually added a little hydrogen to the sputtering atmosphere and started reproducing that kind of material. But, that was later. And, I said, "Look, this stuff is due to hydrogen." In my very first paper I speculated that it was the hydrogen, and Lucovsky kept saying, "No," and Spear, and LeComber at Dundee, who did this glow discharge kept saying, "No, it wasn’t hydrogen because Gerry Lucovsky sent us this spectra that says there’s no infrared absorption from the hydrogen." So, I saw the infrared absorption in this hydrogen and lithium and lithium hydride and I said, "I’m going to measure it." And, of course, I didn’t have the good equipment Lucovsky had. He had a wonderful new grating spectrometer. I had this old prism spectrometer lying around. But boy I knew from Naval Ordnance Lab and from my days at the University of Pennsylvania how to make these prism spectrometers hum, how to align them. You know, nobody at IBM knew how to align these old prism spectrometers. They’d been sitting around for years. Somebody had worked on it years ago, actually some colleague of Eli Burstein, and then went into administration. So, I did it. And, I saw the brilliant infrared absorption line of silicon hydride, just shifted by the mass, and I knew how to do mass shift, isotope calculation shift, from my days of my thesis. And I said, "That’s silicon hydride." And, I looked up the chemical tables and it was slightly different than what it was in the molecule but, so what, it’s a solid-state effect. I understand that. And, Gerry kept saying, "No." And, I said, "Send me your spectra." And, it was one of the few papers, I think I still have it, this sheet he sent me and what happens is a very interesting thing. Grating spectrometers are built for organic chemists. I don’t know if you know about spectroscopy? Grating spectrometers, grating only can cover one octave, one range, and then you get the higher order diffraction effects. Gratings work by diffraction. So, you had to switch to a different grating with a different ruling. Okay? So, they picked the place to shift at five microns, 2000 wave numbers, because there was no carbon-hydrogen absorption band in that range. So, an organic chemist would not, and whenever you shift it’s hard to realign. You don’t quite get the spectra to line up. This is called the grating shift, the grating spectrometers are not perfectly aligned, which almost nobody can do and you can’t keep them aligned day after day, and Gerry had the thing and he says, "There’s no absorption." And I says, "Well, it turns out the absorption was exactly at five microns." He was looking a little further out than five microns, because the molecules are slightly higher, slightly low, longer wave, longer wavelength, lower — no. Slightly higher, longer wavelength, shorter wavelength and slightly higher frequency than five microns, and he didn’t see it. But he, I looked at it and he had what looked like a grating shift. The spectrum was starting to show the absorption and then he had the other grading and it shifted up and there was a slight dip but they didn’t line up. So, they never saw the absorption line. The prism, it was a clean thing, huge absorption line quite clear, no doubt about it. So, I understood it and I probably was the first to speculate that, you know ... a lot of other people have speculated, but the first to say, "It really is the hydrogen that’s giving all the effects." But, it turns out, whether the hydrogen is polymerized or really isolated bonded, single-hydrogenated bond, or whether it was -H2 or -H3 dangling from the silicon inside the amorphous material. And, the other big breakthrough was the dangling bonds itself. At a coffee wagon conversation — there used to be a coffee wagon that came around at IBM, which was the most valuable thing in the world because you would go meet your colleagues. You’d step out of your lab, come out of your office. You’d start talking to people in the hallway as you’re buying coffee and doughnuts. And, Reuben Title was there. And, I said, "What do you do Reuben?" He was down the hall from me. But, I had never walked into his lab until the coffee wagon. He said, "I do spin resonance." I said, "What is spin resonance?" And, he explained what spin resonance is. And I said, "Ah, there might be spin resonance in amorphous silicon, because, you know, without the hydrogen there’s negative bonds. Would that show up?" He said, "I don’t know. Let’s stick it in the cavity." So, we stuck it in the cavity We saw this huge spin resonance signal. And so, we were able to first characterize see the spin resonance of amorphous material. No one had seen that before. Almost [no question we’d seen something?]. And, I was able to speculate, and then I published that, and then people started coming to my lab, with stuff and saying, people were interested in resonance, people were interested in silicon, people were interested in amorphous materials. We started getting Postdocs and visitors all over the place. And, we were able to understand that the dangling bonds were there and they passivated with hydrogen and that you got to be careful when you do the glow discharge to do it right that you didn’t get polymerized hydrogen on there, just single bonds passivated, and really understand what made one form of silicon different than another, and a whole series of characterization papers, and I was able to do everything. I was able to do the spectroscopy, the x-rays, the spin resonance, the Raman spectra, the infrared. We discovered Raman spectra in amorphous material. The infrared spectra, the whole thing. Wonderful being at this laboratory with all this expertise and all of this capability. I spent half my life running around with samples in little pillboxes, to laboratories learning how to do every different experimental technique under the sun, including mass spectroscopy and heating up the material, catching the hydrogen coming off, and nuclear backscattering. You could see the hydrogen in there. So, I built a wonderful reputation and became well known. Anytime there was any [big] conference I then was able to get to go to it. There was no longer anyone telling me "No," on anything at IBM. [Phone ringing] The phone. [Recording paused] So, the science was interesting. I was still on this kick of connecting it, trying to understand how it connects to the band structure when it wasn’t periodic, did pressure dependence, which is a sign of band structure features. They would only understand what was molecular-like about amorphous materials, what was crystal semiconductor-like about amorphous material. A wonderful career doing all these chemical things. Do you have any correction? I’m about to go into another phase of my life.
Okay, well, yeah. So, I mean I’m kind of wondering about sort of the pregnant questions that are involved that kind of start to unravel, I guess, as you’re investigating the amorphous silicon? Because, you say that a lot of people, some became very interested in this. And so, I’m wondering exactly what’s kind of the broader state in physics that you’re really addressing through this specific phase?
Okay. A lot of it turned out to be materials science. It came to be hydrogen. It came to be how you process it, how you handle it. But then there’s the remnant of the semiconductor. And, in some sense there’s a solid molecule in amorphous material. There’s short-range order but no long-range order. So, what’s left of the band — a lot of the band structure that just develops between the energy gaps of the layers in silicon, in the silicon atom, or the silicon molecule, and then you can start thinking silicon, silicon, silicon, a chain like a hydrocarbon chain. You can think of a silane chain and go from silane to disilane to trisilane and eventually you get a long chain and start crosslinking. We see a lot of it in the Mott molecular structure. There is a hint, which we showed by a pressure-dependent experiment, of the band structure, where you could see some of the band structure, the dependence in k-space, the indirect band gap, which is what dominates silicon. You can see some remnant of that. So, some of that comes in from just a little bit of short order. So, my experience, the phonon spectra and all that of understanding band structure. You could do that. And then the Raman spectra really gave us the great insight, although that was phonon spectra, now I’ll get the band structure. Eli Burstein, who was a consultant, used to visit IBM. So, I stayed in contact with Eli over the years. Stayed in contact with Penn, because I was the recruiter for IBM at the University of Pennsylvania for fifteen years. Go back and visit and talk to all the young Ph.D. candidates, seeing which were suitable to go recruit. So, Eli was there when we, when that Christmas, that December time where Jack Smith had this Raman scattering apparatus and I had the amorphous silicon samples. So, it’s the usual thing. I’d walk into a lab. "Let’s try to do the Raman scattering. Will there be Raman scattering from this material?" Of course, the infrared mode in silicon crystal was inactive because it disappeared due to the crystal band structure. It was a forbidden transition by symmetry. And, and I started wondering, "Well, will we see it in infrared absorption?" but I hadn’t done that experiment yet because it’s very far out there and a hard experiment to do. Silicon-silicon vibration. Different than that from silicon-hydrogen vibration. I eventually did it. And then I, and then, so with Jack, and Marshall Nathan was the sponsor, he was a collaborator and experimenter. I said "We’ll also be able to experiment." Oh, Dick Gambino, who made some of the samples, and we tried to look at all the different samples, the glow discharge sample, the sputtering samples, the evaporated sample, and Jack had a pretty good piece of apparatus and he saw a signal with scattering. And, there’s only one clue of a sample similar to that, amorphous quartz, silicon dioxide. It had a similar kind of signal, and then [it was] amorphous material. But, for the most part people had not seen these signals, certainly not, you know, you’re seeing the semiconductors of chalcogenide because the Xerox people did some Raman scattering in selenium, which we eventually did a set of experiments on too. But, and it was unique, but what is it? We started seeing a sharp line. We saw a really broad smeared-out spectrum. "Ah, disorder." Everything smeared. The band gap smeared and the optical absorption, so therefore in the Raman scattering the photon line would be smeared. Eli came along and gave us a really interesting clue, and he, and Eli is great by analogy. And, the clue, the really interesting clue was, "Start thinking a super lattice." I mean, down the hall, you know, is Esaki who invented the super lattice. The thing I didn’t get to work on because Rudy got that, Rudy Ludeke got that job, I mean I was there when Leo invented the super lattice. He called me into his office and said, "What happens is..." and he described, you know, "What happens as the crystal gets smaller and smaller and smaller, you know. What happens to the periodicity?" and all that sort of stuff And, you know, I missed the invention of the super lattice. I said, "I don’t know Leo," and walked out of his room. [Laugh] But, Eli put it all together. What happens when you have the superlattice, you change the periodicity. Instead of having infinite periodicity you have smaller periodicity so that in some sense the Brillouin zone gets folded in half. You superimpose another periodicity on it. So, some band structure that would go out to the edge of the Brillouin zone in reciprocal states, reciprocal space gets folded in half, so the band structure gets folded back. And, that’s basically how you get the band structure out of molecular structure, and all. And, very fundamental semiconductor concept. Very fundamental crystal construct. And, Eli said, "Why do you think of, well, you’re folding, and you’re folding an amorphous. You’re folding almost back through infinite folding," so all the states that are far out in the band and are symmetry forbidden are now in the center of the band with symmetry allowed. So, you start seeing all these states folded, wanting the whole band, folded over one upon each other in the middle of the band all become allowed. All of a sudden, a great insight! — and boy, there’s a back-of-the-hand calc... we just plotted the density states, rather than the band structure and pretend that they’re all actives, and you see Raman spectra. What we see. And then did a whole bunch of theoretical papers with simulations with these guys at Yale. Dennis Weaire, Richard Alben, a whole series of papers, yeah, doing that, you know, more rigorously. And, calculating, getting good agreement. And then they said, "Well, infrared should become active too. It’s not active [in the silicon crystal]. So, why don’t you go look at the infrared Marc?" So, I got some guy [Ben Welber], I roped some guy to doing science and we went back to that prism spectrometer for our experiment. We got to see the infrared spectra too. So. Disorder-induced infrared, disorder-induced Raman. The whole proof of field. A great physical insight into — how to think about amorphous material in terms of crystal band structure of... almost the density states, but not quite, but you still had some remnants selection rules. There’s still some short-range order. Because it would depend on how far that order goes is how the selection rules, you know, how much you break down what selection rule. And, it returned tremendous physical insights into that. And then I wrote that up on my sabbatical. I spent part of it writing a chapter for book by Manuel Cardona, who I — while I was on sabbatical I spent some time with him learning, writing a chapter –- not with him but for him, writing a chapter for a book he was writing on lattice dynamics. I wrote on disorder-induced dynamics.
So, it seems like there’s a fair continuity, you know, leading from, straight through your career through, from Pennsylvania through the military labs to IBM. Now, of course, at IBM I see from your CV you had sort of a position at Columbia as well. So, there was a sort of...
Well, yeah, that was interesting. Because I was always interested in a university. I thought I’d go to IBM for five years and wind up in academia. You know, years later I’m still at IBM but I wanted to teach. So I started teaching one day a week the semiconductor physics and devices course down at Columbia.
And so, and you also have other visiting positions besides, and I see you over in, working with the people in Dundee who are working on the transistors?
I’ll tell you, I’ll get to that eventually.
Okay. So, we’re moving on to that.
That was huge. That’s my flat-panel TV there. [Laughter, pointing at large LCD TV across the room]
Mine as well.
I appreciate it. So, okay. So, I guess kind of what I want to know is...
So, you have that real continuity with kind of the academic laboratory at one end. I’m wondering about the relationship with the other parts of IBM on the other end?
Okay. So, I’ll get to that. First of all, experimentally I’m a great interactor. I’m talking at the wagon. I was not hesitant, "You got this technique, how can I combine it with my materials, or my techniques combine with your materials?" And I had interacted with more groups than almost anybody at IBM. I mean, I had this fantastic facility. You had every expertise. I never hesitated to go ask anybody a question. I was having a problem with high-speed circuitry, I walk into Ian Gunn down the hall, inventor of the Gunn Effect, the world’s expert on high-speed circuitry, go ask him a question.
But, now we’re speaking about just the people at Yorktown right now?
Okay. Although I would, and the people at Almaden saw me as a rising star. Frank Herman would invite me out there to visit. I’d go out to Almaden, the West Coast laboratory. It was San Jose then. It was before it became Almaden. I’d go out and visit the IBM Research Center there. I forget when the first time I went to Zurich. I’d been to the Zurich laboratory probably when I was on sabbatical? No. I went there once before, before — oh, I know when I went to Zurich. I started visiting Zurich laboratory. I’ll get to that. Where IBM won two Nobel Prizes in two consecutive years, my colleagues in Zurich. Okay, now — so the big physics questions were, "What are the relation between crystallinity and disorder?" And I sort of got some answers to that. The other was the great materials science questions and got some answers to that. So, those are the two big things in my research. And yes, the lattice dynamics connecting to the band gaps, you know one’s band structure and electrons. One’s band structure and phonons, very much related, thinking, all my thinking with Lucovsky and the experiments, all carried over and really helped understand and push some of it. There was very little understanding. It was sort of hit and miss materials science. Not even materials science. Even amorphous semiconductors until I came along. And people in the same laboratory would go out and measure the different kinds of preparation techniques and see what the different properties are. If they’re silicon, they should have silicon properties. But, why do you get such radically properties if you sputter it or evaporate, or make it by glow discharge? And, I interacted with chemists so I could understand the glow discharge. I even learned a little bit of plasma physics to try to figure out, "What am I doing when I turn on this glow discharge? What is this thing called silane?" I interacted with Bruce Scott, a chemist. Got involved with silane chemistry. Went to visit Alan MacDiarmid, the world’s expert at then silane chemistry, who later won the Nobel Prize for organic conductors with Alan Heeger at Penn. I wasn’t hesitant to go out and interact with people.
Uhm-hmm. I also notice then kind of a real emphasis on robustness. You have all the different kinds of experiments that you can do that correlate with each other too and really solidify your knowledge of the structure of the amorphous silicon? And, also, you know, the more theoretical kinds of knowledge. I’m wondering if that’s just sort of a par for the course thing, or if that’s particularly a pursuit of yours?
Not many people would interact well with the theorists as well as the other experimentalists. People tend to be in their little iconoclastic silo. They do their experiment, publish it, and then, you know, try to give some interpretation. And, you know, some — there are people who interact with theorists. I do the more thorough job because I try to understand the theory too when I interact with the theorists. I mean, some of them were dead ends, and some of them worked out. Another thing happened, when I was doing well at IBM. So, in 1970, two years after I’m there, — I think it was 1970 [turning pages] — I got identified, I’m in an industrial laboratory it’s not academia. I got potential — what do they call it –- fast mover, or high potential, young high potential person. They identified people, I don’t know how theydo it, having secret lists. They identified people. So, I got identified. So, I got offered an opportunity to be technical assistant to the, to the head of the laboratory, Ralph Gomory. And, that’s for high-potential people. And so, they identified me there. I didn’t know what it was all about. So, I go down ...
How many of these people were there? I mean, was it just ...
It was a rotating one or, one-year job, one-year-plus job. So, each year there’s another person.
Okay. So, but it was just one individual at any given time?
But then there’s a staff of five or six individuals. That’s a little different. I’ll tell you about that, because I eventually became chief of staff twenty years later, [Laugh] and, you know, ran the whole staff. But, this guy was sort of directly reported to Ralph, although the chief of staff worked with him as well. So, the front office, at that time, consisted of the Director of Research, with an IBM vice president, senior vice president. It wasn’t called president of the Research Division, even though that’s what the job was. It was historically called Director of Research and reported to the chairman of the board of the company. Very high-level position of a relatively small division of a few thousand people, where IBM divisions have tens of thousands of people in it typically. And, I went down and interviewed for a job in all my great naivety and was offered it, and I remember this very naive thing. I was worried, could I get back into the laboratory afterwards, after this one-year assignment? And I said, "Will I have my old job back?" So, I remember going down to Seymour Keller, god almighty.
And this was 1972-73 when things are really starting to get cooking for you at this point?
Yeah. Well, when was I with Ralph? What year?
On your CV, Technical Assistant, Director of Research 1972-73.
Seventy-two. So, ‘72, right. Okay. So, in ‘72, when I get this job, I go to Seymour Keller and, well, I go talk to other people who had that job. They said, "Don’t worry. You get the job back," and things like that. I go to Seymour Keller and I said, you know, "Could you guarantee, you know, that I get my job back?" And he said, "Sure." That was foolish. I didn’t know you should ask things in writing for such things like that. Remember, Seymour Keller reported to Ralph Gomory. He ran this hundred-person Physical Science Research area. About half the people were Ph.D.s, and that’s where I worked, you know, under Ph.D.s in that group. There was more than a hundred people, you know. So, here’s god almighty that hired, you know, approved my hiring and all that. And, I go down and I sat at my new little desk in this little confined office down next to Ralph’s office. I’m going through the paperwork on my desk trying to get oriented and I say, "Uh oh. Seymour is just getting fired, I mean, from his job. He’s not going to have his job this afternoon that he just promised me, you know, he won’t have any authority to get me back at all. I should have gotten it in writing." [Laugh] First thing I learned, you know, in the front office, you know. Some new guy — so, I run down to Phil Seiden and I say, "Phil can I have my job back when I finish this assignment?" [Laughter] So, anyhow, that was an experience. A little over a year. And, Ralph Gomory says "You get exposed to all of IBM, all of IBM Research. You learn about computer science. You learn about mathematics. You learn about engineering. You learn," you know. I remember Ralph asking me a very fundamental question. "Which is faster, a bipolar or a field effect transistor?" Of course, the technology in IBM was bipolar. The rest of the world is going field effect. Why aren’t we doing that? And he said, "Well, because IBM just did it one way -– it was a big company." And everyone says, "Well, they’re faster." And, he asked the right question. "Why is it faster? You know, is it something fundamental?" And, the answer was faster because the base was thin. Now we start getting into the world of industrial management. Okay, so I’m down there and I’m learning all these things from Ralph Gomory. I learned a lot about management. I learned a lot about science, engineering, IBM. You’re a jack-of-all-trades again, assigned things, you know. You got things changed. "Should this guy be allowed to collect an honorarium for a seminar when he’s working for IBM? Should this guy go to California or stay in New York, because he got offered jobs in both, you know, and both managers want these people." I mean, I got all sorts of crazy things. At the time the lab was organized with an assistant director, who was Don Rosenheim. It was previously Rolf Landauer, but when I was there it was Don Rosenheim as the Assistant Director of Research. It’s sort of a, superfluous job. Very interesting. There was a rumor going around the hallway that Don Rosenheim...
This is assistant to Gomory?
Over all that?
Yeah. Not like an assistant to, but assistant director. You know, second in charge. But, all the other vice presidents in — Research had no presidents, but had all these vice presidents. Seymour Keller, the head of Computer Science, the head of Mathematics, the head of the Almaden Lab, the head of the Zurich lab, they all reported to Ralph Gomory, as well as did Don Rosenheim. It was the San Jose Lab, not Almaden at the time. And then, there was a rumor going around the hallway, I heard, that they were going to fire the head of the Almaden, of the San Jose Lab, and make Don Rosenheim head of the lab. I remember going in to Gomory saying, "There’s this rumor going around. Have you heard it, that you’re going to fire the head?" He says, "That’s not a bad idea." [Laughter] And then Rosenheim became head of San Jose. I never know whether it was that he’d already been thinking of it or it gave him the idea. [Laughter] So, then there was no more assistant director. It gave me a big office for a while, [Laugh] because I moved into that office temporarily and then we converted it into a conference room. But, so I learned a lot from Ralph. And, I got to go with him visiting different things. I got to host the Chairman of the Board when he came to visit Ralph. And, well, first I got to host the chairman of the Board’s assistant, that had come along with him. So, I met a guy, I think it was John Akers, who came with [Cary]. "This guy is a real hotshot. Really young assistant to the chairman of the Board. He might be going somewhere someday." I’m pretty sure it was John Akers, who then became chairman of the Board twenty years later. Ralph doesn’t remember it, when I told him that. I remember once, at 8:30 in the morning when Frank Cary, the chairman of the Board was coming to visit. Got a call from Gomory. He could barely talk. He was sick with pneumonia or some cold, in bed, can’t get out of bed. "Entertain him." [Laugh] You know, so I put the phone down. I see Frank Cary’s walking towards me and I was to entertain the Chairman of the Board of IBM. It was very interesting. What I learned from Frank Cary is you don’t walk around the hallway with a cup of coffee. It doesn’t look right. He thought that looked bad. Anyhow so I got to hear presentations, you know, and things having to do with the whole company. Went back to my research afterwards. They made me a manager. Kurt Weiser went off to Israel. I became manager of that group. Got to create my own little group.
This is Disordered Materials?
Yeah, Disordered Materials. And my freedom just increased. So, I started learning a little bit of management. Now, in those days you know, if you wanted to be a fast mover and all you should pay attention to management and maneuver to get higher positions and promotions. I never was that kind of guy. Never, you know, maneuvered for it, you know. So, I didn’t move up in management for a while and then out of the blue, in 1980, they offered me to be a department head, head of Semiconductor Physics and Devices, which was out of the Physical Sciences Department, the old Marshall Nathan job. And, they were taking that job away from Marshall and they’re giving it to me. So, then I got a pretty large group and sort of competed with the Physical Science Department. It was in the Technology Department, but it sort of did the fundamental research on semiconductors. So, I never became head of the Physical Sciences Department, which was sort of later in life. I wanted to be, but I ran the group that competed with it, and sort of ran parallel to it. Although, it’s not as high a level job.
So now, at Disordered Materials, that, I’m trying to think [here are] semiconductors?
Amorphous semiconductors. It was amorphous semiconductor.
So, this was under now what?
Under Physical Science?
I was a physical scientist. So, I reported, I don’t know who I reported to, then, Phil Seiden and then eventually...
Praveen Chaudhari took over that department. So, I reported to Praveen. Yeah, I reported to Praveen when I went on sabbatical. So, while still in that group — so, I came back in ‘73 from Gomory, and the first thing I wanted to do was go on sabbatical even though I had this year thing. I wanted to go to Cambridge. I couldn’t go to Cambridge. I wanted to go work with Mott. I wanted to go to Cambridge. Bill Paul, this guy that I almost went to work for at Harvard, who had came, worked for me, worked for us in the summer and then went back and started doing amorphous materials, he got in first and got the job at Cambridge on sabbatical. He went on sabbatical the same year I did. So, I went to Paris. A friend of Eli’s, Minko Balkanski, who I had met back when I went to Paris in ‘63. Ten years later I then went to his laboratory as a visiting professor there. IBM paid my salary. I got money from the University of Paris, which I returned to IBM. And, it was very nice, a year in Paris on an IBM salary as a professor. Pretty nice. I was still deficit spending. I spent more than I made. The dollar was plummeting at the time. Oh, back to Zurich, how I got connected to Zurich Laboratory. Of course, I’d go to San Jose and I’d go to Zurich when I was Gomory’s assistant. I remember — was I going, I may have gone on preparatory visits for Gomory. I remember going with Don Rosenheim once, when he was assistant director, "Go make a tour of Zurich Laboratories." I remember that was when the dollar first started plummeting. And, I mean it plummeted like ten or twenty percent, literally, in one week. I mean, our hotel was ten percent more by the end of the week than the beginning of the week. And, but that was in the ‘73-’74 time frame. Or ‘72-’73 time frame. And then ‘74-’75 I spent this year in Paris and then I remember I’d go around giving talks at the various places. I remember visiting Zurich. I remember visiting Dundee to go to see what Spear he was doing. I went to London many times, to visit laboratories there. It was a great year. I remember reading Feynman Lecture notes, because I had a gap in magnetism in my knowledge. So, I learned—to catch up and I learned a little bit about magnetism. I wrote this chapter on disordered, on disorder-induced lattice vibration spectra. It was a great year. I learned a lot. I tried to do some experiments there. Tried to make another method of making amorphous silicon. Germanium could be made electrochemically in the electrochemical cell. As a matter of fact that’s the first time people saw hydrogen in germanium through electrochemical things. Bill Paul and his group at Harvard had done the electrochemical preparation of germanium. This guy Grigorovici, I guess, had done it. One of the Eastern Europeans had done it electrochemically. So, I tried to do it in silicon and failed, and got glass blowers and stuff, and it didn’t work out. It just can’t be done. But, I remember going to Dundee and Spear tells me, "Oh, we’ve done this remarkable breakthrough. We’ve doped N-type and P-type amorphous silicon." Remarkable. They added phosphine to the silane, or diborane to the silane. They could get the phosphorous doping or the boron doping. I don’t know how much you know about semiconductors, but they’re, they’re the principle dopants in semiconductors. And, he really overloaded it, but he did it, and he tracked it. I said, "Oh, that’s wonderful. Have you tried making a p-n junction, making a device?" And here I, I’m an expert in semiconductor devices, because I taught this course at Columbia. [Laughter] So, I knew about these things. There’s nothing like teaching to teach yourself. So, he said, "No, but, you know, I haven’t had time." And I said, "Well, I’ll do it." He said, "Okay.”" I said, "Can I come here and do it?" And, he said, "Sure." So, I cut my sabbatical short in France. In August nobody’s in France anyhow, and I went for the month of August to Dundee, Scotland. I took my family, my two little kids, lived to the dormitory there. And, in one month we did this fantastic experiment. By the end of the month I wrote it up. We made the first p-n junction, and published it in Applied Physics Letters, an AIP Journal. I didn’t know the difference before AIP and APS’s journal [Laugh] at that time. And, so I published this article. I remember having a big fight with him because I said, "Well I did the experiment. I wrote up the article. I should be the first author." And he says, "No, you’re visiting my laboratory. You’re the last author." So, it was, the name of the "technician" was in front of me. It comes Spear, LeComber, Kimmond, and Brodsky. So, I guess I’m the last one. I’m the last one on it. [They did it completely reverse] alphabetical.
Yeah. I think so. I’ve got it right here.
Did it completely reverse alphabetical, probably. I mean, he was this old German type...
Yeah. Here we go.
Herr, Herr Dr. Professor type.
Kimmond and Brodsky.
And it was Spear first, right?
Yeah. Okay. And so, but it was a great experiment and people noticed my name at the end, and knew I went to that laboratory. And, that was a revolution in amorphous semiconductor devices. First thing that happened, all the Japanese, who had been working on chalcogenide devices all of a sudden saw something, even though Spear and LeComber, years and years before, had made thin-film transistors, only one group in Japan had really been working on trying to make thin-film transistors. Everyone else says, "Well, you can’t dope the stuff. It’s not like real silicon. We’re not going to work on devices here." And, all of a sudden, we published the p-n junction and people say, "Oh, you can make devices out of them. So, these transistors really must have something to them." And, the whole Japanese research effort switched from chalcogenides to silicon.
Was there a particular reason why this particular type of transistor would be attractive?
It was a two-terminal device. It was a device. The one that was a, it showed that you could build a device. I mean, an existence theorem. Two, the doping had just been done, okay. So, now you can dope it. You can make a device. Transistor was done before. Then you understand how you really make a controllable thin-film transistor by doping the surface and drain, and really can make it work. And two, you understood how, since my work on hydrogen, I went back and started showing that it was really the hydrogen. That’s when I went back and showed the hydrogen stuff, and that it was really hydrogen and you knew how to control the material, the deposit. The material science that we did came into place combined with the devices that we made. And, people started working on that. And, the other thing is, in secret, RCA, at that time, had made p-n junctions, and they made p-i-n junctions in solar cells. All in secret. The whole world did not know about it. So, we didn’t make the first p-n junction. We just made the first published PN junction. Or, maybe we did. I — the timing, they were doing it around that time. But, in January, when the article came out, we did the work in August, the article came out in January, Applied Physics Letters. That blew the cover on their work and they had to talk about it in public. But, they had their patent application in, and so Carlson, and Wronski at RCA had done the thin-film solar cells, and that started the solar cell revolution. So then Japan started working on solar cells.
Did your publication of it interfere with their ability to capitalize on what they had done? Or...
Yeah. They couldn’t keep it a secret as long as they wanted. So, they had the patents but they didn’t have many patents wrapped up in their work. RCA was a laboratory that made money on patents. They, to the extent that they lost their focus on the research and the advantages because they knew and paid too much attention to collecting money for patents and not enough from doing their research.
Yeah. I noticed that — I mean, you have a few patents in this period but I’m wondering about the emphasis in...
IBM we always had interest in patents. I mean, nowadays IBM gets the whole research budget from research patents. They collect a half a billion dollars a year in patent revenue.
The way you describe it at the time it seemed like a very open sort of thing though, whereas, you know...
You would find, yeah it was open, but it was still an industrial laboratory. If it was patentable you were supposed to write a patent disclosure, and then somebody would evaluate it, and decide whether it was worth investing IBM resources, patent attorney time, money, and your time in going after a patent.
Would there be things, then, that you would not publish?
You would delay it.
You’d delay? Right.
If you had a — you know, one of the things the scientists didn’t like, is you disclosed the patent. You know, some scientists would hope it would not get rated "file" because then they could publish it. If it got rated "file" you had to wait until it was filed or you had a year to file after it was published. Some things like high temperature superconductivity got filed — got published before it was filed.
And, one other point. Was there a sense, when you were working in the laboratory that there was steep competition with other laboratories, whether academic or other industrial labs?
Yeah. Bell Labs wasn’t working on amorphous semiconductors very highly, but everybody else was competing with Bell Labs and competing with universities, and it was a very competitive atmosphere. A lot of rush to publication. Although, my tendency was to get out a Phys. Rev. Letters staking a claim, and then write up the long paper. Nowadays, people don’t write the long papers as much that really document everything that you do. I think almost everything I did, there were some odds and ends that just were never worthwhile following up. But, the long papers were really significant things that documented your approach to Raman spectra. And, I mean, huge theoretical explanatory papers on it. We published the spin resonance, everything, but then we did all these long papers comparing it to all the different materials, all the different methods of preparation. Even the initial spin resonance. We did all the different kinds of preparation. nd that was from the beginning of silane did not — were prepared materials did not have the spin signal. Clearly that’s a dangling bond that’s hydrogen passivated.
Were there things that you got beat out on ever or that you wished you...
Well, there were thoughts that I was beat out on. I guess in the mid ‘70s we had this conference, the Vacuum Society had a one-day conference at IBM on amorphous materials. I guess I was running or helping run, and the rumor was that we were going to get scooped on all our hydrogen work. The people from Oak Ridge, or someplace else, were studying the hydrogen and understood it, and, you know, all this long involved work. So, we rushed out a letter, Applied Physics Letters, on the quantitative measurement of hydrogen amorphous silicon, showed that it was, you know, if it was not in, if it was not in this isolated form, single hydrogen on a piece of silicon, when it was a one or two percent hydrogen, delivered in the polymerized form it would be ten, twenty, forty percent hydrogen in the material, atomic percent. We were worried about getting scooped. I remember the night before the conference staying up, staying up all night writing it, finishing up writing the paper and sending it off, and then getting up and announcing it at the conference. But nobody was close.
Okay. So, to recap where we’re at then, you’re the, at this point, the technical assistant to Gomory? And then you went...
Back to the lab.
Then you went back to the lab before the sabbatical?
Yeah. Before the sabbatical. Went on sabbatical, came back. I don’t know when I became manager. When does it say when I became manager, just on the semiconductors?
It says 1973. So, I assume that’s correct.
Yeah. Right before I went on sabbatical. And then I came back, as manager, and then 1980 I remember while traveling to some solar energy conference out in the West Coast I got a phone call that I’m now department head.
Uhm-hmm. So then — all right — so you were on sabbatical.
So, that sort of ended my real [?] in 1980.
Okay. So, how is the balance of management and research been?
Until 1980 I was a researcher.
In 1980 I still sort of keep my, I try to keep my lab. I kept my lab for a couple years, started doing research, mostly in collaboration with people. But, it just starts fading off because management gave me more and more responsibility. Then it really ended... ‘87, when I became project manager, project Director of gallium arsenide. And, that’s really all management. That’s when I really became an executive. The director title becomes an executive. I was only senior manager before, and not really an executive.
Yeah, so throughout the 1970s, basically, you had some authority to direct projects?
My own basically.
My own research group. More like a professor running his own group. I’m a first-level manager.
How big was that group?
Oh, four, or five, or six. And, I built a little empire of my own research. I mean, basically they were all my assistants. All the Ph.D.s, Ph.D.s that had been working for me, and technicians, they were all my assistants. But then, I became department head and had a bunch of first-level managers, even some second-level managers, reporting to me. And, so that was really getting to be like an executive, but not fully deemed an executive on the IBM scale. Then I became the director, and then I’m an executive now. The director was really a matrix management thing. I only had two, two people, or three people reporting to me. A couple of staff people and a secretary. But, I had program responsibility worldwide for a huge project in several IBM labs, including the one in Yorktown, including in Zurich, including in Fishkill, plus stuff in Rockwell and in other companies we were doing jointly together. So, I sort of had executive responsibility. I started talking to IBM vice presidents, and senior vice presidents, and people in other laboratories. And, it was a huge job. Gallium arsenide, I wrote an article at the time for Scientific American.
Yeah, I’ve got it here. Yeah. I was reading it over this morning.
And, I wrote that on airplanes back and forth to California, because Rockwell was in California. So, I would go out once a month, at least, to help at Rockwell to see the production line, the processing line. And, that was a pretty big project. I don’t know, maybe it had a hundred people in it, or something like that.
Sorry. Were you going to say more?
Okay. So, so there I learned management, I learned diplomacy, because I had to get groups in different laboratories working together. A very hard thing to do in a company, you know, to get the people in one division working with another division. And, I tried to build a gallium arsenide factory, a pilot, a manufacturing line. I tried to get that in Germany. They decided to build it in Fishkill. Tough decision. One of the problems is this level of management would say, "Here." Another line of, level of management would say, "There." A third level of management, "Do it there." I remember my biggest management accomplishment was to get the components division — I forget what it was called at that time — but, the Semiconductor Technology Division, which ran the Fishkill lab, to get five layers of management in a room at one time, at seven o’clock at night, and keep them there until they had made a decision where they were going to build the processing line. I mean, I went pretty high up to do that, to get five levels of management in there, you know. I had vice, two levels of vice presidents of IBM in there, in there, but I got it done. They made the wrong decision, but it was a decision.
So, I guess, we’re kind of skipping around chronologically a bit now, a bit now. Do we want to start in at 1980 then, or is there anything...
Well, ‘80 I ran this department, and it had a group on oxides, this gate oxide. They had the world’s experts in the gate oxide, improving that so they could get the oxide thinner and more reliable. It had a small superconductivity group. Well, it was, and very funny. When they killed the Josephson supercomputer work–cryogenic computer project because to take Josephson Junctions and make computer elements out of it, which was the real tour de force of project computing. It had a hundred and fifty or some people on there. I remember when they killed the project they said, "Well, half the people will go to gallium arsenide," and they started up the gallium arsenide project. "Half the people will go to the silicon technology, and Brodsky can get the rest." [Laugh] And so just, you know, such a huge project it became my biggest group. A little small remnant to keep superconducting technology alive in IBM, with a group of five, or six, or seven people. And, we’d just continued. Because, there was some scientific devices you could make with a superconductor technology. Really very good detectors, and things like that, of rings of superconducting devices. So, I kept that superconducting group alive and that group was alive when in Zurich Alex Muller and [Georg] Bednorz came up with the high temperature superconductor. I remember asking my group, "What is this thing Alex is doing over there in Zurich?" "Ooooh, another high temperature superconductor. Every few years somebody thinks they come up with a high temperature superconductor. That’s not the right material. This material at Bell Labs has been working on is a better material." They were wrong. Alex had the right material. John Armstrong was the only guy in the company to recognize it, outside of Zurich.
Sorry, which material was this?
This was the copper oxide, cuprous oxide acyually, cuprous oxide perovskites that Alex and Bednorz came work. Bednorz came up with him and got the Nobel Prize for it a year later. No, two years later. So but John, on a visit to Zurich, recognized that it was great work. And so, he understood it and started other people working on it in other laboratories in IBM. And then, started getting the patent and things like that.
About what year are we talking about?
In the ‘80s.’80, ‘83, something like that. [Bednorz & Muller received the 1987 Nobel Prize in Physics]
Very interesting. When I was running this department — when was the big crisis, in 1981-’82 Alex Muller — Alex wanted to do superconductivity for a long time. He worked on these unstable perovskites and had this theory that the perovskites phonons were unstable, and got very big, and somehow you were getting huge electron-photon interaction that was responsible for normal superconductivity, and could do something. But, he didn’t really understand superconductivity, and so he came for a year sabbatical to Yorktown, from Zurich, Alex Müller, and so Alex worked in superconductivity for a year to see what it’s like. Now, Alex was a spin resonance guy. You remember I had done this one spin resonance experiment. He had done the spin resonance of stuff in perovskites and people used to make fun how long he did perovskites. I remember Seymour Keller joking of twenty-five, an anniversary, twenty-five years of perovskites and no results. But, he was a well-respected senior scientist. He was a smart guy, and he cared about science and he cared about IBM. And, during his sabbatical, while he’s doing aluminum, and superconductivity, and trying to learn what superconductivity was — little did we know that he was going to go back and discover this, make this remarkable discovery — we had a crisis at IBM. The company almost went bankrupt. IBM technology was fooling around in bipolar devices, I told you about, while the rest of the world did field effect transistors. And, the way they did it, they had to do more and more integration. They were very hot. They were power hungry compared to FETs. You couldn’t get the level of integration of an FET so you had one chip, and another chip, and sort of connect them together closely. So, you had these thermal conduction modules, things that can take the heat out, heat the chips, come together, and we have a substrate with fifty or sixty layers of wiring on it to go down and across and to make the chips interconnect. And, they were made out of ceramic, and the way you made a thin layer of ceramic down, and ceramics, when you make, you take a frit and you put it down and it’s sort of flexible at first because it has plasticizers in it, and then you put the circuitry down. Then you put another layer. You put that circuitry down. You punch holes so they go through. Extremely complicated. Then you fire it in an oven and you make a tile out of it, like bathroom tile, literally. Your tile is a piece of ceramic. And, the engineers did a tour de force. They made it. They could do hundreds of these chips on these things, really complicated wiring between them, fire it all up, and then we have a computer. One module was like a really big high-end computer. Sometimes we could make multiple ones with two or four modules in there. The trouble was, when the engineers turned it over to the manufacturing people the yield was not very high coming out of the manufacturing line. It was very precise. Zero. Nothing came out of the manufacturing arm. Besides those engineers they could carry it each step down the line. Six months later the thing would come out. Six months later. Where in these six months were there errors and why, you know, you start something down and six months later you get no product line out? Okay? And, the whole new high end of IBM computers, mainframes in the early ‘80s, were predicated on these devices. So, Ralph Gomory took a group of us up to Fishkill where they made these things. They identified managers, I was a department head at the time, and stuff and people who sort of had reputation for troubleshooting and problem solving. I went because I was a manager. And, we sat there and we listened to days of presentation on how they make this stuff and how an engineer can make it and a manufacturing person can’t. And, they said, "Research, solve our problem. The company’s out of business in a year if you don’t." And, we had very little connection between Research and the company in those days. So, we came back and we each got assignments. And, I got assigned to frit. This stuff that’s mined up in northern Canada. It’s dug up with sand shovels and winds up in a semiconductor factory where everything’s precise and clean, and you know, we’re not used to dirt, working with dirt. [Laugh] And, figure out, you know, how that process works and why, you know, what happens in the frit process. So, I remember, you know, looking at what it does and these little alumina would, sometimes they come out flat when they get fired and sometimes they come out disoriented. "What’s happening?" No one really knew and how to characterize them. So, you know, what the relationship is. Some batches work and some don’t, and what’s the relationship between that and that and that? So, I remember rounding up three or four people and saying, "You look at this aspect of the problem. You look at that aspect of the problem. You look, you know, go look and see if you can do your experimental technique to characterize this material that they’re having problems with and see what we learn. So, I remember taking Alex Müller and some other young guy who was really not very competent to do spin resonance, and say, "Do spin resonance on this. See what you can learn." And, this other guy said, "Oh, that’s not science. This is not what I was hired to do. And this, I’m not going to do it." I said, you know, "You either can do it or you don’t have a job." And Alex said, "Thank you so much, Marc. I’ve been working for IBM for twenty-five years and now I feel I’m going to do something useful."
Two very different attitudes at work there?
We came back and Alex, you know, led. The young guy did the work and Alex applied the science, and they actually figured out how to characterize, by spin resonance, how these little platelets lined up through the process. So, you had a characterization tool. It didn’t turn out to be that great, I mean, but it’s one more tool for learning, you know, whether the process was reproducible as it went down this huge six-nine month process.
So, as you said, this was a key learning experience in management? How did you...
Oh, absolutely, first of all I got this, going to Fishkill I got to meet people.
Yeah. Yeah. That would be one thing about that.
I got to learn how to organize, how to do applied work, I got to see how they work. I got to do some spectral kind of thing. I mean, we got logs of — this stuff then got fired in the hydrogen furnace. Here I am back to hydrogen again. You know, and it was huge. Hydrogen, poured in, the hydrogen’s sort of dangerous I was so used to being careful with it. I see indoors these big things where they’re firing these things. The kilns that are filled with hydrogen and the hydrogen burning off the top of stacks. I figured out the problem. I mean there were a lot of problems. I mean, everything we did included every step of the process a little bit, so the cumulative thing is. But, the biggest problem is, and we found it, in going through pages of printouts and logs of temperature and humidity controls, which I had some chemists go through it. And, all — and we finally notice real anomalies on products that were made in early June, early July, and early September, and the rest of the year seemed to work out okay. Particularly July and September. And, it turned out they turned down for the Fourth of July weekend.
Right at the meat of the story. [Changing tapes] Give it a second here, since we seem to be at a crucial point. I’ll let it spool to the magnetic bit. Okay, you’re good to go.
And so, they turned down for the Fourth of July weekend, and turned down for the Labor Day weekend. And, you know, this thing runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, except they come down for holiday weekends for some reason. Until the humidity and temperature got stable, particularly in the summer months, when they turned the line back on, it gave them a lot of poor yields. This is a controll step the process that tends to be extremely, extremely important. And, we put discipline. So, what happened is, one, it saved the company. John Opal used to say after that, when he was Chairman of the Board, "I don’t know what Research did, but they saved the company." And, what this audit taught us is how to interact with the rest of the company. It wasn’t just Fishkill. There were other plants that made other components, that were involved in this. Everybody went out to all the IBM divisions and learned how to do things. So, Jim McGroddy, who then succeeded Armstrong as Director of Research eventually came up with this idea of joint programs. The way to connect to the company, he said, and he had learned, was not to do something in Research and try to transfer it to the, to an applied division in the company, or an engineering division, is to do the project early on jointly so there was no barrier to transfer. Everybody felt it was their project. It wasn’t "not invented here." "Those people in Research don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know the problems of the company." One, the people in Research learned the problems of the company. The people in the company, in the divisions, learned the scientific approach of the Research Division and together they get things done. They’ve been extremely successful for many years in developing new projects, products and technologies. And, that was McGroddy’s claim to fame and how he became Director of Research; among other reasons. Okay, so just, okay. So anyhow, Armstrong, while he was still Director in Research, made me head of this gallium arsenide project. And, it was under Dean Eastman, who was head of the Logic and Memory, head of the Applied Technology Division, essentially semiconductor devices.
So, let’s say we go back and pick up some spools here. So, during this whole crisis, Gomory was Director of Research at that point in time?
A few years, a few — and, I was working for Armstrong my — the first of three times that I...
Armstrong at that time was?
He was head of Logic and Memory.
Head of Logic and Memory. Right.
And, Vice President of Logic and Memory. And so, one of the first of my three times in my career I worked for John Armstrong. I was head of this department and reported to him. Then we had the Semiconductor Physics and Devices, which was really the science part of his department. He had the silicon reporting to him. He had the gallium arsenide. Until he killed the Josephson, he had the Josephson working for him. So, he had all the big technology stuff and he had a lot of interaction with Fishkill, and Burlington, all the applied engineering eivisions, development divisions of IBM.
Was he reporting to Gomory then?
He reported to Gomory.
Okay. So, I worked for him as head of this department. Okay, so I would be at his, all the senior management meetings and there’s the senior directors. I was the least senior of all of them because, you know, they’re all bigger departments. But, you know, I had a significant department. So, you know, occasionally I’d get to act for him when he was away. Because, he had this policy, if he’s out of town he would rotate who was in charge. You know, I was writing $5 million dollar memos, million-dollar requisitions, and things like that. But, it was a pretty responsible job that I had, a pretty huge budget, a big capital budget a Nobel Prize winning Leo Esaki working for me, who thought he had an unlimited budget, while I had a finite budget. [Laugh] Huge number of prima donnas, and pretty big. I had a silicon group. I had a gallium arsenide group. I had, you know I had interesting groups working for me. When the scanning tunneling microscope was found over in Zurich, it was one of the next Nobel, also won the Nobel Prize. I had, I sent scanning tunneling microscopes for our group in Yorktown. So, it was a good experience, but I was gradually doing less and less research getting more and more management responsibilities. I’m responsible for thirty-five or forty scientists. I started getting Division-wide responsibilities at that time. We had a salary plan where everybody got paid on a scale relative to everybody else. In other words, if you were on the scale at that time, from $30,000 to $125,000 you got it as a researcher. And it didn’t matter what kind, you know, there were no levels of researchers. You were research staff members. Period. Even up to my level of second level management. You weren’t on a second-level scale. And, you got graded one to a hundred against everybody else, in order. And, and then you would determine the salary by this very complicated algorithms that the human resources people didn’t know how to operate. So, there were three of us scientists. One from Computer Science. One from the Engineering and Technology area, and me, from the Science area, and every year we would put together the algorithm, even wrote a report on how to write the algorithm, on how once you rated somebody, how you would determine what their salary was.
It was —
Year, after year, after year.
Uhm-hmm. In the interview that we did with Armstrong, because there was some issue, wasn’t there, where you were correlating this with the amount of time they’d had since they’d gotten their Ph.D., and that that later caused problems for age issues?
Yes. But, by year of Ph.D.
But basically, you set a goal for everybody. It involved year of PhD, and their rank, and all that sort of stuff. It’s sort of a three-dimensional space problem, but very complicated. But, we worked out the algorithms and made sure we come up with a salary scale for everybody. If you got this rating then you were paid this much. This is what you made for being — and, essentially set goals for where you should be and you got halfway there every time you got a raise. Anyhow, so I started getting some corporate-wide, division-wide responsibilities. And, then I got, then the thing came up. They had this huge gallium arsenide project and they were trying to essentially cover their asses in IBM. You know, silicon was the technology; some people thought gallium arsenide might be faster, all the silicon people know, knew it could never replace silicon. But, you had a, you had to do it just in case. And, there were some peripheral technologies, such as lasers, in which only, you could only, do in gallium arsenide in high-speed communications, and stuff. So, I was given the — called "program director," — the directorship, which was an executive level thing to run this program within and without IBM. So, while I had, none of the people directly reported to me,
So just because...
I had all the — I controlled all their budgets.
Uhm-hmm. So, just to put a signpost here, I have down, this is 1987 and you became program director of the Advanced Gallium Arsenide Technology Laboratory?
Yeah. We called, what, the joint program, McGroddy used to give the name of "laboratory."
Right. I was going to ask about that as well.
Yeah. One was called Gallium Arsenide something...
Advanced Gallium Arsenide Technology Laboratory?
They were all called an Advanced blankety-blank Technology Laboratories. [Laugh] There was Advanced Silicon Technology Laboratory, Advanced Packaging Technology Laboratory, and then there’s Advanced Gallium... So, this was the typical interdivisional program. So, that whole...
I just have to say that it’s so hard, you know, as a historian to get access to kind of these important structural issues.
It was very important.
It’s very useful.
So, all these people in this laboratory up at Fishkill reported to Marvin Pittler, the big head of this laboratory with 30,000 people at the silicon site, you know, and a small group, you know, forty, or fifty or sixty people on gallium arsenide reported to him. So, I had to go deal with Marvin Pittler. And then I had to deal with his boss who was the head of the Components Division, and there was his boss who was head of something else. You know, so all these — and then there was this guy Ernie Vanderveer, who eventually died during this era, who was head of the project in Yorktown. And, he had some great systems designers working for him, great technology people. All of these people left over from the Josephson project. People really were out on the forefront of technology and design, in both engineering, computer chip design, software systems, all these, you know, really intellectual types were out there. I’m trying to think of a name… comes from… some guy who eventually became an IBM Fellow and redesigned all the IBM mainframes after John Armstrong left. He was a chip designer for his project and he did a wonderful job. He got an honorary degree from the University of Wisconsin once. I remember writing the letter of recommendation for that. God, I can’t think of his name. I’ll think of it eventually. [Carl Anderson who later redesigned the IBM mainframe chips when IBM changed from bipolar to FET technology.]
Okay. So I can make a note of it. What should I put down?
So, anyhow, so I had to work to get the manager of the Fishkill group, the manager of the Yorktown group, the manager of the Rockwell groups, the manager of the Zurich group. At this stage, Bob Melcher, who eventually became head of Physical Sciences when he came back, he was working for Praveen Chaudhari. He got assigned for a sabbatical year in Zurich, Zurich Lab, to run the Gallium Arsenide Laser Program in Zurich. And, one of the things I had to do is go to Zurich and oversee the Gallium Arsenide Laser Project there. I made a couple of trips. I once went to Zurich for lunch, because the Rockwell people wanted to go see what’s happening in Zurich. And my schedule was very filled, but I couldn’t, you know, since I was the contact with the Rockwell executives, I had to be in lunch in Zurich when they showed up in Zurich. So, I flew to Zurich for lunch and flew back the same day. Arrived in the morning and came back at night. You know, we were trying to get them to adopt the laser thing. So, Rochester, Minnesota was doing lifetime studies of lasers for storage, for optical storage, and every disk now has a little semiconductor laser. In those days you didn’t know if they would last, and for how long. So, we had to go to lifetime testing on it. It turned out that the Zurich group, which was a really competent group, under Melcher, the guy who ran it for Zurich — ah, the names disappear out of my mind now—made a great breakthrough in how to make reliable high-powered lasers. You couldn’t do a high-powered laser, you could have them very reliable for CD drives and things like that, but, if you would run up the power for, say, big communication lasers or other applications, they would eventually wear out very easy, very readily. Of course, it’s very hard to determine when they wear out. And, typical IBM fashion, took some scientist who was doing some science work and said, “Stop working on what you’re doing in vacuum systems and silicon. You’re a great expert in doing surfaces. Go study the surface of these gallium arsenide lasers." Well, he was a silicon guy and he did vacuum systems. So, he put the gallium arsenide laser in the vacuum system, cleaned the edge, studied the clean surface. "While I do silicon I’ll put a little piece of silicon on top of it, a silicon layer," and all of a sudden the lasers were reliable. And, they spun off that company after I finished with that project. They spun off that company, sold it to something, sold it to something for a few hundred million dollars. Most of the people went with that company. It became a product, you know, and for a while they had eighty percent of the market of high-powered lasers. So anyhow, the thing was when I saw this breakthrough through I said, "Oh, well let’s qualify it. Let’s do a T1 [tee one]." That was IBM terminology. T1 was a checkpoint where it was feasible to go ahead and develop the technology. And, you had to show a certain amount of lifetime reliability at the T1 process. A very involved step, which I knew nothing about until I started running this project. Well, I knew something about it from the packaging days where we do the troubleshooting. But, I really did not know what T1 qualification was, but essentially it qualified the technology to go to be developed into a product. It’s under the first level of qualification. And, but it involved lifetime testing, accelerated lifetime testing. And, you know, usually it’d take years, you know, the IBM way of doing it. And, I said, "Well, if this is going to be a product, we have to do this in six weeks." "Oh no." Melcher, who was running the group, says, "It’ll take us three months at least. You’re being aggressive." And, IBM told him it would take three months. So, I took the guy that worked on it to the side and says, "Can you do this in six weeks?" And, he says, "Yes." I said, "Okay, let’s go back to the room." And, there’s Bob [phone ringing] Melcher. "You can do this in six weeks." [Laugh] [Phone Call] [Leaves to answer phone. Background conversation] Okay.
We’re going to have to get some lunch soon.
Uhm-hmm. Okay. So, we were in the...
Maybe when the electricity goes off we’ll get lunch?
That’s a good idea.
Okay. So, I forget the exact time. But, some short time that they had to qualify it and they did. They qualified the lasers and it was a spectacular success. Then, by that time a most valuable project. So anyhow, the gallium arsenide project went on and it never really went anywhere except the laser part. There were some communication parts that led to some things that got into devices, and it was really three parts, integrated circuit gallium arsenide technology, which was the first, and really couldn’t be done, front-end detectors in communications — gallium arsenide in your cell phone, typically, and those very high speeds, front-end detector is in satellite dishes and things like that. And, the preamps, and that kind of stuff for communications was successful. Some products came out of it, but IBM eventually went to a silicon solution, actually a silicon-germanium solution for that. And, and the laser thing, which got spun off as a product. But, while I was running that, Armstrong asked me to be his chief of staff. The way the front office was, the thing, the director of research, a little technical assistant with secretaries, and then there’s a staff and, you know, all the vice presidents reporting to him. But then, there was a staff, which the director was called in those days, Director of Technical Planning. It’s now called, Vice President for Strategy and Planning, or something like that. So, I got that position, which is a one, two, typically two-year rotating position. And, Armstrong appointed me that and a week or two later he’d be — he became — he took Gomory’s job in Armonk as Chief Technical Officer of IBM, whatever it was titled, and Jim McGroddy became head of Research. I worked for him, I worked for mostly for McGroddy. And, I did that job, which is — so, you have a staff. You have one guy from Computer Science; one guy from the Technology area; one guy from the West Coast Lab; one guy from the Zurich Lab; one guy from Science. And, you do all the staff work. You do the budgets, in particular the capital budget. You do annual evaluations of each department. At conferences you do the ten-year outlook of technology for the whole company. It’s the staff that runs the sort of, you know, the White House of the Research Division. And so, I was the Chief of Staff, a highly responsible job. I worked seven to seven, [Laugh] on the good days, the easy days. Traveled all over. I had to review the accomplishments, the annual accomplishments of every major entity. So, I would travel to Zurich. I would travel to the West Coast. I would travel — we also, at that time, had responsibility of Japan, and for Haifa. I traveled to Israel, traveled to Japan. Now, they have Austin, Texas. They have China. They have India. They have a lot of additional laboratories to those. So, that was — what, well — a half-a-billion-dollar budget and 3,500 people.
Yes. Okay. And, you have oversight for everything, from, you know, the trivial, how well the hamburgers are done in the cafeteria, to what the next new technology might be.
So, I mean...
Whether they — yeah; whether they give money to build a computer to play chess. I originally said no, but eventually I got talked into it. It turned out to be a good thing.
Oh yes. Fairly —
And then I got to build — I remember one of my other positions was to, some crazy technology, a big multiprocessor supercomputer, but they were building special processors so they could be interconnected. I said, "What good is that? No one else is going to have those processors. Why don’t you use a standard processor and interconnect those?" You know, here I was a semiconductor guy telling these computer people how to build their supercomputer that I knew from nothing, but it turned out to be the right decision. Really. And that’s how, you know, basis of IBM supercomputers today.
So, I’m kind of wondering if we can talk a little abstractly about the process of transition? I mean, throughout the 1980s to be the sort of pure managerial zone. I mean, how did you react to it, I guess, on a personal level? I mean, did you, you know, in terms of the —.
I sort of — I mean, I never went looking for these positions that I had. I was not a Jim McGroddy from the early, early days, who was going to be the head of Research, you know. He looked for these things. But Paul Horn, who succeeded McGroddy, who from the day he turned down the professorship for Princeton where McGroddy promised him, or somebody promised him, he might be head of Research someday, positioned themselves, trained themselves for the next job. I never trained myself for the next job. I trained myself to do the job I was doing at that time.
So, how would you say you were able to kind of learn the new sets of skills? And, was it just sort of an on-the-job sort of intuition?
I was always selective. I always tried to understand the broader picture of everything I did. So, it was sort of... I naturally fit into these things. I’m able to learn from people then re-digest it and give back to other people. Sometimes at great pain, because I try to make sure I understand by asking a question, three times the same question in different ways. Try not to phrase it so they can ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Try to phrase it so somebody you know gives me an explanation or I give an explanation and have them pick at it.
It’s got me in trouble in some high level meetings where everyone tries to be short, and abrupt, and to the point, you know, and move on.
I mean, kind of just from a historian’s professional perspective I’ve been kind of trying to develop and idea of, you know, robustness in scientific work and I described that a little bit earlier, back when we were with the amorphous silicon. And, I’m thinking that there’s sort of a similar mental attitude at work here, wherein you do try and identify things in a very kind of, not identify things, but understand things.
I think there were great underlying principles similar to that. Like, all the established technologists at IBM knew from the beginning the Josephson technology would not work, because it was not a two terminal device. Talk to the Rolf Landauers, who’s dead now. Talk to Lew Terman, just got a — who’s now president of IEEE, an IBM technology guy, always keeping his ear on the outside technology. All the silicon processing people. You had to have a three-terminal device where the output was not, you know, either turned on or off, it was not very, very sensitive, but the level of the output was not sensitive to the level of the input either. It was ‘yes’ or ‘no’ output. It couldn’t be where a strong input or a weak input determined whether you got a strong output or a weak output. It had to be either an on or off thing in the input, an on or off thing in the output so you could drive the next level. And, it’s very fundamental about integrated circuitry. And, so many people, to this day I read these crazy things in the newspaper where new devices, it’s not a three-terminal device it’s not going to work. And, so in itself it’s not robust to variations of signal, or variations of input, variations between this device and the next device, whether they’re processed identically or not, you know, and you’re making a million of them, or now tens of millions on a chip, or a billion on a chip, literally. And so, you know, I’ve seen it go from where there was really something to get 64,000 memory elements on a chip to now we get gigabits on a chip. And so, you go from thousands to billions. That’s a lot of, that’s a — they have that robustness. You have to have some underlying principle. The scalability was another. That’s the wall that silicon’s up now against. There’s this scalability thing. You have to make everything scalable. So, I would get these — I was starting to say that wonderful question Gomory asked me, "Is a bipolar faster than silicon?" A bipolar was faster because it was done on vertical structure so it had very thin base. So, it had a very short time constant. For the field effect transistor, the source and the drain were separated along the surface. That depended on lithography. In those days you couldn’t get them close enough. Now lithography is better than you can get them the thickness of a bipolar. So, of course, the field effect transistor is faster because they’re tenths of microns angstroms apart, from the source to the drain. And so, it’s — so but the other thing you have to scale though is as you get the source and drain closer, you got to get the gate closer through this silicon oxide and now you’ve gone through a few atomic layers, so there’s no more scaling you can do, because you can’t get the source and drain closer and closer together. And, I mean, because you can’t get the oxide thinner and thinner than a few atoms. But now it’s, you know, the big breakthrough is now hafnium oxide. They finally got a different oxide in terms of silicon oxide that may work. So, it’s IBM and Intel’s big thing if they can get that to work. So there are, you know, you got to go look at some underlying things, but not be too, too lost in it. Like the underlying thing at IBM for too many years was bi-polars are faster than FETs. That was not fundamental. That was not the fundamental. And, Ralph knew enough to ask that question. But, it was really late in the game when they — I remember when it finally struck them, the level of integration of FETs compared to bi-polars and what you’d have to do. And, the head of Fishkill and his boss finally said, "You know, if we keep on the way we’re doing this whole big factory we have is going to make one wafer a year, [Laugh] or one wafer a week, and you know, that’s not enough to pay for these billions of dollars, you know. We have — we’re on the wrong track." If IBM had realized what integration meant that the standard was different, different ways of doing things. Need to stop?
No, we’re still good.
Okay. So then, so...
So, I’m wondering then extending then, you know, beyond technology into, you know — how you would go about administratively. I mean, there’s sort of a similar attitude toward understanding technology and what the current limits are and what’s fundamental, and if you’re looking at the elements of an organization, whether you approach it from—with a similar attitude? I guess...
Well, I learned something from all these people. I learned something from Ralph Gomory. I learned something from Armstrong, who became head of Research. I learned something from McGroddy. I’ve got one-word descriptions from them. Gomory was "profound," although McGroddy didn’t think he was. Armstrong was "erudite," "intellectual." McGroddy was "quick." I had a word for Horn too. It’s "smart." [Laugh] They’re all were smart. You don’t get in the door unless you’re smart in this world of physics. And, Armstrong used to say, "Management is an intellectual activity, just like every other activity. We have to have some intellectual principles, some intellectual understanding. We’ve got to treat it as intellectual. So, you got to, you know, look at what the problems are in management just what the problems are in doing a science experiment and things like that." And that, that was very, very important. From McGroddy I learned you have to learn what other people are doing, particularly in your own or related organizations. Jim McGroddy, from the very beginning, whenever you went to a meeting, an American Physical Society meeting someplace, you would always go to the nearest IBM site to learn something about IBM. He would say, "Go learn about the company’s about." Got to a laboratory, go to Development, go to Manufacturing." If there’s nothing else, go to a sales office [Laugh] and find out something about what your company’s like." I think that my biggest failure at AIP is I didn’t go to enough libraries. I try to go to libraries when I moved [???]," but I run out of time." The higher the level you go the less time you get. And, but I, I would do that. I would, when I’d go someplace I’d got to an IBM lab and visit, if I was at a meeting someplace. I’d schedule, you know, some visit to an IBM lab in England, or in France, you know, when I went, yeah. So, I would go visit these places. And, you learn something. And, it just goes in, files in your brain, you know. First you make people contact. You know where the company’s at. If you’re doing research you can learn the connection between the science and what the company might need. It turned out to be extremely valuable.
A cursory knowledge is a lot better than no knowledge in things?
Right. So. So, the big people don’t like to isolate. And, the higher you get the easier it is to get isolated. They learn to try and do things. See, Ralph Gomory had this tremendous management trick of lunch with the troops. And, it turned out it was one of his first or second lunches, where he’d take three promising young people from three different departments and sit down and have lunch with them. I did that when I got to AIP. I would take three people. I would do it at York — I would do it in College Park, and I would do it in Long Island, and that was have lunch with three people from three different departments all at the same level and, and I didn’t even pick them. I let HR generally pick them. I did, you know, "Pick some good people, promising people," and I would sit down and have lunch with them. And, you learn things. Now, my first lunch with Gomory was with Praveen Chaudhari, Frank Mayadas, and myself. Do you know Frank Mayadas?
No, I don’t.
He worked with Gomory at the Sloan Foundation. But, I mean, he eventually became head of the West Coast lab. Chaudhari eventually became head of the Physical Sciences. I became eventually chief of staff. I mean, you know, these were, we were all very young researchers then. I remember we had a lunch with Armstrong, one of those times when Armstrong said, "Oh, I’m not interested in management." [Laugh] You know, "Oh, I’ll take the staff job part-time." [Laugh] But, you know, you get to, one, you get to learn about the people, in a big organization. And two, you get to learn what’s happening out there. What are the problems the scientists are really interested in? What’s bothering the secretaries? [Laugh] But, it was a tremendous management technique, for him to do that. I also learned where to sit at a table from Ralph. We used to have an award lunch. Every time you’d have an award lunch, you, you’d sit down [Phone Ringing] at [the table at] lunch and make, and give a presentation of a check of a few thousand dollars. One of these calls is about the electricity going off. [Moves away to the phone]
Oh, they’ll call you? [Pause in conversation] [50 seconds]
So the lunch — the lunch table?
Hmm? What happened at the lunch table?
So, at the lunch table Gomory, you know, usually at a long table people sit at the head. This is obviously the wrong place to sit. And, you got your — you sit in the middle opposite people. You have the most communication in the middle of a long table rather than at the end. You have a — if you want communication with who you’re talking to, you sit opposite them rather than next to them. And, you know, a narrower table and a long table. I learned little tricks like that from Gomory. I learned intellectual activity,... from McGroddy. I mean, he was a little bit Machiavellian. I learned a lot about making contacts, continually talking to people in other areas, your peers. You never know who’s going to be your next boss. You never have — know who’s going to get promoted to the next place. You make friendly at all levels every time you go someplace.
Okay. Well, I think we’ll probably drop down then from the abstract level back. I guess we’re circa 1990 about now. ’89, you were director of Technical Planning of IBM research. And then ‘91 you get this IEEE Technology Administration Fellow position.
Okay. One more thing about Technology. One of the responsibilities of that position of Director of Technology Planning, was the Research Division was responsible for the IBM company’s ten-year outlook, technology outlook. And I, therefore, I was in charge of that for two years. And, McGroddy sort of changed the way he divided it into scenarios instead of by technologies. I would say, and that was my second experience, well second full experience with it. When I was Gomory’s technical assistant, I had, you know, was involved with it because Gomory had to make that presenatiom and therefore I was the keeper of the slides and the keeper of the presentation then, and then I was later the creator of the presentation. I guess I did something that people don’t often do is I went back, when I got, became Director of Technology Planning I went to the filing cabinet, which I knew about from earlier, and looked at fifteen years worth of ten-year outlooks. A humbling, humbling experience. Go back and look at ten years of things where you predict the future. The second time in my career I had done that. And... [tape case closes] We’re okay.
Nah. I think we’ve been going on that one for a little while. [Changing tape] I’ll pause this one too. [Recording paused] Okay, the ten-year outlooks.
This is good for you as a historian to go back and look at them. If you’re going to make a future prediction, go back and look at your past predictions. Not many people did it. Very humbling. And, I would say, IBM’s technology outlook over the years, the ten-year outlook was more or less a — if you’re lucky, eighteen-month extrapolation of the present. Six to eighteen months extrapolation. You sort of look ahead at what you’re doing and where it would lead to. It never really identified the breakthroughs. It did not foresee in time the end of silicon bipolar technology. And, they hedged. I mean, you remember the great big hedge that Dean Eastman made where it was becoming clear that technology was going to switch to FET. Rather than say, "Silicon technology, that the right way to do it would be FET technology’s going to take over," he made the statement that "silicon bipolar technology can make a two-nanosecond machine." So? Will it? [Laugh] You know. You can push it to the edge to be competitive. He didn’t say...
Do you want to?
"That’s not the way it’s going to go." And, there were a lot of things like that. But, there were some things you could do. When I was funding, giving capital budget, I gave funding to something called the follow-on to ARPAnet. It became the Internet. [Laugh] And, I didn’t know what it was but everyone there had the vision. Those people there had the vision of seeing the future and seeing that everything could be interconnected to everything. No one saw how well and how truly pervasive it was going to be. They just knew it was going to be pervasive. And, they knew it was going to be peer-to-peer communication. IBM had hierarchal communication in those days. I remember Ellen Hancock coming in, when she ran the communications group, and a bunch of divisions set up this multi-million dollar business in communications and they got up and said, you know, "Hierarchal communications is not the future. We have to change the way we do communications between computers and it has to be peer-to-peer." And she said, "You say that once more and I’ll have you fired." They left and went to this startup company called AOL, [Laughter] and made their fortunes from peer-to-peer communications. IBM was sponsoring Prodigy at that time and every time you made an upgrade you had to bring the whole system down because it was hierarchal. Okay. So, how do you break the mold of the company? — you know, the biggest problem in a high-technology company that’s very rich is to see the cliff. Everyone knows the cliff is there, that the technology that the current technology’s going to fall off the edge and something’s going to grow up at the same time overlapping it. But, when, where that cliff is is the hardest thing to see. Sometimes within a year or six months makes all the difference in the world. IBM had these high-end machines based on silicon bipolar technology. Now, if you kill it and start the new technology, it will take time for the new technology to take off. So, you kill the old one a year early. Oh, that’s $10 billion you left on the table [Laugh] that you didn’t get the revenue. If you come too late, that’s $10 billion you didn’t get because you didn’t start soon enough. I mean, big bucks. And the timing is the hardest thing to say, do. Everyone knows this kind of computer, not everyone but anyone knows what this kind of thing’s sort of doing and that kind of thing is not going to do it. But when? And sometimes, you’re not even right about that. And, the IBM and the academic world, right, I see a lot of academics. "You work for IBM? Oh, IBM mainframe, you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. Mini computer’s going to take over everything. You’ve got to look at Digital Equipment, DEC." Well, they didn’t understand it either. It was the PC that was going to do it. Not the, not the mini. The PC took over what the mini did very quickly and then took over what the mainframe did, high technology took it over. It grew from the bottom. I remember when the PC first came out and the guy who ran that secret project. First of all I remember the great education. I remember I’ll tell you the high ups are insulated. There was a guy who was very, very smart, who eventually became a higher up in the company. At that time he was almost just a technician, an engineer. And, he got the Rockwell Aim. I don’t know if you remember what a Rockwell Aim was. It was the first sort of kit computer, kit microprocessor. It wasn’t even a computer. And somehow he got the head of Research, I think it was Gomory at the time, it might have been Armstrong, but it was just before I went to the front office — no, it was in the early ‘80s. So, it was before the PC, which was 1981. So, ‘79 or ‘80. And, he had all these executives in a room and he got them a Rockwell Aim kit and he made them build a microprocessor assembly did something and built a little computer out of a micro, Rockwell Aim microprocessor. And he said, "Okay. Do you guys know what you did? You just built something with the computing power that used to be in a glass house that you sold for millions of dollars when you first were a salesman. This is where the world’s going. This is where it is now." So, he got them sensitized, to that thing. You had to have some way to do that. That’s what I did with the AIP Governing Board my first year, my first long-range planning retreat in Santa Fe. I took them to an Internet cafe. Because, at those times, the only way to get on the Internet was to go to a cafe. And you’d go, and seeing with them, showed them what it’s like, what the world’s going to be like. I came to IBM the day Mosaic was announced, the first web browser. IBM. To AIP. I get those three letters confused. Okay, so now I’m finishing. So, the technical planning, you know, was very hard to see the future, the ten-year outlook.
So, what was your strategy?
Well, McGroddy changed — I mean I did the best I can. I just (didn’t?) tell everyone in the company. The other thing I once did, that shows you historically how hard it is to do things, when I moved out of being department head to head of the gallium arsenide program I cleaned out my files. So, I had a lot of personnel files, interviewing for IBM. You get a candidate you go, you know, from one office to another office, even beyond the particular group you’re interviewing from. You get opinions from a lot of other groups. I used to keep my copies of the interview evaluations of people. So, I had, I left maybe seven from 1968 I had, you know, almost twenty years, fifteen, twenty years of interview records. Where I had my opinions of people, many of whom got hired, many of whom didn’t get hired, but whom I know where they went in the outside world. Another very humbling experience. I mean, really the best you knew and the really clods you knew. But, it’s very hard to — well actually, they’re not all of them really bad. Someone who is just sort of, looked average coming in I could predict that they would do well later on. Very, very hard to evaluate. I remember reading some of those later. I said, "My god, I wasn’t, I wasn’t going to hire this guy. Good thing no one else said yes." [Laugh] Okay, so then I got moved out of that job basically because Frank Mayadas was no longer, well he had been head of the Almaden Laboratory, then served some positions, high-level positions elsewhere in IBM and had no job, and McGroddy felt an obligation to give him a job. He had to find a job, so he gave him mine. [Laugh] So, he gave him my job and therefore I had no job, briefly. So, I said, "Well, I’ll go to Washington." Jim had — and I’d known McGroddy since I first came to IBM — and Jim always knew I wanted to go back to Washington because I’d been in Washington in the Army, been a civilian employee at the Naval Lab. I always said, "One day I want to go back when I have some competence and stature and some ability to do something at a high enough level." Having explained what I thought about government earlier to you a couple times. So, I applied for a White House Fellowship and I just, through AAAS, and I just about landed that thing and they sent me this form to sign, this Conflict of Interest thing, and there was this White House lawyer there at that time, this was Bush Administration, Bush One, and it said, "Well, I worked for IBM therefore I had to give up my IBM retirement benefits so I would have no conflict of interest working in the White House as a White House Fellow," which was a stupid interpretation of the law, an incorrect interpretation of the law, and I said, "I’m not signing it." And, by that time Gomory was at the Sloan Foundation funding this thing. So, I wrote him a letter complaining and I wrote Allan Bromley, who was the White House science advisor, a letter complaining, and I took a fellowship with the IEEE in the Department of Commerce, who had a different lawyer. And a very interesting thing. So, I worked for Bob White, Robert White. There are two Robert Whites. I think there were two Robert M. Whites at that time in Washington. One was the head of the National Academy of Engineering and one was the — let’s see. Let me get the government thing right. You have the secretary, there’s a deputy secretary, and there’s the associate physicist and secretary, the associate secretary, or associate secretary for technology. It was with the Under Secretary of Commerce. So, I worked for Robert White, who I’d known briefly in amorphous semiconductors twenty, twenty years, thirty, twenty years earlier, who had come from being — Control Data Corporation. He was in magnetism and had been at Xerox and been chief technology officer at Control Data and some other disk drive companies, and then he got this job. And, I was a Democrat in a Republican administration. And, so I worked as a fellow for him on competitiveness issues in technology. A very interesting job. I did several things for him. Tried to figure out why — I tried to see why IBM was not competitive in commodity manufacturing, high-tech commodity manufacturing, consumer electronics and other things. I’d been interested in flat panel displays. Of course, I left out the great, the great thing about amorphous silicon, of course, that it became the thing for thin-film transistors in flat panel displays. And, while I was at IBM — oh, I said I did other things corporate wide, I forgot the biggest thing, I did this study on the feasibility if we could build a factory that would work to build flat panel displays with amorphous silicon thin-film transistors and liquid crystals. And, the answer was "Yes!" I got people from all over the company to do the yield modeling on this thing, and liquid crystals, and transistors, and "Is it manufacturable?" "Yes." And then I tried to go out and build a factory. I tried to get a factory [???]. I tried to do a thing and Gomory used to tell me I was chauvinistic because I wanted a factory in the United States. The place to build it was Japan. Eventually McGroddy got it built in Japan by a joint project with Toshiba and made IBM billions by being early and its better technology on laptop computers. But, I remember the fights I had. I got up to a pretty high level in the company. I got up to — what’s his name — Armstrong, Mike Armstrong, who was head of the, one of the Personal Computer Division and that kind of technology thing, to make that presentation, eventually someone else took it to the Board.
I’m sorry what, which job did you have at this time?
I was head of the Semiconductor Physics Department, but, you know, I was an expert on amorphous semiconductors, and somebody assigned me the corporate job of doing the feasibility study on whether the thing was manufacturable. I got manufacturing people, and I got other people, you know, using all these contacts, you know, all these people, you know, to learn. I went down to see what factories were like. [Laugh] You know, could you build a factory? Was it necessary to build a factory? And, all that sort of stuff. I went to see, you know, what the PC factories were like at the time, you know. What were the relevant factories in IBM? So, I did this, I led this feasibility study and I made this presentation, "Yes, you could build it." I remember going up to the display people, and the head of displays in the Research Department, she said to me, "Don’t you know people will not pay extra for flatness and lightness, you know, and these things will cost more than a cathode ray tube. Why do you think anyone will ever pay for it? And besides, don’t you know seventy-five percent of the monitors that IBM sells are monochrome and not color? People don’t pay extra for color." So, that’s what I was up against.
"Couldn’t you build this thing for less than $500?" was the question. That was a make-believe number. And, I had to stretch it to say, "yes," and the economics, you know, largely, you had to believe in what happened to silicon, that everything gets cheaper every year, and Moore’s Law, and things like that.
I remember when I first saw them I thought, "Well, you know, they are awfully expensive,"
...but then eventually they became doable.
But then I got — yeah. So, anyhow, I did, I eventually did, the factories were built. I made a couple of trips to Japan about them, eventually, and the whole group was set up in Research to improve the factory. I was reasonably successful until IBM sold off the factories and got out of the business, because it became too much of a commodity.
At what point had you thought of that as a potential application for amorphous silicon? Was it still back in the ‘70s?
Probably 19 — early ‘70s.
Yeah. Oh, even in the early ‘70s?
When Spear made those thin-film transistors.
So, you figured that those could be a display?
Yeah. I said, "I’m right in picking silicon," and yup, as soon as I learned about liquid crystals at RCA then I just knew it.
Wow. That’s a long maturation period.
Was it something that you came back to?
It’s not my greatest insight. Of course, other people saw it too, but I’ll get to that. Yeah, I kept coming back to it, and coming back to it, and finally it culminated in the study. It said go do it. ’84, ‘85 I did that study.
Now, Mike Armstrong was an interesting character. He invented, he bet on McGroddy and let him get the factory started, and then McGroddy saw the idea and McGroddy was a "partnership" guy. I told you about the joint laboratories and everything so he knew he had to do the dance with Toshiba and make a partnership and go do that, because IBM if they did it alone, they’d screw it up. They did a very clever way of doing the factory. What they did is "We’ll build the first pilot line in the IBM laboratory so IBM will feel committed to it and using Toshiba engineers to do it. And then, after one year we’ll rip it apart and do the second pilot line in the Toshiba laboratory with IBM engineers." So, both companies had full knowledge and full stake in the project. And, it worked. Very clever of McGroddy.
So, should we get back to Washington?
I’ve got one more Mike Armstrong bit of history. Why, why is Bill Gates rich?
I give up. I mean, I could speculate.
There are two levels. The first is, when IBM PC was being built down in Boca Raton they wanted an operating system. Everybody thought, you know, maybe I should build one. There were internal people who would like to do it, but it was, you know, once again IBM thought "It’ll be too long, too slow, T-1 would take too long. Go out and buy it." They went to Digital Research out in Santa Cruz and these guys show up in these blue suits and ties from IBM. "Here, sign this Confidentiality Agreement," and these guys in the sandals, loose shirts, and the beards, and they looked at it and said, "What? I’m not going to sign that. You’re from IBM. Why all of the sudden, you know, sign confidentiality? You know, we’re open, we talk, you know. Go away." So, they left. And, they had the right operating system. The world would be different if they got that, that kernel, the operating system there. But, they went to Bill Gates and Bill Gates says, "Sure, I’ll give it to you. I’ll sign the Confidentiality Agreement. I’ll give you DOS," which he didn’t have, which he then went out and bought from somewhere else. And, so they developed it and that was before windows. And then everyone saw things were changing. And, Mike Armstrong was in charge of that. And, the big crucial flaw, which I learned a lot from John Armstrong, the big crucial flaw in IBM doing anything is they were doing OS2, which doesn’t compete with Microsoft Windows. And, OS2 was a very good operating system. When it came out it was great, but it was built for 8-bit or 16-bit operating systems. But what, and it could not be turned over as it went from 8-bit to 16-bit to 32. They didn’t see — the ten-year outlook. They didn’t see how fast the microprocessors would improve and change from 8-bit to 16-bit to 32-bit so therefore you had to make the operating system deep down at the core so they could operate and improve with the operating system, with the technology. And, Gates was able to turn it over and IBM was not. And, that was the difference. They had two or three chances. Okay.
Next. [Phone ringing] [Recording paused]
Here we go.
Okay. So, back again. Where were we on the...
Hold on. I wonder if they shut the power off?
Maybe that’s why they were calling?
Was that your phone?
Nope. It was the beep from this thing.
Okay. We’re recording.
All right. We are back from lunch break now. So where would we like to begin?
Okay. So, we were leaving my job at IBM as Director of Technical Planning. And, I took this fellowship in Washington, with Bob White, doing competitiveness in consumer electronics and high-tech industries. I worked there. It was interesting since Allan Bromley was the president’s science advisor at that time. I came to Washington May-June time frame, 1990...1990...1991
One.  And, I arrived the day of the victory parade for the Gulf War. The president’s approval rating is ninety-two, ninety-three percent, and why would anybody run against him next year, in ‘92? Because obviously the democrats didn’t stand a chance, and watched over a year and a half as the whole atmosphere changed within the Bush Administration, of, from victory to one turning point for the by-election after Senator Heinz was killed in a helicopter crash, or his plane hit a helicopter, or he was in a helicopter that hit a plane. And, there was a by-election where Senator Wolford from Pennsylvania was elected over ex-governor Thornburgh, and the issue was healthcare. And, all of a sudden the atmosphere of invulnerability changed within the administration, and then it went downhill from then. I got a — ah.
The power’s back on.
The power’s back on. Okay.
I’ll switch over again. [Pause in conversation]
My hearing is starting to go, particularly with high frequency, so you can hear things I don’t. Okay. We set?
So, the atmosphere started changing and I had an interesting experience. I got to meet a lot of high-level people. Some of the most interesting were Bob Galvin, who was past CEO of Motorola, and at that time probably chair of the Executive Committee of Motorola, and he would come talk to us, go talk to President Bush. I remember once we met him at the airport. He came off his private 727 jet, walked down the runway. We drove him over to the White House. He says, "I’m going into the White House. I’m going to tell this guy he’s one of us, I’m one of him, and he’s not going to listen to a word I say about what to do about stimulating technology and investment in American companies." The whole theory then was, "free market. Don’t pick winners and losers. Let the economy do what it wants." The fallacy of that thinking is, of course, America could be a loser, not just companies. And, there was a triumvirate of advisors to — Sununu, Boskin, and somebody else, — to Bush, who eventually all left after things got bad. In the end he wouldn’t listen. I mean, in my opinion I saw President Bush lose the election to Clinton. Mainly, the big swing was that he wouldn’t listen to Silicon Valley and to help them. You know, it was dying from Japanese competition, unfair competition. I mean, the tax benefits for foreign companies that weren’t for American companies, and they needed help, and he wouldn’t listen. And so they invested their campaign dollars in Clinton, who campaigned very successfully in California. Anyhow, I had some very interesting assignments there trying to do that. One, I took a trip to Japan at the request of Bromley’s office and Gene Wong, who was the Associate Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House, for Technology, and they were negotiating something with Japan, having to do with sharing optoelectronic technology, which was very, very useful. I got to go there. I got to do all the things you’re not supposed to do as a Fellow, all the things the White House person was not going to let me do. Bromley would call me over to the White House, and Wong, quite often because the lawyer there wouldn’t let the White House fellows do tasks that needed to be doing, and the Commerce Department lawyer would let me do it so I’d go over there and do it. [Laugh] And, I sit in, you know, I’d sit in on interagency meetings, even if I wasn’t a government employee. I actually wrote one line for a speech that Bush gave in Japan, on that trip, and he threw up over it, but that’s... [Laughter] As an aside. It was a great line, whatever it was.
It went over well.
Yeah. So, I sat in one meeting where the president of IBM came in, Jack Kuehler. He was one of these guys locked in the old ways and not the new way, and who told me when I talked about stimulating manufacturing in the United States I didn’t know what I was talking about. Very awkward, there I was representing the government, sitting in a government office, and there’s the guy, the president of this company I’m going to go back and work for. Did not exhibit any conflict of interest in that meeting. [Laugh] Fortunately, Gerstner got rid of Kuehler when I came back. So, okay, so I had a very useful, very — learned a lot about Washington. Very great training you get from the AAAS. Anyone who’s going to be a Fellow in the Executive Branch, Congressional Branch, share, you know, get the AAAS orientation in September of each year. Very good. You get to meet all the other Fellows, your colleagues, you build useful contacts, use, huge number of contacts on the Hill, people all over different offices, the State Department, and government. So, that was a great year. I still know some of those people, still see some of them around Washington.
So, there’s sort of a coherent science policy network then that’s around?
Well, it’s around AAAS, yeah. They have events and things and, you know, the organizations Council on Competitiveness, and there’s all this study, we’d review studies about the gathering storm and how you have to invest. There’s a coterie of an in-group in Washington [???], I mean a fairly high level. So, I was in it for a year, where I’m sort of peripheral to it now, but, you know, they still know me. Still at quite ease to call up the President’s science advisor ever since whoever it was, you know, the Clinton, Neal Lane, and Jack Gibbons in the Clinton Administration, and Jack Marburger now. So, I feel no compunction about being able to make contact and talk to these people.
So, that sort of atmosphere and put me in the mood. I almost stayed in Washington, but I went back to IBM, went back for about a year and a third. I went back in September.
Would you have had a clear option in Washington?
I explored, it turns out not a real career option. I had some options but I decided to go back to IBM, and I went back in September of ‘93-‘92, right before the election, and I stayed there until October of ‘93. Then I came to AIP. So, I went back there. I was no longer an executive. Sort of free to choose my job, where to go do work, where to go do research. What should I do? I was still respected, of all the senior citizens there. Age, what was I, in ’92? I was 54. So I chose to start a Consumer Electronics Group. You know, as I said, try to put IBM in the living room and the family room. So, I tried to figure out what to do. So, I formed a small group that, you know, I still had leverage. I got them to assign some people to work with me. I went to work in the group that was doing the flat panel displays, very close intellectually and historically with those people. So I...
And this doesn’t include like PCs?
Well, it did. So, I set up an interaction with the Consumer Electronics part of the IBM PC Group, which was in Lexington, Kentucky, which was trying to make consumer products out of PCs. It’s hard to imagine that people still doubted, in ‘92, whether PCs would be in the home.
Me? No, maybe, but more as a home office rather than anything else. But, we tried to make home, I was going to try to make home products. So, I ran back and forth to Lexington, Kentucky a lot, where that group was. There was a great guy there named Robert Amezcua, A-M-E-Z-U, C-U-A, Amezcua. So, I ran into one since. But he, he was very open-minded and he sort of welcomed me with open arms and started interacting with me and my group back in Research. I remember we would go visit RCA in Indianapolis, their labs, try to do some joint work and make a television, a computer, or a computer a television, and things like that. I tried to come up with a new consumer electronics operating system, but went back to the old idea of — what was the name of the Kernel, of the one that IBM did not adopt. That’s where I learned a little bit about operating systems. That did not, that was not DOS. It did not become the PC operating system, which was really something you could cut up into pieces and use part of it, we could cut it off, and add pieces, and you didn’t have to have every machine, have this whole massive DOS or Windows operating system. So, I got to learn a little bit about operating systems. I lost that battle trying to convert people to that kernel. And, we started building little toys. I went to Consumer Electronics Show, which is going on now out in Las Vegas. It was only 80,000 people then. Now it’s a 120,000-140,000 people. It was massive then. Very impressive. And, I came back, even before I went out there, and made a couple of inventions and built them.
Is TiVo coming up?
Yeah. And, the basic invention was, I was thinking "What about the Super Bowl game, you know." There’s that urban legend that all the water pressure went low because everyone got up and walked. And so, I tried that. "Well, what if you had to go to the toilet? Why can’t you pause your TV to come back and watch, continue watching, and then rewind?" And, anyway, I thought of the idea. Who wants that?
Yeah. The example you used in your patent is, I think, to take a phone call. [Laughter]
A little bit more?
Yeah. So, so I got this group together. We built it. Tom Worthington, Steve Millman, myself, and we made one mistake. We built it, we got this sample digital, had to get some digital file because we didn’t wanted to do a conversion off the air to digital. So, we went down to Bell Atlantic at that time, it’s now Verizon, and they were working on a telephone system to do video on demand. And, we got some digital signal from them. Unfortunately it was Bon Jovi, the [Laugh] rock group. The trouble with a rock group is you can’t tell fast forward from reverse. You don’t know you’re reversing. [Laughter] So, we built it, demonstrated it, people, some people were wowed by it. Some people said, "Well, other people have thought of that. Other people have done it." I said, "Tell me who." I do a patent search, and everything, and there were kluges made with video tape recorders and all, but no one had the idea that a PC, if you’re using a buffer, the hierarchy of memory and storage. Of course, then we didn’t have much storage. We knew storage would grow, and we knew semiconductor memory would grow. Storage in those days referred to disk drive, in IBM language it was disk drives and memory was semiconductor. But, you know, we knew the hierarchy and you knew eventually, you know, this thing will always be a couple hundred dollars or less, because that’s what the basic disk drive would be a hundred dollars or less. And, no matter whether it was small or large, you know, that’s just sort of to make anything and whether it would grow and be useful. We got that going, which was very early. There were some other people with similar ideas at the time. And, you know, there were ideas in the air. So, we got a very broad patent. It is now subject of a patent suit between TiVo and Echo Star, because Echo Star bought it from IBM. So, I figure I made twenty-five years of salary with that one invention. [Tape case closing – tape change]
So, I figure I made twenty-five years of, twenty-five years of salary with that one invention that IBM sold off, along with some others to Echo Star. TiVo had a chance to buy it and didn’t buy it.
Yeah. Well, not bad for —.
They would have saved lawyer’s fees by paying, paying IBM for it.
One thing I, I was reading over your patent quickly and it seems to play up the, you know, quick playback mechanism, whereas if you look at TiVo now you have, you know, store however many programs. And so I was wondering if...
Yeah. That was the whole digital thing. The emphasis of the patent is the real-time stuff. Right. You can do a lot of other things with digital video recorders. Recording issue; I mean, you couldn’t invent recordings. People have recordings to use in their digital recorders at the time too. The whole idea with the real-time signal, and buffering, and to be able to rewind I mean at that time we only had tape recorders, video tape recorders. You know, you couldn’t be taping at the end while watching the beginning. So, that was the invention. And, there’s some other, there’s a couple of other inventions. One of us got a patent on interactive with TV with voice recognition. Basically, it was to use recent things to simplify the voice recognition. In other words, it stored a vocabulary of everything that was said recently. So, if you said a word it would look first in what was said recently on television, what you were watching. So, watching a movie about France or hear a news item about France, and then you said "map of France," and it knows you’re talking about France because it was just talking about France, so the vocabulary that it would search first was things that were contextual vocabulary. Got a patent now. I don’t know if that’s useful. Actually, I did see some — it was sort of a presentation of some work that people were doing, an online information data retrieval that actually used that. They didn’t know we had that patent. Anyhow, it was lots of fun. I was having great fun. I had every possible remote control toy on my desk. And, we’re having fun and while I was there, Soc Pantelides, Socrates Pantelides was a physicist then at IBM, now at Vanderbilt, said he was doing some consulting for AIP. He said, "You know, AIP’s looking for a new executive director. Why don’t you apply? You’d be perfect for that job." I said, "You know, I saw the ad in Physics Today. I was thinking about it, but I’m having fun. I don’t think so." Because IBM was in great turmoil at the time. A lot of people were getting fired and laid off.
Uhm-hmm. Yeah, this was the beginning of a difficult period too.
Yeah. Beginning of?
A difficult period.
A very difficult time. Gerstner was coming in too. I remember sitting around with John Akers, when he used to come by when I was chief of staff. He was head of the company. He knew something was wrong. He knew something had to be done, and he’d sit there asking us, "What should be done?" He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t quite know how to go after the problem. Gerstner knew. Gerstner came in and said -– I remember when he came to Research, gave his, you know, his opening talk, what he was going to do. He said, "People think we’re a dinosaur. People think nobody wants our products anymore, that we’re behind in technology and everything like that, that we don’t have the right vision." He said, "There’s nothing wrong with us, really wrong with what we’re doing. We make material and people pay us," I forget the number, "$60 billion a year for what we do." Or, it was $80 billion. I forget. Say it was "$60 billion a year. The only problem is we spend $65 billion in making it. I know how to fix that problem. Yeah, something we’re doing is valuable. We’ll collect that $60 billion and we’ll figure out to make it for $60 billion." He said, "I’ll cut back a little bit on Research," and this and that, same budget, but it was fairly straightforward business management that he applied to the problem. And, he was impressive right there. He didn’t write off technology. You know, the company, you know, we do technology. So anyhow, Soc, I told Soc, well I didn’t think so, but maybe. She said, "Give me a copy of your resume." And he said, "You have a resume?" I said, "Well, not really. I’ll have to update something." So, I updated my resume and dropped it off at his office that, that night, and apparently he mailed it in. Got invited in for an interview. Went through an interview process. They chose somebody else, who then turned down the job. And, you know, after they told me "no," that someone else was chosen, then they called me back. "Changed our minds if you would like the job?" And, I said, "Yes," and took the job. And, this sort of job, I spent my whole life preparing for it, I thought. The job involved science and other scientists. Well, I loved the science, it involves management. I had a lot of management experience. And, it deals with ten member societies and diverse interests, and boy did I learn about diverse interests managing interdivisional programs at IBM. Had to move across divisional lines and put different groups together, talking to that. And in the government too I had that experience. And, it involved stuff in government and government relations. I had been to Washington that year and learned that, learned a lot, and made contacts in Washington. So, actually I thought it was a natural fit for me. And, it turned out to be. I enjoyed it and I was able to apply management principles as well as science. You know, knowledge of science to it. I enjoyed it. One thing I learned from Gomory that I applied right when I started was to set very simple goals. One word, if possible. Set goals that people could readily understand and follow. So, I set these goals that we’re an umbrella organization. So, "umbrella" was a word. We were raising the prices on our journals too fast and pricing incorrectly for services to the societies. I said, pricing was a goal, to do the right kind of pricing. Pricing that people could afford. Not just to make money, because we’re not for profit. And, image. You know, we had all these government relations ideas on how to promote physics, the value of science, promote education of science, get people interested in, get political and other leaders to use good science, get funding for science. All these things and that all depended on the image of physics and science. So, image was another goal. Then a year later I added timeliness. You got to do it in a time where it makes sense. And, it was challenging times. Like I said, the day I arrived in College Park, I came to College Park –- I started the job. I spent two or three days in New York City before AIP moved to College Park, Maryland. And, the day I arrived in College Park they announced Mosaic as the first web browser with for esentially consumers, for the general public to use. So, the Web, not just the Internet, the Internet had been around, but the Web became something that’s not just the private domain of scientists. So, very challenging times. Time to go electronic with our journals. How to calm the anger and the animosity between AIP and its member societies, and some of them with each other.
There was a lot of that at the time?
Oh yes. I mean, I’m told that the board meetings before I came there were shouting matches. You know, angry confrontations between representatives of different societies. And, we did away with all that. We started working together. Part of being an umbrella organization of making yourself recognized as an umbrella and appreciated as an umbrella, and that worked out very, very well.
Well, what were the areas of contention that — and how did you resolve them?
Oh, they were trivial ones. There was dues for one. Every time we had to vote to raise the dues, you know, AIP gets very little of its money from members of the societies. The society, each society, each of the ten societies pays dues to AIP that is calculated on their individual members. Their individual members don’t pay dues, but they pay a per capita tax. It was one dollar or something at the time, which was, you know, at that time it was $400,000. No, it wasn’t $400,000. There were 100,000 members, so, $100,000 at that time of a $50 million budget. It wasn’t much, but things like Physics Today depended on that, because every time they got a new member we had to send Physics Today, which depending on how you calculate it would cost $3 or $5 to a domestic U.S. member, and maybe $15 or $20 to someone outside the United States, for which we got $1. Losing proposition. So, I tried to get the dues raised to $2. It hadn’t been raised in years. "A hundred percent increase in dues!" There was a vote against that. And then others vote against it. "Two dollars? That doesn’t pay anything towards Physics Today. We’re going to vote against that. It’s not enough." So, between those who voted against it because it was not enough and those who vote against it was too large, we couldn’t get a dues increase through. And, this went on and then we finally got some compromises. Eventually we got the great compromise, after having raised it a couple of times, and that was –- well, every society that raises their dues, each year, except the Geophysical Union, so let’s take the ten societies. We’ll take each of their percentage of increases and average it — there’s a geometrical average not weighted according to size of the society — of the ten societies. And AIP, the next year, will raise the dues by that formula. Exactly that amount. Everyone loved it and it went through, and we don’t argue about it every year. So, it’s done. Another big issue was public policy, taking policy stands. Of course, you see this in any of the ten societies. could argue about nitpicking and they don’t understand politics, the scientists. You know, they’re worried about this wording and, you know, nobody is going to leave the details to the wording. "You’re either for or against. Where do you stand?" Okay? "You believe in evolution. Don’t believe in evolution. Don’t couch it in this term and that term." "Are you for funding or not for funding?" "Well, we’re for funding, if you don’t fund the other guy and you fund this guy." You know. I remember a conversation that I had with Representative Rangel on the — Charles Rangel — on the Delta shuttle going back and forth between Washington and New York. I took it quite often because AIP, you know, has a Long Island office and a College Park office. And, it was somewhat after the superconducting super collider was killed and Rangel voted against it, voted to kill it. I said, "Representative Rangel that must have been a hard vote, you know, to, you know, hearing all the different opinions within the science community on whether to fund this thing or not, whether it was, you know, worth doing, the superconductor super collider or not?" He said, "It was inside the community. I just thought I was voting for or against science." [Laugh] A lesson for everybody, you know, who thought the money should have been going elsewhere in science other than the collider. So, anyhow, there used to be fights. AIP should not speak for physics. American Physical Society should speak for physics. And, other people, you know, Rheology was out in left field, and one side they don’t believe they should take any policy positions, period. And, there was all sorts of infighting, you know, on, you know, whether I — which — what AIP should do. And I, and I said promulgate not formulate — when AIP is there to help its member societies; AIP does not make policy — the societies do. And, if they want to have a policy statement of this, then we help them get that policy statement out. If they come out with a policy statement on that, maybe AIP’s endorsing that statement helps that society accomplish its goals. AIP should not formulate and make its own statement. It only adopts statements made by societies, and then helps them make, you know, publicize statements and achieve the goals of that statement. And, that has worked a lot better, because now people understand what AIP’s goal is. It’s not competing with this or that society. It’s helping the society. And, I tried to make that just typical of the umbrella role. Yeah, we do things, we help the society where more than one society’s involved, where we can make it even more cost effective, efficient, expertise, leverage, whatever it is that you could do by doing together. That’s better, then that’s the role for AIP.
Uhm-hmm. It seems like a lot of this is basically just formulating clear definitions about roles?
Right. And, that, and every day they spent all their time arguing about it. So, they did it arguing about my salary. They had no idea how to pay an executive director, or decide on a raise. And so, I put into place, you know, a mechanism for them to think about salaries of executive directors and officers, and anybody else. We had it for everybody else, but they had none for officers or executive directors. It was done ad hoc and new each year without any understanding of the scale or rate, true comparisons with other organizations, with themselves, where they fit in with the rest of the organizations. A lot of just simple management practices. And, not that AIP was bad when that came. I mean, AIP was in fantastic financial shape. And, for their time, their role, the previous directors did a wonderful job.
How was the change in atmosphere from IBM?
Well, there were similarities and interdivisional rivalries and intersociety rivalries. The technology revolution, which I lived through at IBM, sort of a preview a decade ahead of time, now hit the general world. So, I saw that. The biggest thing is I didn’t need a committee to make every decision. I’m the CEO. I can make decisions. I mean, I could get advice and everything, but I didn’t have to have the committee make the decision. A hell of a relief, I mean, you can get things done quicker, without being constipated in the process. So, that was, so that worked very well. Of course, we had to make all our journals electronic. Each society had their own idea on how to go electronic. The Physical Society wanted to go with OCLC, Ohio Library Consortium to, for the Physical, try out the Physical Review. We tried it with Applied Physics Letters. They’re reluctant to do it our way, but they eventually agreed, but the astronomers went their own way. Geophysics didn’t want to do it for many years, so they didn’t bother coming along. The Optical Society sort of used us as a holding pattern until they were ready to do their own. It was a little hard to bring everyone together. Some of the small societies, Rheology, Acoustics, Physicists in Medicine, Vacuum Society, now AVS, they realized, they, the original purpose of AIP was cost-effective, central facilties. So they went along with the way we did it to begin with. We came along with the online journal system. Eventually I decided after I tried this thing with OCLC, and seeing that was proprietary, realized we had to have an open system, had to just be able to do it in a browser, not having to download software. And, I decided somewhere in June of one year that by the end of the year we would have all the journals online and not keep trying it out one journal at a time, to do that. The revolution was here and we were going to do it, and we did it, and we sort of were about as early as anybody online. And, that worked. That was a miracle. The system was not quite modular and as open as I was led to believe by the technologists when I gave them the go, I gave them the go-ahead. I gave them the order to go and do it, on deadline, but that’s always true. You have to make some compromises to get the thing out the door.
So, who are some of the people, I guess could you walk us through the people who you would come into contact with at AIP, external to the organization, internal, you know, who were the people who you worked with the most?
Well, it was the Governing Board.
When I came in it was forty people and the Governing Board’s a semi-proportional representation of the societies. The smallest society gets one. If you have 2,000 members you get two. If you have some other members you get, individual members, you get three. Up to about 30,000 you get seven. So now, AGU and APS have seven. At that time AGU had five and APS had seven. That formula probably needs to be reset at some time. So, the Board, they’re into everything. There are Nobel Prize-winner people on the Board. There was a mixture. There’s always this tough decision for the societies when they had their senior staff people sit on the Board, who know the most about AIP and the society, or have their volunteers sit on the Board. So, the bigger societies could afford it and the APS almost always had their presidential chain on the Board, plus their three top staff officers: their publisher, their editor-in-chief, and their executive secretary, executive officer now. And, and if the whole four people on the presidential chain know when to serve they’ll get one or two of their other senior people, their volunteer people. That works out well. It’s a nice split. AGU has their two senior staff people plus the rest from their volunteers. They don’t always get their presidential chain to serve, which would be more useful. And, the other societies can’t have quite that freedom so they have a mixture of that. I think now almost all the executive directors serve. There are two societies that don’t — well, two societies that don’t have executive directors, AVS and Rheology. And, then Crystallography, Bill Duax is so busy, who is their part-time executive officer, he had given that task over others. But, just good people. I get to meet leading people from all different fields of science, in physics, which is terrific. It’s wonderful. That’s one of the great experiences, to meet all these people, to find out their interests, to find out what their problems are in their fields of science as well as running their society. In the beginning I went around to all the different societies’ governance meetings. I found out they’re all similar with similar several problems. They all have their problems at their meetings. They all have two kinds of meetings, meetings that are either too big or too small none of them have it just right. There are always complaints about that, because people complain. I mean, among the -– and you sort of have to find a middle ground, you know, between all these loud voices that tell you to run the society this way or that way. And if you keep responding to them you keep first going this way and then going that way, and then don’t wind up anywhere. They all have similar problems with dues. They all have similar problems with, should they have banquets or not banquets, at their technical meetings? Should they have more and more sessions? Should they have more prizes, less prizes? How do you recognize young people? How do you bring more women and underrepresented minorities into the fold? All of them had similar problems, all approached it somewhat differently. So, the Board was... Now, I inherited four officers reporting to me: Human Resources, Finance and Administration was the second, Physics Resources, was the third, and the biggest was Publishing. And, two of them are still there, Darlene Walters — both came up through the ranks and they’re still there. Darlene Walters, head of Publishing, who had just been, gotten that job fairly recently when I came on, having gone through a disaster of going outside to fill that position after long domination by an internal person who, very powerful person that left. That guy [the external one who replaced the internal one] was a disaster and he had left that before I came. And...
Yeah. I was reading the interview we did with Ken’s Board yesterday and they were discussing this...
Yeah. Ken has a real hard time in that area. So everybody — Darlene’s a very effective, very strong-willed, effective manager. Not without her quirks. Terri is very good as head of Human Resources. John Rigden was very good imaginative person. Head of Physics Resource Center, all our physics programs: history, education, public affairs. But, after a while he wanted to go retire and do more writing, been a great teacher, great interactor, great innovator, very clever. Not so good at following up in management. He got this idea, that great idea, and give it off to someone and never quite go anywhere and never looked at the details afterwards. Very fortunate, to get Jim Stith to replace him. Jim Stith had this long career, nice, this Army teaching the Military Academy physics. Very active in physics education, education research. Minority. African-American. Had spent time at Ohio State in physics education research. Very fortunate to get him. He had been president of the American Association of Physics Teachers. Very high level in society affairs. Had been on the search committee that found me, when he had been on the Board. As was Fred Dylla, who is my successor. He had been at the Board at the time I was hired and was on the search committee that found me. And then, the other person was Art Bent, who was the chief financial officer and treasurer. Eventually he left. I think he found me a little bit too demanding. He didn’t want to work as hard as I wanted him to work. And, I had a tough search for his successor. I went through two rounds, search firms, ads, auditors, interviews. Very unhappy. I wasn’t going to hire anyone. Almost didn’t, you know. No one was quite good enough. Started the search over again. One of our auditors came up with Richard Baccante, who was great. He brought in some people with him from his previous jobs. He’s been very good for AIP. Worked very closely with the chairs. I worked with three chairs of the Governing Board. Distinguished people all. Roland Schmidt was chair of the Governing Board that hired me, had just started. So, I came in less than a year after he had started. He was past president — he had been president of RPI, the university, for five years. And, before that he was vice president of Research for General Electric. So, he had this industrial academic background, although he was more industrial. He had a hard time in academia. He used to say, "The difference between industry and academia was when industry called a meeting people showed up." [Laugh]
Uhm-hmm. I was wondering about, if there’s more of a sense of, from an AIP perspective that academics plays a role versus industry, versus government?
Interesting mixture. Who knows? And, really hard to say. I mean, the Board was a mixture of academics and industry and with time the hardened industry guys would speak up and say, you know, "There’s hard times here. Why are you giving raises?" I mean, things were hard in academia and academia people say, "Times are hard here, why are you giving your staff raises?" They couldn’t understand who our staff is and what we’re competing with to hire staff. We’re neither university academia. We’re mostly publishing and we compete with other publishing firms to hire staff. Then John Armstrong, for the third time in his life, got to be my boss. Lucky him. He was the next chair of the Board. He had been there when I was the department head and he had also been my boss while chief of staff, briefly. He was very good. He was very effective. He had nice leadership style, some of which I had learned previously and knew very well and knew how to handle it. I knew what he, you know, from sad experience at IBM I knew that he was going to meddle. [Phone ringing] So, I could see the signs. [Laugh] I knew when Armstrong was going to give me my head and let me do things. So, that was sort of easy to be with him. He was very supportive. It takes a lot. I mean, you’re CEO. You’re in charge, but you have to report to somebody, report to the Board. The Board can’t watch you all the time and so you stay in communication weekly with the chair of the Board who represents the Board. Eh, that’s the balance. You know, they have to give you your head at the same time and make sure you’re reporting to somebody. And, Armstrong was very good at that and he was very good at bringing the Board along. And then all he then had to do was run the Board meeting and get the Board to come to agreements without bickering and come to consensus, let them talk it out. You have to not let them wander too far and go off in strange directions. He was very good at that. Millie came in after John. Millie Dresselhaus, completely different: an academic but with a lot of experience on committees, and boards, and running things. But, a whole different style. A very smart person. Tried to accommodate and bring people together. Much more subtle than either of the others. The others were more decision makers, rather than bringing people together kind of person. But she did a marvelous job and we got to work together very well. So, meeting and working with them, I mean, I knew Armstrong as well. Roland was new, and Millie, I mean, I had known her slightly at the time, but I got to a much more, much closer level with her great experience. So, staff: I actually had a pretty good staff. It’s interesting work for a not-for-profit with the goal of not just making money. The goal is serving people. We had real, the really big crisis in my time was when American Physical Society decided to pull two of their journals, one very big, from AIP and take it elsewhere because they were worried about the cost. And, they went out for competitive bid and got it basically much, much lower than what we were charging them. I was a little disappointed they didn’t give us a chance to meet it, as much as we wanted to. But, you know, sometimes it takes a crisis to get you to straighten up. We knew prices were falling for the services. Technology was, and off-shoring was reducing the cost of composing a page of a journal, and we were reengineering and reengineering, trying to do it, and been trying it for two or three years and not quite getting it done, and not quite getting the costs down and getting the costs down fast enough, and then we had to decide whether we should even be in that business. The very reason that AIP was founded in 1931, and that was a tough decision, and had a whole contingency plan to sell off the publishing services if we didn’t succeed in getting our costs down. So, we were going down too paths, negotiating with how to sell it off, and two, working to reengineer to cut the costs, trying to save 300 to 400 jobs.
That would have significantly redefined the role of the organization?
Right. And we had 550 employees, 560 employees at that time, probably down to 450 now, 440. And so, basically we cut out 100 positions out of a 350-person publishing operation to get the costs down. They’re doing much more work, I mean, composing many more pages now, with many fewer people, totally reengineered, no paper handling almost. Totally electronic.
We’re down to our last tape. I think that’ll be...
...plenty, I think. A little weird there. Testing, one, two, three. [Rewinding] That’s definitely not good. Okay.
Okay. So, where were we? Oh, so we got the publishing service costs down and we stayed in the publishing services business for a while. It’s not clear whether it was viable in the long run because of offshore costs are so cheap. But, you’re obligated to make so much in technology and keep the costs low by making it technology-intense rather than people intense. The technology’s expensive too, so therefore you have to keep getting more business and it’s a real rat race, and I guess you need a couple million dollars more business each year in order to pay the extra costs each year, rising wages, etc., because of technology, in order to stay in business and that’s a rat race. Our great disappointment was that in our AAS, the Astronomy Association, when they were leaving the University of Chicago at the beginning of this year, let us bid for the material and just after I left in March, in April they announced they were going to IOP, Institute of Physics in England, rather than moving and going to AIP, which was a crushing blow from a member society, I guess. Just sort of emotionally hurt me more than any other thing that happened with all the society conflicts in all the fourteen years at AIP. That they did understand that they’re a member of AIP and should have somehow figured out that AIP was just as good as IOP in doing this. It certainly wasn’t price. It was something where they let their committee dynamics run away with it, and their editors made a decision sort of independent of the whole context of where the Astronomical Society stood in the AIP. But that’s done and... and other people now have to handle that.
Is there a notion of what is beyond publishing that you were trying to develop?
Yeah. And, and in the Physics Resources area, media and government relations were the big thing. I’ve already talked about how we changed the public policy aspects. We’ve always had this very strong congressional fellowship. It became apparent to me and that State Department also needed a science advice and fellows, much the way that we had from science societies, extremely successful fellow programs on the Hill over the years. And Roland Schmidt, after he was Chair, did a study for the National Academy of Sciences, the State Department, and identified how many of the important issues that come before the State Department were technical in content and they really vary technically. So, they were to get into that report something about they should do something like a fellowship report, a fellowship. He also wanted a science advisor to the Secretary of State. He got that into the report, and these things happened. And then AIP had the first fellowship program of the kind where the society pays and picks the fellows. There’s another kind where it’s essentially jobbing out temporary help to AAAS, where they have State Department fellowships through AAAS. But, the State Department’s paying for those. Not the same kind of thing. They’re just using it as a hiring mechanism. And, that’s worked out very well and actually our first fellow became science advisor to the Secretary of State for a while. So, that was nice. I’m very proud of that program. We started this program of Inside Science: Discovering Breakthroughs, a syndicated TV news service. We had had some radio things in the old days which it turned out not too many people were carrying. We had had jointly with the Chemical Society three free TV news releases. We had to sell something to people if they’re going to use the TV station. And, Alicia Torres came in as Director of Media and Government Relations and could see us turning this into a syndicated news service with support from the societies and selling the stuff to TV stations. We had our ups and downs with some outside contractors in doing it, but a relatively successful program. Reaches an audience the science world just generally doesn’t reach. It’s not the public radio or public television, NOVA kind of audience. It’s the nightly news, local news, kind of audience. It’s a whole different kind of segment of the general public. And, we have good data to show that when they see the science they feel more comfortable talking with their peers and colleges about science and get a better appreciation for science. And, I mean terrific goal. Once again, setting simple understanding of goals for media, public, government relations made a difference. People had education [as a media goal]. They had all sorts of things they want to do that are too hard to do. So, we set the goal for awareness and appreciation. Awareness and appreciation. Education could come along with it. It could supplement it. But, you’re not out there to educate the whole public with these news releases. The best you could make do with 90-second news releases is some sort of awareness and appreciation that there’s something good in science and something interesting there. So, that worked very well. We revitalized the Society for Physics Students. Gary White, who’s head of that now, has done a magnificent job of making it more relevant in many, many colleges. Improved the communications two ways, between AIP headquarters and the student organization and their leadership, and created meaningful experiences, found things that were useful and interesting for students to do as part of the Physics Club out there. One major thing is they go out to the middle schools and elementary schools, the high schools, and talk about science. It helps them appreciate science better and educates another generation about science. So, that’s been extremely useful. They had a — there was a huge incident with Physics Today. We had a couple major lawsuits. One very unpleasant, was a personnel issue I can’t talk about but there is a, there is, there was a suit against Physics Today and the American Physical Society’s Bulletin and the American Physical Society from Gordon and Breach publishers that was going on for six or seven years when I arrived, and went on for another six or seven years after I arrived, because of some articles published in Physics Today and the Bulletin, that compared prices between commercial publishers and society publishers, and showed that commercial publishers, on a per-page per-word per-effective-word, that is, how often it’s cited, they were more expensive because of the societies, and particularly Gordon and Breach. So, Gordon and Breach, other people had done studies that Gordon and Breach would threaten them and they would withdraw the study. But they, essentially Gordon and Breach wanted us to lie. My predecessors offered them, you know, free columns in Physics Today to respond, and then we would respond to that, but they don’t want that. They wanted AIP and APS to withdraw its statements and to lie about them and say they weren’t true. And, my predecessors refused and got sued in France, Germany, and Switzerland. And, after I arrived they filed a suit in the United States, too. Eventually, after long, drawn out battles, we won all of them. Germany was over when I arrived. Switzerland and France dragged on for many, many years. The United States, we won in due course but it was all very difficult, and expensive, and time-consuming.
What was the issue that they were pressing?
False and misleading advertising. The Lanham Act in this country. In France it was illegal to compare prices of non-identical objects. If it was just publishing it was only those who published in France. Of course, we just mailed a few issues of Physics Today to France, and we eventually changed French law, right and it was ruled that it was not just comparison of prices, it was presenting of objective data, which was okay. And that really revolutionized French law. And so, it was a tough battle. We had lawyers in all the countries. I had to learn how to deal with legal systems in all the countries. In the United States, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the U.S. Department of Treasury, which administers embargos against countries our country deems bad, had these embargos generally exempt publishing. Congress had to exempt publishing. The first amendment protects publishers. But, they put regulations that you need to have a license to publish stuff from Iran, or Sudan, or Libya, or Cuba. And, we said, "No. We’re publishers. The first amendment says we don’t need such a, the Congress says we don’t need such a license." And, IEEE got in trouble and raised the issue. We were generally unaware that we even have to have, are supposed to do this. IEEE ran into problems and decided not to publish manuscripts or process them. We decided we’re going ahead and publish. At first we looked at all sorts of reasoning and how we could do that, and so we applied for a license. And, Marty Blume, who was editor-in-chief of Physical Review, and myself, we said, "What are we doing here? Who are they to tell us whether we can do something like that? This is America. We have freedom of the press."
Now, are these scientific papers that we’re talking about?
Yeah. Scientific papers that come from Iran. And, they said, "Well, you can publish it but if you don’t change anything and don’t market them." Because, you’re not allowed to provide services to Iranians. Because that’s helping them, and nitpicking with the words of the law. So, I organized a suit. I decided, with Marty, that "This is just not the way to go. Okay? So, we’re not," you know, we issued statements that "we’re going ahead and publishing. Period." Of course, we then knew many of them were stuck for problems, that they’re going to pick somebody at their convenience to bring the law down on, and if they pick who, you’re in trouble, so you better pick them before they pick off you. And, there are very severe penalties. I mean, years in jail, $100,000 fine, things like that. So, I organized publishers and writers, raised money, hired lawyers and went and sued the government. As soon as we sued the government they said, "Oh, well, we didn’t mean that." So, they issued a general license. Now, in some sense we won. We were free to do everything we claimed in the lawsuit we could do. On the other hand we lost, because they issued a license and we also claimed they had no right to issue or not issue the license. And, we wanted them to say they had not regulatory authority over use. Period. And so, we compromised because, you know, we realized if it went, you know, it would be moot if it went to court. And so, we negotiated with the government that they wouldn’t arbitrarily change their procedures as new countries were added to the embargo, that they would, you know, they, we would also be allowed to publish the software attended to the publication was very important. And, they had left out software in their original ruling. So, we negotiated all that. That only took three years. Finally came to an agreement and withdrew the lawsuit, with prejudice, which means we can bring it back if they act badly again. But, that was a tough thing. I’m sort of proud of what I did up there, and organized. And I really was the driving force. I mean, all the people were excited but nobody was going to do anything or make anything happen.
I guess, looking at the role of AIP with respect to, say, the physics profession, I mean is it pretty well — are your concerns in the AIP pretty well insulated from broader changes of what’s going on in physics or is there some sort of correlation, whether in education, the content of research?
It’s not insulated. I mean, we are a physics community. I mean, Physics Today is an important aspect of AIP by the way people think of most of AIP, although some people think the Physical Society publishes it. And, that’s all: Physics Today is quite in touch with the community — reporting on the community. It’s a news magazine as well as a science magazine. So, we’re directly effective in all our activities and government relations have to do with what’s going on out there, be it science education, evolution, government funding. So, very, very much. And, the members, the individual members of the ten member societies don’t get funding then the whole, the whole structure’s in trouble. Somewhat immune to it because while the United States has sort of holding the line and cutting back on research over the past decade or so, other countries haven’t. So, we’ve grown our international involvement in the sense that we used to be, when I came in well over half the papers came from the United States and now three-quarters of the paper come from outside the United States. And, China submits more papers than any other country except the United States, where there used to be negligible numbers. So, there’s huge dynamics in international capabilities of science that’s making a huge difference and it’ll continue. Most of our business from publishing is outside the United States, yet most of our do-good programs in education and public affairs and surveying history is more domestic. So, there’s a mismatch there. And all societies are finding that mismatch. Are they American societies or international societies now that they have over a third of their membership and growing from outside of the United States?
Is there a lot of interaction with other professional societies...
A lot of interaction in the publishing area. A huge amount with everybody, other societies publishing, Chemical Society, IEEE. They have very similar technologies and methodologies for delivering their material online. The Institute of Physics would collaborate and compete. Other international societies. A lot of interaction on public affairs. A huge number of coalitions. We have joined a forum in either education, or energy, or defense funding, or National Science Foundation funding. And so, we interact regularly with other societies.
So, you were at the AIP for fourteen years in your position, about?
Thirteen and a half.
Thirteen and a half? Which is longer than you spent in any other single position? Would you say...
Well, I spent twenty-five years at IBM. But, this is...
But, you were in a lot different...
Certainly longer than that...
That in different positions, one might say?
So, was there a change in your experience over the thirteen and a half years?
Yeah. I mean, it was time to leave because I had been there a long time. I mean, you need fresh ideas, fresh blood every now and then to do something, for changing. I did a lot of changing. In the end I was much more active in publishing. I spent a lot more of my time outside of AIP in publishing organizations. I was on the Board of almost every big international trade association, or consortium of publishers. Very important. Very important intellectual property activity, in protecting intellectual property, be it by legislation, or negotiation, or litigation in some cases. You know, some of that continues now. I’m still helping AIP in that regard. But, it’s a tough job. It really takes huge effort. Five hundred people’s livelihoods depend on you, your employees. A hundred thousand people out there somehow look to AIP for Physics Today as a central representation of their communities, even though the societies are really their immediate face with the members. And, AIP should not try to get in between the members and the society, individual members and the society. So, it’s tiring and demanding. Twenty-four hours a day you’re at it.
How long would you say it took before you felt as, to be a part of the AIP, after coming from such a long experience at IBM?
A few minutes.
A few minutes?
I left IBM 3:30 in the afternoon and at six o’clock at night I was in Arlington, Virginia at an SPS council meeting, Society of Physics Students.
And you felt...
Right into it.
...right at home?
Right into it.
Yeah? What would you say is the most positive experience from being at the AIP?
Most positive experience? Seeing societies work together.
There are a couple of incidents where for the first time we got all ten member societies to do something together. One was with the societies’ physics students to get free student memberships through the societies. Each of the ten. One was a trivial thing where we’re negotiating some license agreement with some libraries in Germany, and in 24 hours I had them sign this agreement and I had to get all societies to agree. Of course, Crystallography didn’t have a journal, but all others, nine agreed within 24 hours. And, to take my word for it that they should sign this agreement was a miracle. I mean, something that thirteen years earlier couldn’t happen.
And how about the most difficult thing?
The most difficult thing was when APS walked away. Well, no, the AAS walked away, but not coming to us, and then APS walking away from the publishing services. AAS was worse because it wasn’t price. At least APS had the excuse, had the excuse of money. That AAS doesn’t have.
Yeah. Well, let’s talk a little bit then about activities being on boards of the companies, organizations.
Well, there are several. One, the first one I got involved with was the Association of American Publishers [name corrected in proof], which had a division called "Professional and Scholarly Publishing," and that was easy because they had their meetings in Washington every February. So, I started going to their meetings. A lot of AIP people go. And, I started meeting other publishers, and they eventually asked me to be on their Executive Council, which is their Governing Board, the Board of Trustees, and I did that and I eventually became chair of that. And, that was a very useful experience. And, that puts me in contact with other publishers, book publishers, journal publishers. We used to be a book publisher. And, you know, see what they’re doing and see what the industry is like and that’s very informative. Helped them formulate policy, helped them set their public policy issues, helped to set their program agenda, their education agendas. Very interesting.
What’s involved in that sort of thing time wise, activity wise?
Well, it got more and more -– it used to meet for two hours once a month or three hours once a month. I had to run to New York or plug in by conference call, take the day once a month, to do that.
Did you have to do much outside of the official activities?
Well, when I was chair then you have a staff you’re learning about. Just like the chair of the AIP Board. You know, you’re not running it but you’re doing it. And, right now we’re hiring a new executive director. So, that’s, you know, like hiring someone like me, at not quite the salary. And so, you know, it’s hard to find and fill that position. So that, you know, that became demanding, but then that led to others. There’s something called STM International. International Science Technical Medical Publishers, which is sort of the PSP International league. So, I eventually got in that Board and got that. Now, that meets quarterly so that’s not so bad. Two of them are associated with meetings that you would go to anyhow, publishing meetings. And then there was another that meets quarterly, Cross Ref, which is the linking service. And, AIP got into that because the other publishers decided AIP better participate. [AIP] Loaned money and started in this linking service. This is a service that basically enables all the publishers that when you publish a journal and have a reference and you click on that reference, that’s reference in the journal that you don’t publish you wind up on that journal’s site, even if they change their URL, because it’s a database and they pay for that connection. And, that was very important because before that we had bilateral agreements. Well, you can make a bilateral agreement with the Institute of Physics, then with Elsevier, then with Wiley. Then Wiley has to do it with Elsevier and Wiley has to do it with Institute of Physics, and you get 10,000 publishers, that’s 10,000 to the Nth power, you know, some high power that’s, you know, really a lot agreements. And so, we had the central agreement and it’s really working very, very well. And so, I got involved there and then I eventually worked on the Executive Committee of that thing too. And basically, we cooperated. There was occasionally fourteen to one votes on that committee, where I’m representing the AIP view and this big, big commercial publisher [comes]from a different way. But, that’s why you sit on these boards to make, you know, it’s sort of a love-hate relationship with these commercial publishers. They have high prices. They suck the budgets out of the libraries. On the other hand, they’re also publishers and they’re interested in getting science out and getting the journals out and surviving financially just like we are. So, we get in bed with them and we fight them with the people then at the same time.
Are the people in the publishing industry a lot different from the people in the science and technology?
Well, my wife really thinks so. Yeah. [Laughter] It’s interesting to talk to people who love to read books, and it’s interesting. They change much more often. Much more than academics, the change in the institutions, I mean the academics change a lot, but they, you know, you never know who’s going to be the publishing company next week. Which, they move around a lot. But, you know, you get to meet other CEOs who are in the same game that you are. There’s also an organization of CEOs of societies, CESSE, which, I belong too, also got to be on the Board for a while, Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives. And, most of the AIP societies belong and go to those meetings too. But that’s just society-oriented. Publishing comes up as a subtopic. But, it’s very interesting to sit around with three CEOs of three-billion-dollar publishing companies. That’s different than sitting around with executives of societies. But, you learn a lot, about why they have them do the business, why they do their business. That’s useful.
All right. Is there anything you wanted to add?
I don’t think so. I think we’ve covered a lot of things. I wrote down, I extended the resume for you. Of course, now you have — I started trying to list all my accomplishments in there in some form of what happened at AIP. So, I think I covered them all. I had a little checklist here and I’ve checked off everything... in there. But, the big thing in AIP, I’m proudest of is getting these simple goals that the whole staff and the society could understand of umbrella pricing, image, timeliness, and work toward it. So, everybody knows what they’re about.
Well, okay. I think that that’s a good place to wrap up. So, thank you very much.
I’m very happy with my successor. I wish him well. I’m glad, I’m glad to see a good physicist, a people person on there running the organization.
All right. Well, thank you very much.