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Interview of Edward Clarke by Orville Butler on 2010 September 27,
Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics,
College Park, MD USA,
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In this interview, Edward N. Clarke discusses: his family background and education; his time at Brown University and joining the Naval Reserves; his service in the Navy during and immediately following World War II; Vartan Gregorian, former president of Brown; his time at Harvard University with Ed Purcell, Norman Ramsey, and Julian Schwinger; a course he took in millimeter wave technology; Harry Farnsworth; Russ Sherburne; Al Crowell; low-energy electron diffraction work for his thesis; working with vacuum systems and photoelectric effects; his time with Sylvania Electric and work with semiconductors; his work with semiconductors; John Welty; Bell Laboratories and Western Electric; invention of the transistor by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley; learning how to grow single crystals; Bernie Rothlein; joining Sperry Rand and working with Joe Gruber, Bob Hopkins, and Art Seifert; Karl Lark-Horovitz; starting up their company, National Semiconductor; being a part of the Institute of Radio Engineers; working with venture capitalists; Peter Sprague; creating the first mass produced integrated circuit, an integrated chopper the INCH; integrated circuits were first invented by Bob Noyce and Jack Kilby; the field effect transistor; his time at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI); working jointly with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Bill Grogan; solar energy; solar powered car races; and his retirement and volunteer work.
Okay. I’m Orville Butler and we’re here in Paxton, Massachusetts.
With Edward Clarke. And, I guess I’d like you to start off by having you give a little bit about your general biography. Where were you born? A little bit about your family and things like that.
Okay. I was born in Providence, Rhode Island, somewhat just before the Great Depression. I was born in 1925 and I was one of those people, in fact, who was born on the kitchen table, with a grandmother who served as midwife. And, I guess a doctor was involved later that day, but that’s sort of what happened. None of my family, except one, I was, went to college. I was the first of our family to go to college. The one person who went before me was my paternal grandfather, who went to a divinity school in or near Boston and became a fiery Baptist preacher. So, that’s kind of the background. My dad was fortunate, and so was his family. He had a job all through the Great Depression, but not a job paying large sums of money but enough to keep the family going. So…
What sort of work did he do?
He was the, he became the manager of a private club, which basically served the more wealthy people of Providence in Rhode Island. In this case, the club was the Hope Club, H-O-P-E. Hope, I believe, is the motto of the state of Rhode Island. This was called the Hope Club. It had a very interesting location. It was right next to, right almost part of the campus of Brown University. So that his efforts as manager, for fifty years, of the Hope Club often involved the faculty and administration of Brown University in Providence. He admitted to me later in life that he had not finished high school, that he had left school as soon as he was sixteen years old, took one or two very short-term jobs, found his way to this Hope Club in Providence and, and then very quickly became a very young manager of the place and remained manager for fifty years. After retirement, they kept calling on him to help new managers with problems that they had difficulty solving. My dad lived to be almost a hundred years old with most of that time, except for the last month or two of his life, with a strong mental capability. And, the only thing that happened in the last month or two of his life was that I’d enter a conversation with him and it took him a little bit longer to process the question or the comment, and then out would come a very logical answer. But he and I, I sort of grew old with my father, which was kind of an interesting experience. He went to bed one night and did not wake up. He had no diseases or problems. He was told by a doctor somewhat a year or two before that if he lived to be 120 he might possibly develop Parkinsons Disease, but he didn’t live to be 120. He just barely made it to near 100. So, that was my dad. And, a very capable person in spite of his having quit high school at age sixteen. My maternal grandfather is a person whom I never knew, nor did my mother ever know her father. He had come over with his wife from Copenhagen, Denmark, and had a position as a watchman over ships and vessels within Narragansett Bay, of Rhode Island. And during one of the hurricanes that were not as well understood at the time, he lost his life during the job that he was performing. I might mention that my father’s ethnic background is basically Irish, English, and Swedish. The name Clarke, with an “e,” apparently is the oldest surname in all of Europe. And, there is a clan in the northern part of the Republic of Ireland, a very big clan with the name Clarke, C-L-A-R-K-E. The name relates to the fact that many in, many of them became clerics and many of them became clerks. And so, somehow or other the name came into being and it is part of the written history of the Republic of Ireland that Clarke with an “e” is the oldest surname in Europe. My joke is that those who are named Clark, without the “e,” simply were not as persistent through life telling people that there’s an “e” on the end of the name. But, maybe that’s only my way of joking a little bit. So, that’s kind of that background.
And what about your mother?
What about your mother?
My mother did not finish high school either, and she and my father married at a very young life. Well young, I think, in terms of marriage today. I think they married when they were eighteen years old. And, I think she was working in a General Electric factory making light bulbs, someplace in Providence. I have a pretty clear idea of where that factory was located. It was through my mother that, that they decided to join a church, and that turned out to be an Episcopal church in one part of Providence. At that time, a married woman really was a wife and a mother (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and did not aspire to any kind of professional life. My overall recollection of my mother and father is that they were supportive of just about everything that I wanted to do. They were not at all demanding. Apparently if I stayed out of trouble they were very supportive. I was the first child and hence the elder of this family, the older of the children. And I’m now told nowadays, or was even five years ago, by my two sisters and my brother that there seemed to be some favoritism on the part of my parents to leave me alone if I’m doing my homework, [Laugh] and things of that sort. So, we lived through the Great Depression and lived through other experiences. I, we did not have a lot of money but we had enough to live on. I joined the local Boys Club in the little section of Providence called Olneyville, O-L-N-E-Y-V-I-L-L-E, very little textile section of Providence and had lived in ten different houses through age ten. As during the Depression, we moved from house to house and so it became a natural thing for me to ask, “Well, where are we living next year?” Well, it was always within Providence or nearby Providence. So, I was accustomed to living in a different house, a different neighborhood every year for the first ten years. But, at age ten we moved to this textile area of western Providence and stayed there for the rest of my growing up, near this Olneyville area, in the Olneyville area, surrounded by huge groups of wonderful people from Italy and Sicily. Boys Club turned out to, in the late 1930s, turned out to provide the United States Olympic Team with about a third of the Olympic members, both men and women, of the American Olympic swimming team. Dinky, little, tiny Boys Club, with an undersized swimming pool. So, I became a swimmer, a competitive swimmer, but I was never able to look to the possibility of competing in any Olympics because World War II came along. And so, I finished high school and joined the Navy, U.S. Navy, when I was seventeen years old. So, there’s a bit more of the story.
Okay. Now, in your biographical sketch it talks about you going to, to Brown University and then joining the Naval Reserves?
Yes. Okay. It turned out that I actually joined — back up one step. My father was young enough and I was just barely old enough so that we both were required to register for the universal draft. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, my father and I walked into the Draft Board hand in hand, both of us, to register for the universal draft. A father and a son. I don’t think that happened very often. Something I’m very proud of. However, after that it turned out that I joined the Navy when I was seventeen. But, I joined a group which I think was identified as V-5. I wanted to become a naval fighter pilot, and in that Reserve position I then simply went on with my life as a Naval Reservist, and entered Brown University as a freshman. During that first semester, and of course by this time semesters and terms were all confused by the war, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and generally there was a speedup through college, and I entered Brown, I believe, in January or February of 1943, as a Naval Reservist, but I remained a civilian for just that one semester. (Butler: Okay.) All of a sudden, I received a notice that I would be assigned to a unit, newly created, called the Navy V-12 Program. And, I had no choice. I had dreamt of the idea of becoming a Navy fighter pilot, but they, without my approval — when you, once you’re a member of the military they don’t ask your approval, usually. Maybe they do nowadays, but at that time they removed me from the category of wanting to become a naval fighter pilot to the category of wanting to become a young naval officer who would run a ship. So, that was a notice that I received. I would be shifted from V-5 to brand new V-12, which came into being formally in July of 1943. And so, all of a sudden I was in uniform. I was now an apprentice seaman, in uniform, yes, part of the Naval Reserve, but I was now in active duty. But, my immediate job was to become an engineer, engineering student, quickly. No kidding around. And so, the Navy said, “You will succeed in obtaining your engineering degree from Brown, but you’re not going to be allowed to do it in four years. You’re going to do it in less than, in just a bit over two years.” And, that separated the men from the boys in terms of nothing being dropped by the Brown Engineering Department. They had full control over the program. And, they had a more interesting situation also, that they had to provide this rapid kind of intense education without leaving out any of the materials that they felt were critical. So, I was basically in training to become a young officer. Brown University, at that time, looked like a small naval academy, but if you looked in a different direction at Brown it looked like a small Army, West Point military academy, because most of the students at that particular time were now in the category I just described, Navy, all young men selectively chosen to become young naval officers. But also, we had [Laugh] Army meteorological young officers, meteorological officers for the Air Force, for the Army Air Force at that time. There were a few civilians, but we in the military greatly outnumbered the people who were civilians at that time. This happened at every one of the Ivy League universities. It was happening at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, and Dartmouth. Have I left any out? All of the Ivy League universities agreed to take part in that program. And so, they looked very much like Brown. But, many smaller colleges took part in this, so that there were a hundred colleges and universities agreeing to participate in this effort to quickly create a young officer corp, for the Navy primarily, of 200,000 men. They needed 200,000 men very quickly, but they wanted them to be educated and trained so that we would be ready either for midshipmen school or, or actually graduated and commissioned right out of Brown, or Harvard, or Yale, whatever. A few of us were in that category, direct commissioning out of the school. Locally, WPI, Holy Cross College were also part of this program. What we didn’t know precisely at that moment was that in the Navy’s planning they made an estimate that half of us, 100,000 of us, would be killed, not in normal warfare of World War II, but in the invasion of Japan. They had, they were planning to invade Japan, with 8,000,000 Americans doing the invading. Five million, 3,000,000 testing the southern islands of Japan and then 5,000,000 testing the northern islands of Japan. The estimate was that a million Americans would be killed in that invasion effort. So, in their long-range planning, which in their mind was maybe a year or two away from the time that I’m talking about in Brown, but unknown to us at that moment, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) unknown to us was that had the invasion actually taken place, whatever we were doing at Brown, Yale, Princeton, Harvard, WPI, Holy Cross, wherever we were, we would immediately leave, be taken by the Navy, quick training on amphibious craft and things of this sort (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) to invade Japan. We didn’t know that though until much later. But that was their estimate. That’s why they needed 200,000 men, because they thought 100,000 of us would be killed. It was good that they didn’t tell us that in advance, [Laugh] because we had to concentrate on what we were doing. We were strictly, from a disciplinary point of view, we were totally a member of the U.S. Navy. We were in uniform and we had to do whatever our officers told us to do. On the other hand, Brown, and in the other cases the other universities, were totally in charge of the education. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) But, that’s the kind of system that was had. So, I completed my own bachelors’ degree in engineering at Brown, summa cum laude, in just a bit over two years. And...
Okay. Before we (Clarke: Yeah.) go more into that, let’s talk about high school.
Oh, high school. (Butler: Yeah.) Okay. High school. There was no science in my family. If there was anything that I could point to it was a hardworking dad in business of some sort, managing something, and my paternal grandfather who was a fiery Baptist preacher. There’s no science there. I think in, as a junior in high school we had, it turns out that only seven percent of high school graduates at that time went to college. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) It was not usually expected that kids would graduate from high school and go to college, just seven percent. Therefore they had a category called “college preparatory courses.” (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So, I was really with people, in my courses, who were all, many of them, aiming for college. Not all of them, but many of them aiming for college. Therefore, chemistry was required, physics was required, math was required, foreign language required, English required. As a junior, I think it was as a junior, I had a course in chemistry and the teacher in this course in chemistry — I remember his name. It’s part of my life story here — Mr. McCauley, a teacher of chemistry at Mt. Pleasant High School in Providence, a public high school. He was allowed by the public school system to set up his — he was an experimentalist — he was allowed to set up his chemistry PhD work. He was working toward his PhD at Brown. He was allowed to set up his experimental work on the worktable in his classroom at Mt. Pleasant High public high school, and I remember nothing about the details of his experimental chemistry but what I remember was the sparkle in this guy’s eyes and his attitude. This man was truly taken in totally by his science, what he was doing. That really had an impact on me, a very, very powerful impact. Just seeing this kind of a man and hearing what he was saying, not always understanding — I was understanding what he was trying to teach us — but exactly what he was doing here in his experimental work, I didn’t, I didn’t, I have no recollection of that but I remember this man as being someone that was looking at science as something truly exciting and worthwhile, and that was point. That was it. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Now, I think as a senior I had a course in physics, and it was interesting. The teacher was not that kind of a turn-on teacher. But, that’s, that experience — and the experience in the physics course at Mt. Pleasant High was, it was a good course but it wasn’t the kind of turn-on situation. But when I decided to go to Brown it was clearly something in science or engineering, and it was pretty early that it looked to me as though things like electrical engineering and physics were really the things that I could become interested in. The only thing I had done on my own earlier, as maybe a ten-year-old I think, I had, the thing called a “soapbox derby” was very prevalent all over the country. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) I think it was funded by a tire manufacturer and finals were held in Ohio, Akron, Ohio. So, that must be the tire manufacturer. And, at ten years old I designed and built a soapbox derby racer, a thing you sit in and race. No engine. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) But, they would build a ramp and we’d, the ramp would send us down a hill and we’d race. I did that at age ten, and I think my dad helped a little bit but he really stayed out of it. I did this thing. And, that was really my much earlier experience with something technological. And, in junior high school I had written — I actually have a, I have a copy of it — I had written a booklet, required I think for in the eighth grade or the ninth grade, and I talked about, and they wanted us to write about something that related to maybe the field we wanted to go into. And, I said, “Hey, scientific agriculture, that looks interesting to me,” at that time. So, that was even earlier. So, that was having a role. That came before this enlightenment with the chemistry teacher. Well, that’s kind of, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) so those experiences basically said, I’m, you know, “I think I want to go into engineering and physics, that sort of thing.” But, not mechanical engineering. I really was looking at things like electrical and physics, this sort of combination. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, and so that’s kind of ...
And so you had, you had the chemistry professor, or the chemistry teacher in high school (Clarke: Yeah.) that motivated you, or (Clarke: He was the...) turned on the...
He was the motivator. He was the motivator. And, I think I took the physics course after that. And, but already I was turned on and that teacher was not a motivator, but he taught physics and I learned some physics. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) I had a math course in which, this is in high school, also I think as a senior, and the teacher had made a comment that you could not trisect an angle using just a compass and a straightedge. And this, her statement that you could not do this, “This is not possible using a compass and a straightedge, could not trisect an angle.” And I said, “Ma’am,” and this was a lady teacher, I said, “what you’re teaching,” I don’t know how I said it to her, but I basically said, “What you’re teaching is interesting, but could I sit in the back of the classroom and pick up your challenge? You said that you could not trisect an angle with a compass and a straightedge. I’d like to really try to do it.” And, she said, “Okay, Ed. Yes. You can do that, as long as you can pass all exams that I give and do all the homework. I will let you sit in the back of the room for this whole semester and try to do that.” I sat in the back, corner back room trying to trisect and angle with nothing but a compass and a straightedge, and every once in a while I’d be listening to the lecture and I would — I think I got straight As in that course and I turned in all my homework, but that did something for me. That lady math teacher did something for me. She was able to diverge from what she felt was critical, her things. She said, “Okay, Ed. Go ahead. Give it a whirl.” It turns out, she was right. I could not. And, a funny experience. WPI had a guest speaker about a year ago coming in to talk to some math students at WPI. Lo and behold it was a young guy who had ways of trisecting an angle. This is a year or two ago, his lecture. And so, I went in and the lecture was such that he said, “You cannot do this, trisect an angle.” So here it is seventy years later, or whatever number of years, and they’re still saying you can’t do it. But, he had ways of approaching it, and it was interesting to me, just a year ago, to suddenly discover that my young life was being reinvented here. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) But, that teacher she had an impact on me. It’s very, very clear she, well she trusted me and I trusted her, and I went back to try to do something that she said was impossible to do. And it, and it, I kept trying it all semester long, but I listened enough and did the homework, and I got an A in the course. That had an impact. I was becoming pretty independent, really, pretty independent. So. [Laugh] I don’t know whether my wife was listening and hearing this for the first time.
So, so when was it that you actually decided to be a physics major?
Physics major? On my way through Harvard University I decided to become a Physics Ph.D. That’s after World War II. I was released from the Navy. I had graduated from Brown with an engineering degree, bachelors degree (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) in engineering. That, of course, allowed them, just ten years ago, to award me with one of their few Alumni, Engineering Alumni medals at Brown, because I had a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Brown, even though my PhD from Brown is in physics. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) The end of the war came. I had served in the Philippines and in the (Butler: Okay.) Pacific.
Well, tell us a little bit about your experience. How did you get to the Philippines (Clarke: Okay.) as opposed to Europe?
Okay. I got to the Pacific primarily because that’s where almost everyone in the Navy V-12 was sent into the war with Japan. Now, I was very lucky. I was not killed. I lost forty Brown University classmates, most of them in the Pacific. Many of them were killed during the last month, or two, or three of World War II in the Pacific. I was just a tiny bit older, sorry, a little bit younger than they and my own program assigned me to the Pacific just a few months after the end of World War II in the Pacific. Those, several of my close friends who were assigned to, by the Navy from the V-12 Program, from the — and there was also an ROTC program, but primarily (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) the V-12 Program was the great big program.
Okay. And going…
Going back, the V-12 Program (Clarke: Yeah.) was designed to plan for the invasion of Japan?
Unknown to us.
Known to us was that we were scheduled to become leaders on shipboard and to run ships. There would be some shore duty, some people assigned to shore duty of course, but basically this program, which had young men coming in from the fleet, we were not only young guys like me, who were already just freshmen or juniors in college, but there was another group behind us, really bright high school kids were being brought into the program. I was in the kind of the middle. There were people coming in from the fleet, selected by their commanding officers, for this program that was so large. And so, it was not just people like me. There were three major different groups. Those who had seen duty already in the, either in the Atlantic or the Pacific, and those who were really even younger than myself coming in from high school. I was in the middle group. And, at any rate had I been assigned to my first assignment just a few months earlier there would have been a very high probability of being killed. And, the reason was primarily the Kamikaze pilots from Japan. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) They were raising havoc in the Pacific. Suicide pilots, terrorists of that day. Suicide pilots were, ended up damaging or sinking almost 400 American ships. It turns out four of my classmates were not, it was not the result of Kamikaze, four of my classmates died on the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Indianapolis. The U.S.S. Indianapolis was carrying the atomic bomb warheads to Tinian Island for possible use by the United States Air Force to drop on Japan in case Japan refused to end this war. And, that was, it’s what happened. Japan refused to end the war. But, the U.S.S. Indianapolis and four of my classmates, all young four ensigns, like I was to become a short time later, they made it to the Tinian Island. They delivered there the atomic warheads for dropping on Japan, if needed, were steaming away and a Japanese submarine and a volley of torpedoes caught them. And, as far as I can tell all four were killed onboard. Crew of about 1,500 men, something like 800 probably killed instantly with the torpedo blasts, the others tossed into the water. Navy had lost sight of them, had not, didn’t know the U.S.S. Indianapolis was missing. And, the guys were tossed to a, still living, were tossed in the water. Half of those tossed in the water, about 400 were tossed in the water, 200 of them were taken by sharks. And, by the time a lone Navy seaplane happened to be passing over that area, saw these guys down in the water, and then quickly there was a rescue of those people. By that time they had been in the salt water so long that when they pulled the guys out the skin was coming off their bodies. Wow. The skipper of that ship was court-martialed. [Laugh] It wasn’t his fault. He was court-martialed for not zigzagging. And, but he was not told of the possibility of submarines in that particular area. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So, he was found guilty. (Butler: Yeah.) They brought the Japanese...
Now, this was the (Clarke: Yeah.) skipper of the ship that was...
The Indianapolis? Okay.
Yeah. The Indianapolis was caught, was caught by these Japanese torpedoes. He survived, but he was court-martialed. And, even though — it was a cover-up by the U.S. Navy, I think. They had to find somebody guilty. They even brought over the Japanese commander of the submarine, who was now alive. They brought him over to testify against our own naval captain. Found guilty. Committed suicide. Killed himself. Young high school kid, many, many years later, decided to clear this captain’s name. There were maybe a hundred or so men left from that U.S.S. Indianapolis. This high school kid, as a project, took it on. The end result of that project, and he kept going at it on all through high school, ended up they cleared the name of this captain. Too late. You know, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) he’d been found guilty and killed himself. But, I have interesting books on that situation also. Now my own case, getting back, a few months later my first assignment, I was commissioned at Brown, my first assignment was to an LCS, a Landing Craft Support ship. So, I arrived at Pearl Harbor. This puzzled me a little bit, because I didn’t think we were about to invade Japan. Japan had just surrendered finally. So, I didn’t think that I was, why was I being assigned to a landing craft, landing craft support? So, at any rate I arrived at Pearl Harbor and the transport officer, who was, had the job of transporting us to our assignments wherever in the Pacific, came back to me after a day or two and he said, “Ensign Clarke, your ship has already been sunk.” So, it turns out my first assignment in the U.S. Navy was a sunk ship. [Laughter] And, he and I smiled a bit and, and then of course they took another week to determine where was there a need for a guy with some engineering background? And, that’s how I ended up in the Pacific on the Philippine Islands. I was assigned as Public Works Officer, Fire Officer, and Safety Officer in this, on this giant, in this giant naval facility, which was primarily a giant U.S. Naval Hospital. And, here I am a twenty-year-old kid and I had a group of 600 men, talented ship fitters, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, all maintaining this huge facility made up of many Quonset huts. And so, that worked pretty well. I then had an experience there in which a U.S. Navy psychiatrist, an officer, I don’t remember whether he was a lieutenant, a commander, or a captain, but he was a psychiatrist and he went berserk, and he tried to kill three of us. He had a .45 caliber side arm and the three of us, I guess, at the end decided it was a good thing he was a psychiatrist and not somebody else. He was a bad shot. And, but he tried to kill three of us, three young officers. And, we jumped on him and got him, and made sure that he was tossed in the brig. And, we didn’t follow up on that. We don’t know what happened to him. But, he tried to kill us. Shortly after that I actually had a reassignment to an attack transport, the APA 25 Arthur Middleton. Now it was transporting people back to the U.S. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) However, before leaving it turned out, early on I had discovered that we were surrounded by Japanese soldiers in the jungle. And, for the most part apparently they did not know that the war had just ended a few months earlier. They were starving, but they had lots of ammunition, a lot of ammunition but no food. It looked as though there was an unstated agreement, just people not saying much of anything, that if we let them steal food they wouldn’t shoot us. Every once in a while, however, one of them would become very brazen and get into a Navy chow line, not thinking that anyone would notice a Japanese soldier in a Japanese uniform in an American chow line for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For those people, they were told the war had just ended a short time ago, and they would not let them back into the jungle. They flew them home. They sent them home to Japan. Now, this is the Navy in which a lot of the guys had lost their buddies in the death march of Bataan and Corregidor (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) in the Philippines, where they let, you know, bayoneted, they let 12,000 Americans and Filippinos die. So, some of the guys, who among those Japanese in the jungle were maybe among those who bayoneted Americans, and (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Filippinos. Who knows? And, no one knows. But that, that’s what happened whenever one of them would come out and get into a chow line. They were fed and they were sent home, and not allowed [Laugh] to go back into the jungle. So, that was peculiar. It, I think I learned that very early and no one worried about it especially.
When did you find out that you had originally been scheduled for invasion, that of course (Clarke: Yeah.) was eliminated by . . .
It turns out, in the very first reunion that we ever had, which was not the fiftieth, was not the fiftieth reunion — we had a fiftieth reunion, fifty years after 1943. But, there was an earlier reunion, forty years after 1943, in 1983. It was held in Washington, D.C. At that point, they gave us the whole story. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) [Laugh] They told us the whole plan, which we had been scheduled, had the United States invaded Japan they would have taken every one of us out and quickly put us through the training steps and we would be in the invasion of Japan. Had we invaded Japan, this is only an estimate, who knows what the numbers really mean, a million Americans, perhaps, killed in that invasion or badly wounded. It would have included my father, had they lost a million men. My father, who had a growing family, would have been called. The loss would have been so great. He would have been called in also. So, because he was part of the, well he would have been called into the Army, I guess, because he was part of that universal draft. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) I was not because I joined the Navy. I signed up in the draft, but I become part of the Navy. But, he would have been called, because he was still young enough, even though he had a family to support. And so, I found out the full story forty years later. [Laugh]
Uhm-hmm. What was your recollection? When did you hear about the atomic bombs being dropped and what was your recollection of that?
The end result of that was a fairly quick surrender by Japan. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Not quick enough. Unfortunately, there was Japan military still in command of the nation, was still not convinced when, when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) It was felt that they still had to drop one on Nagasaki, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and the Japanese surrendered. What we saw, of course, was the surrender of the Japanese, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and you can imagine a lot of people were just happy.
We didn’t learn about all of the loss in our class until really long after the war was ended, long after the war was ended. We began getting dribs and pieces, because our, our class was all kind of together even though in ordinary times some of them would have been juniors and some seniors, some sophomores. That wasn’t quite the way it was (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) on the campus. So that, it wasn’t as if, it wasn’t until later years that we gelled into fairly well defined classes. In fact, I was asked by Brown, “Well, what class do you want to be part of?” I mean, I had a bachelor’s degree in engineering, summa cum laude. Well, what class was I in? I graduated in 1945, you know, with a little over two years completing the whole program. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, so we were given, we were asked, “Well, what class do you want to belong to?” And so, several friends and myself, I guess independently, said, “Ah, let’s pick the class of ‘46.” So, formally I’m in the Brown class of 1946, even though I was in the Pacific when the real class of ‘46 (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) was still in college. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) The one, that’s the only thought I can think of was that we didn’t know until later that we were to be part of the invasion. We knew that we would be put primarily into the Pacific, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) but we didn’t know the great loss that we had already experienced in the family of Brown. We didn’t know about that until much later. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) I had a little role in that. One of the very fine presidents of Brown, Vartan Gregorian, who came from being head of the New York City library system, became president of Brown at one time. A long chat with him. Very, very interesting chats. I’d be on campus — this is now like ten years ago, fifteen years ago, I would see Vartan and say, start chatting with him, and he’s busy so we’d chat for a few minutes and away he goes. Did that for about three or four years with Vartan to convince him that he ought to recognize what happened with this group of students from Brown University, ought to recognize them in some way. And so gradually, he decided to honor all these people at one of the commencement weekends. A big, big activity to (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) honor these people. A nice memorial plaque and sort of thing. It, so I had this friendship with the president of Brown, say that’s ten, fifteen years ago. Something like that. And so, Brown finally recognized the experience of these earlier men of Brown.
So, how long did you spend down in the Philippines?
I was in uniform and active duty as a guy being trained to become a young officer at Brown. But, in terms of being away from Brown and truly being in active duty there was a total of about ten months. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, it was a, it was just maybe split half and half with the Philippines and the APA 25 Attack Transport, which was a very big vessel, and there were five of us young Navy ensigns all from the same program, from different places, from the V-12 Program. And, the only truly well trained people were the skipper of the ship and the navigator, and they were really very well experienced. Five of us, young, and basically deck officers were running the ship. We had shifts in which we ran that ship. One of them had been in the Navy V-12 unit here at WPI in Worcester. Became good friends years later. He’s now dead. And, another one of our five was named Ted Lindeman. Well, it turns out that Ted Lindeman, a young U.S. naval ensign, one of these five deck officers of the Arthur Middleton, his uncle had been commanding officer of the German battleship Bismarck. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) The Bismarck decimated the British fleet in the early part of World War II and then itself was destroyed by the British when they, I guess they ended up with a lucky torpedo destroying its rudder, and then everything could come in on the Bismarck. But, the commanding officer’s name was Lindeman. It happened to be the uncle of my friend, Ted Lindeman, a young U.S. naval officer. People forget that during World War II twenty-five percent of the population of the United States had German background, and some large percentage especially on the East Coast had Italian background. And, there were many German-Americans fighting their uncles and cousins in Germany, and many Italians in the U.S. fighting their uncles and cousins in Italy. A lot of people forget that, or maybe didn’t even know it. So, the fact that Ted Lindeman’s uncle was the commanding officer of the Bismarck is interesting. But, and unique, I suppose.
Uhm-hmm. So, you have your experience in the Philippines?
You come back. You have your engineering degree?
What do you plan to do?
Well, graduate school. And…
And that, that was clear already to you?
Oh, that was clear — it may — see I had no models to go by in the (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) family, but by this time I have, I’ve had the background of a mother and father who were always supportive of choices I made. I didn’t have to talk it over with them. At least, that’s my recollection. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So, when I thought of thoughts and made decisions I tended to not hesitate, and I felt that I wanted to continue with my education. And, it turns out [Laugh] in practice I had three acceptances from three inputs. I had acceptances from MIT, Harvard, and Cornell. And, they all offered graduate assistantships, except Harvard just offered that I should be admitted. It was MIT and Cornell that offered assistantships, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) but I chose Harvard, and had a lot of good experiences at Harvard, and some peculiar experiences. But, it turns out that the two faculty members there were two whom I’ll always remember, Ed Purcell and Norman Ramsey, both Nobel Prize winners in physics. Now, the program I was in was largely a terminal program that they had created at Harvard with a degree, master of engineering science. Master of engineering science. They had decided that would be a terminal degree. It was neither physics nor engineering. And, along the way, after a year, I received the master’s degree and an MS in applied physics. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, then finally after two years, an MES, master of engineering science, also from Harvard. But Ed Purcell and Norman Ramsey, at that time, were younger, young men. I guess Ed Purcell was older. They had just come in from MIT’s Rad Lab. One of the great laboratories that helped us win the war was the Radar Laboratory at MIT (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) called the “Rad Lab.” The physicists at MIT during World War II, physicists at MIT and Harvard, and a few other places, but largely MIT and Harvard, basically gave up their pet research in order to work on the applied effort of helping to win the war. And, two of those people, well one of them, another one, I think Julian Schwinger — I’m not sure whether Schwinger won the Nobel Prize in physics or not, later. I just don’t remember. But, Schwinger’s a theoretician and he gave up what he was doing in order to (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) help the United States win this war. And, they were really concerned about the Pacific, because with the Japanese we were really, really, in a tough battle. So was Germany and Europe, but at any rate radar really helped tremendously in the Pacific. So, both Ed Purcell and Norman Ramsey worked at the Rad Lab as young men, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and they had just come into Harvard as young instructors or assistant professors. It looked as though Norman Ramsey was, I guess, younger than Ed Purcell. But, Ed Purcell taught a course in electron physics and that really turned me on. Here was another experience something like that with my high school chemistry teacher, sort of, but here was a guy in electron physics, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and that really turned me on. Ultimately, I would then decide, “What am I going to do?” It turns out Brown University had, in my opinion, at the time a better electron physics graduate program than did Harvard, yet it was Ed Purcell who turned me on at Harvard. I ended up transferring to Brown after I had these two masters’ degrees at Harvard. I decided to go to Brown. And, I went to Brown for another reason. I had met Vivian. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) She was a student at the woman’s college of Brown at Pembroke. Pembroke College at Brown. I had met her and, ah, decided, what the heck. [Laugh] “What’s the point of traveling every weekend from Cambridge down to Providence?” you know. And especially, “Why not?” Especially if Harry Farnsworth at Brown has a much more interesting electron physics program than anybody at Harvard. So, I made that switch, for those two reasons actually. That, wow. [Laugh] And, Norman Ramsey taught a course in quantum mechanics. Again, he was young, and it was a small class. I seem to recall that there were maybe only seven or eight of us in that class with Norman Ramsey, kind of young, and a wonderful program. I still have the notes that I took in their courses. (Butler: Hmm.) Down in the basement I have the notes of my course with Ed Purcell and the notes of my course with Norman Ramsey, these many years later.
Those are something that you might want to talk to Joe Anderson about.
Oh. Oh, that’s interesting. Oh. At any rate, about three years ago I was invited to become one of the project judges, project judge, at Intel’s International Science Fair (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) that was being, it’s still funded, I think, by Intel. And, this one this time was being held in Phoenix, Arizona and I was asked to come and help judge physics projects (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) from kids all over the world. These are all the winners, all the U.S. winners in their own high schools, and own cities, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and a lot of the European and Asian winners. Intel, I guess, paid their way and they were all in Phoenix, and I was invited as a judge, which I enjoyed immensely. About three years, yeah, three years ago. Well, they had also invited ten Nobel Prize winners to come in, from different fields. This wasn’t just physics. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) The science fair had all kinds of things going on, all kinds of science and engineering. But, so they had invited ten Nobel Prize winners of the past. They first spoke to all the kids who were there with projects and then they spoke separately to the judges. And, I look up on the stage and there is Norman Ramsey, up on the stage. That’s three years ago. He was already older than I was, [Laugh] you know, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) when he was an instructor, and he looked just like I remembered Norman Ramsey, except for his head of hair all white. And, he spoke clearly to the judges, giving pep talks, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and interesting insights, and then he left the stage. And, the only other thing I noticed was that he was using a cane and he had with him, helping him, a young lady. And, and I went over to him and I said, “Professor Ramsey, I don’t know whether you can recognize me at all, but I remember, I took your course in quantum mechanics. It was the basic course. It was the first course in quantum mechanics.” And, I pinpointed the year as 1947, maybe, perhaps it was ‘48. And he, he thought back and then he turned to me and he said, “Ed,” because we had our name tags on, he said, “Ed, what I taught you then is still true.” [Laugh] That’s the comment he made. So, we chatted just a little bit. I did tell him that I still had the notes that I had taken in his course so long ago. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, and I figure that he must have been at least ninety-one years old three years ago. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And then I’ve seen, from time to time, indications that he’s still active. Well, I haven’t seen anything yet in any magazine or journal this year so far, but I think I saw something in a journal last year, and that would make him at least ninety-three or ninety-four years old, and he’s still active. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Those two people had a great impact on my life. You know, all of a sudden you’ve got me realizing that there really, really were some very specific people (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) who had an impact on my life all the way from, actually all the way from junior high school, through high school, through college, through graduate school. So at any rate, I think the final courses I took at Harvard in the graduate program were two summer courses. One was in millimeter wave technology. This was the frontier of radar and microwaves. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) It was millimeter waves, the real frontier. I took a course in that. And because I knew one way or the other I’d have to pass a reading course in German I took a course in German. Except if you take a course in German at Harvard it’s aimed at people in the humanities. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So, a big deal thing for German was reading Wilhelm Tell. Well, it turned out with all my word cards in German and reading Wilhelm Tell I wasn’t very interested in that at the time. I think I’d be more interested now. The course in millimeter wave technology was taught by three real experts in that field, all from Harvard and MIT.
And those were?
And names I have with the lecture notes.
I have those notes. I’d have to refresh my mind on those.
So, I ended up with an A+ in that course, but probably balanced by a C in German. [Laugh] My Wilhelm Tell reading, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and that sort of thing. They sort of balanced out. Otherwise, I had pretty much straight A’s in, at Harvard. I had almost straight A’s at Brown. It took me a semester or so at Brown to kind of wind up and to really get going. So, but it was almost straight A’s at Brown. It was almost straight A’s at Harvard. Other capable people at Harvard would include the King brothers, R.W.P. King and his younger brother, Donald King (?). Experts in antennas, antenna design. And, although I didn’t have a great deal of interest in antennas and antenna design I was really aiming very, very much toward physics, per se. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, another course at Harvard that was very, very beautiful was a course on the fundamental experiments in the field of physics. Now, we didn’t have time in one semester to set these things up, so Harvard had set up all of these fundamental experiments in physics like Milliken’s oil drop experiment. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Harvard had a setup. Well, there’s a disadvantage, but if they’re going to set up ten critical experiments for us to gain experience with they’ve got to do it ahead of time. So, I actually measured the fundamental charge on the electron with equipment like Milliken’s oil drop experiment, at Harvard. That course, purely experimental, was really significant. The guy who ran it, not overly impressive, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) but I had the chance to do ten fundamental experiments and really make measurements, run the things. If something went wrong with the equipment, we got help. But, I had that opportunity. I was becoming an experimentalist. With that course, I was becoming an experimentalist. That also explains Brown to a certain extent. I went to Brown, finally. Brown had Harry Farnsworth. Davison and Germer of Bell Labs received the Nobel Prize in physics for discovering, truly discovering experimentally the wave nature of the electron. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Harry Farnsworth, had he been just a little bit faster, on his interpretation of things that he was seeing, might have been in their shoes. But, for a number of reasons, one reason is that Davison and Germer at Bell Labs had very strong financial funding at Bell Labs, even in those early days of the 1920s, ‘25, they had still good funding at, I believe, at Bell Labs. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Whereas, Harry Farnsworth was scrounging for little bits of money. So, he had all kinds of worries in addition to his work.
Well, Bell Labs was organized in ‘25.
Bell Labs was organized and poor Harry Farnsworth was in three different places, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Maine in Orono, and Brown University. And, had he looked carefully, so carefully, at his early work he could have been the one who really proved the wave nature of the electron. And, I think that troubled him all through life. Not terribly, but I think it really did. Because, he was not truly an outgoing person. He was really kind of inward and a little difficult to talk with. With that kind of a person, he doesn’t let himself out, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and I think he, I think it troubled him a little bit to know that he could have been the first person ever on Earth to prove the wave nature of the electron. And he, he just missed it a bit, and Davisson and Germer got it. De Broglie, who had seen this from a more theoretical point of view, also received the Nobel Prize a bit later than that. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) But, Farnsworth was a wonderful experimentalist, just wonderful. And, at any rate, I joined (Butler: And, did you...) Farnsworth’s group.
Did you go to — you went to Brown to join his group?
So, I went, I left Harvard with (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) two masters degrees, purposely to go to Brown to work with Harry Farnsworth, specifically to work with Harry Farnsworth, and to be weekends with Vivian. [Laugh] (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) At last what weekends we had. She found out after we, especially after we married — we married while we were at Brown, she right after her undergraduate (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) degree and me during my PhD thesis experimental work, never did she realize she’d be in my laboratory probably more than several evenings working with me until midnight, you know, really moving to get things going. That was a great experience with a guy who was really difficult to work with but a tremendous experimentalist, working with equipment that only he and maybe a few others in the world could create, and teach us how to accomplish this sort of thing. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) We had a little interesting bit of a problem. At that particular time he was really now dealing with graduate students who had all served in the U.S. military, and all had life-changing experiences. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And so, we were different kinds of graduate students. And, we saw what could happen. There was a graduate student there who was never in the military who seemed to be a lifelong graduate student. He didn’t seem to mind whether he was there six years or eight years, ten years, but we did mind. We wanted to get on with life. One of my classmates there in the graduate program, also working with Farnsworth, was, was a young man who had flown B-25 medium bombers over Germany during World War II, and he had been shot down several times, survived those several times, thrown into German prison camps several times, and escaped from the German camps several times, and made his way with the underground back to England to fly other B-25 medium bombers. This guy was a glutton for punishment. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Well, he was one of the students. Russ Sherburne was his name. And…
How do you spell that?
S-H-E-R-B-U-R-N-E. Russ Sherburne. I believe he ended up in the Physics Department, I think, at the University of Arizona, or Arizona State University in Physics, and I think he took on the physics of fire, the physics of fire, F-I-R-E. And that amused me, because he had the habit of having in his laboratory a box full of hot, spicy hot peppers, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and he would munch on these peppers, you know, like ten a day, these hot, spicy peppers. So, when I first learned years later that he was now doing research in the field of fire, the concept of hot, spicy peppers and fire made some sort of a humorous impact on my thinking. And, I never saw him again individually, but I saw an announcement of his death oh some few years ago, maybe, maybe five years ago, six years ago. Russ Sherburne, and I think I have the spelling almost right. But, Physics Department, researcher, and teacher at either University of Arizona or Arizona State, I think. I think. But, it turns out that we were those kind of people.
That is the kind of people who were impatient to get through?
Who had been in the military? Who were impatient to get through? We actually, as a group, met with Professor Farnsworth one day and we said, “Professor Farnsworth, you are going to see productivity in this research like you have never seen before, but we are not going to remain long the way that this has happened in the past. We are not going to remain for five years, or six years, or seven years, or eight years. We will go on with our lives. We will not do that.” I believe that Professor Farnsworth was taken back. He had never had a group of graduate students who had grown up in life in a very different (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) way. Russ Sherburne the, perhaps (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) the best example. And, we basically told him that, “We’re going to work our butts off, and we’re good, and we’re going to do, we’re going to know what we’re going to do and we’re going to learn a lot, and we’re going to publish a lot,” and we gave him a lot of publications with us as co-authors. “We’re going to do that. We’re going to do that for you, but we’re not going to be here as low-paid research assistants. We’re not going to do that.” Now, we didn’t define the time, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) but we basically said, “This is what we are.” By that time, Vivian and I were married and we were living in what was called Brown Town, out near the athletic fields of Brown. Brown had brought up naval barracks, now unused, available from the Naval Training Station in Newport where they trained 120,000 men during World War II, Brown brought up a number of those temporary housings to Brown, I guess got them free from the Navy, maybe paid a little something for them, and set up Brown Town for veterans, and their families. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, a relatively small area, but in that relatively small area there were at that moment 300 children. Now, Vivian and I didn’t have any children yet. One of the physicists, Al Bakanowski ended up at Bell Labs. Al Bakanowski, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) of Polish background. By the time he was living with his family in Brown Town and doing graduate work at Brown, and Vivian and I were at Brown Town but no children yet, Al and his wife already had eight children. Al Bakanowski already had eight children. At any rate, the place was swarming with kids. Vivian had to cook over flat, over hot plates. There was no real stove. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) There was counter space with hot plates. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Plug it in and you get hot plates. There was no refrigerator. There was an icebox and an iceman would deliver ice once or twice a week. This sort of thing. It turned out that that’s what Brown made available to guys who now were in graduate school and returning veterans, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and then making this kind of opportunity to them. I completed my PhD work at Brown in two years.
So, you weren’t fooling around at all?
And, I wasn’t fooling.
What . . .
And, I wasn’t fooling around at all. I wasn’t fooling around at all. But, something interesting happened. In the last nine months there, Vivian was with our first child, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) so I had another objective. [Laugh] Not only, not only did I have the earlier objective of wanting to get on with life, but my wife was already with life. [Laugh] (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And so my target was that I must complete my Ph.D. work and I must go find a position that will allow me to support my now beginning-to-grow family. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So, all of that took place.
Vivian was now working at the John Hay Library at Brown University as a librarian. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So, so she was with me occasionally up until midnight, as we took data, as I took data, and as I fixed things that needed fixing. And, I did things in that laboratory which Professor Farnsworth, nor I, nor anyone knew much about. We had to clean parts for high-vacuum work, very high vacuum, ultra high vacuum work. Everything had to be ultra clean. We would clean things, for example, in trichloroethylene with bare hands. Trichloroethylene with bare hands. It turns out that years, and years, and years later that was discovered to be cancer producing. We didn’t even wear rubber gloves. We did things then which would be headlines now if someone did this in a university. Though, we didn’t know these things. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) There was no knowledge about these things. So, I feel fairly convinced that most of us have had apparently survived that kind of activity in experimental work.
Now, was your expectation at Brown to go on to an academic position?
No. And I’m trying to; I’ve been trying to think about that. I actually wanted to go into industry. As much as I truly felt what I was doing was important, high vacuum, ultra high vacuum work, electron diffraction, photoelectric work functions, as much as I knew that was important I really had a piece of me still having some engineering background, some applied physics background from Harvard. I still had a desire to do things that might really create, maybe create products. I really had more of that in me, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) not well defined, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) but I had more of that in me than the desire to continue in academia.
Was that also a part of this group who, who wanted to get through?
Well, it turned out that Russ Sherburne, I believe, went directly to the University or Arizona (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) or Arizona State.
So, he went into an academic position?
Yes. Al Crowell was another guy, whose name I haven’t mentioned before, he was in this group and he ultimately became the head of the Physics Department at the University of Vermont in Burlington. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Burlington? Yeah.
In Burlington. Another person, whose name is slipping me right now, I’d have to say at the moment that at least half of them went on directly to academia.
What about your professor? How did he feel about you wanting to go into industry, or did he make comments one way or the other?
He was, for a man who didn’t always show his emotions he was generally friendly and supportive with me. I have in my files upstairs a letter from him in response — he had sent me something. He finally [Laugh] retired. Well, he died at age ninety-three, in Arizona. That man remained a researcher until the day he died. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, when he could no longer do research after retirement he just asked for a research space, I believe, in the University of Arizona and they gave it to him. But after that didn’t work out totally, after a while he set up a research activity in his basement in his home. He researched until he died. He was awarded a very high prestigious honor and asked to be the keynote speaker at an event, and he sent me a copy of his talk. And, I sent him a copy, a letter bringing, thanking him for that and bringing him up to date on what I was doing. He replied and said he was really happy to see what I had done in life, and he was very, very hopeful. There was no indication that he was unhappy with my not continuing with that work later. Well you see, the ones that went to other universities, well Russ Sherburne didn’t stay with this high, and this high vacuum work at that time was very difficult research. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Nowadays, you can go purchase equipment in low, low-energy electron diffraction, LEED. You can purchase equipment to do that. But, when we were doing this we had to build all of that stuff from scratch and it was some of the most difficult experimental work that you could possibly imagine. So, Russ Sherburne went into a research field involving fire in some way, the physics of fire, and Al Crowell, I think, maybe tried continuing with something like that but I think he changed his field somewhat. So, it was not easy to continue with it. But, but then I’m remembering Bob Schlier, is another name. I think he went on to work for the Lincoln Laboratories. So, that was partway between the university and (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) industry. And gradually, I remember...
That would be MIT’s experimental labs?
Yeah. Lincoln Labs is run by MIT.
But it’s highly oriented toward practical, solving practical problems. So, if you’re at MIT wanting to solve practical problems for a long period of time, in the past, maybe even now, you would go to Lincoln Labs of MIT, and things of this sort. So they, the graduates of, some of them tried to duplicate what they were doing with Farnsworth, but they didn’t, they didn’t always want to continue that work. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) At any rate I ended up completing my work and with full agreement with Farnsworth I still had to complete the final writing when I ended up with my first offer of an industrial position. I had yet to complete the final writing of my Ph.D. thesis. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So, that had yet to be sent in. So, what I was faced with, and this is all with the agreement of Harry Farnsworth, and he was cooperative with this. And so, at any rate, [Laugh] I had the unique problem of going into industry, working in a brand new field, both for me and for the company, and basically promising the company that I could put them into the semiconductor industry, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) brand new field, but never having had any experience with semiconductors. So, I had that task and for the first few months not only that task but finishing the final Ph.D. thesis submission.
Okay. And what was your thesis topic?
And, the thesis topic was — there was a specific title. Well, it was on Electron, Low-Energy Electron Diffraction and the Photoelectric Work Function of Thin Films of Silver on Silver Single Crystals. That was it. And, the whole idea was to try to actually probe, with a low-energy beam of electrons, through it’s wave nature at low energies, to try to truly probe that top monolayer on top of the surface, whatever it is, whether it’s impurities, or gas, or a newly deposited layer of highly pure silver, and what happens when this is heated up or cooled down, to really look at the structure of that silver (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) as one is doing different things to it. But, not only looking at it from the point of view of using the wave nature of the electron, but also using the particle nature of the electron. The particle nature in this interaction with light in the photoelectric effect. So, here I am in the same ultra high vacuum system using the electron’s wave nature to study that surface. And at the same time, virtually, looking at the reaction of light on trapped electrons within the solid surface. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So, measuring work function and measuring structure at the same time, and then having a source within this ultra high vacuum system of ultra pure silver that I can deposit on the face of a silver crystal. And, all of that was really, really worth doing in physics. But, it turns out that it’s only in these last years as I’ve thought about these things a little more fundamentally that I had the pleasure and the excitement of actually seeing the effects of the electron as a wave and as a particle in the same ultra high vacuum system. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) I’m boiling electrons from a hot filament. And by the way, so carefully that no impurities from that metal filament can reach the target crystal. The filament is off here and there’s a, there’s a series of (wick) lenses that we build that bends the electron beam, sends it through a collimator. So, the only thing that finally touches the surface of this single crystal of silver is an electron beam. It isn’t being touched with extraneous impurities and things of that sort. But, as really the last, well really more recently, this could be the last ten years as I think about it, the last twenty years, of realizing that I had that early opportunity, the pleasure, of actually seeing the wave nature of the electron. I boil the particles off to get the source of electrons. Send them through an electron lens and down a collimator as particles. But, they have both characteristics, now that they’re flowing. They have both. They behave, the electrons are behaving both (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) as a particle and as a wave, and now interacts with the surface. And, I see it largely as a wave and I’m measuring that wave, but now I’m picking it up as a little box collector of particles. So, I started with particles, I see the wave nature, I end with particles. It has always had those two natures, both a wave nature and the particle nature. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And I have within one experiment boiling off particles, collecting particles, but in the in between I have it diffracting from a surface in identically the way it should from the atomic structure of that silver on that surface. And, just that, that recognition of having the chance to do that in science is just, just tremendously of great pleasure to just, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) just thinking of it. While doing the work, yes, you know I knew all that but we had to solve the problems. We had to get a system that worked. We had to take a lot of data. We had to try to understand the data. We had to write it all up. Later in life I can look back and say, “My god, wow. What an opportunity to actually see the wave nature and particle nature all together in one experimental system. Just great.” So, at any rate at that point Farnsworth agreed that my work was completed, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and it was during an economic recession in the country. I have a vague recollection of sending out fifty resumes, all to industry, and I think I ended up with four, four interviews, and I think I ended up with three or four offers of positions. But, it was Sylvania Electric that had; it’s an old-line New England company that largely manufactured vacuum tubes, which semiconductors would eventually displace. It manufactured vacuum tubes. One of the world’s biggest manufacturers of vacuum tubes, and also of light bulbs, lighting of various kinds. It had a centralized research lab something of the type that you’re indicating here, but not one of the big fifteen. But, it had a centralized lab in Bayside, New York, and that was the organization that offered me the position. And they asked me, in the interview, “Ed, could you put us into this new semiconductor thing?” They wanted, they wanted, I think they had some inkling that maybe their vacuum tube business will ultimately be in trouble because of the invention of the transistor, and they asked me, “Could I help put them into that field?” And, I said, “Yes, I could.” But, I had never had any experience in the field. I just felt confident that (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) whatever the problem was, or problems were, I could handle it, whatever it was.
Now, you said you were given offers by other companies (Clarke: Yes.) in addition, too?
Yes. And, I’m trying to remember. There was one company, and I’m trying to remember the name of it, that manufactured instrumentation, a company down in Philadelphia. They manufactured instrumentation and I, and I’m having difficulty — it was a long time ago — difficulty trying to remember what the other one or two were. But, the semiconductor idea really appealed to me. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) It just caught me. And, I don’t, I don’t linger too much over decision making. I just sort of, “Hey, you know, that looks okay.” I had no hesitation. I honestly said, “Yeah, I can help you do this.” But it wasn’t based on my experience. Apparently, it was based on a feeling that, “Hey, maybe a young physicist can do anything.” (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So, maybe I’m wrong on that, but it turns out I didn’t have any qualms about, “Yeah,” saying, “I’ll do that. I can help you with that.” And so, I was brought into the physics group of that centralized Sylvania facility in Bayside, New York, and it had a separate building for research in metallurgy. It had a separate building for research in chemistry of various kinds. It had a separate research building in physics. And they were just starting to develop this small group in semiconductors, and there were, I think, two or three other people already there who were now trying to learn something about semiconductors. (Butler: Okay.) And so, I came in. And, one of the people there was a young lady named Frieda Stahl, was a lady, whom we’re both, Vivian and I, still very close friends. She retired now. She had worked as a physicist and educator after Sylvania, on the West Coast in a college in Los Angeles. She’s still friends with us. So, that was the first lady physicist I had ever met in my very first industrial job. A second woman in that group was theoretical physicist Ester Conwell. And then, a couple of other capable people were brought in, and here I was and I could do anything I wanted, except I had agreed to work on semiconductors. So, what I had to do was anything I wanted to do that had to do with semiconductors. And I quickly made the decision that, because I began learning something about semiconductors, that the surface of semiconductors would be very, very important. And, lo and behold that’s not too far removed from what I had done at Brown with Farnsworth, surface physics. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And yet, this was not the kind of thing that this very complex business of setting up ultra high vacuum systems and doing electron diffraction of photoelectric effects, that was not going to be very close to the problems of surfaces of semiconductors. “But, semiconductor devices are electronic devices, so why don’t I do, why don’t I dream up ways of looking at the surface that are directly electric, electric currents. Why don’t I measure electric currents on surfaces, related surfaces. So, I carved that section out, but there were other problems that had to be solved first. Single crystals were not readily available. So, I had to learn, on behalf of Sylvania, how to grow single crystals. And, at the time we were working almost totally, and the whole industry was working largely with germanium. And so, we worked with germanium and I had to learn, I had never done it before. I had to learn how to create single crystals of germanium and design the equipment and make it work from scratch, and also how to purify the material, because a working piece of semiconductor has to be highly controlled with very few impurities, tiny, tiny amounts of impurity, and then proper numbers of the proper kinds of impurities put into the material. I had to learn all that stuff from scratch. In doing that, I was able to put Sylvania into a position where they could think about production. And, I had a young man working for me — by the way, industrial companies didn’t often know anything about physics so they didn’t have any titles for a physicist. If we came in as a chemist or a, well chemistry they knew a little more about, but they usually called everybody “engineer.” (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So, I was a senior engineer, even though I was a physicist. But, from their point of view I was a senior engineer. I had working for me, whom we hired, a young, a much younger guy, well somewhat younger than myself, a junior engineer and I had him working closely with me, for example, on the design and construction of equipment for producing single crystals (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) of pure germanium. And, lo and behold, that put us even further ahead with Sylvania wanting to begin manufacturing a few things. And so, John Welty, this junior engineer moved to manufacturing for Sylvania, and much later in time, actually ended up working for Motorola in Phoenix and eventually became the head of Motorola Semiconductor Division. So I trained a young guy (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) who first worked for Sylvania’s production group and eventually ends up running Motorola’s semiconductor division, with Motorola becoming very large in semiconductors. So, I trained that young kid, who eventually did that sort of thing. That was sort of fun. Then myself, and it turned out within the industry, there were maybe two or three others like myself who saw that surface properties were crucial. So myself plus, I think, two or three others — I’m trying to remember their names, one of them had the name, it was, had the last name Kingston. I’m trying to remember other names. But, there was a small group of us in different companies, different laboratories, I think all industrial laboratories really tackled this surface problem. Crucial. A semiconductor device would not work, or work properly, or would not have high reliability unless you had control of the surface properties. And so, myself and those people created the foundation for that kind of knowledge. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So, I met my promise to Sylvania. I helped put them into the business and I did my truly, some of it was quite basic research. But, I was slowly but surely becoming concerned about real things, products that might be of help in the electronics industry, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and the decision point came along six years later, and I had a problem. Because they had promoted me to head up that group. They had already made the decision that they would offer this position to me to head that group. But, a friend of mine had come to me at about the same time and said, “Ed, Sperry Rand wants me to set up a whole new, for the first time ever, semiconductor division for Sperry, and would you join me and help me do that?” And now, his job was coming much closer to device development and production. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, I really thought about that a lot. And, I ended up realizing that Sylvania was still wedded to vacuum tubes. They didn’t fully realize that they really, that that business would be put out of business eventually. But now, it was not as fast as I thought. It took a long time for the vacuum tube industry to be put out of business, because in competition they’re going to, they’re not going to stand around and be put out of business. They’re going to be, learn to make tiny little vacuum tubes, small ones anyway, and they learned how to do that better. But the vacuum tubes went out of business. Eventually it took something like twenty years, and they’re still not fully out of business, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) but they’re almost fully out of business. There will always be some business for vacuum tubes. But, I was beginning to realize that Sylvania really was pouring its money continuously into vacuum tubes. It was one of the world’s largest vacuum tube manufacturers in lighting.
So, it was trying to save its field of expertise?
Yeah. They were beginning to look at semiconductors as, “Well, let’s stay abreast of that field to know what’s going on,” rather than saying, “Let’s really dive into that field.” And, instead of spending millions of dollars continually on vacuum tube development, let’s put half of the money into semiconductors and half into vacuum tubes. It was not at all clear they were going to do that. They were just going to do enough work to have knowledge in the field. And, that was becoming clear to me. Whereas, my friend had come to me, which is an awfully nice feeling for somebody to come and say, “Ed, I need your help. Will you come and help?”
And, your friend’s name was?
Was Bernie Rothlein.
Yeah. And, he had been with Sylvania earlier. We had known each other for a year or two, earlier, but then he had left to work for the Signal Corp, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and then Bulova Watch for a while. They thought they wanted to get in but then they wanted to get out. In fact, he hardly got started with Bulova, if I recall. They gave him a job and he hardly got started and then they said, “Well, we changed our mind,” you know. So, he’s in a peculiar position at that point. Well then Sperry Rand came along; Sperry Gyroscope was the original parent company on Long Island. Sperry came along and said, “Hey we want to, want you to put together for us a full new division.” And, Bernie turned to me and said, “Hey Ed, will you come in and help?” and I said, “Yeah, I will.” I finally had to realize in my own mind that Sylvania was not going to do this full-time. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) It turned out historically Sylvania kept going for fifteen years after that and then left.
What would you see as your two biggest accomplishments at Sylvania?
Two biggest accomplishments at Sylvania? To actually help them. First of all, some rather basic research on surface properties of semiconductors. That was number one. Number two, actually really, truly helping them get into the field (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) as close to production as I could help them get. I was down in this centralized research lab on Long Island. Their production was up in Woburn, Massachusetts. And, I delivered a person, John Welty, to them to help them prepare materials. That was critical to this whole business. And, they had done some work in semiconductors during World War II. They had produced some of the semiconductor detectors for radar. The front end of all radar has a little diode, a little point contact, a little diode at the front end that detects. You send out a microwave signal and something bounces back from a (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) target, an airplane or a ship, and that little diode detects that little bit of energy coming back and (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) is your signal that you’ll look at on a radar screen. So, they were in that business along with Bell Labs and Western Electric. They were the two principal manufacturers of those simple little microwave detectors. That’s how Bell Labs got into transistor invention, because Bell Labs and Western Electric were in on these detector diodes made of silicon, usually, some germanium, but made of silicon. That’s how Western Electric got involved, how Bell Labs and Western Electric got involved in semiconductors, because they were supplying, along with Sylvania, these little simple point-contact diodes for the input of radar systems. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Send a signal out, back it comes, and you detect it. You needed those to detect. That’s how they ended up being in the field of semiconductors at all. If they hadn’t been doing that they might not have invented the transistor, Brattain, Bardeen, and (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Shockley would not have invented the transistor at that point. But, they were already a little bit in it and they were thinking about amplification and the first way they tried it didn’t work. But then they were trying to probe the surface of germanium to see, “Well, why isn’t it working?” The idea was you come down close with a conducting plate, maybe an insulator in between. Come close, put a voltage on it. You ought to be able to modulate the conductivity. You attract carriers up toward that plate, but they’re in the semiconductor. So, you’re changing the conductivity of the semiconductor. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) That ought to become an amplifier. You put a signal here on this plate and you’ll have an amplifier by changing the resistivity of this material a great deal. Well, it didn’t work. And, they took material then and probed it with point contact probes to try to figure out, “Why doesn’t it work.” And, it’s at that point where they accidentally invented the point contact transistor. They found a signal going into this point contact was actually producing an amplified signal on this other contact. So, it was an invention, but it was an accident, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) of good research. It was research carried on carefully so that they could truly believe that this was not anomalous, that a little signal on this side was coming out with a big signal on this side, and there was no anomaly because they knew what they were doing and the experiment was well done. So, it was a carefully planned accident, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) on the point. Now, the point contact transistor didn’t live long as a device. It’s too unreliable. And Shockley, it was Bardeen and Brattain who did this and Shockley wanted to gain some credit because they worked for him. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Well, the patent attorneys told Shockley that that couldn’t be. His name could not be added as a co-inventor because it would disqualify the patent eventually if somebody wanted to attack the patent. So, the attorneys there, of Bell Labs, told Shockley, “No, you can’t do that.” He was very highly angry and disappointed and he went off in a huff and stayed away for a month or so, or two, or whatever it was, and in that man’s genius of a mind he invented the concept of a junction transistor, depending not on the point contacts on a very unreliable surface but on something that you could truly design that goes on within the solid of the surface. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) He designed that. He invented that. Now he came back. Now he’s part of the team. He’s the boss, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) but now he’s part of the team. He invented something. So, when the Nobel Prize was awarded some years later he was one of the winners of the Nobel Prize. His anger, and truly the guy could really become angry apparently, in his anger he just went off and invented the junction transistor, out of his head.
Were you interacting with researchers at parallel companies?
When — the answer is yes. It turns out, there was a point in time where I could maybe guess that maybe at most a couple of hundred of us at different companies and laboratories were working on these issues and trying to create the industry. And, there was a point in time where I was reasonably convinced that we were a little bit more loyal to the science and technology than we were to our sponsoring companies with whom we worked. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) We did trade information at times just enough so that maybe we could help a friend. There was a particular issue. Everyone was trying to learn how to grow single crystals. The way you grow a single crystal is to have a small piece of single crystal that you then dip down into the molten material, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and then you slowly withdraw it and it solidifies. And so, this crystal grows. Well, where do all the little seeds come from? Well, maybe some people were having a little trouble and so maybe I would give a friend in another laboratory a little piece, a seed, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) or maybe somebody over there would give me a little piece of something, a seed. Actually, in my own case I think I took a chunk of polycrystal and chopped it up and got a piece of single crystal with the proper orientation and it was okay. But, I also think I may have given some help, a little here and there, and they gave me a little help here and there. It was not, it was not cutthroat competition during that period of time. (Butler: Okay.) We were getting our own patents. I had three patents resulting from my work, one of them being very, very important to the whole industry, and other people had their patents in the hands owned by their companies, mine owned by Sylvania, and but we, we met once or twice a year at least, formally, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and we were helping each other a little bit by opening up. Our companies were not yet preventing us from describing the results of our research. Nowadays I think life is a bit different.
Uhm-hmm. When do you think that change came?
I think it was changing at about the time that I left the industry.
So, about 1965?
In about 1965. I think it was beginning to change then. Beginning.
People now became more concerned about all the patents they had and all that sort of thing, and we were, and with National Semiconductor let’s face it we had, we had made, Bernie and I had made the decision to actually become a major manufacturer in the world.
Okay. Let’s first go with, with what — he recruits you to Sperry Rand?
And, that’s in 1957?
Fifty — yeah, 1956 I left; sometime in ‘56 I left Sylvania.
Came to Sylvania in ‘50, left Sylvania in ‘56.
And you left, left Sylvania?
Left Sylvania. Came to Sylvania in ‘50, left Sylvania in ‘56, after six years. And, I told you the two things I think I accomplished for Sylvania.
And, there was no animosity. Everyone whom I left there I felt that I was leaving in friendship. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And then, then I joined Bernie at Sperry. And, it turned out that there was another person or two, like a fellow named Joe Gruber, and Bob Hopkins, and Art Seifert. I think we had seen them, one of them or two of them, maybe at Sylvania. At any rate, we had...
So, there was quite a bit of moving around between companies?
Oh! When we get to it I’ll show you that chart. [Laugh]
Talk about moving around companies. [Laugh] There was a lot of moving around companies. And, as far as I could tell the friendships were okay. They survived. The (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) friendships survived. And, and so we hired and Bernie hired some people whom we had known a little bit, like Joe Gruber, and Bob Hopkins, and Art Seifert, and we hired the guy who, younger than we, a new Ph.D. in physics who had gotten his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and I think at Pennsylvania he actually, there was just very little semiconductor work going on in universities. This industry was created in industry. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) This was not created in the universities. Now today, there’s a lot of good university work going on, primarily in things like nanoscience. And, if they’re doing (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) semiconductors they’re trying to do nano semiconductors. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) But, at that time very little was going and University of Pennsylvania was one where, in physics, they did have a good physics program in semiconductors. Lark Horovitz at University of, Purdue University, Lark Horovitz (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) had a good group doing semiconductor work. In fact, there’s a feeling on their part, I think, in the early days, that if they had only looked at the data more carefully they might have been the inventors of the transistor. Lark Horovitz’s group at Purdue University. But fundamentally, there was very little going on at that time. It was truly created, except for the good work at Pennsylvania and the good work at Purdue; it was really something going on in the industry.
Now, within industry what was the motivating force for pushing this forward?
Ah. With Bell Labs it was communications.
This was to replace vacuum tubes. I can show you things that I’ve used in my lecturing to the public (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and to students at Brown and other places, all over.
But yet, yet Bell doesn’t put it into its equipment, really, until the mid ‘60s?
Well, that may be and but they had an arm (Butler: And...) for trying to do it through Western Electric. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) But they…
By the way, I co-authored the history of Western Electric.
Oh, did you?
Oh, did you?
Oh. Okay. So.
I had (Clarke: Yeah.) the Lucent Postdoctoral Fellowship.
One of the things we did with Western Electric and Bell Labs, when we had created National Semiconductor, we had a number of, we made a number of key decisions. We were the first company to say we’d go only with silicon, which became (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) the critical material. Other companies were also going silicon, like Texas Instruments and Fairchild. In fact, Texas Instruments, I think, produced the first silicon transistor, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) but they were still doing some work with germanium. Fairchild, I think, was still doing some work with germanium. They were all doing some work with germanium. They were also all doing work with simpler things, like diodes and rectifiers. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) One-junction or one-contact things.
Why did you guys decide to focus on silicon?
Because it looked, because everybody knew, and we knew, that it would be the material needed by the customers at the, the principal customers at the moment were the military and the Space Program. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) They needed...
Which, by the way, (Clarke: Yeah.) was where Western Electric was producing their, their transistors until the mid ‘60s.
Okay. Now, now it turns out that the critical issue was that silicon could go to higher temperatures, the kind that you might expect in violent environments, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) like you might find in military equipment or the Space Program. That, this would take you to, they would still operate like amplifiers or switches (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) at higher temperatures. So, we knew, everybody knew that. But, we took the risk of saying that “We are only going to do silicon. Only,” and all the others were still doing germanium. Well Sperry, actually because of us, Sperry was also doing only silicon.
But, but… let’s go back then and how is it that you and Bernie Rothlein, and your group of eight, decided to leave Sperry?
An unhappy several weeks. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Bernie and I — and, Bernie could easily stand up and say, “Bernie and the rest.” I can easily say, “Bernie and I, and the rest.” (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Somebody else, like Dick Rau, could say, “Bernie, and Ed, and Dick Rau.” We had created that semiconductor division from scratch. Part of the reason for my white hair is probably fifteen years of creating everything from scratch. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Never going into an organization that already existed in semiconductors. I always helped to create things from scratch. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Three years, we put that thing into being and one day the management came, initially to Bernie, and said, “Bernie, guess what? We have already hired somebody who will now run this place.” [Laugh] Each one of us can know how Bernie felt. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) We had just busted our butts creating this thing over three years. The usual, wonderful experience of working twelve hours a day, ten hours a day, and making things truly work, and then to be told, “Oh, by the way we’ve already hired someone to come in and — oh, by the way you’ll report to that new person we just hired.” And, I guess they quickly then also told me. And, they told us the name of the person. Now, if it had been a person whom we could respect, I think Bernie...
You mean, respect as a scientist or...
We expected somebody whom, someone whom we could respect. Whatever. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) I’ll get to that in about (Butler: Okay.) a minute. A person whom we could respect. It could be anybody as long as we could respect that person. If it had been a person whom we could respect, I probably could have said, “Okay,” and I could probably could have talked Bernie into it. I probably could have said, “Bernie, come on. Calm down.” And calm was, Bernie was a gentle human being, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) a wonderful human being. So, he wasn’t flying off in the deep end. He was just angry and unhappy. If it had been a person we could respect and that I was willing to do it, I think I could have convinced Bernie. “Bernie, let’s really try to do it. Let’s try to make it work.”
Okay. Who was it that they brought in?
In my own writings I’ve used his initials. Because, if he is still living I don’t want to hurt him. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) If I were to discover that he is, has now passed away I would have no feelings about that. But, he had a very, very poor reputation in the industry. He was just known as, as an incompetent, as a bad manager, and neither Bernie nor I could understand why couldn’t Sperry have discovered this? Why couldn’t Sperry have discovered this? And, why didn’t they trust us enough to talk to us in the beginning about it? They already had hired the guy. So, Bernie and I, who were already serving the whole industry, he and I played — and I could show you some of that — he and I were playing major roles on behalf of the whole industry, formerly through what was then known as the Institute of Radio Engineers. It became the IEEE, Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineering. We were serving on standards committees. We were running standards committees to help the whole industry of semiconductors. It had to; the semiconductor industry had to develop new, a new dictionary, new terms. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) It had to develop new measurements, new tests, and who could do it? Us. We people who are so busy already, but we had to make room for, for doing this on a voluntary basis. So, instead of working only twelve hours a day, you know, sometimes we had to work more. Whatever. But, both Bernie and I are involved in those kinds of efforts and we were involved in one of the meetings in New York, and at the end of the meeting we were eating in a nice deli – Bernie Rothlein knew nice delicatessens in New York City, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and so we’re eating pastrami sandwiches. I remember this like I remembered those people who have had such an impact on my life. We’re eating pastrami sandwiches that are really good, and we’re looking at each other, and Bernie is sort of saying to me, “Ed, what are we going to do?” And, I’m saying to Bernie, “Bernie, what the heck are we going to do?”
Do you think Sperry brought in this manager because they expected to shut the program down?
No. I don’t think so. No, I don’t think so.
However, they did fail by bringing this person in. Now, they want, might want to blame Bernie, or maybe Bernie and me. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) They might want to blame Bernie or Bernie and me for their failure, but that’s not fair. They should blame him. They brought him in and he failed. Now, it’s true we brought in a few people from Sperry, whom we wanted to continue working with, but Sperry’s failure was Sperry’s own failure, and they made life difficult for us, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and we lived through that difficulty. But, they failed. No, I think they brought the man, brought the man in to try to make a success of it and he messed it up. And, at that moment over pastrami sandwiches — and apparently we’re about to have a little lunch, [Laugh] and you wouldn’t like pastrami sandwiches, because that’s not...
That’s not my thing.
That’s not your thing. But, we looked at each other and we said, “Okay, let’s do it. Let’s do it.” Almost the same thing that happened to the guys like Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) who joined Shockley at Shockley Semiconductor, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) he was a beast to work for. Shockley was a genius. A wonderful...
It was also a group of eight?
Yeah. And so, the eight couldn’t put up with this guy. Well, we didn’t let the opportunity to work with the newcomer. He already had a reputation that we didn’t want to even bother with. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So we, at that moment, over pastrami sandwiches, we said, “We’ll do it. We’re going to do our own.” Let’s have lunch.
We’re back after a delicious dinner, and we want to thank your wife for that.
I will, we will, I will definitely thank her for that.
She’s been a good wife for sixty-one years.
Very good. And, as I recall when we were winding up for lunch we had just arrived at the decision to form National?
That, with you and Bernie Rothschild. Or, not Rothschild.
Rothlein. R-O-T-H-L-E-I-N. Yeah.
With Bernie Rothlein, (Clarke: Yeah.) making that decision. How did you bring in the other six?
Too easily. When we finally made the decision and started talking to venture capitalists — and by the word, it’s my — by the way, my understanding is that the term “venture capital” had not yet been invented, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) but obviously we had to — neither Bernie nor myself had had very much money, so we had to bring in people with cash. As soon as we were really deeply involved with that, and Bernie and I had resigned, literally, this, literally everyone wanted to come with us. They wanted, they were willing, so many of them, everybody, so many of them were willing to give up a guaranteed wage or salary with a big company to come with a fledgling group that they knew little of a success, possibilities of success or failure. And, the answer is really, I think they loved Bernie Rothlein tremendously and I think they liked me okay, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and they wanted to come with people whom they trusted. And, we actually had a problem. We knew the people that we would prefer; we would want to come with us. And, when we asked them to come with us there was no question. They didn’t say, “Well, let us go home and talk to our wives about it.” There was a little bit of question in the mind of Dick Rau, who was one of our wonderful people, one of those still living. Apparently, something he has told me through something he wrote to me, apparently in his mind there was a little question. He’s the Ph.D. in physics from the University of Pennsylvania (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and he wondered when we asked him to join us, he wondered whether or not this was a good choice for him personally, and he made the decision though. The answer was, “Yes, he’s coming with us.” And, it was a quick decision. But, he apparently, in the few minutes it took him to make a decision he felt some uncertainty. Apparently with the others, there was no uncertainty at all. They all said, “Yeah. Yeah. We’re coming. We’re going. We’re coming with you.” You know. Then when the company is underway, others wanted to come up. There were manufacturing people. There were technicians. There were others, all kinds of levels of workers who wanted to come. They asked, “Could we, could we, could you give us a job? Could you come with us?” And, for two reasons we, we had to say, “No.” It was very difficult to say, “No.” (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, the two reasons were, one, in spite of our anger and disappointment with Sperry’s decision that we felt we could not live with we had no, I felt in my mind we had no right to take all the people who wanted to come up. I just felt that was not, that was not fair to take those people. Secondly, and in many cases, they would not have necessarily been our first choice. So, there were these two things. But I, I, we could have created a, from the point of view of people we could have created an instant company because; I believe people trusted Bernie and myself a great deal. That trust showed up later, you know, during the operation of National in different ways. But it, we made our first choices and every one of them came.
Were there people that you and Bernie turned to after you had said, “Let’s do it,” to decide how to do it?
We always had good communications with the people we asked to join us. And, things that we did, Bernie and myself, so-called “did alone,” I think all of our decisions kept in mind our knowledge of our people, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and things that they felt should be done. I, it turned out in reality that it was Bernie and I who spent most of the issue with the fundraising, and I think, and it turned out Bernie was a little more sensitive to end products. I was more sensitive than Bernie. He was a good physicist, but he — a very good physicist — but he had more sensitivity to end products and I had more sensitivity to how we could do it with the science and technology. And, during the critical times of fundraising there was really just the two of us. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) But, we were not ignoring the people whom we took in as our first choice.
Were there people that you turned to to learn how to raise funds?
No. No. We learned on the run.
And, how easy was that?
It was fun but exhausting. It was Bernie who first made contact with Bud Ryden, R-Y-D-E-N, from Minneapolis, Minnesota. And, he had, he was an honest fundraiser on behalf of one of the Lutheran churches, the Lutheran Brotherhood. I believe he was a member of their Board of Directors of the (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Lutheran Brotherhood. That’s a, an insurance company for part of the Lutheran (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) neighborhood of the United States. I think that was part of his full-time job. Maybe he left that to become a venture capitalist. The word had not been invented yet. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Somehow or other, Bernie made contact with Bud Ryden and so he was the first, Bud was the first guy, really nice guy, really capable guy, a guy you could trust, and he, he basically said, “Yes.” But then I learned about, what I think at least true at that time, venture capitalists at least at that time, did not want to go it alone. They weren’t that, they weren’t that certain.
They wanted to share the risk?
Yeah. They weren’t that certain of their own decision. They wanted others to make the same decision and go in as a team. So, Bud Ryden made contact with Dean Witter Associates. Dean Witter Associates still exists. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Although, it’s part of, let’s see its part of another financial, big financial group now. But, Dean Witter Associates — and, made contact with the partners. And, that’s where the fun really began. It was easy talking with, with Bud Ryden from Minneapolis. It just went nice and smoothly. It all went smoothly with Dean Witter Associates. But, Dean Witter Associates, by this, we were living in southwestern Connecticut, and Sperry Rand was, our semiconductor division was in south Norwalk, Connecticut. I lived in Ridgefield. Bernie lived in South Norwalk. So, all of a sudden he and I found ourselves, over several times at least, invited down to Wall Street on a number of several evening occasions. And, they would usually grill us and then I guess we would go to dinner afterwards, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and that was how I first learned to sit like a Japanese person at a Japanese restaurant and enjoy Japanese food, somewhere down near Wall Street. And, they would keep grilling, continue grilling us all through the meal. It was really fun, but I now had to make the trip all the way home to Ridgefield in Connecticut, and Bernie had to go to his house in south Norwalk. And, I was never able to tell Vivian what I had eaten that evening meal. Because, the grilling and questioning was also, was going on continuously. And I, I was continually going from one question and an answer to another question and an answer. And, at the time I thought actually I sort of enjoyed it. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, and that happened a few times. In one of the presentations we were introduced, I think almost individually, to the twelve partners, because the issue here was Dean Witter Associates making the investment, not Dean Witter Associates making an investment on behalf of...
Dean Witter Associates?
The other people.
Their customers. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, of course, I quickly realized that that’s the way they become rich. When they finally have made a decision to go with something they’re really not sharing it. They’re going as wealthy partners and maybe later on they might share it after the price is higher or something. I don’t know. But we, I think, so one evening we met, this was down near Wall Street, one evening we met all, I guess almost individually, the twelve partners. They introduced us to two other people and they introduced them as “potential investors,” and we didn’t know them. They were introduced as potential investors. Years later we found out that they were both from Bell Labs, Semiconductor Division, Semiconductor Group. It just happened we didn’t know them. Apparently that’s the way it was worked out. They didn’t know us. We didn’t know them. They didn’t know us. We knew some people at Bell Labs. One of these two, years later we became great friends with, personal friends. At any rate, they introduced two who were from Bell Labs Semiconductor. And, as we found out years later, those two had the prime “yes” or the “no” decision. They listened to Bernie talk about product and they listened to me talk about science and technology, and how we could do this, and they, those two guys, I didn’t know it at the time, they had up or down decision and they chose up. They said, “Yeah. These guys know what they’re talking about.” It turns out one of them, as I recall, was Jim Early, a very capable guy at Bell Labs, very, very capable guy. And, I think ultimately he ended up at Fairchild, in California. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) The other person we met much later in life on a river cruise. Brown University was sharing a river cruise in Europe with Cornell, and so we were mixed together and I happened to sit at a table with some Cornell people and there was a guy talking about his background in semiconductors at Bell Labs and I kept listening, and all of a sudden I chimed in with my comment. It turned out; he was the other guy many years earlier. He was the second guy, thumbs up, thumbs down, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) in with the twelve partners years and years earlier. And all of a sudden, a big table of people, but all of a sudden he and I are, the only people at that table at that moment are he and I. We’re suddenly recognizing a gulf of years and that he was one of the two of them, thumbs up, and he told me the good news. He said, “You know, they paid us in shares of your stock,” and that was the agreement. Therefore, if the thumbs were up, they were taking payment for their consulting with the twelve partners, they were taking payment in shares of our stock, and if we were as good as they said we were they would benefit. It turns out this one fellow, a river cruise in Europe, and he said, “Ed, we sent our kids through college with the stock that we got from, from this consulting agreement.” The bad news, the sad news, was that he had left behind his wife, who was in deep Alzheimers, and for the first time was taking a trip pretty much on his own. That was the sad news. But, it’s not even clear to me that we actually met those two when we met with the other partners. I think there was a general introduction of us to the twelve partners, and then they said, “Oh, there are also two investors, potential investors here.” So, the twelve partners said, “Yes,” from Dean Witter Associates.
Can you tell us what they said “yes” for? How much?
By the way, you’ll be amazed at the relatively small amount of money. I’ll get to that in a minute. (Butler: Okay.) Because, the third one’s not in yet. The third one turned out to be someone new, Jeptha Wade, an attorney in Boston. Jeptha Wade had married into the Vanderbilt family. And so, we ended up, I’m sure, many times talking to Jeptha Wade and he put some Vanderbilt money into this thing. Now, it turns out the initial investment was $500,000, total.
That’s all. I’ll remind you, if you put in the inflation factor, that’s like $5 million today. (Butler: Okay.) So, that would be like $5 million today. A good factor of ten. Remember, this is 1959, early 1959. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) That’s a long time ago. So, I think I’ve looked at inflation tables just to understand it myself. So, it’s about $5 million in today’s dollars. That was enough to get us started, but there was a general recognition that some money would have to come in later. Well, it turns out it came in later, after about five years, but it didn’t come in from these groups. It came in from Peter Sprague of the Sprague Electric family.
Of course, by that time the stock had...
The stock was trading — there was no initial offering, to our disadvantage. It turns out, people become wealthy, nowadays, if there’s an initial offering, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and then the founders, including the financial people and the technical founders, can put some of their stock into the initial offering. There was never an initial offering for National Semiconductor. This is like that, like the points, related to the point that there was no venture capital. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) I mean the term “venture capital” didn’t exist. And, in all honesty, my feeling after all of that in looking back was that the financial backers I think thought more highly of their dollars as being worth more, a little more, than our technical expertise as people. I think they valued that. So, our own personal rewards are not at all the way they are or have, I don’t know what they’re like today with the economy the way it is. But, but it became very different. So we, we did not benefit from an initial public offering, nor did we benefit greatly from any generosity of the financial people. They were friendly and they were coming in. Bernie and I had looked at each other and said, “The critical thing for us was we want to do this and we want to see if we can do this. We want to be successful. It isn’t the potential money.” We really said this to each other. “It’s not the money. Whatever it is, whatever it is happens.” We actually wanted to see if two physicists could be successful at creating our target of creating a, one of the largest companies in the semiconductor industry, and do it successfully, and compete with the two big guys at the time, which was Texas Instruments and Fairchild. And, we were basically maybe naïve, but you’d have to meet Bernie, but you can’t because he died two years ago. But, he and I had enough confidence to say, “We can do it.” And, we made these critical decisions. Silicon only. No diodes. No rectifiers. We wanted to go totally silicon-active devices, transistors, and eventually integrated circuits. “Don’t bother us with all this other stuff. We just want to focus on this sort of thing.” [Cough] Excuse me. So at any rate, well that, so the financing really — and the salaries. Bernie and I took salaries equal to the salaries we had at Sperry. We just, there was, we had no desire for wealth. If we had desire, we kept it quiet. We were not going to — and, all the guys we brought with us, I think we paid them the same salary they had been paid at Sperry. There was no monetary motivation to come with us. They wanted to come with us. In fact, some of these guys were so wonderful they would have come with us if we had cut their salaries in half and said, “Well, you know, give us two years and we’ll build your salary up again.” They wanted so much to come with us. And so, the people whom we felt should come with us did come with us, and I think all the salaries were basically the salaries already being paid as salary. No motivation to come with us because of higher salaries. No promises of stock options, but we gave everybody stock options. But, there was no promise until things settled down. Peter Sprague came in. It is my recollection that he ran a gigantic, poultry, agricultural poultry activity in Iran, a chicken factory of some kind, chickens, and he made a lot of money. It looked as though he, some people said, “Well, he wasn’t following in the footsteps of the Sprague family in electronics, “(Butler: Uhm-hmm.) resistors and capacitors. And, by this time Sprague was also going into transistors, semiconductor transistors. So, here’s Peter Sprague coming to us, apparently with more money in hand than the electronics part of the family had, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and he came in with $2 million, about five years later. And, we needed the $2 million.
Yeah. That would be ‘64?
And his investment, I think he was the most successful investor in National of anybody. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) He came in and he had $2 million. And now, that would be $20 million today, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) you know. And, he managed to get a substantial promise of equity and things of this sort, and he became a member of the Board of Directors. So, so the total amount of money required to make that company successful was $2.5 million, but over a period of five years. We were very, very careful with the expenditure of money in the new stages. We had to go through two financial VPs when we hired because they weren’t adequate. The first VP, the first person we hired — that’s the one thing we didn’t have. We didn’t have — two things we didn’t have. We didn’t have a financial guy. We didn’t have a marketing guy. The marketing guy we really came out on top. We hired Jack Haggerty from Texas Instruments, and he was a gem. Our first guy we hired as VP for Finance, the first day he’s there, practically a day or two, and we talked to him about the nature of a small company and how we have to be extremely careful with expenditures, within the first few days he had spent some of our money on a rather luxurious-looking office. He had brought in a great big desk. He had brought in wall paintings. He had purchased all this stuff. And, we said, we — he didn’t ask us. He just sort of did it and spent the money. Bernie and I were sitting at metal tables with folding chairs, you know. And, we went to this fellow and said, “Come here. We have to talk to you. Remember we talked about how careful we have to be with the expenditure of money?” Remember we, the initial was $500,000. And he said, “Yeah.” And we said, “Well, why are you doing what you’re doing to your office?” And, we fired him. We brought in a second guy, and we thought we were being more careful, but it turns out after a few weeks, maybe a couple of months, we discovered that he was going behind our back trying to convince the Board of Directors that he should become the president rather than Bernie Rothlein. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And so…
And, what was your position at this point in time?
I was vice president for Operations. (Butler: Okay.) I was the vice president for Operations, Operations being everything, except Marketing, Finance, and Quality Control. You want to separate Quality Control from Manufacturing. You want to have a separate guy doing quality control from those who are manufacturing. You want Quality Control to find any bugs there might be in your product so you can fix them, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and not try to get away in some other simpler way. So, those three things reported, and me, reported directly to Bernie Rothlein. So, let’s see now that — I don’t know. So, where does that leave us on those questions?
Well the immediate thing that comes to mind is you had left a successful company and generally you have contracts. What did Sperry do?
We did not have, I don’t believe we had contracts with Sperry. Now, we may have. I’m just trying to dig into my recollection. I don’t think that we had contracts with Sperry.
If somebody dug it up and found we did, then I’d have to shrug my shoulders and say, “Well, apparently we did.” But, I don’t recall contracts with Sperry. But, Sperry became mighty angry with us. Apparently also Sperry had had some past experience with some small groups leaving Sperry and forming new divisions, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and was trying to figure out a way to not let that happen. And the feeling was, after we thought about it, they sued us. (Butler: Okay.) Yup, they sued us. And…
And, what was the ground for the suit?
The grounds for the suit, they claimed use of proprietary knowledge. The fact that we created all of the proprietary knowledge that they claimed they had I guess is a moot point. If we’re working for Sperry and we create what they’ve got out of our own abilities, but we do it, we’re paid by Sperry, I suppose there’s a good argument that says that they really do own. But, do they own us? Do they own us, what’s in our mind? All these issues came up in the suit. And, the other argument, the other side of the argument is that in this United States of America we are not to be held as slaves. We are allowed to move around, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) to do anything we wish that doesn’t break anyone’s law. What became obvious later was that they were going to hit us as hard as they could to try to discourage other people within the Sperry Rand Univac organization from maybe splitting away. They just wanted to try to make a picture that says, “Hey, if you split from us this is what we’re going to do to you.” So, what happened was they put the full force of some very expensive lawyers on this case and we could not afford very expensive lawyers. So, we hired an attorney from New Haven. He was a very nice guy. And, we carried out our defense on the basis of our product. Our first product was similar to a product we were developing for Sperry, but it was (Butler: Okay.) different, quite different. It was a higher-powered device. It was a lower-frequency device. And, it was just our starting point. It was to be just a starting point kind of thing, because this alloy technology was really not at all the best technology for doing things as we grew, as the whole industry grew further into this business. And so, they did as much damage as they could. It was hurtful. As I’ve done in some of my own writing, I’ve pointed out that it was hurtful to be the subject of that kind of activity. But, the end result was two-fold. One, yes we ended up paying in the equivalent of some royalty on devices that were not their devices but were certainly related to their device. They were different. But, we ended up in an agreement in which the equivalent — it was worded differently — but, the equivalent of our paying them a royalty on that kind of a device. This whole business was their own fault. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) They could have held onto Bernie and myself forever, as long as they let two physicists do the things that these two physicists were capable of doing, with the good people who were with us. And had they not made a mistake in judgment on leadership, okay, it turns out I think, I think maybe — but I don’t know this, I think maybe there might have been some anti-Semitism . . . (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) against Bernie Rothlein, within the management of Sperry. But, I can’t claim that and so I won’t claim it. But, the thought had crossed my mind. And, if that thought had crossed my mind early, early on, and it might have, that would be a reason for my fully supporting Bernie in doing what he had to do. But then to be hit with a big company and the full power of all of its attorneys was not easy, and we had a very friendly lawyer but not a truly top-notch lawyer. So, the decision came out in favor of Sperry, and the end result was basically we did have to pay them a bit of money. Not a lot, but a bit. And, this whole product line, the industry was moving so rapidly this product line was disappearing and (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) whole new technologies were developing so that very quickly in the first year eighty percent of our technology was a totally different technology that (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) had nothing to do at all with Sperry. But, nevertheless they were on the warpath and — but, when you look at the long-term they were unsuccessful and they should blame it on the decisions that they made, not on the decisions that we made. So they basically left the field. I think it took them; it may have taken them a bit more than five years. I’ve forgotten how long it was before they dropped the whole thing. And, and during that period of time, primarily with the newer devices that had nothing to do with Sperry, primarily with the newer devices we were becoming a major supplier to the U.S. military and to the U.S. Space Program.
How did you make those connections?
I — that gem of a Marketing VP whom we hired from Texas Instruments. I suspect the first way we got going was for him to go to Litton Industries, who was producing the navigational unit for NATO’s F-104 fighter, and probably said, “You ought to see our transistors.” And so, I think they split their order between maybe it was Fairchild and National. And, so they had Fairchild transistors and National transistors going into the navigational unit of the F-104 fighter, and apparently they saw some awfully good results from the National transistors. From that point on it went. We ended up providing most of the transistors for the (sono) buoys. (Sono) buoys were dropped into Russian harbors to transmit back to receiving stations the motions of the Russian submarines. That was, they were made by the Hazeltine Corporation. And, I think we provided Hazeltine Corporation with most of the silicon transistors that went into their (sono) buoys. We were in every single phase of the Space Program. Getting up to Apollo there were, you know, maybe ten different, different phases. You first have to see if you can send a man into an orbit around the Earth. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) I believe we had, we had our devices in every single, every single space level of that program, all the way up to Apollo. And, the real gem in my mind, the real gem because of the way I feel about it, we were only one-year-old and we, I think, had already made our first delivery to Litton for the F-104 fighter, and the Air Force apparently got wind of this. And, we’re only a year-old company and the Air Force came to us and said, “Would you manufacture 250,000 units for the Minuteman missile?” The one missile, ICBM, that could be a deterrent to the Soviet Union and they asked us to manufacture 250,000 units. As it turned out, they were used in the inertial guidance system that has to make sure that the missile is on the correct path to Moscow, if that’s where it’s going. It has to make that decision within three minutes of a twenty-minute flight. The inertial guidance system is working feverishly with various inputs and the first, it’s a three-stage rocket engine, the first stage drops off after one minute. Second stage drops off after one minute. Third stage drops off after the third minute. That missile must be perfectly on course to be a deterrent to the Soviet Union, and that’s one place where our devices went. And, the Air Force apparently learned enough about us so that they placed that order with us. The other place they went was in telemetering. In the test vehicles you want to know, “How is the vehicle doing?” The first test vehicle did not come out of a silo in the Midwest. It came out of Cape Canaveral, above ground, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) that was the first test flight, went in the direction of the — do I have the right islands — the Canary Islands in the western edge of Africa. It went from Cape Canaveral in that general direction of western Africa, southwestern Africa, (Butler: Okay.) and a ring of hydrophones in the ocean 4,000 miles away. So, when this thing splashes down, you know, did it hit the target? And, it hit the target. Splashed right down in this circle of hydrophones. Worked perfectly. They had never had a missile ever work that way. Now, you want to know all about that rocket and its flight, and how everything’s working. You have measurements all over this vehicle. Now, you want to send the information back to Control Center to tell you how that missile is working. That’s called “telemetering.” So, a bunch of our devices went into inertial guidance and a bunch went into telemetering, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) making measurements. So, you send all the measurements to the one transmitter. You don’t want a hundred transmitters. You want one transmitter. So, in sequence you make measurements and you send these measurements sequentially. Maybe there are five hundred of them, measurements, in sequence, send them back. And, they got all the information. By the time of the missile crisis, the Cuban Missile Crisis, there were ten Minuteman missiles in operation from Montana. First-hand, they were operational. President J.F. Kennedy was trying to decide what in the world to do with Nikita Khrushchev, and among other things, he did a lot of things, and among other things he did ask, “Are you ready in Montana?” And, the folks in Montana said, “Yes sir, we’re ready.” But, they weren’t quite ready. They were ready to fire, but they didn’t have the complete system ready for safety to prevent accidental firing. They didn’t have that circuit totally ready. But, it was a salute to J.F.K. He said, “We’re ready to fire.” (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, they had the first ten there. I believe that our devices, that 250,000 were enough to put in those first ten operational missiles. I don’t know that for fact, but I think so. Because, they had other tests, including their first shots from underground silos, you know, without warheads, things of that sort. Having played a role to defeat the Soviets in the Cold War, I have to look at that as something of which I have a lot of good feeling.
Uhm-hmm. What, you say that after the first year the technology had changed?
How were you developing the new technologies?
On the run. We just had hardworking people. We did not have what you would call a “research group.” We had good people (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) doing research. Our first really innovative product turned out to be what I think was the first mass-produced integrated circuit. The first, the integrated circuit was invented by Bob Noyce of Fairchild, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and by Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments. They are the inventors of the integrated circuit, where you put more than one transistor on it. We had a need both in the military need and the space need for a, an advanced device to be used as a chopper and as a telemetering switch (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) in the telemetering system. So, we made a very simple integrated circuit, very simple, and it turns out, [Laugh] I smile, when you look at Gordon Moore’s Moore’s Law curve (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) — I don’t know if you’re familiar with Moore’s law?
When you look at the one I have, the first point is missing. The rest of the curve belongs to Intel. Well, it belongs to Fairchild, in part, and then Intel, but they don’t have the first point. Well it turns out, I believe, the first point is ours, because I think we mass-produced the first integrated circuit, but it was the simplest circuit. And, I would never claim that we invented the integrated circuit. We did not. That was done by this absolutely great guy, Bob Noyce, and Jack Kilby, a different kind of guy, completely different kind of guy. But, I think we mass-produced the first integrated circuit. That’s when we first did something totally, totally different. Let me back up. And, you might find this, maybe not, in the Western Electric study that you’ve made, usually customers in semiconductors, I think they do it now, but I know they did it then; customers wanted a second source of semiconductor devices. They didn’t want one supplier. They wanted two suppliers. Usually…
Generally, generally in industry, for instance at Maytag (Clarke: Yeah.) at that time had three suppliers of screws.
Okay. Well, I at least know they wanted two, at least two suppliers (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) of integrated, of semiconductor devices. Well, apparently the word had gotten back to, to Bell Labs and Western Electric that we were doing pretty well. Well, you know, there were these two guys from Bell Labs who gave thumbs up (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) a year or two earlier. Well, at any rate the word got back that we were doing pretty well and Western Electric called us. Somehow or other they got hold of us and said, “Will you second source a new device that we have?” Well, it turns out it’s called a “mesa transistor.” Mesa, M-E-S-A, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) simply because of the way it looked. The active transistor was up on a little, a tiny little flat spot. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) The thing was etched in such a way that the rest of the little chip was just a carrier, but there was a little mesa, a little mesa sticking up like a mesa from the desert. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, on that little mesa they put the active device, the active transistor. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So this, I believe, was an invention at Bell Labs or Western Electric, one or the other, this mesa transistor. And, they asked us to second source them. And, we said, “Yeah. We’ll do that. I mean, after all if Bell Labs and Western Electric want us to second source something, why not?” But, we said, you know, “You’re going to have to teach us a little bit on how to make this thing.” So, Bernie and I went down to Murray Hill, or wherever, and we also met with people from Western Electric. But, we went down there and met with them, and they showed us their process of how they made their mesa transistor, because they wanted a second source. So, Bernie and I we’re fairly clever, we took enough notes, and they gave them to us, and we went back and we started making a mesa transistor, and we started second sourcing Western Electric on that. There was a point in the early days there when I wasn’t satisfied with all the characteristics of our final device. I think they were meeting the specifications. They were, but I wasn’t satisfied, personally. I wasn’t satisfied with exactly what I was seeing. I thought we could do better. So, I personally went through this production line of our own. I sat with people at every single step of the production line. This is one way you do cheap research and cheap development. I just decided to sit with each person in each group by myself, personally, and I watched what everything everybody did and I paid attention, and I tried to understand what was maybe happening, let’s say to the surface properties of the silicon. Everything else seemed to be okay, the attachments. “There must be something in the surface treatment.” And, by the time I got to the last step I said, “You know, it’s like Western Electric told us to do but it’s not, it’s not giving me things that I think we can do with it.” And, I made some intuitive, educated decisions right near the final steps of surface treatment, and I said, “Make this change. Crank it in.” And, as soon as they cranked this in out was coming something better, and I was satisfied. I got a call, either I got a call or Bernie got a call, somebody got a call from Western Electric and said, “Ed,” or “Bernie”— I’ve forgotten which one. Because, if it was me I went in and told him, or if it was him he came in and told me. The people at Western Electric said, “What are you folks doing? You’re making a better Western Electric device than we are.” [Laugh] The people at Western Electric said, “You’re making a better Western Electric device than we are. Would you show us how to do it?” And I think, I think I, in a friendly way, declined. I said, “Look, you’re making a fine device. So, ours is a little better than yours, and it’s your device, but ours is a little better. Look, live with it. You’ll still get half the orders and we’ll get the other half, you know. If you’re really in trouble I’ll tell you what I did, but you know what I really did was intuitively . . .” and I was a little bit, I felt a little awkward in telling Bell Labs or Western Electric that I had simply tried something without good solid research. I knew what I did, but I think [Laugh] I felt a little awkward about saying, “Well, this is what I tried and it worked.” Whatever it was I don’t think we really told them our final surface steps, and we used that general technology for another, some other products. And, as far as I can tell, Western Electric was always, I think they were always friendly with us. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) For one thing they were delivering a great product and we were delivering a great product. And, well okay, if it was a little better, “All right. Live with it. Maybe you’ll learn better if you try something else yourself.” It wasn’t as if they told us their whole process out of the goodness of their heart. They needed a second source. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And so, I felt that as a small company, with only a year, a year and a half, two years old, you know, should, “How much of this should I give away?” I think we were beginning to leave the era where we did a lot of cooperating, beginning to leave that. And, here we had this company of which I had partial responsibility. It worked and it was successful. The one–boy, did we work. I mean we really worked hard. The one blight was the anger of Sperry. That was the one blight. I felt it as a personal, as a personal stab, and with claims made that were not true. And, what about other people who were making these so-called “silicon alloy transistors?” What about other people who were making silicon alloy transistors? And, they were trying to, Sperry was trying to make believe that they were the only ones in the world doing it, because we did it for them, but they weren’t the only ones in the world making alloy transistors. There were a lot of people. So, what was new? What was so secret? And, our lawyer was not a highly paid lawyer, because I know what we paid him. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) He was a good person and I, we liked him very much, but it took one of our investors with greater law capability to shut Sperry off.
Okay, talk about that. What was the process to diffuse the damage?
Sperry had used an old law in the state of Connecticut. Apparently the only state in the United States that had a law which basically said, “If you’re suing another company you can shut them down.” Not just fight them out in court, you could shut them down. And, we were almost shut down for one day. And, by this time we’re talking to all of our friends and it turned out that one of our investors knew a lot more about law and, because a lot of these people are trained in law, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and they knew a lot more about law and they knew a lot more about Connecticut, and they knew a lot more about the Connecticut governor, and the governor didn’t know much about this new little company that could have been of great benefit to the state of Connecticut in its economy. And that investor, in one day, or two days, shut the whole thing off, but not to the extent of our feeling a sense of, all right, responsibility, and there was a payment made and an agreement that we wouldn’t sell anymore alloy transistors of this type. And besides, we didn’t want to make any more of this type because it was basically now antiquated (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) the way the speed of the company was developing. So, as a result of that, in the future it turns out National not only because of that thrilling experience we had with a giant company trying to destroy us, but with the far future of National, even after I left National to do something very different, it turns out [Laugh] that the industry began to see National as “National’s saga,” continuing saga, S-A-G-A. That company with all kinds of exciting things happening. And, one thing that happened was that a small group came to know some of our Boards of Directors, who were in California, from Fairchild. A small group from Fairchild came to know some of the investing group and members of the Board of Directors of ours from California and made it known — and they were good people — made it known that if there’s a new company they’d like to create a new company. But, by this time I had left National and there was some concern on what Bernie really wanted to do. And, and so these people of National’s Board of Directors started talking with these Fairchild people. Ultimately there was a change of management. And, I can show you that on that chart.
And this, that’s when Sprague comes in?
Yeah. That’s when the break came. And, it turns out a new management came in from Fairchild. Now, this is part of the saga. Now, let me complete that saga. Ultimately, Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce leave Fairchild to form Intel. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Ultimately, after that National buys Fairchild and is now in control of Fairchild. Fairchild is now a division of National. (Butler: Okay.) All of a sudden, several years later, like maybe eight, or nine, or ten, National no longer wants that product line of Fairchild so it spins them back out. Way back at the beginning, National buys a little company called Molectro, on the West Coast. It’s in bankruptcy.
National needs that kind of technology. National buys Molectro. Ed Clarke is no longer there, and in fact, Bernie …
That was in 1966 that was?
Bernie is there only for another year or two. Bernie buys Molectro. National is making money, is profitable, but it has bought Molectro, which is in bankruptcy and the money that has to go to Molectro, a separate company, a little company that’s now owned by National, the money that’s going to keep Molectro alive is coming out of what was the profit of National Semiconductor. So, now it’s (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) reducing the profit appearance of National Semiconductor, because of that Molectro thing. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) In the meantime, these Fairchild people are looking at Molectro, that’s currently owned by National, and they’re making a case for them running National. So, so it turns out that they ended up doing that. And, it was the correct choice. National has been successful, partly because it has been willing to see the need for different points of view and different kinds of leadership at various stages of its life. This little company that was little at one time ultimately grew to employ 40,000 people. It’s nowhere near like that now, because they’ve become even tighter on their control and the whole thing is, the whole attitude is different. But, it turns out that whenever the company looked as though it needed a little different point of view the company was willing to do that. The one guy especially who came from Fairchild to take Bernie’s position as, as president of National, he’s a guy who always wanted to create his own company. It turns out he could never have been successful starting National, because he, one, didn’t have that kind of skill to start this thing from scratch that was highly oriented toward physics, and metallurgy, and chemistry. That wasn’t his, he would, his degree was in industrial engineering from Cornell. But, he loved the idea of mass production. He loved the idea that he could build and ship another million things per month. Bernie and I would be happy to ship another million per month, but this guy that was his, that was his love. He wanted (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) to be a mass producer. His name was Charlie Sporck, (Butler: Okay.) and he was, in my opinion, the right guy at that stage of National’s business. Later, there was a different kind of need and Charlie retired. Later an even different need and another guy came in, and as he stated it looked as though it was the right move. Intel discovered the same thing, different details, but Intel has made about five changes, level changes, in management. Didn’t have the same motivations, necessarily, but they’ve had (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) about — so, I think National is still a, is a publicly owned entity. It didn’t get swallowed up by any other company. It is still an entity that’s owned by public investors. It’s not owned by any other company. It’s not the division of a great big giant. It has, I believe it has stayed independent of being swamped by some big company because it has, in fact, really done the right things at the right time.
Okay. Well, let’s go back to your career there.
You were in as chief of Operations?
Or vice president of Operations?
VP for Operations. Right. Except for the, what turned to be my final year.
Bernie and I had talked it over. I was every bit a physicist all the time. So was he. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) I liked what I was doing. I was happy with what I was doing, but I was a physicist. I liked research a great deal. Bernie asked me to serve as the principal guy looking at opportunities for things completely different from semiconductors, that National might be interested in. Totally different. I mean really different. I had free reign to look at a lot of things. And, I became really excited about an area that wouldn’t really fit National, and that was in the early days of biomedical engineering and bioengineering. I began seeing the possibility of taking proteins and all the other things that people work with, DNA, in those biology and human sciences fields and help, providing some help in somehow or other providing ordered samples. Like proteins instead of being all wound up and in a mess of chaos, maybe somehow or other learning to provide things that were sort of like single crystals. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, maybe perhaps allowing people to really study the nature of those things, DNA, or proteins, or whatever, with more information coming out from something that was in a more ordered form. I began thinking like that. And, then I started talking to more people, and in the process of all this thinking I ended up one day in the office of — I talked to a lot of people. I talked to the person who used to be in charge of semiconductors at Sylvania, before I was promoted into that position but left before I really acted as the head of that group. That fellow was now the president or vice president of a little college up here on the north shore, Merrimack; I think it is Merrimack College. His last name was O’Bryan. O-’-B-R-Y-A-N. He had left industry to go to academia. So, I decided to go up and talk with him. Henry O’Bryan. I hadn’t seen Henry O’Bryan for a long time. A lot of respect for that guy, I had. So, I went up to chat with him a bit. And, I started thinking, you know, “Maybe my research gut feelings might possibly be best satisfied in a university.” And then I found myself in the office of different places, UMass, Amherst, a couple of other places, even out in Michigan, Michigan Tech University. And, but, but Harry Storke, S-T-O-R-K-E, a retired lieutenant general, retired from the U.S. Army artillery was the president of WPI at that moment, and Harry Storke said, “Ed, come on. We need somebody here who will really concentrate on helping the faculty develop its whole research program,” not just research in semiconductors, but just research, generally. And he said, “Come on and join us.” And, I guess President Smith was his name at Michigan Tech had made an offer to me and, and Vivian, my good wife, had been born in Worcester and grew up in Worcester, and Michigan Tech gets 300” inches of snow each winter. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, the president of Michigan Tech, a guy named Smith, had been the president at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and felt he had to make a move, and he was advised to go south. So, he went south to northern Michigan. [Laugh] And when I suggested that I come, you know, he wanted me to come out for an interview with some of his faculty and take on a similar position of leading the graduate program and the research program, and I said, “Well gee, I’d like Vivian to come along.” My wife wanted to see the area. He said, “No. No. No.” This was something like February. He said, “Don’t do that.” I said, “Well, why not?” “No, just don’t do it.” So, I came in alone. And, there was so much snow there that when we drove down Main Street you couldn’t see any of the stores because they can’t plow it. They have to cut it with a cutter and a blower to put it in trucks there was so much snow, and immediately I knew why he didn’t want me to bring Vivian there during the interview. And, it was a good interview and there was an offer of a position. But, in reality I’m a New Englander, and Vivian grew up in Worcester, and we liked the area. And besides I thought that Harry Storke, president of WPI, and the dean of faculty, a wonderful, wonderful human being loved by the whole faculty, he said, “Ed, come on.” Associate dean of the faculty. Work with me. Director of Research.” Later, associate dean of Graduate Studies. I had never done anything other than be a student in a university. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, I was thinking, “You know, what’s the faculty going to think? Here’s this non-faculty kind of guy coming in. Associate dean of the faculty, all this sort of thing.” Then I said, “Sure. Why not?” [Laugh] So, I came to WPI. And, I loved the accomplishments in industry. If I had to number them I would number one as assisting this nation in the Cold War with the Soviet Union, my ability to help this nation with a nuclear deterrent to nuclear warfare, with supplying the Minuteman missile with National Semiconductor devices. There were some others. There was the little missile computer (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) that I think had TI semiconductor devices. But, the inertial guidance system and the telemetering system were National Semiconductor devices. I count that as number one. But, I count an awfully close number two as being the eight years before I retired from WPI, in teaching through projects the applications of solar energy with photovoltaics. I do place in third spot, but it’s a close third, my work with the faculty to encourage their research. There were lots of great things we did. But, that’s how I’d order them, I think. In fact, my WPI eight years working directly with undergraduates and some graduate students on solar energy things, but the rest of the time, which was the largest time at WPI, helping the faculty to do the things they wanted to do and then introducing them to great big projects that we worked awfully hard at, and with some success.
Well, before we get into WPI, (Clarke: Yeah.) what about some of the technologies that you helped develop at National? For instance, the field affect transistor?
Okay, the field effect transistor, my role in the field effect transistor came even earlier.
This is work I did back at Sylvania.
It turns out I was really successful in studying surface properties of germanium, but germanium and silicon are both semiconductors. So, and the whole industry was working initially on germanium. It was easier to produce crystal at lower temperatures. Everybody worked on germanium at the beginning. So, I worked on germanium at the beginning. Silicon came in later. But, so I was learning a great deal about germanium surface characteristics. And, I decided to compare the effect of moisture, water vapor, not getting it wet but moisture seemed to have a death-dealing effect on semiconductor devices. Have a good device. If moisture got into the package the device was dead, you know. So, I wanted to study that more fundamentally, what happens. And so, I decided in a very simple way that I’m going to do that. I’m going to have an experimental system in which I’m able to introduce moisture and take the moisture away, and make electrical measurements. Nothing fancy like low-energy electron diffraction or work functions, but just straight electrical measurements, resistivity, maybe the Hall Effect, other things of this sort, just simple kinds of — but in a system that I can really control. And then I decided, you know, “I want to compare moisture. I’m going to put a metal plate close to the surface of this semiconductor material and I’m going to measure its affect when I apply an electric field and see if there’s any comparison of any sort with just putting moisture in contact with the semiconductor.” And lo and behold it turned out in my experimental work the effect seemed to be identical. That the characteristics that I was discovering of moisture, taking into account that moisture is affecting both sides of the sample, whereas with a metal plate putting a field effect on the device is only on one surface. When I corrected for the geometry I was able to get an effect as a function of temperature, a whole curve, that water vapor was looking like the effect of this applied electric field. Now, this was a piece of basic research. Sure it’s related to real products and semiconductors, but this is a piece of real basic research. Brattain and Bardeen had failed to produce a field effect device. I was creating a field effect device. I had one right here in front of me. I actually altered the conductivity of a piece of semiconductor with an electric field. I had suddenly done what they failed to do, in a different way, a different system. And, later I saw this as [Laugh] successfully doing what may be the first successful field effect device ever. Because, they had already failed and moved on to junctions. The industry didn’t get back to field effect until after a long love affair with junction transistors. So, here I was with a field effect device at Sylvania and I knew that Brattain, and Bardeen, and Shockley had failed with their first attempt at the simple idea of a field effect device. I knew they had failed at it, and here I had something. So, I pointed this out to the patent attorneys at Sylvania, and I don’t quite remember exactly what happened to it, but the industry was now moving quickly into junction transistors and I felt that I had to move quickly for the benefit of Sylvania, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and I started working on ways of producing junction transistors. One of which led to a patent on double diffusion, which was later used by everybody in the industry. I had a patent which was owned by Sylvania, and I don’t think Sylvania really approached the industry to say, “Hey look, we own this process. You ought to pay us a little royalty.” I don’t think Sylvania bothered to do that. Maybe it was a time when people didn’t care very much, because the field was moving so rapidly that maybe by the time you get your legal stuff going it isn’t worth fighting anymore. Almost like Sperry vs. National. Why argue about this silicon-aluminum alloy junction transistor? It’s dead. It’s good for a short time, but it’s dead. You have to keep moving on. Maybe the same thought with some of the patents. That, “Well, this is nice but, you know, we’re moving on.” But, I don’t really know. But, there was a patent. I remember getting a call from somebody in some other company saying, “Ed, do you realize how frequently this patent is being used by everybody in the industry, double diffusion?” And he said, “further, and, we’ve searched the patent literature,” and he was kind enough to say, “It looks as though you, Sylvania, own the patent on this thing which is used frequently.” And, I think I told Sylvania. But, I was then in the process of really looking at other, innovative ways to make junction transistors, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and the whole field stayed with that for a long time, including the entire time I was with National, that we were still mostly doing junction transistors. Then the field effect transistor took off, and it took off because Bob Noyce and his crew at Fairchild had realized that with things called planar transistors that the use of an oxide, the use of an oxide in the processing of the geometry and doping of the device, that the oxide also had a protective effect of eliminating the bad effect of surface states. What was killing Brattain, Bardeen, and Shockley with the field effect was that there were surface states and carriers were being attracted to the surface, but they were being trapped in the surface states and they couldn’t move. No wonder they couldn’t alter the conductivity in the semiconductor. But, what Bob Noyce discovered, and his crew at Fairchild, was that when you put an oxide layer on silicon… [Phone ringing] Okay. So, so having that oxide layer on silicon that was originally thought of as a way of masking the material as you’re doing different steps, opening it up where you want to open it up, and putting different impurities in, what turned out was that that oxide layer served to allow you to make a reliable field effect device. Once that was discovered, field effect device took off and became very, very useful. My field effect device, years earlier, was a field effect device but it would not have been manufacturable in the format that I was having success, but I sure was showing that a field effect was real, that you could truly do something with that field effect. And, one of these little papers Phys. Rev. picked up on this, and even though it’s a simple letter to the editor they thought it was worthwhile publishing. And, those two curves, one of them is water vapor and one of them is the field effect. But, I’m emphasizing the surface characteristics and the title of this thing is The Effect of Water Vapor, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) but that thing is a field effect device. So, you know, so Phys. Rev. thought that there was a contribution there and there was. I showed people that it’s real. You can make a field effect transistor. But, it didn’t come to fruition until the work of Fairchild. They are the ones who deserve the credit.
Yeah. No question.
Sure. We in physics do research and they in physics do research, but they had a device that was now reliable.
Now many companies, about the time that National was begun, developed big centralized laboratories. Of course, Western Electric had had one since 1925. But, you have General Atomics in the late ‘50s. A lot of the major corporations had revamped their research and developed centralized R&D in the 1950s, after World War II. [Phone ringing] How come National didn’t do something similar? [Phone ringing]
When I was VP for Operations I felt… [Recording paused] There were two things, at least. We were not yet — maybe three things. We were not yet big enough and we had had success creating highly reliable products, and advanced products, the way we were doing it. Namely, think about it and try it. Now, having been in a centralized laboratory like Sylvania and having seen research in universities, a lot of them, they sometimes, I think, take much longer to do research and gain some of the answers that they gain. I sometimes truly have the feeling that, “Well, why did it take you two years to do that? You could have done it in six months if you had really worked hard at this thing.” I kind of had a feeling of that sort of thing. We were also very tight with funding and our objective was to become one of the world’s large producers, along with TI and Fairchild. For that period of time it was not in the cards for me to make that recommendation, nor did Bernie Rothlein make that recommendation. And then when we talked about future growth, we both agreed that what I should really look at are things very different from semiconductors. “Was it something we should also be in that’s very different and very exciting?” And frankly, what I had in mind at that time was correct. What an exciting field that has become, fantastically exciting. But, in the middle of all that I had people convincing me that I could help them with broader research programs in academia. So…
Now, it also sounds then that rather than you thinking, “Well, I should be leaving industry,” that you were being pulled into academia by others?
I felt, I felt being pulled or guided. When I went to ask the opinion of Henry O’Bryan, who had been head of Sylvania’s semiconductor, in the central lab, when he was now in academia, and chatting with him. And, his is not a research organization, but he made it sound as though I should be pulled in that direction of academia. For all the reasons that people might want to guess as to why that might be. And then suddenly finding that there was a need. I didn’t even try places like MIT because they were well established in things like research, Harvard. But, good places like WPI wanting to become a technological university as opposed to being an engineering college. That was something that I could put my hands around. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) If I ended up in a position at MIT I’d be lost. I’d be just another guy there. And, whereas if I joined WPI, my goodness, I could get to know the whole faculty in one month, and I could find out what their interests are, and I could guide them, and their work would be worth having and doing. And so, I saw the idea of a smaller organization. Because, I think I had an offer or almost an offer at UMass Amherst, but that to me was a big, big organization. I kind of liked the idea, I don’t know, but I think Bernie and I sort of liked the idea we — in National we wanted to build a truly competitive big thing against Fairchild and Texas Instruments, but deep down I think both of us still had the joy of working with smaller groups. And, that’s why I said I thought it was good for National that Charlie Sporck came in as a president, because he had joy in big production, mass production, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and we would have enjoyed mass production also, but he had a gut that needed it. He needed mass production. That was a good move. Bernie and I, I think, would always be physicists. We needed things we could have put our arms around. I think we’d have trouble working at the supercollider underground at CERN in Switzerland and France, the big thing that’s going to show us whether or not there is such a thing as a Higgs Particle that gives everything mass. He and I would have had trouble with that. We like people and we like to get our arms around things, and things you can kind of have control over and do, not have a big machine that burns out the first time you turn it on and they’ve spent a whole year repairing it, this machine, this most high, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) this biggest energy machine every constructed. It apparently is running now. But, to have to be part of a research team in which you need fifty people to work on a common kind of problem and then you push the button and bingo you burn it out or a year it takes to fix it, I think Bernie and I were the kind of people who preferred something we could get our hands on and really enjoy. And so, it turns out my choice to go to WPI was absolutely the right choice. And, I ended up working jointly with MIT through Jean Louie of MIT. He and I put together a fantastically good research proposal on behalf of a group of universities that we had assembled. So, he was the leader and I was the co-leader. He and I put together. Jean Louie of MIT, we put together a research program involving sixteen colleges and universities of the northeast on clean coal, research on clean coal, all aspects of it. Because this is a time when we recognize that coal is a pollutant. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) How do we still burn coal but in a clean way so that you don’t get soot and you don’t get CO2 and you don’t get everything else out of it. So, somehow or other he and I came together and we pulled together sixteen universities and that was one of the most powerful proposals I have ever seen. It involved MIT and Harvard and Columbia. Yeah, we went into New York actually, with Columbia. I think we got Cornell or did they end up with another group? I’m not sure. But, we ended up with big guys in New England and little guys, all able to contribute. Boston College could make a contribution. Boston University could make a contribution. Brown could. So, we had this thing all together. We finally ended up with a proposal that was this thick, in seven volumes, a Proposal for Work, on clean coal.
Okay, and what you had there was probably about a yard?
Yeah. We had a yard of proposal. Now, it wasn’t in one — you can’t turn the pages of a yard-wide (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) proposal. So, it was in six or seven volumes. And, I remember we were meeting the deadline. We decided that MIT had a bigger secretarial force where we could get these things out and Xeroxed and [clap] put together in a hurry. So, we went up, so Jean Louie offered his secretarial help, a big group, and we put this together, met the deadline. A representative from Illinois got to a member of one of Congress’s review committees and said, “If you ever let that New England/Northeast proposal be funded you will hurt the Fermi Lab.” and the guy squelched it. It was the most powerful research program I have ever seen written on paper, with sixteen colleges and universities from this broad area making real contributions. We got to know each other. We spent a year getting to know each other. We went around to every college and university and listened to the kind of research they were able to do, and then we got them all together, put them all together. And, under different political circumstances we would have had something of great benefit to the United States. A broad program of research looking at, “How can we provide this country with this resource coal but in such a way that it would be more useful without causing damage?” Broadly based thing. And, to have it killed by a congressman from Illinois, who happened to be on the Energy Committee, because they had gotten to him and said, “You give that MIT, Harvard, Yale, WPI, Boston College University, Columbia group, if you give them support for that money you will be hurting the Fermi Lab,” which is a wonderful laboratory. I’ve never been there, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) but it’s a wonderful laboratory. But to have something that would have been of benefit to the nation destroyed, no. That wasn’t good. But, we’ve come to learn that, I’ve come to learn at least, more recently, that this is what politics is like. That’s what politics is like. So, at any rate, one of the things I did when I was at WPI was help to do that. I helped to bring a Solar Energy Center (Butler: Okay.) into New England. Yeah?
When you, you’ve talked about development and you’ve talked about research. (Clarke: Yeah.) Can you define those two terms for me?
Research, to me, is when I’m looking primarily for knowledge, without too much regard for where the knowledge is going. Development, to me, includes research, but a kind of research in which I know that my work and results are going to perhaps be useful and I know a little something about its use. In both cases, I want to create new knowledge and understanding, but in the one case it’s what I call “basic research,” in which I simply am doing this because I’m excited to learn more than we currently know. Development, to me, can include a component of research, but clearly I might give it a name like “applied research.” But, I might be learning just as much about some physics or some chemistry or something, even though I give that a different name, but I might be learning just as much that’s useful, from a pure knowledge point of view, maybe not but maybe I will, and yet I know in that research is part of development that, that in fact it will have advantage to possibly a product or the development of a product. I don’t know, things like that. Those are definitions (Butler: Okay.) that I would give. And, much of the research that was done at WPI was for basic research but we had a separate laboratory, which was called the “Hydraulics Laboratory.” Most of its work was for the United States power industry. They were capable of designing hydroelectric capabilities for generating electricity from the flow of water. They were viewed as one of the finest in the world, in the nation. The only other one in the country that was comparable was a laboratory that was run by the Army Corp of Engineers in the United States. Well, that was part of WPI, one whole laboratory, separate. So, WPI had this separate laboratory. It was really doing, call it “development” and design. It was really doing the work. Before I left WPI the financial people at WPI made the decision that there was too much, with the litigious society in the United States growing they felt there was too much risk for WPI, a small technical university, having that laboratory. Because, if a dam should fail or something else failed on a massive scale it could, in principle, wipe WPI off the face of the map. I didn’t agree. But, on the other hand they didn’t ask me very often. So, on that, that issue. So, the financial people decided that that company has to be made, sold and made private and it became a private research lab. So, there was a case in a university that was highly applied. The hydraulics lab was in another town, in the town of Holden — it’s still there. It’s a private organization. There are shareholders, things of that sort. It still does that kind of work and it’s still considered one of the experts in the country. But, the things we were trying to do on the main campus were largely basic research, in that definition. Today, I think much of its growth, from when I was there, has come from applied research. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Some things have happened at — one of the things that happened in Worcester was that there was a warehouse fire six years ago, eight years ago, ten years ago. Time goes so rapidly. There was a warehouse fire that killed six Worcester firemen. It wasn’t, it wasn’t…it wasn’t, at that point, a Worcester problem. It became nationwide. President Clinton came here to give one of the eulogies. One of our great Lutheran theologians, Martin Marty, came from Chicago to preach in a local Roman Catholic Church. I think all of the six firemen, I think, were all Roman Catholic folks. It became a major event of concern — firemen came from all over the country. It became a major issue. WPI ended up with several million dollars to approach the problem of, “What can you give firemen so that they are never trapped, so that they have something on them in a vast burning inferno in which people out there know precisely where they are and can go get them, and that they themselves know where they are and can find their way out?” So, WPI, maybe in one of the largest grants, single grants that it’s ever had, that’s truly applied research and development. So, much of their growth at WPI had been that sort of thing. They’ve carried that further, the concept of location, so that — and then they’ve, they’ve entered the field of research on prosthetics, the problem of guys coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq without legs and arms. And so, we have groups at WPI now working on artificial skin and computer methods of helping prosthetics to work right, you know, this sort of thing. So, much of their growth at WPI has been on, call it “development” in a way. I’d really probably call it “applied research,” because they’re coming up with answers.
Okay. Now, you went to WPI in 1965?
And, you went there as?
Associate dean of the faculty (Butler: Okay.) and director of Research. Later, after the dean of faculty had retired they decided that the term “associate dean of faculty” had little meaning. There was no dean of faculty anymore. Now they introduced things like the vice president of Academic Affairs and the dean of Graduate Students, Graduate Studies. And, at that point they asked me to become more involved, not only with research but also with the graduate educational program itself. But mostly, I was still involved with research.
And, when was this change?
And that change took place in nineteen, oh, may have been 1974, (Butler: Okay.) 1974 or something like that. I had been associate dean of the faculty, director of Research for probably eight, maybe eight years. Something like that. And then they created a new, it never existed, dean of the Graduate Studies, dean of Graduate Studies. They created that. Never had it before. And, they asked me to serve with the dean of Graduate Studies as the associate dean of Graduate Studies, leaving me as Director of Research. So, I did much of what I always did, but there was no longer a system in which there was an associate dean of faculty. As soon as that wonderful guy retired, they retired the title, and now all of a sudden they offered a job to a new guy coming into the college, Dick Gallagher actually, coming from — where was he coming from? It might have been industry. To come in as vice president of Academic Affairs. So, things kept getting changed. I served under probably six different presidents with six different ideas of how the place should be run. So, I just kept running Research the way I did it, [Laugh] and let the six different presidents do whatever they wanted to do. But, I reached the point of thinking I started bootlegging undergraduate projects in solar energy. The dean of Undergraduate Studies, Bill Grogan, came to me, and he said, one day, “Hey Ed we’re developing project centers and all over the world,” and, the first one is in Washington, D.C. He knew I was associate dean of Graduate Studies and Director of Research, totally committed to the graduate program. Bill Grogan was totally, totally committed to the undergraduate program, and Bill Grogan came in and said, “Ed, of the two faculty members who had agreed to go down to Washington with the students for a seven week period and live there and begin running that project center in Washington D.C., one of them has reneged.” You know my first reaction was, “Why would faculty members do that?” If you make a promise — and then he said, “Ed, would you do it?” I had had no experience with the undergraduate program. But apparently Bill Grogan, the dean of undergraduates, the guy committed to undergraduates, apparently saw in me something that would be good for the undergraduates. And so “Yeah. I’ll do it.” I didn’t have any experience like that previously. So what? Everything I get into is sort of new. So, I went down for a seven-week period. And, we had projects in the different federal agencies, and, I loved it. You know, I really loved this thing. And, I came back and I started bootlegging additional undergraduate projects. I did all of my work with the graduate program and with Research, but I started taking additional undergraduate students. I was a faculty member, with tenure. And, I started advising small groups of students — that’s the nature of our projects program — on things related to solar energy, photovoltaic use, and basically spending a good bit of time on it. I just increased the time I worked each day. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, it worked, and I became more and more interested in this and I reached the point one day of saying, “Oh my word, I could create a whole program. I could help educate hundreds of undergraduates here on a technology that might be important in the future.” And, I’m talking about twenty-five years ago. And so, I said, “What the heck, I’ll do it. Let them hire another academic administrator. That’s fine. I want to do this.” At age sixty-two I could have gone in and said, “Hey folks, I can, you can either agree with me that I will do this new challenge or at sixty-two I can retire. And, let’s face it, having been a founder of National Semiconductor I have enough funds to retire on. But, this is what I want to do. I want to get in with the undergraduates. I’ve now had this experience with the ones I’ve bootlegged with and I love this.” I didn’t challenge them with a threat. I just said, “Hey, Mr. President,” (I think the president at that time was President Cranch, who had come to us from Cornell.) And, the vice president, I think, was Dick Gallagher. No, it was not Dick Gallagher. It was Dean Boltz, who was now the vice president for Academic Affairs. And I said, “Hey, come on. Here’s what I want to do.” And by this time I had given some lectures on campus and I said, “I want to start a whole program and I just want to teach through projects. I don’t want to teach with a piece of chalk and a blackboard. I want to teach young people the way you do things in life,” and they said, “Okay.” Two years later one of them discovered that I didn’t report to anybody, that I was an independent; they had agreed I’d do it, and I did it, full-time. Loved it. Had projects in the United States. Had projects all over the world. Absolutely loved it. But someplace, as administrators do, they discovered that I didn’t report to any group, so they asked me if it was okay if I reported to the Interdisciplinary Global Studies Division. And, I said, “Sounds great. I’ll report to that group.” But, I kept doing, of course, what I was doing. But, it was more fun because now I talked to a couple of other people in addition. And, that’s how I got involved in the solar energy thing. And then I thought, “For goodness sakes, solar racing cars. That’s the way to introduce young science and engineering students to the concepts of design, and truly understanding details so that something truly works, like moving at high speed on a highway. And, it’s a way of introducing solar photovoltaics. Because, if it’s just photovoltaics that’s on the roof of your house, or out in the field, it’s like watching paint dry on a newly painted house. Not very exciting at all. But, you put the stuff on vehicles and you move the vehicles at sixty miles an hour, (and one of our later vehicles could move at sixty miles an hour, with a driver in it.) (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, I said, “When you do that, all of a sudden you get all kinds of interest in alternative energy.” And, it was true, and it worked. And then I discovered that, “Hey, my friends at General Motors are really pioneering electric cars.” And so, I started throwing into my project electric cars (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) without solar. I had all the solar stuff going, but I was now saying, “Hey, electric cars. That’s an important way to go and see what happens.” And so, I started introducing some of my students to electric cars. And, I had one group who decided they could design a better electric car than General Motors had. Not so much the power technology. They were thinking more of the appearance that would be appealing to the public, to the buying public. And so, I said “Go to it. Let’s do it.” So, I had a team of five kids actually with a design that looked nicer than the electric car that (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) General Motors had. And then, then I said, “Hey, let’s really introduce solar energy, if we can. Let’s see if we can run a solar car from Dead Horse, Alaska, all the way across the United States, down to Key West, Florida, and along the way stop in many places and talk to the school kids all along the way. Let’s see if, see, look at the feasibility for doing that.” And, I ended up with eight students who, whose job in the project was to look at feasibility. It turns out, I’ll quickly say, we never did it. I didn’t do it for another reason, to help another faculty member with his future. I didn’t force the issue of trying to build a car that would go from Dead Horse, Alaska to Key West. But, the kids who did the feasibility study learned all kinds of things. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) They were to look at the weather. They were to look at service. They would look to highways as they proceeded on the route together as a team of eight, looking at the issues that would be important to a solar car making that trip down, and they did a successful job. It turns out I was a little busy that time, that year, because I had a group in Venice, Italy who were floundering a bit. Well, I had a great guy there, who was Venetian, Fabio Carrera, and now is an American at WPI. But, on this one problem I, needed to be there. We needed to be, I needed to be briefly up in Fairbanks, Alaska with this group coming down. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) They already had come from Dead Horse, up in Prudhoe Bay. And, I also knew that we had our intercontinental car being completed and we had to be down in Florida for the start of a race at a certain time. So, I had to work all these three things in over a short period of time. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So, I flew to Venice, spent a week there, helped straighten that out. Come back. Flew to Fairbanks. Spent some time with my kids coming down from Dead Horse. Came back. We were finishing the solar-powered car. We loaded it in and we went down nonstop and we made the deadline by two hours. Two hours — three hours and we would have been ruled out. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) We made it within two hours of the deadline. The only thing we stopped for during the trip was gasoline. Always a change in drivers. The car only stopped for gasoline. The excitement of doing this and the kids who did this, it was wonderful. Some of those kids, one of them was Andy Stern. Andy Stern, who did that thing with me on solar energy and part of the solar car, he’s now a leader in, of all things, wind turbines in New England. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) He’s one of the New England leaders in wind turbines. He has provided the community of, a community up north of Boston, did all of that planning work, two big turbines, alternative energy. The guy has come back. He’s doing other things. He’s come back to WPI to lecture to students. This was one of my students, who worked with me. And, admittedly it wasn’t turbines, although we did turbine projects. But he, he caught on to the excitement and the need for stuff like this. And, he went into this field. I’ve had a chance to call others and they’re all successful students. They didn’t all go and do alternative energy. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) But, I’ve talked with them on the telephone, a good many of them, and they’re doing wonderful things. They’re doing wonderfully. (Butler: Yeah.) The kids I worked for. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Worked with. Worked with.
Now, in setting up the Photovoltaic Center, (Clarke: Yeah.) and some of these other projects (Clarke: Yeah.) that you’ve had, you needed to have funds?
And, in business you get funds either through venture capital or through corporate profits (Clarke: Right.) that you can reinvest?
How did you set up the funding for these projects?
I got them started and then I began to get some funds. And, they weren’t large sums of funds, but General Electric gave me $5,000 here, and another $5,000 there, and then more interesting things. Our nearest source of solar collectors, which were not cheap and they’re not cheap today either, our source of solar collectors for photovoltaics, the closest source turned out to be Exxon Mobil. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) It was a joint effort at that time. They actually had a factory manufacturing solar photovoltaic collectors in a town just north of, northwest of Boston, Billerica I made contact with them and I said, “You know, I don’t want my students or myself just to beg for solar collectors, not at all. I want them to learn the science of solar collectors and to help put them together. So, I would like from you the opportunity for my students, the selected ones who’ll do that part, to come to your factory in the evening and I’d like you to assign a person or two to be there and to guide them to produce the solar collectors we need for a number of projects, including solar cars.” And, they said, “Yes.” And so, my students not only ended up with solar collectors, free, but they ended up with solar collectors which they learned how to manufacture and put together. They saw the problems and they did it. Now, this was one group concerned with that part of our projects, you see. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So, lo and behold I had free solar collectors for three different solar vehicles. No money, but I had free solar collectors for three different solar vehicles from Exxon Mobil Solar Division, which no longer exists. (Butler: Uh huh.) They went out of the business. But, I had free solar collectors and I had some students gain experience with how those things are manufactured, and the care that is required in their clean rooms, and all of the things that go into that process, and that’s more valuable than money. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So, I ended up with enough money to keep the thing going. In the competition of racing against the University of Michigan from Epcot Center to Warren, Michigan, which is the location of General Motors’ research plant; racing almost 2,000 miles. I had about $50,000 worth of contributed components and money. I had about $50,000 in my car, with that combination. Some components and some money. University of Michigan had spent $1 million on their vehicle. Now, the competition was day-by-day and overall for the total ten days, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) but I couldn’t beat Michigan overall because they had purchased $500,000 worth of aerospace-quality solar cells used in satellites with higher efficiencies. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) I couldn’t beat them with that. We won the race on Day 4, beating everybody, everybody, all thirty cars. We ran the race, “full out.” Michigan I beat. I beat Michigan. With a student driver from WPI I beat Michigan on five of the ten days, with a $50,000 vehicle, versus their $1 million vehicle. When they had to repair things along the way they had a rolling machine shop in a big trailer truck. When we had to rebuild our steering system, we went to a wood yard and bought some 2 x 4 pieces of wood and had to repair our front-end with some 2 x 4 pieces of wood. Our friends at MIT had about $50,000 in their car. So, I went to our friends at MIT, and we were doing equally well off and on winning, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and off and on losing, and I said, “Let’s put a big sign on our vehicles that this cost WPI only $50,000. This cost MIT only $50,000. And, let Michigan, and Maryland, and that university in California all brag about their million-dollar vehicles. We’ve got vehicles that are coming closer to the way people might possibly be able to use these things in the future. Let’s not let anyone believe that you have to have a million dollars to do it. So, MIT and we did it for $50,000.” And, we just had fun. On the last day of the race, a short leg from, from Lansing — to Warren, about sixty miles, we had an unfortunate start position, last straw, the draw of the straw. We had, out of thirty cars we started the race in thirtieth position. Narrow road. Lansing. Lansing, Michigan. From Lansing, Michigan to Warren. The narrow road. The rules were, if another solar car comes up on you you must pull over to the edge and let him by. We were starting in thirtieth position. [Laugh] Every solar car that we passed violated the rule, so we had to move over into the dangerous lane to pass them. We passed twenty-six cars, including the University of Michigan with it’s $1 million vehicle. Starting in thirtieth position, we ended up fourth on the final day. The roads were lined with millions of people from Michigan and Michigan’s car was back there and we were now number four, rolling along, and my friend, another faculty member and I, that faculty member a real bug on vehicles, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) I got him to be interested in this project and he was a gem, and we now were both worrying. We’ve come up at high speed out of thirtieth position to fourth position. The finish line is only about five miles away. If, now we’re running on partial sun, because it’s cloudy, and a battery. We’re running on solar PV electricity and a battery. “Will we run out of energy from that battery and not be able to cross the finish line?” So, we radio the student, “Cut it down to 40 mph.” And he just wanted to know why. “Well, we’re not sure, because your measurement is no longer reliable. We don’t know how much energy is in your battery.” Okay, so he cut it down. Zingo, we came in strong fourth. Wonderful. We then made a round turn, where everybody’s supposed to be lining up to get ready for a parade of solar cars. As we cross the finish line and went around that circle, we ran out of electricity. We had crossed the finish line and we ran out of electricity within three minutes later. He and I had called it right. “Come down on your speed. We’re going to hang onto fourth place, but we’re not going to be embarrassed by not crossing the finish line,” and we made it. And, on that day the University of Michigan, with so many people lining the streets from Michigan, that car came in about ten, fifteen minutes later. About ten or fifteen minutes later. Wow. [Laugh] You can see one of the reasons why I sort of like to put that solar energy work I did with WPI and the students, I sort of like to put that a high second in my life, and yet I love the work with helping to develop the graduate program, and turning it into a Ph.D. university, and doing research. I love that. But, there’s something about doing something with young guys. And, I had a responsibility. Some of the team slept in motels. They had enough money; I was a bit, kind of tight on cash. So, we slept in the trailer, which we used to trailer the vehicle down to Florida and then trailer it back from Michigan. So, we slept in the trailer, and I had the job of waking everybody up, the bugler, the military bugler as it were, and they all remember that. All the students remember that. Here they’re sleeping soundly and they remember Ed Clarke yelling, “It’s time to get up. Get up! Get out!” at six o’clock in the morning. The race begins at eight. “Get up!” and, as soon as I was certain that they were all up my job was to go to the nearest McDonald’s store, McDonald’s food eatery and get $40 worth of breakfast. Now, you wouldn’t like some of the breakfasts I brought back. [Laugh]
But I bet you the kids did?
But, the kids did. So I, I loved the idea that as the leader of that program I had a job to do. After the education my job was get food. And Vivian, while we’re making the cars available and working late into the night on campus at night, Vivian would sometimes come down to me and we would go out to a nearby McDonalds in Worcester, and these kids working until eleven, twelve o’clock at night, and we’re beat, we’re looking, we have an actual deadline. Boy, we come in with this $40 worth of food. Now it wasn’t breakfast, it was, you know it was midnight. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) You can’t beat that experience. That experience is life, the way I see it. Absolute life. Absolute life. Absolute life. I almost ended up with absolute death. Not really. Earlier, before I got the program going with the solar vehicles at WPI, I had gone to Australia for the first World Solar Challenge, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) primarily as an observer, but with a friendly invitation from General Motors to come and take part in this. But I then wanted to do one other thing. I wanted to go to Switzerland, because the Swiss were far advanced from anyone on short solar car races. Switzerland’s small. Australia’s big. Their race is 2,000 miles. In Switzerland, it was about 350 miles. But, you spread them both over five days. So, I wanted to go to Switzerland. And this time I saw a chance to have Vivian go with me. So, I went and was sort of an official observer. And, the Swiss sort of enjoyed my presence. And, I had rented a Hertz car and I was part of the parade as we went through Switzerland. However, earlier in the scrutineering, before any solar car in Switzerland, they were smaller cars with less solar collection, because all of these legs were shorter so they didn’t have to be as big, didn’t have to be as powerful, but everybody has to have scrutineering. We did in Florida. They did in Australia. They did in Switzerland. No car can enter the race unless it is proven safe. So, the day before a race begins is scrutineering and one of the steps in scrutineering was to come roaring down a road, once a red flag is dropped you start up and you come roaring down the road at high speed, and then when the flag goes down again you slam on your brakes and you show that your brakes are safe. Well, in Switzerland a Swiss car, and there were international cars there from other countries, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) but one particular Swiss car slammed on its brakes and one side of his brakes failed and he hit me head on at forty miles an hour. And, it turns out he had made the mistake, that team had made the mistake, you’re supposed to crisscross brakes, like this, so the hydraulic line of the front wheel here with its brakes goes to the rear one here, and this one goes this way. He had ignored that rule and his hydraulic system was not crisscrossed and one side failed, and he swerved and hit me at forty miles an hour. In some of the literature of the field I wish they had listed me as one of the pioneers for the cars, and the racing, and the technology, but apparently I appear in some of the books as, “The first person ever almost killed by a solar racing car.” [Laugh] So, it put me in the air, quite high, and I landed on blacktop, right on my rear end, butt, whatever that butt is called, and now, lo and behold I had already made friends with Hans Tholstrup of Denmark, who was now in Switzerland to see the Swiss race. He had already run the one I was at in Australia. So, all of a sudden I’m lying flat on my back waiting for the ambulance to come. Somebody had called the ambulance and people were running all around. And, he’s looking down at me and he said, “Ed, you’re the first person in history, first person in history to be almost killed by a solar car.” And, I looked up and said, “Hans thanks a lot.” [Laughter] Well, it was a Sunday and they, the ambulance came and they took me into the hospital and the surgeon, it was quite clear the surgeon didn’t want to be in, this is a Swiss surgeon, didn’t want to be there on a Sunday afternoon. Apparently he was called in. He didn’t want to be there, I could tell. Well, I didn’t want to be there either. So, I kind of came to an agreement with him. “Hey, you can go home. Just fix me up now.” I had a hole. A hole had been put right through my leg, right down in the lower part of the leg, slit right along the leg bone, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) a hole right through the leg. But, what really hurt was being hit on the chest also by the vehicle (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and landing on my back. But I, I didn’t want this to impede my being there for the solar car race. So, I got the surgeon, and he kind of, he really didn’t want to be there and I don’t want to be there, so he patched me up a little bit and I left. Vivian then had to take care of me, because all of a sudden my entire front chest was black. There are apparently all kinds of little veins and capillaries had been burst and I was totally black and blue on the front and totally black and blue on the back, and my spine hurt like crazy, and my leg it really hurt. Now we’re in motels during the night. Vivian learned that, during the early morning she would wrap me up in Ace bandages from here to here, tight, tight, tight, so that it didn’t hurt as much when I was driving the Hertz car. I didn’t want to miss this solar thing. And, that worked pretty well. At night, she would take this thing off, and if I had to go to the toilet at night I had to roll out of the bed and then crawl on my hands, it hurt so much. But then in the morning Vivian would put that Ace bandage on, a whole bunch of them, just to tighten me up so nothing would hurt quite as much. And, it worked, until we got to Estavayer-le-lac. The race started in (Oerlikon), outside of Zurich. And, we got to Estavayer-le-lac, the French-speaking part of Switzerland and my leg, my right leg was now double its normal size and [sigh] I looked at this and I said, “Oh, good Lord,” you know. So, the Swiss race people were being concerned also and so they now took it upon themselves to get me into the hospital in Estavayer-le-lac. I don’t speak French or understand it, but Vivian does speak a little and understands a little because she had a major in French at Brown University. So, when the surgeons looked at this in the hospital, in French, which Vivian heard, they said, “I wonder who was the butcher in Zurich who took care of this man’s leg.” And so, they did the best they could. They drained it, and they cared for it, but I remained in Switzerland for the entire solar race, got all the information I wanted. We came home and it was now summertime, of course. I got into my work at WPI. I worked during the summer, whether I had an income or not, and I don’t remember whether I had an income this summer or not, at WPI, whether I had a sponsored thing. I don’t remember. But, I was always there during the summer. And, whereas they had a little problem with some of the clerical staff and help, finding it quite easy to have sniffles and good reason for staying home, when the word got around that Ed Clarke was there everyday, having been almost killed in Switzerland, there were no sniffles, and no taking time off for the rest of the summer. They saw this happening. I figured the only way I could really recover was to do what I do best. I’m a long distance swimmer. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) I still am. Most of my swimming is outdoors during the summer period. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, I figured I could not, I could not recover at home without really swimming. I’ve got to get the body moving. And, the doctor here told me, “You can’t do that Ed, because the hole in your leg, any lake it looks clean but it’s full of bacteria.” And I said, “Well, I’m going to do it anyway, but I take your advice,” and I invented a seven-layer bandage and I tried it out one day. It required a new wrapping every time, every day I went in swimming, but I tested it and after a half-mile swim the water had only penetrated to the third layer, or something like that. My very last layer was purified Vaseline, right in the hole. And so, I decided, “I will do that every day.” And, I worked myself up to a good fast half-mile and I did recover the top part of me. And, the leg was recovering and I couldn’t really sit down at my office at WPI, and when I did I needed some sort of sponge rubber because my spine had been badly hurt. But one day, nine months later, ten months later I suddenly thought, “I’m sitting and it doesn’t hurt.” And, now I had everything as a background for introducing WPI students and another faculty member and maybe a couple of faculty members to this whole effort, this whole solar energy effort. So, we launched into that program, and it worked. And, it worked. Wow. [Laugh] (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Who should be so lucky as to be able to do things like that? And, Vivian learned to take care of a busted-up guy. [Laughter] And, I learned that you don’t get cured out of an accident like that by lying in a bed. You help cure yourself by being active. You get out of bed and you do what you do best. In my case, it happened to be some distance swimming. By the way, I’m up to approximately 2,500 miles and I didn’t start counting until I was older, and I only count primarily outdoor swimming during the period June through September sort of thing, and sometimes the weather prevents me from doing that sort of thing. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) But, I learned from experience that I can help my body cure and get better by getting out there and doing something. And, the doctor was right; I had to load my leg, my right leg, with an improvised bandage everyday that I did this. I did it everyday. Seven layers worked and different materials were used and it worked. And, I look at those experiences as difficult, but a real opportunity, part of life, part of living life.
And, when did you finally retire from WPI?
I retired from WPI when I was seventy years old, mainly because Vivian and I had sort of agreed to retire, and then she retired from being a librarian at the library here, and I reneged, and I didn’t do it right away the way I had sort of promised. But, she was already retired. But then I decided that was a little bit unfair. And then I decided, it’s really time. So, I retired when I was seventy years old. But, I really didn’t retire.
What have you been doing since retirement?
Well, I’ve been more retired the last year, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) but it turns out I encouraged the faculty and the students at WPI that if they ever wanted help, and advice, and assistance on projects, especially energy related, or solar related, or electric car related, “Just call on me. I’ll help.” And so, I did a lot of that for the first ten years of my retirement. In the meantime, I had become involved with Nichols College. It’s a little college, private college that’s primarily management and business college, and they invited me to become a member of their Advisory Council on an institute which they have that makes them much bigger than they really are. It’s a small college, but they have an institute that big universities wish they had, one that provides extraneous, different experiences with different people from all walks of life, politicians from the country, from the nation, nationally-known people, people from industry, people from all over, and they asked me to become an Advisory member there a long time ago. And so, I kind of go up there on a part-time basis, always as a volunteer, actually designed their first ever course on science and technology in modern industry, and ended up giving the course at night. And, they appreciated that and that’s now added up to twenty-four years or something like that, twenty, almost twenty years as a volunteer at Nichols. And, no let me take it back. I’ve been retired from WPI for fifteen years, retired, but not really retired. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) I go in on-call, but there’s been less calling this past year. And, one of the things that’s happened is the faculty turnover doesn’t know me. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) The new faculty don’t know me and what I’m willing to do. But at any rate, but the Nichols thing is close and that’s a pretty totally voluntary, totally different experience. Having experiences with people who teach business, and economics, people who teach English as a major, and history as a major, totally different. I’ve come to love those people. And, in fact, we have a meeting this week, this Thursday. I’m still a member of that Advisory Committee. So, between a friendly request for help from WPI and continuing requests for help from Nichols I do that in retirement. The thing with Brown sort of ended a little bit two years ago. The faculty member who called on me most frequently was a man named Clyde Bryant, a senior faculty member, a professor at their Engineering division at Brown. And, he was a year or two ago promoted to the position of director of Research for all of Brown University, which took him into a full-time position. So, he’s no longer teaching a course on materials used in engineering. So, but he was the one who called on me most frequently, was Clyde Bryant to lecture on semiconductors. And since he’s no longer teaching anything in the Engineering Department, let alone this one course, they’ve kind of lost track of that, and I’m sort of maybe just as glad that they’ve lost track of that. But, I did that every year at Brown for ten years, something like that. So, that has sort of disappeared a little bit. Then Nichols started inviting me. And, I taught this full-time evening course in science and technology in modern business, modern industry, and then I’ve given other lectures at Nichols College. I gave a lecture on The Beauty of the Electron. The Beauty of the Electron. And, I took them through the early creation of the electron during the Big Bang, to the electron as we now see it in industry, and some of the beautiful characteristics of the electron, including its dual nature of wave and particle. And, some of the exciting things about it. And then I decided I’m going to see if I can tie in science with the poetry of science, and I’ve done a bunch of that stuff. And, a little bit of that is in publication. Some of the material I have nearby here. And so, those are some of the things I’ve done in retirement. I am invited annually to the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island as a person who first of all does have some early experience as a member of the U.S. Navy during World War II and shortly thereafter, but also a person who made it known, as a civilian, that I still had concern for the Navy and its problems. And so, it turns out each year they have a Current Strategy Forum at which are invited the Secretary of the Navy, Chief of Naval Operations, a lot of admirals, a lot of people, and for a number of years now I’ve come to talk with those people, talk with those people, give them a civilian point of view, and they invite other civilians. So, I’m one of the civilians whom they want there as someone who can give a civilian point of view, which is mostly because my Navy experience was a long time ago. But, I’ve been a civilian a long time. But, I’ve been a civilian who is concerned for the U.S., defense of the United States. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And so, that has gone along nicely. I’ve been doing that a long time, and they continue to invite me. I don’t think they know how old I am. [Laugh] And, I’ve talked with some key people in leadership positions and told them things I’ve thought. And, the last one was in fact this past June. And, the total discussion for a couple of days was not the Navy and warfare at all, but “How do we as a country come together with foreign countries in a peaceful way?” How can we join with them, help them? And, the discussion of warfare was negligible. The discussion was, “How do we come together best with other countries in the world, not only our friends but also those who are currently our enemies?” (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, they had a number of civilian speakers and then we spoke about it a little bit in small sessions, breakout sessions, later. So, the Navy is a very broadly based looking Navy. It really does want to look at, like the pastor of our church says, “Why don’t you get them to change the name of the college to the Naval Peace College,” and I had to tell our pastor that that’s what it often does. It is called the Naval War College, but it really does often talk about peace and how to achieve peace. And so, I don’t know whether he believed me or not, but that’s a fact. In fact, the motto over the, one of the buildings there is, “The Navy looks for peace.” That isn’t quite the wording, but it’s that kind of wording. So, these things and, you know, in the winter I used to be a downhill skier, until this past winter. In the summer I try to do these long distance swims, and we try to travel, and we have a condo up in New Hampshire, and we have a lot of grandchildren whom I talk with, and great grandchildren. I’m beginning to understand them. Vivian understands the great grandchildren better than I understand the great grandchildren. So, all these things are what I do in retirement.
Okay. I’d like to move away from your history now, (Clarke: Yeah.) and look more generally at and have you analyze how industrial R&D has changed during your career, both in industry (Clarke: Yeah.) and subsequently in academia. What do you see as the major changes and what’s been driving them?
Well, the major change has certainly been away from basic research. I, and I have personal experience, and then a knowledge of Sylvania. [Phone ringing] If that’s for me I’ll call back later. When I joined Sylvania, Sylvania had this central research area. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) It was in Bayside, New York. Today… [Answering machine turns on. Recording paused.] Okay.
Okay, we’re back.
Sylvania had this central research laboratory and it really was central and they did have some basic research, and quite often however we certainly tried to make contributions to the various product divisions they had all over the United States. They were the, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of vacuum tubes, and one of the world’s largest manufacturers of lighting, lamps of various kinds, incandescent, fluorescent, things of that sort. But, they did see the value in having a centralized research laboratory. Today, there is no such laboratory. For one thing, General Telephone Electronics, I guess bigger as a telephone company on the West Coast, purchased Sylvania and made some changes. But, as I recall, the central laboratory still existed. All of a sudden, the State of New York wanted to build the bridge which connects Connecticut with the lower part of Long Island, and I guess it’s the Throgs Neck Bridge. So, today one of the exits or entrances occupies the entire property that was occupied by Sylvania’s central research lab. I just wanted to tell that story, because that’s a different kind of story. I think General Telephone really didn’t want the central research laboratory anyway in its acquisition of Sylvania, and part of Sylvania got sold to Osram, which I think is of Switzerland or Holland, and part of it got sold someplace else, so that Sylvania was totally done away with except a lighting division up in lower New Hampshire is called Osram Sylvania. But, of course, so that meant that the research lab wasn’t long for the world anyway. But then it turned out that by eminent domain the State of New York took the property to turn it into either an exit or an entrance onto the Throgs Neck Bridge on the bay side, Long Island side, and that was a loss of, a significant loss. That was a worthwhile laboratory. I’ve certainly talked with people about what has happened. I have one reasonably good friend, Don Nelson, who is a physicist, who was part of the early invention of the laser. It turns out a man at Hughes, Hughes Aircraft, properly claims invention of the laser, but there were certain things that he did not do that the Bell Labs people picked up with, and they do not deny that the laser was invented by somebody else, not at Bell Labs. But, the Bell Labs people, including my friend Don Nelson, a physicist, were fully aware of things that had not been done to demonstrate the clear characteristics of the laser and the clear performance of the laser. And so, they did this at Bell Labs and I guess it was done at other places as well, and my friend Don Nelson was part of that effort. And, this is the 50th anniversary of the invention of the laser.
Uhm-hmm. Yeah. We’re having Laserfest.
As part of AIP.
So, at any rate it turns out that, and Don Nelson has given some local talks about this issue and the role that Bell Labs played, and his group, and that he played a personal role in this as well, but never denying the invention by somebody else at some other location. But, nevertheless, showing the shortcomings of that earliest work and how Bell Labs filled in with that whole process and made an important contribution. Well, Don Nelson is a friend nearby. This is not Bell Labs, nearby, because Bell Labs turned much toward applied research and developmental work very quickly when it became part of Lucent, and AT&T spun it off as Lucent, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and then of course when they joined Lucent with Alcatel in France, and it looks as though a lot of the freedom of basic research disappeared from Bell Labs. I guess it still exists. But, my friend Don Nelson did not think it existed adequately (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and he left Bell Labs and came to the Physics Department of WPI, where I think he did some teaching but I think largely he did mostly the research that he was interested in. So, I’ve seen that up close. I’ve been a reader of what has been going on. I read lots of things, including things that everybody reads, and some people read, sometimes technical journals, a lot of the things that are published by the American Physical Society, American Institute of Physics, a lot of other things. I read lots of things. I am still, I try to cut down but I still have ten or twelve different journals coming in each month. But so, I read a lot about what was happening. And when I was director of Research at WPI I made sure that I tied in with industrial research people. And, in fact, I became the president, I think they gave the name, I think they called it “president,” I became the president of the Boston Research Directors Club for one year, which was made up mostly of industrial research people and laboratories. And so, there was a period of time when I heard these people talking about changes and I’ve read about the changes, and there certainly have been changes. One of the presidents of WPI, George Hazzard, had been head of Personnel Department for GE’s Central Research Lab, and he left GE, I guess for a number of reasons, maybe this was one of the reasons, and he preferred to help hire people for an academic university rather than a laboratory that maybe was changing in some ways. So, I’ve been aware of this change for a very long period of time, and I’ve seen the charts and the numbers. It wasn’t a field of personal research on those issues, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) but I’ve been aware of those changes. And, I think that many people, many friends whom I know, who helped to create the semiconductor industry, I think that many of those people are disappointed that basic research is not viewed in the same way by industry as it had been viewed at one time. I led a group of people from different organizations while I was initially at Sperry, and then at National in service to the industry I led the group that was to come up with a specific designed way for everyone to measure — what is the word I’m groping for — to measure what’s called the “minority carrier lifetime in semiconductors”. Critical to semiconductors whose function depends upon injected carriers having a long enough life for the device to be working. This is not needed so much in field effect transistors. This is not needed in field effect devices but it was surely needed in junction devices. And generally, it’s a measure of quality of the silicon material, of the germanium material. So, I headed up the efforts of the Institute for Radio Engineer, now called IEEE. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers. I headed up the effort to come up with the specifications to make those measurements correctly and uniformly throughout industry a standard of measurement. And, I enlisted the help of guys from Bell Labs, and Lincoln Laboratories, and Westinghouse, and GE, and I had a team of people working for me in which we all addressed this issue. And, we, this was a basic measurement of property measurement, material measurement. It was basic science, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and I had lots of cooperation from this big group of people. And we tried out different ways of making measurements and we finally standardized, that’s what I wanted, the word “standardized,” we created the standard for measuring this important function of semiconductor materials, lifetime of minority carriers in semiconductors, the standard, standardized way of doing it, accepted by the profession. And, I let, I headed that effort as a volunteer, on top of all I was doing at Sperry and then at National, and it was successful, and the standard way of doing it still exists, I believe. And, there was a lot of cooperation. Today I’m not sure there would be a lot of cooperation to do that. I don’t think the laboratories would exist in a format that would allow people to spend a lot of time on that one important issue. We got it done while the companies and laboratories, Lincoln, I had Lincoln Lab involved as part of MIT, and I had a lot of companies. Good work from Bell Labs and Western Electric. Mostly people, I remember the name, Bemski, a man named Bemski from Bell Labs. And, we did that work at a time when apparently people were, in industry, industrial people, financial people, were perfectly willing to see that kind of basic work done, and voluntary work done. I’m not sure at all, one way or the other, I don’t know whether that would be allowed now. But, it was certainly allowed then. It was viewed as a basic measurement of science. It is. It looks at the ability of an injected carrier to live within a solid and it’s partly a measurement of how pure that material is or how disordered it is, whatever. You can draw conclusions from that. And, I had people willing to volunteer to work with me in my committee on that. And, if I were to try to do that today I’m not sure I’d get any volunteers. So, from a very personal point of view I did something that helped the industry, which I’m not sure I could do today, because of the unwillingness to have more basic research showing up. But, I’ve seen both. I was allowed to do basic research with Sylvania. I had a personal feeling that I should now contribute more to Sylvania than just basic research on surface physics. I felt that if I learned things about surface physics I should let people who make devices know about these results. They should be supportive of what I do and they should be happy to have results that can help them with their device production. And, it’s interesting to me that a lot of the additional research, now even in a technological university, a little one like WPI, its valuable work but a lot of what they’re doing is certainly applied research and much of it is really close to development. They’re getting a lot of money to do it from the military and from even, probably even the National Institutes of Health, anyone who has concern for people’s health and well-being, and recovery from wartime damage to their bodies. Anyone, no one would say, “Don’t do that.” But, a lot of the additional new research at WPI, and I’m positive at MIT also, is very, very much, you know, project oriented. And so, Bell Labs at one time was viewed as an absolute gem of basic research. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) I visited Bell Labs at times when they still were in that condition and the only thing I got angry at was I had to drive down and get lost on the Garden State Parkway, and all of that sort of stuff, and decided “The next time you invite me, please send a helicopter to bring me from Massachusetts down to Bell Labs.” But, I’m sort of kidding, except I’m not kidding. I have been there at Bell Labs’ invitation and had trouble with the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. But, I’ve been there when they still had a lot of very good people in very important basic research. And then I’ve heard about what has happened in the meantime. And, I would have preferred to see that laboratory continue to be a laboratory of basic research, because they can attract people who are very capable researchers but people who are a little different from the researchers at a university. I think there’s a group of people who would rather perform research, who do not enjoy teaching. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) In the university there’s always a problem of people having an attitude toward teaching that it’s either very good or very bad, or in the middle. Some faculty always wish they have less teaching and more research, and some people would rather have more teaching and less research, and it’s always a problem. Whereas a laboratory like Bell Labs, and I think maybe GE at one time, maybe even now, I don’t know, they offered a research environment that was to the benefit of the whole country. And if, and I’ve seen the evidence of that change sort of directly and then indirectly by just reading about it. And, if asked about it, I don’t like it. [Laugh] And yet (Butler: Okay.) I’ve worked with a small and yet successful company, National Semiconductor, where we really, really, really, in our own case, did not have enough money, while I was there did not have enough money to do that. We just had to think through a problem and see if we can make some intuitive guesses, and we won that quite, quite often. We were able to do that quite frequently. And, I think the people in a centralized research area ought to assume that they ought to be much more vigorous in their work in research than is the case in academia. Because, in academia there it’s always that problem of how much time can you spend on teaching versus research. And, it sort of lets research slip sometime, or sometimes it lets teaching slip. But, the industrial laboratory that is willing to do basic research can concentrate on the basic research, and I think from that perspective can do a better job, a more productive job than perhaps is done in the university. I suspect at times it gives the university an excuse for not doing something in one year instead of two years. Well, the answer is, “Well, we have the teaching problem too,” and that’s true. [Laugh] And, in my own case I was brought into WPI to concentrate on the graduate program, especially with respect to research. But, at a point in my life I suddenly realized what a wonderful experience [Laugh] it was to spend time with undergraduates and to bring them along. But, I did it in a way in which I introduced them to something that was cutting edge and showed them how to solve cutting edge problems, how to get people to do things they’ve never heard about before. So, in that sense the teaching was different. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) I was kind of teaching them how to mix it up with people in the real world, and how to talk to them about a new way of doing something, getting electricity from the sun, and how to somehow or other convince them to do it. And, the best experience I had that way was with the Appalachian Mountain Club. There wasn’t much money available to do things like that. When I was a pioneer to do this twenty years ago or twenty-five years ago. Nowadays, there’s all kinds of money floating around. Obama makes that money available. I’m not sure it’s all well spent, but we didn’t have much money and therefore we could teach people, but we couldn’t always get them to do something because of lack of money. But, it turns out that with the Appalachian Mountain Club we carried them to the point of realizing that the use of solar energy for electricity was important in their high mountain huts. And, we sat with them during the decision making meeting. Three years after I had introduced this to them and three different project groups, my last of the three project groups had the advantage of sitting with me and them as they sat around a table in Franconia Notch in New Hampshire and argue the issue, “Shall we do this?” And, we were there, we were part of it and they said, “Yes, we’ll do it.” And so every one of their high mountain huts is now powered for electricity, and it saved them in a way which they hadn’t counted on. We were thinking, “Look, at least do your lighting with electricity, not with propane gas that has to be carried in on a helicopter to the high mountain huts. Shortly after the State of New Hampshire said, “You folks are going out of business unless you put fully-networked fire alarm systems in all of your high mountain huts.” Namely, if a fire commences in a room down there that it be generalized and the alarm tells everybody (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) that there’s a fire down there. Not just down in the room. That requires a good source of electricity. And, shortly after we convinced them to go solar photovoltaics they had that problem of New Hampshire saying, “You can’t survive in your high mountain huts,” which is critical to their operation, “unless you can have adequate electricity to run fully-networked fire alarm systems,” and they now had it. Well, they knew how to do it and now they did it, and they didn’t go out of business. And, that wasn’t the initial objective. The initial objective was, “Try it out and at least do your lighting with solar generated electricity.” Now, of course, that means you have storage batteries, lots of sun during the day charging batteries so that that fire alarm system is available at night and your lighting is available at night. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And one of these things, oh yeah I had a friend, [Leaves table] whoops, I had a friend, an artist friend, Walt Lauf, who earned his living setting up his own small company to work with industry and he did this artistic work for me. And, we put artistic work in the first hut, educating people. A hundred thousand people go through the Appalachian Mountain Huts every summer season. And, my friend did this artistic work and he did other artistic work and worked with me. He’s not an engineer. He’s an artist and (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) he’s a friend from a long time ago who lives in Vermont, retired. But, he did a lot of artistic work. Solar Power in the AMC huts, Appalachian Mountain Club huts. Here’s a sketch of one of the huts. But he then helped us with a display that actually hung on the wall of Mizpah Hut, and people could see how solar energy works, and then they could go out and look at the solar collector. So, why solar electricity? So, we taught, we had the art, we had the potential for teaching 100,000 people every year. So, that’s just an example of that sort of thing. The — oh. [Laugh] And then my friend the artist jokes a little bit and he made this sketch. We were at Carter Notch Hut, a different hut in the White Mountains. He made this sketch of Carter Notch Hut. And he said, “Portrait of Ed Clarke upon his victorious ascent to Carter Notch in the White Mountains.” Well, that’s Ed Clarke. [Laugh] So, my friend who did that artistry and did the sketch, while he, he came with me on several of these, with students. I introduced a lot of students to the high mountains and it’s sort of interesting. But, in fact, I was probably upon that rock looking things over and he had fun sketching this. [Laugh]
Very interesting. Well, I’ll ask you one more question (Clarke: Yes.) and then we’ll, then we’ll shut down.
You indicated that you were going to tell me about the Silicon Valley genealogy (Clarke: Yeah.) that you have over there?
And, this is an interesting genealogy. And, of course, it starts — well, this is all semiconductors. It starts with Bell Telephone Labs, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) which is not in Silicon Valley, but that’s all right. You can’t leave Bell Telephone Labs out of this, with the inventors of Brattain, and Bardeen, and Shockley listed here. Then, of course, somehow or other Bill Shockley thought he might be able to become an industrial person with his own company and he messed that up severely. But, what I wanted to show you was, National Semiconductor is in there early. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Now, we created National Semiconductor in Danbury, Connecticut. Why is it there when we’re talking about Silicon Valley? Well, it’s there because eventually, this is by year 1967 and so forth and so on, it’s there because after the management by Rothlein and group, the new group put headquarters in Santa Clara, in Silicon Valley. So this is, lo and behold National Semiconductor is there twice and this whole period is basically in Danbury. So that doesn’t belong in Silicon Valley, but you had to put National there because Charlie Sporck did not do it in Silicon Valley. He became a manager at the right time for National and the headquarters were moved to Santa Clara. So, National Semiconductor is here. But, it’s a fascinating linkage here. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Here is Intel and I guess you can trace Intel, obviously you have to trace it — here’s Fairchild. Fairchild’s in there early. That’s proper. National was created a short time after Fairchild. And so, some of this has to eventually end up at Intel. But, that’s astonishing.
Got a lot of companies on there?
Well, I want to thank you very much for the time you’ve spent with me today.
You’re very welcome. [Leaves Table] I’ll show you just one other thing here.
By the way, this is Mount Washington. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) That’s the cone, and it turns out there are two little lakes here. I take it back. That’s a lake. At any rate, there’s a hut here called Lakes of the Clouds Hut. And, the smoke you see over the ridge here, that happens to be the Cog Railroad, just on the other side of the ridge, burning coal and going to the summit of Mount Washington. So, there is a hut in here. And, I believe that hut also is, now has solar photovoltaics. This is the race in, from Florida to Michigan. So, I wanted to show it to you. There’s Epcot Center. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) And, I like, I like this one. This is the standings for Day 4. Here it is Day 4, and then here’s Worcester at the top. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So, we really cleaned their guns on that day. That was an astonishing race on Day 4. And, this happens to be Bob Stemple, CEO of General Motors at the time, and this is one of our students, who is receiving the award for Day 4. And, this is the vehicle we used in that race here. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) Here we’re being interviewed by ESPN. That’s Andy Stern, one of my students who is now one of the leaders in wind turbines. And, I wanted to point out, of my team, this is my team, this is Armand Aquino of the Aquino family of the Philippines. (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) It’s his family that was, well some of his family assassinated in the Philippines by Marcos, and much of the family came to this country. And so he was one of my students, a very, very interesting person. So, he was part of the team. But, it turns out a couple of my students had just graduated from WPI, but this was the summer within a few weeks of graduation, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and they were members of WPI’s Army ROTC, and Andy Stern was in the U.S. Marines Reserve. We got back from the race and within a day or two they were all put on readiness to go to Iraq, (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) and they never did but this fellow and another fellow had commissions from the Army ROTC, and Andy was already separately in the Marine Reserves of the United States. And so, when we got back all of a sudden three of them, my team, I had six people, six students on the team, and building and designing had thirty students. But, the ones who worked on it mostly and put so much effort into it, we made the choice that those who put the best effort in were the ones who were going to do the race. So, that’s kind of what happened. Here I am, I think, pointing up again to this thing. This is how we looked traveling on the highways as we raced. [Laugh] (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) So, we had a, this is the van pulling our trailer. So, we’d give a little room to the racing car to protect it from big rigs (Butler: Uhm-hmm.) so that, we just wanted to provide a little protection on both front and back, and so that’s sort of how we traveled, although sometimes that trailing car would be far back and we’d be far ahead. But, in a tight situation like this we wanted to protect the vehicle. There was no other way to do it. We were on highways. This is how we raced from Florida to Michigan. Someplace in Indiana was the steepest part of the entire race route and they had a separate race for hill climbing, and we won that hill climbing. And we then ended up with a different name for our car. Our competition called us the (Worcester) Rocket after doing this. We just trimmed everybody on the ability to climb steep hills. And so, they gave us the name, “(Worcester) Rocket.” I’ve almost forgotten what our official name was. But at any rate, (pointing to a photograph) these are the, this is part of the scrutineering to see how stable the vehicle is when it’s turned on its side and how strong it is or how weak it is. This is Armand (another photo.) I think that’s Armand Aquino there. So, that was back in 1990.
Okay. Very good. Well, thank you very much.
You’re very welcome.
Okay, I was continuing (Clarke: Yeah.) to talk with Edward Clarke here and he was starting to reminisce about his memories of Dr. Brattain.
Yeah. Walter Brattain at Bell Telephone, one of the three inventors of the semiconductor transistor was a wonderful guy, but a very straightforward — I called him “Crusty.” He was willing to stand up in a large audience at a technical presentation of papers and tell the people what he really thought of them if he didn’t think the paper was very good. I remember being at a meeting where Walter Brattain was present and he got up and said, “You know, Mr. Speaker, your paper is pretty terrible. You ought to just sit down and not give the rest of it.” But, it turns out he was right. It wasn’t that he was just trying to be difficult. The speaker was not giving a very good talk. And, Walter Brattain was that kind of person. And, I have a suspicion that being one of the inventors of the transistor required that kind of attitude. “Don’t trouble me, Mr. Physics. I know how to get around with you and I’ll show you. And, I’ve invented the point-contact transistor.” I think you needed a crusty experimentalist, who knew how to put together really excellent experimentation so that when they saw an effect of point contacts that it was not a fluke. It was real. It was amplification of an electrical signal from an input to an output, and I think you needed Walter Brattain to do that. John Bardeen was a wonderful theoretician, very quiet, very, very gentle person. Their leader, William Shockley, was a genius but he had many problems. At least many of us thought he had many problems. Problems requiring attention to kind, kind arrangements with human beings, with other people who worked with you. He seemed to lack that skill, the understanding that that was needed. But, interestingly enough the three of them, maybe the transistor invention would have come from somebody else a few years later. Who knows? It might have come from the group of Lark Horovitz at Purdue. It might have come from a group at the University of Pennsylvania, but no one really knows. It came from these three people at Bell Labs and I think maybe you needed those three kinds of people. Competitors and yet people who worked together. People who are going to see something through to the very end. And, by golly, they started the revolution, the electronics revolution, and they deserved, each of them, the Nobel Prize when it was awarded to them. Yes, practical research, call it what you will. We’ve seen a little more of that. People have been winning, people, few people in physics have been winning Nobel Prizes based on research that is very closely related to things that can be of help and use by population, by the culture generally. I think we need both basic research and the other kind that puts itself close to where people and culture are, help people out in the problems that have to be solved. But, we need lots of basic research, and I hope we can get back to that from some of the large, wealthy companies. Why not get back to that with General Electric, if they’re not already there? That I’m not sure one way or the other. But, I as one now somewhat old physicist, who has been part of the semiconductor revolution, feels very clearly that this country needs all of the basic research, the basic research that looks for knowledge, it needs all of the knowledge-related research that we can muster. Otherwise, we make decisions that are not ready, they’re not timely, and it costs a lot of time and effort, and maybe even human suffering. So, if I were to vote on the subject, I have one solid vote in favor of as much basic research and more than we can possibly imagine. Amen.