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Interview of Richard Bozorth by Lillian Hoddeson on 1975 August 28,
Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics,
College Park, MD USA,
For multiple citations, "AIP" is the preferred abbreviation for the location.
Bozorth discusses his years at Bell Laboratories, from the late 1920s to the 1940s. Interview concentrates on his research on ferromagnetism, including its connections to radar and semiconductors.
This is an interview with Dr. Richard M. Bozorth at Bell Telephone Laboratories. It’s August 28th, shortly past 1 in the afternoon.
You were born in 1896 in Salem, Oregon. Were your parents from Oregon?
Yes, my parents and grandparents lived in the Northwest. I lived there until I went into the (First) War, 1917 — I went to Reed College that was when I graduated from college.
What was your father’s occupation?
He was a newspaperman, really. In Salem, Oregon, he had charge of a farm journal, which was part of the Statesman (?) then. Then he went to Portland, and worked on the PORTLAND JOURNAL. I don’t know exactly what he did. He was also interested in real estate, which he did on some Coast property.
Did you have any brothers or sisters?
Oh, I had a sister who died when she was 16.
I wonder if you have any ideas about where your scientific interests originated from?
Well, I think partly from my father. I know he finished high school in night class. His parents were farmers. But he was in the city, and he was pretty good in mathematics, I judge from what he said.
Do you remember talking about scientific things with him?
Well, about mathematical things. Not scientific things otherwise. I remember, I asked him once what algebra was, and he said he’d give me an example, He did an example. He told me how to work it out with symbols.
About how old were you then?
Oh, I don’t know. Let’s see — I think maybe about 12. I’m not sure.
Did you go to the local schools in Oregon?
Yes. Well, until high school I went to Portland Academy which was in Portland.
Was that a boarding school?
No. I lived near it, near the school, and went in every day. They had a very good staff there. I think they helped me, with other things, later.
Did you start in scientific directions at that time? Bozorth; I was interested in chemistry and mathematics; I think mathematics rather than chemistry.
In high school.
Were there any teachers there who stood out in your memory?
Yes, my teacher in mathematics. He was trained for college teaching but he was in the preparatory school, and he was very good. He gave us a little in mathematics, just a touch of it that you would normally get in college.
How did you decide to go to Reed?
Well, I lived in Reed, and it was a new school that was starting, and I was interested in it.
Did you like it there?
Yes. Quite. Yes.
What did you major in?
I majored in chemistry. Perhaps I should say, in high school I did get the prize for the highest grades in math, and science grades that a boy could get, a prize. Then I went to Reed and they let me in without any examination. Well, I’ve just written something for Reed, it’s being typed now. Perhaps I could leave that out, for the moment… or shall I tell it? It’s not very long. It’s on what I did at college.
Why don’t you give me a summary? Then we can put a more extended version into the file.
Yes. On account of my interest in science and mathematics, I was allowed to take three science courses and one course in English, the first year. And one was a junior course, but they let me in anyway, and the teacher said I did the best work in the class. Am I supposed to tell you these things? Is that the kind of thing you want?
Yes, certainly. The more detail, the better.
Oh, I see. Yes. I finished Reed in three years, which you can do if your grades are good. And my last year there, at the end of course I went to war. But before that, I did my thesis in chemistry, and some work in physics that was practically a thesis too. The professor had two of us work together on repeating a classical experiment on the charge of the electron. This was a — the cloud chamber, the rate of fall.
Yes, Millikan’s experiment, that’s right, but not his last one, of course. The last one he did on separate droplets under the microscope. This was — you’d have to determine how fast a cloud falls, assuming that the last fall would have a single charge on each droplet, and so from that you can determine. But you have to — it’s a little hard determining where the top of the cloud is, how fast it falls. You’re trained in physics, apparently.
And, well, we got something within the right range, but not a precision experiment, but we got some results. Then I took other courses —
— Who was your teacher?
My memory for names is not good — Milton. You know his book? No, I’m thinking of — I don’t know that he has any book. Milton. And he was acting president when there was no president for a while, later.
Later on at Reed?
At Reed, yes. And he was just acting president for two or just a year or so something like that. Then we found another president. They had trouble with finding presidents, then.
As they do now.
In fact, they discharged a couple of them, I think. But now, I think they have a very good one.
Did you have any early interest in magnetism?
No, not yet.
Were your parents pleased with your decision to choose a scientific career?
Well, in high school I was interested in science, did my best work in mathematics and chemistry, and generally in going into science. Then, since I was chemistry major, I entered the chemistry department at Reed — probably because they gave me a job to do where I could earn part of my tuition — and I liked chemistry. The teacher in high school, in physics, was not very good. The chemistry man was extraordinary good. That’s one reason I took it. And then, —
Did your parents pay the rest of your tuition?
They helped me quite a good deal. Yes. And I earned — well in those days tuition wasn’t high, and the work I did, I had charge of the chemical laboratory in the physical sense, I mean, getting it arranged and so on and talking to the students. I didn’t do any teaching, except individual help in the laboratory, for example.
— Let’s see, you got your Bachelor of Arts — in ’17?
Yes, Bachelor of Arts, yes, AB.
And then you went into the war?
Yes, — see, I graduated in May, I think, of 1917. I was already in the Army, but I wasn’t called. I was in the National Guard, was a new engineering unit then. But I was called early in the fall or, in the summer, I was called.
What did you do during the war?
I enlisted in a company of engineers. And then on account of my record at Reed and my interest in science and chemistry, they put me in the Chemical Warfare Service. Then I was in the engineers. Before we got to the front I was transferred to a laboratory in Paris, where I did chemical work on war gases. I remember working on a material to protect horse’s feet from mustard gas. On the field you see. But the war was over before it had any particular use. Luckily.
A lot of men went into chemistry in World War I.
Into chemical warfare.
Yes. Now they do a lot in research laboratories, but nothing gets very far beyond that, of course.
And then you went to Cal Tech.
Yes. When I came home from the war — I got a job in the shipyards, earning some money.
Oh, carrying around lamp cords, and things. Just an assistant job. That was the best way I could earn some money in the summer. And then, I saw my major professor in chemistry at Reed, after I came home, and he gave me a little talk, about war gases.
A talk about war gases?
About war gases, which I’d been working on during the war. Then, he called me and said he had a letter from Cal Tech, asking if they had any people who might be interested in doing teaching, doing assistant teaching, what did they call it? Well, anyway, I did research most of the time on my doctor’s, courses on my doctoral degree there.
So this was like a teaching assistantship?
Teaching fellowship is what it was.
And at the same time you entered the graduate program in chemistry.
Yes, that’s right.
Had you planned to go back to school?
Yes. Yes, I had. I didn’t know what I could do with the knowledge I had. I thought I had to be better trained than I was.
Is that why you went to speak to your teacher of chemistry?
Well, he spoke to me. I hadn’t decided what to do in the summer. I guess it was early in the summer that he told me about this, and I worked in the shipyards till I was ready to go to Cal Tech.
This was the summer of ‘19.
Then you entered in the fall.
It was ‘18. It was 1918, I think. Because I was in the Army less than a year. Yes, that’s right.
You had a DuPont Fellowship?
Is that the same fellowship, the teaching fellowship?
It was like a teaching fellowship.
Was it the same one?
Not quite, because I didn’t have any teaching responsibilities then. I spent all my time on research and courses.
I see. First you had a teaching fellowship, and then you got a DuPont Fellowship.
The following year?
Yes, or third, I’m not sure which. And then I think one year I did teaching fellowship again. Now I guess not. The last year I was there, Noyes was head of the chemistry department at Cal Tech — I don’t know if he’s known to physicists nowadays or not —
I’ve heard of him and noticed that you thank him in one of your articles.
He had some money that he never told the source of, and I think it was his own. So during the summer, he would have people there, paid them something. It made some people mad, because some people got paid and some people didn’t. People who were staying on, they wanted to encourage, he paid them money. Other people, he didn’t. But he didn’t explain the difference to them.
Cal Tech was an exciting place at that time in physics.
Well, the chemistry department was a bit ahead of the physics department.
They were? Tell me about it.
They gave three people doctor’s degrees in chemistry before they had any in physics.
I see. I didn’t know that.
And that was because Noyes was there all the time and Millikan was only there part of the time. They changed the name to Cal Tech, as a matter of fact, when Millikan came. So I was there before it was called Cal Tech. They changed the name while I was there. And I have the great honor of being the oldest living PhD from Cal Tech.
Oh my. And I’m honored to be interviewing you today. This is also the period, 1919-1922, when quantum theory was in a terrible crisis.
Oh yes. Yes. I took a course, graduate course, after I got my degree, as a matter of fact. I got my degree in ‘21, and then I stayed on for another year, till ‘22.
In what capacity?
As a research fellow. And I took a course from Tolman, then, on elementary quantum mechanics. I should remember the names of the authors of the book but I don’t right now. I learned something about it then.
Was it Sommerfeld’s ATOMIC STRUCTURE?
It was in 1921—22.  No, it wasn’t although I did read his book very carefully, in that period. Well, no, maybe it was, maybe it was when I came to Bell Labs, I read that. That’s right.
That was in ’24.
Yes, ‘23 or ‘24.
Was Oppenheimer there then?
No. Pauling, yes, Pauling was there then, he came in when I had just gotten my doctor’s degree. He came in as a beginning graduate student. Have we got time for a small joke?
Yes. We certainly do.
Well, Pauling was in this class with Tolman too, and Tolman asked him a question once class, and Pauling said, “I don’t know, I haven’t had that yet.” So, since I had a doctor’s degree, just beginning, I took him aside and said, “Well, you’re a grown up man now, you either know something or you don’t. It doesn’t make any difference whether you’ve ‘had’ it.” We tell that on each other now.
I see you wrote a paper with Pauling, in fact I have a copy of it here.
In 1925. I noticed that you carefully kept separate your contributions.
Yes, I’ll tell you about that.
Now I’d like to try with you to reconstruct some of the atmosphere. Cal Tech, at the time that you were there as a graduate student. Were there many visitors from Europe?
Yes. Yes, there were, really. Mostly those that Millikan brought in. He was, as far as the outside world could see, he was running the Institute then.
Was he well liked?
Yes, but he was kidded about making public statements about himself and the place. One time, somebody would come up to him and say — I hear there’s a new unit of publicity, the “kan,” but that’s pretty large — so they have a smaller unit called the “Millikan.” Well, he did a great service, no question about that. You know, he got a hundred men from Southern California, and talked to them in a group — and got each one to give a thousand dollars a year for ten years, which was a million dollars, which was quite a lot in those days. And when I went to Bell — Laboratories — I took some of his courses — and when I went to Bell Labs, he wrote a letter for me. He was very close to Bell Labs, as you know maybe he went back and forth between them. And I wrote. Well, I talked to him. Then I wrote applying for a job, and I told Rae Wilson, who was my — I lived with him at Cal Tech, part of the time — who was now then at Bell Labs, she spoke to Kelly about me and they said I should apply in the usual way… So I did, to Arnold, who was the head of research then, an Wilson said that Kelly had said that though they weren’t hiring people then, if somebody came along that they thought would be suitable, they would hire him. Is this — am I on the right track? Or is it Cal Tech you want to talk about now?
Well, this is fine. I had one question that we didn’t go into regarding Cal Tech, before we switched to Bell Labs. I’d just like to fill in.
Yes. All right. Hoddeson; I would like to find out a little bit about your thesis, whom you worked with, — then —
— oh, I world on crystal structure then.
Well, the person who gave me the most help was Roscoe Dickenson. And when I wrote my first article, I said that, under his supervision...
That was the article (examining papers) — let’s see — here we are.
Yes, this is it. This is Crystal Capture in KCN—
KCN, the 1922 article, in your bibliography.
Yes. I said “under his supervision,” I said, I put it, he didn’t want his name on it. He said I should have it above I found a way of growing the crystals and did all the work… Then, when it went to Noyes for — to look it over before it was published — he wrote, “Immediate,” under Dickinson’s immediate supervision, “which is all right too. I don’t mind that. That was true. But of course, it was under his general supervision, because he encouraged people to work there. He put me to work there. Hoddeson; Then you joined the Bell System.
And this came in the way you told me.
Yes. Well, I’ll tell you the first thing about it, I was very much surprised, because I was living on — well, I began with $750 a year as a teaching fellow, and I think I got $1200, the last year I was there. When I got to, I was accepted at Bell Labs, and they told me my salary, it would be $300 a month, $3600, you see. Quite a difference.
Were there any other job possibilities at that time? Or job openings?
Well, I don’t know. I stopped looking then. I had written to General Electric, too, and they replied that the head of research was traveling in Europe, would I wait until he returned. So I never tried anymore because by then I had the job at Bell Labs. I’d been told by a professor at Bell Labs who worked there one summer that it was the best of the commercial laboratories. Well, the reason I wanted to go there was that I was much more interested in research than in teaching, partly because I’m slow of speech, but also because I stammered very badly at that time. It’s a little hard to lecture when you stammer.
You told me you met with Arnold.
Well, Millikan said I should write to Arnold, applying for a job, which I did.
Were you interviewed by anyone?
… no…Rae Wilson was an important person there. He wasn’t so much a scientist a supervisor. And he knew all the ins and outs of industrial things. He was very good in that respect, had very good judgment.
Is that R. H. Wilson?
No. This is J.R. Wilson in M.J. Kelly’s department.
So you came to the Labs, lived in New York.
Yes, in the suburbs.
Where did you live?
Well, for a year in, Jamaica, Long Island.
And you commuted to West St.
Yes. And then I worked for a man named McKehan who was later the head of the Sloan Physics Lab.
Were you happy working under McKehan?
Yes. Quite. We had little differences of opinion now and then, but we got over it. All in good fun.
Do you remember what your first research problem was at Bell?
Oh. Well, I’d been working on X-rays for my doctoral degree, and they had the general machine for doing X-ray photographs, and I worked with that, and I was — every time something came up where you wanted to know the X-rays, I was the man to take the picture and consider it. That led to an article or two.
Was the article on crystal structure of Cesium Tri-Iodine, one of these articles?
That was later.
In this period you wrote on “The Orientations of electro deposited crystals in iron, nickel, copper and zinc, as determined by X-rays.”
Yes, that was one that came out of it. And —
And X-ray power photographs.
Yes. And about the same time — that was the period also when I was being introduced to magnetism, because I designed a magnetometer.
How did that come about?
Well, I’d been interested in thin films, magnetism of thin films of metals. And so, I would deposit the thin film by electric deposition and, on the magnetic base, and then, the question was how small an amount you could measure that way. And in those days, the best way was to have a magnetometer. You know, of course, a needle and you put something up next to it, it moves it. But there was also the earth’s magnetic field. So I had one here, and the needle pointing in the opposite direction, up here, and this only went up to one of them, and the other one balanced out to normal changes in field, you have in the buildings and in the earth and so on.
An, a-static balance.
Yes. Yes, that’s right. And after I had published it, I found some German had done it 20 years ago!
Oh dear. Well, it got you started on magnetism anyway.
What was the laboratory atmosphere like, in those days? This was still at Western Electric.
Yes, but it was the same. Makes no difference, that was just a change in name.
There was no change that you noticed.
In the higher echelons there was, of course.
But not in the Laboratories.
Well, some people came in, from Western Electric, from A T and T — no. No, it was just the same, as far as Western Electric was concerned. Except maybe some people’s titles charged. Up the line. I don’t know. And later on, the research people down at A T and T Company were sent up. They joined with us. That was in the thirties. Maybe you’re not ready to talk about that yet.
We’ll talk about that just a bit later. Did you work closely with Arnold and did you know Buckley and others whose names are on the top line of the organization from those days?
Well, I knew them socially, let’s say, and I was very pleased with my rapport with them.
Were they aware of the details of your work?
Oh yes. Yes, we reported — remember, I reported to Buckley a little bit later, and every year, we had — at least every year we had a formal conference reviewing everything I‘d done during the year, and talking about programs for the next year. But he was constantly in and out of the laboratory, Buckley was. Where was he then?
He was up above McKehan.
Yes, that’s right. And Arnold, I saw quite a bit. I used to go to parties out — well when I got to New Jersey, which was in 1926; we were taken into that group of people for parties and so on. They played bridge, lots of bridge together, but my wife didn’t like bridge, so I soon dropped out of the parties. I didn’t care enough about it to do anything, and I remember, we went up to Kelly’s with Rae Wilson once, and the second time, when we went out there together, Mervin Kelly told me that — I was apparently more interested, Becker had said that too, — in basic research, than I was about supervising. And when I was -–
Oh, somewhere between ‘23 and ‘26.
They were already starting to talk to you about being supervisor?
Yes. Well, at this point you see, they’d given me a man to help me. Then there was a question of another man, who was more able, and a man with him, so there were several people.
Who were these people?
There was Cioffi. Here it is, yes, these people.
Cioffi, Dillinger, Foster and Haworth.
Yes. Well, at that time, when they told me I would be responsible for these people, I said, “Well, how much time will I have for my own work?” So I wasn’t in for getting a lot of people reporting to me. Later, they added some more. Then when they took them away, of course, I was mad. But everybody agreed that I was told that I was a good individual worker, but not much of a supervisor. So, well, let me finish the story. I was at — we were at the Kelly’s one afternoon, and we were talking afterwards about –-
Where did the Kelly’s live at that time?
In Short Hills. And we were just talking about — oh, then, Kelly said, “There was some discussion recently, about people doing basic work, with no immediate objective, practical.” He said, “They had decided that they would have a few people who were doing that. And that, “then he said, that “it doesn’t cost too much” which meant that they wouldn’t pay them as much as they did people who went on up the line, with supervision an directors and so on, which is true.
Well, it’s hard getting away from the fact that the boss will get more money than most people under him. It isn’t always true, but — it’s almost that the boss will get more than the people reporting to him, isn’t it? Don’t you feel that way? So as I say, that wasn’t always true, because there were exceptions.
So then what happened?
Well, then I started out on some research, on the Barkhausen effect.
So the research up until the Barkhausen effect was really more or less applied?
They probably got me interested in things. One was, they made coils of powder, pressed powder.
Oh, the laboratory generally, the whole laboratory. A lot of us were working on it. But I got on it through Buckley.
So Ms. Kelly was already thinking about basic research even in those early days.
And were Arnold and Buckley were more interested in those days in applied research?
No, no. But it had been general policy of the Laboratory. What’s the research department for? It’s to make things better for the Bell System. But that was a broad look at it. Then they decided that, if some people were doing basic work in a few fields — for example, magnetism was very important, and the electronics were very important, so Davisson was one of these, and — well, later they made us all research physicist, a title. Then later they took that away, too.
Now M.J. Kelly wasn’t doing any basic research himself, was he?
— that’s right. That’s right. But he had the ability to see that that was a problem. I know his wife very well now. And she said it was he who saw this point. He and Arnold and Buckley and maybe W. Wilson were in on the discussion of it. I’m sure of that.
In the early twenties or mid-twenties?
No. Well, before the thirties. In the mid-twenties, I guess.
I wonder if there’s any documentation for this.
There’s not likely to be any.
No, I was wondering if there’s anybody now who’d do that. They’re all dead, these three people.
It would be extremely interesting and important if there was some documentation of this.
Yes. When they decided that, you mean? Well, I’ll ask Kathryn Kelly. I’m going to see her this evening. She remembers, because Marvin always talked over everything with her. She was sort of a sounding board. He could put his thoughts in better order by talking about it so he talked to his wife.
Perhaps at some point I should speak with her.
I’ve been trying to figure out where the Kelly papers might be, actually. The Buckley papers are preserved at the Warren service center...
You mean the correspondence?
Yes. But I haven’t been able to find out where the Kelly papers are.
Well, do you know Miss Stevens, who’s married now, who was Kelly ‘s secretary ?
I don’t. No. I’ll have to —
Well, I think she’s still around. Give me a small piece of paper, I’ll ask Mrs. Kelly that too.
Before we move on, did you work with Ives or Fletcher at all in those days?
Did you know them?
I knew them.
Generally speaking what was the Bell System trying to do in the twenties? What were the major problems that you were made aware of?
Well, the (crosstalk) loading coil was one, that was in magnetics.
Was that in your area?
That was throughout the whole organization. I mean, they had people in the various departments working on various phases of it. It was primary an engineering problem. But I worked on it some. And Victor Leggs worked on it. There’s a paper by Legg and Gibbon, on loading coils, and Legg — I don’t think he was reporting to me at that time, but he was a little later.
These were loading coils working together with the vacuum tubes, is that it?
No, the loading coils are in the transmission line. It’s an inductance; you put inductance in the line.
To cut energy losses?
Well, it’s to keep the signal going, if you’re being swamped — in other words, they can put on a much more powerful pulse, and it tends to spread out on an ordinary line, but if you have loading coils you have to put more energy in, so the energy gets through farther. I remember, in my laboratory, Arnold talked to, over the telephone line to somebody in Chicago, and he could barely hear him of course. I don’t know — that must have been 1925, ‘26, something like that. And that’s when they were trying to boost it with loading coils, and that was patented by a man at AT and T,  and a professor at Co1umba University.  When it came to a showdown, the one at Columbia University had written it down two days before.
Now, wait a minute, I’m confused. This was back in 1900.
Yes, that is right, it was started. But the loading coil was being developed all this time. They were trying to improve it. And they hadn’t put it into the system, I think.
You mean, in 1925 they still hadn’t put it into the system, even though —
Well, yes, they’d done something about it, but not very much. They’d tried it out, but it hadn’t got across the Continent.
I see. But they did use loading coils on the line that went from New York to Denver that opened around 1915…
The construction of the coil, the best construction for the coils — they ground up powder, iron powder, and pressed it together, — then they came around with a new magnetic alloy. They found a way of making perm alloy powder, and all those things took time. It didn’t go as fast as it does now. So it was some years before, till they were thinking about the right way of making it, a powder, pressed powder, and there were lots of problems with it, you wouldn’t think about. First it was just thin sheets of iron, wrapped up.
So then, you got involved with the problem of loading coils.
Just a little bit. And then Legg took it over from my end. Yes.
And you began working on more basic problems.
Yes. Such as the Barkhausen effect.
Was that in the late twenties, or early thirties?
Let me ask you a few questions about the —
— well, how are you for —?
You want to take a short break?
Yes, a short break.
I would like to ask you, some questions about the general research atmosphere at Bell. I gather that you were following the ideas in quantum mechanics as they were coming out, because they were relevant to your work.
Well, very few of them, but yes, I — well, in a later period, just about when the war was brewing, maybe before we were in the war — the Second War. I decided to write a book, and I had to learn something about quantum theory, more than I just I think I‘d better go back a little bit. After I’d been here, oh, maybe three or four years, I was asked to give an out-of-hours course in magnetism.
At the Bell Labs, during the late twenties?
It must have been. Yes. And I talked to Buckley, and they decided that it would not be — they didn’t know what kind of book I would write at that age. And it was early. But I’d been encouraged by one of the people in the publicity department -–
I don’t know his name again —
Not King? Or Mills?
No. I think he was treasurer of the company. He was an officer of the company later.  Well, I did teach a course and some people attended it. But I’d be the first one to say, I didn’t do a very good job.
Who was it for?
People in the Laboratory. Anybody who wanted to take it. This was before Quantum theory, really. Before — before that got into my working knowledge, anyway. Well, that’s sort of the basis for the book. I mean, if you think about giving a course, why, you think you might write a book. And it was proposed to me by a member of the staff here who was not in the technical branch, but otherwise. I’d say publicity department.
Alan Holden must have been in the publicity department about that time.
Yes. Yes, he would know who it is. Yes. And then, — shall I go ahead?
Then, they thought it over. They’d only had one or maybe two books done by people of the staff. And Arnold had the job of telling me that I’d better not write it, better not do it now. Well, he was very nice about it. I remember, he had me into his office, and lit a fire in the fireplace, and told me that they didn’t know enough about how I would write it. And if I would write things, start writing things that they thought could be put together, finally into a book, why, that’s another matter. But I — I realized that was right. And I’m awfully glad now that I didn’t try to write a book then.
Well, I didn’t have enough background. Hadn’t done enough. But I began writing things, making notes for myself and trying to understand certain things better, writing it down, so you have to understand it. That tells you something of the atmosphere then. That’s why I was telling you this, wasn’t it? What was the atmosphere?
Yes. Were you encouraged to be writing scientific papers at that time?
Yes. I remember one time, after it had been decided that I’d stay on doing basic work, Buckley said, “Well, you’re all right. I don’t want those articles to stop. “
I see. They were encouraging you to write articles.
Not to take patents out, but to write articles.
Well, Buckley always thought we should keep our eyes out for patents, too. But that wasn’t what bothered him, at the moment. That was the general view he had — it all right to do basic work, but when you do basic work, you should keep your eyes open for a patent that would do the company some good.
In connection with the basic work, and the encouragement to write papers, was there also encouragement to visit other labs, find out what they were doing?
To go to society meetings?
Yes, and I remember, we’d go to meetings, and talk to other people, outside. And is Mills on your agenda? Has he anything to do with this?
I’d love to hear anything you can tell me about Mills.
Well, Mills would say — “You know when you talk to these fellows, find out as much as you can from them, but don’t give away any secrets.” I said, “Well, I can’t tell them — I can’t listen to them, get them to tell me things, and I not tell them things.” He said, — well — then he shut up.
Did you stay at the Labs during the summers? Or did you travel?
Oh. Well, I traveled quite a good deal. Can I see if this article for Reed is typed?
Sure… (Bozorth returns with typed draft of article for Reed)
This is for Reed.  “A member of the science faculty at Reed suggested I contact you for a statement of your views on Reed’s education, and relation of that experience to your current professional work. Your comments would be very helpful to the college for two projects, and so-on.” So I’ve written this. This is the story of my life, briefly, as far as it concerns that. “I’ve given invited lectures at universities, at Oxford, London, Grenoble, Amsterdam, Gottingen, Tokyo, Moscow and Algiers. And in many places in the USA.” I had to travel to do that, and I went to a conference in Japan. You know Van Vleck?
The Van Vlecks and we traveled together, decided to go around the world. When we got to Japan, we came home the other way.
When was that?
‘34 or something like that.
Had you known Van Vleck in the twenties?
Yes. Yes. Saw him at meetings. Got acquainted with him. And through Darrow too. You know Darrow?
I’ve met him once, but I -–
Yes. Well, he’s an old friend. Those two are old friends. And I got acquainted with Darrow early, of course. And Van Vleck.
Would you meet Van Vleck through your work in magnetism?
— That’s primarily it—
Or through your friendship with Darrow?
Did you ever do any collaborative work with Van Vleck?
Yes. Several articles. I invited him to come to Bell Labs one summer. And told him something’s I couldn’t explain, needed a special theorist for, and he looked at them and decided he’d work on a certain thing. And we wrote a paper on it. Though his original idea was not to write but to explain it. But I did the experimental work and he did the theoretical work on it. And, having to do with, — here.
Did you know Slater in those days?
Yes. Yes. I went out with Darrow for Slater’s birthday, once —
— Slater’s birthday?
For Slater’s birthday and I used to go around some with his present wife. She was known as “the beautiful physicist.”
She’s a chemist, isn’t she?
Crystal structure. Physicist. That’s all on the atmosphere; can you think of anything else I can say about it?
In the late twenties, there seems to have been an expansion in hiring at the labs.
Yes. Times were good, just before ‘29. And they hired a great many people, there.
Was there a special reason for hiring just then?
Well, it was natural expansion. They hadn’t expanded much before. And they were doing well. I don’t know why, but the — there were lots of people available, and they needed more people. And then of course they had problems afterwards. Buckley has talked about it, so many old men. When they were talking about the old judges on the Supreme Court, you know? He took over the language. It was a problem, for a while. But it finally disappeared.
What about — let’s just continue with the atmosphere in the twenties.
What was the physical setup of your lab like? Did you have any trouble getting equipment or assistants that you needed?
No — Well, it wasn’t like the modern — There was a budget all right. And I was told once or twice, I didn’t use my budget enough. Things were available. But you had to have a good reason for it. And we had to make, in the Barkhausen effect, I had to make the amplifier myself. I had a drawing for it. I had help with putting it together. But I had to make it. Now, of course, you just —
Call on the machine shop.
Well, that wasn’t peculiar to Bell Labs. Except Bell Labs did have lots of money, compared with some people, for research.
Even in those days.
Even in those days, I guess. But much more so now than in those days.
I gather you were going regularly to a colloquium, which was already a Bell Labs institution by then.
In fact, you spoke there several times, and I have some papers that remain from those early days of the colloquium here. I thought perhaps that by looking through some of these sheets, you might remember. Here, I see you gave colloquium in 1924 on the determination of orientation for the crystals and —
— well, that was written up in an article.
Yes. Yes, and then in ‘25 — Did you attend the colloquium regularly?
You did. Do you know who selected the speakers?
Well, I guess it was the president or vice president, chairman, or whatever he was called.
I see. Here, between these two clips, we have a list of all of the talks given from 1919 all the way up to 1932. 
I found this in the correspondence files, at the Warren Record Center.
Were these in the Laboratory?
These are Laboratory colloquia. Some of them are inside speakers, some of them are –
— excuse me — discontinuities in magnetization.  Well, Buckley asked me, when I was working on the Barkhausen effect, if he could use the material for a colloquium in his old college where he got his degree. I said, of course. But I didn’t know that he did it in the Laboratory.
Well, this would be too early.
Oh, it’s too early for me.
He gave another talk, outside the Laboratories, later.
I was amazed at some of the people when came and gave talks, Rutherford and Millikan… I notice there was a special colloquium in ‘23 when Sommerfeld came. Did you hear Sommerfeld?
That must have been just after you arrived.
I heard him at Cal Tech, too. Just before I came. Just before I came to Bell Labs. He liked to play the piano, and my wife was playing the piano for Mrs. Millikan, often. So she asked us to came over and see him. He sat down at the piano, and played for us. Then my wife was afraid to play anymore, because he played about a tenth of the time he should. Didn’t want to show him up.
Did he talk about what he was doing in quantum physics?
Yes. And he showed pictures of atoms.
Was that very exciting?
I’m looking for — this is what I wanted to find — “Professor Sommerfeld was the guest at a meeting on atomic structure.  I was wondering if you went to that. This was a Dinner in the blue room, I see.
’23. No. I wasn’t here.
That was too early.
I saw him in Pasadena just before that, I guess.
Oh. The same trip, but different place.
I heard him talk in Pasadena. Then I saw him at Cal Tech. I guess I never saw him at Bell Labs. I don’t remember that I did.
How did he impress you? As a speaker?
Oh, he just went along. He was German.
He spoke in German?
No, I guess he spoke in English. I mean in Germanic English. Yes. Well, he, you know, was passed over as the head of the institute in South Germany for Heisenberg — they made Heisenberg head of the department down there, and Sommerfeld never did come in. People appreciated what he’d done, but he didn’t have the originality that Heisenberg did.
That was later, though.
Yes, it was later. You asked me how he talked. He did a very good Germanic job on it.
Who asked you to give the talks that you gave at the colloquium?
Well, whoever was running the colloquium that year? There was one person, I remember, oh, Becker, right here. He used to ask if he could give a colloquium talk. The rest of us all waited for an invitation.
Did you work with Becker at all?
It was always side by side. He’d be working on one thing, I’d be working on another, you see.
Would you talk to each other about your related projects?
Oh, once in a while, we’d say — he’d say he thought he had some good things now, and were making reports, and I’d say, “Yes, I’m sure of it,” and I — we found out some things, new things, too.
Well, we had enormous increases in the permeability of certain alloys, by certain treatment. Well, vermilion. And I gave a talk at A T and T on that. Buckley had a number of people come down. And I remember, when I walked down from giving it, people from A T and T nodded to me, sort of said silently that they liked what I‘d said. It wasn’t all mine, which I made clear in my talk. But it was in my group, all of it. That was one of the first things Buckley did when he was made president of the Lab.
He must have been an inspiring person.
Yes. Yes. I went to his retirement dinner, which Mervin Kelly was the head of, of course. Buckley was just out and Kelly was in. And Buckley said, “You know what I think. Only reason I became president is that I was one of the few people around who could take the job.” And I do think that Kelly did a very much better job, physically — I mean, from the results, not counting human antagonisms, because Kelly had a lot of opposition. Kelly was the — he’s been the brain, the best brain in the presidency, that I know of, up to now, up to, including Fisk. But he was terrible with people. Even his wife admits that.
Let’s see — I gather Darrow had a great deal to do with the colloquia.
Oh yes, he did. Yes. Yes.
Now, you were secretary of the colloquium ‘26, ‘27, and president in 1930 according to these records, but they’re not complete. What was the difference between what the secretary had to do and what the president had to do? Would the secretary read the minutes? And who prepared the notices?
Well, they’d just get together on these things, all of them, always, I think. But the man who was president presided at the meetings. And the next year presumably the vice president did.
Was the colloquium an unusual institution in the Laboratories?
They tried to change it every year or so. And they wanted to have nothing to do with the formality of the company. They wanted to be entirely outside the company. People were members of the staff, but they could make their own rules, the way they wanted to run it. You see what I mean?
It was only different in that respect.
Do you know if there were colloquia at other industrial laboratories?
Oh no, I don’t know about it, but I presume there were. I just don’t know.
The early thirties was the period of the Depression.
And that must have changed things considerably.
I remember, a vice president from A T and T came up and lectured to the staff, part of it, and he told about how it had been going, how it was here, but he said, “It’ll pretty soon be up there, again.” It was a long time but it did come back. In the budget, something like that?
Two or three years? I’ve heard stories about the layoffs at Bell Laboratories during the Depression.
Yes. I know we went on the four day week, from 51/2. Went to 5 day week, then the 4, 41/2 or 4, I can’t, remember the bottom. Then, they would publish the years, the days of the week, for a certain month, when we would work and when we wouldn’t. And the salaries were cut accordingly.
What did you do when you weren’t working?
Well, they came around, some body, saying, “Well, we can‘t help this, but you can probably reduce its effect on you by doing jobs around the house.”
And what did you do, personally?
Well, I took up the clarinet. My wife’s a musician. And I played with a little band she had, little orchestra she had for young children. I was half the woodwind section.
Did you go to Columbia at all?
I visited, but never officially.
Did you go to their colloquia once in a while?
Well, I’m kind of ashamed to say that they had one of my papers scheduled to talk about at colloquium. I went to see what they’d say. I went to it and I shouldn’t have. I mean, it was a little embarrassing, you know. I’d published an article. That was the subject of one of their colloquia that Rabi had in the evening. He was the chairman, but somebody else discussed the paper.
Oh. Who was it?
A man at MIT, if you want the name, I’ll try to find it —
What was wrong with his presentation?
Nothing. It was very good.
Then what bothered you?
Well, because I shouldn’t have been there. I just shouldn’t have visited the colloquium that day. But I was too curious as to what they’d say about it. Very bad of me. Zacharias. You know him?
I know of him.
I’m pretty sure it was he.
What did they say when they saw you there?
They asked if I had any comments.
Let’s see, in 1932, we’re now in the early thirties, the research department is under Harvey Fletcher.
Did you interact much with him?
Yes. Yes. He was — well, Buckley said, he said, that’s the only man we had. Davisson said, “Be careful of that.” Davisson said he didn’t think he was a very good physicist. But he ran his department. Not as well as he would have if he had been more able. That’s all. And then he — oh — then, when Kelly was made vice president, I guess it was, it hurt Fletcher very much. And he went to Europe for a while, had a hard time recovering from it, because he — he said Kelly wasn’t in the — he tried to look him up in AMERICAN MEN OF SCIENCE, and he wasn’t there. Now, of course, he‘s in that and a great many other things, with about so long (indicating with hands) a bibliography of what he’s done — Kelly, I mean. There’s no doubt but Kelly was the right man to do it. He was just being shoved ahead of the others, which was all right. He had a better brain than the others did. But then they made Fletcher a member of the National Academy, which he hadn’t been. I always thought that was, to help out.
Was Fletcher aware of the details of your work, as Buckley had been for example?
Well, he had meetings in his office, just as Buckley had had, where different people would talk about their work. And he — well, for a man who‘d been brought up in acoustics, it wasn’t surprising, that he wouldn’t know so much about solid state.
By the way, was the term “solid-state” used in the thirties?
It might have been. But not generally, the way it is now. What else can I tell you about the atmosphere?
I’d be interested in any comments about your interactions with other people in the physical research department during the thirties. And Elman, Davisson and Goucher.
Well, Elman really was retired, here. Let’s see (examining chart) am I here?
You’re here, you’re department head.
Then when Elman retired — I took over his — well, I think the next time we report from the same box.
Yes, that was about ‘39 or so. You became department heads together.
Yes, well, it was agreed that I would run it but Elman’s name would still be up there.
I see. And all the magnetism was put together then?
In the late thirties.
Yes. I guess Kelly did that. He put us together. I don’t know why. I think he was kind of afraid to be put me above Elman. I should have been there, to make it alphabetical, so you don’t know to look at it, who really runs it, but it was agreed —
Was Elman much older?
Yes, he was. That’s the reason, I guess. And he’d done something that brought the company in a lot of money. He’d invented perm alloy. And — well, I remember, Buckley told me before that, I didn‘t need to worry about Elman. But he‘d usually sit there and smoke his cigar. With his back to the door. And that’s about all, for a long time. Just worn out.
What about some of the other people here?
Well, I knew Becker very well. He didn’t — I don’t know, some people, for one reason or another, didn’t like some of the things that — You know what I mean?
You know him, do you?
No, I don’t know him. But I’ve heard people commenting on him.
So when it came time for a new man for the colloquium, Davisson suggested Becker. And I proposed Fletcher, who had just become our boss. And Fletcher got it. I mean, the group they called the junta group, that’s all the past presidents and so on, and I suppose that was a slap at Becker. It really was. But I — I just felt that way about him personally.
Did you interact much with Davisson?
Oh yes. Quite a lot. Knew him very well. I helped — I was very glad to be acknowledged at the end of his important paper on on wave diffractions — you know the one I mean? I helped him with the crystals. I was very happy to be included, not as a co-author of course but as a — helping with the crystals —
Well, Fry as you know is a mathematician. I’d gone to him for mathematical work, and had some help, all right. Good this way. What’ll I say? Oh, when he became Kelly’s assistant, that was some time later, I had a couple of run-ins with him. One was about my going to Russia, to send me or not. Fry wanted to do things I thought were poor judgment. And he took it up with Kelly, and Kelly ruled in my favor. So that was all right. But I wouldn’t want to be in a company where he really had the judgment to run it — had to depend on his judgment as to how it was run.
What about J.B. Johnson?
Oh. Well, I had the same office with him, in the early days.
With him and then Goucher. And he’s a nice fellow, and is able. One of his difficulties was, when they moved out to New Jersey, the people that I knew, Kelly and Buckley and so on, they never invited him to parties. They didn’t like his wife. He was, in some respects, a kind of a sorehead. I remember once, when the raises came around, I got one and he didn’t. And he was worried. But he was older than I am, and he got-good recognition f or what he did, which is — you know. He did a very go job. And after — he retired from the Lab, he did a lot of things, too. And I always felt that, first, there was a personality feeling about him, with the people running the Lab. And it wasn’t quite fair to J.B. Johnson. But he finally got some recognition. He got a nice medal for it, for his work on noise.
He came back to the Laboratory, after I’d been there several years, and he would… well, I think Buckley did it, knowing that I would be his supervisor, or department head or something like that. I think he saw Goucher who was some ten years older than I, as my boss. McKehan was already here then. He and Goucher and I used to go out for lunch rather often. And when Goucher would say something, McKehan would take it up, and didn’t like it. I mean, there was a feeling. And I had the feeling that Goucher was just acting as if he were going to be my boss. But when the time came, why, it was realized that it wouldn’t work. So we were put on a par. But he did some nice work. I don’t — well…, I don’t know what to say about him. His wife and my wife, the four of us were very good friends together. But I don’t think he was good enough to be my boss. And he wasn’t. Well, I didn’t complain about it. I just let them work it out, do what they thought should be done. W. Wilson was an Englishman, too, and Goucher used to say things that really, Wilson just didn’t like at all, didn’t believe at all. I can’t say much about him.
Now, in the thirties you’re working on —
Oh, there‘s Wente. He was a good friend of ours.
He was Harvey Fletcher’s —
Yes, he was Harvey Fletcher’s man. Lovell, I didn’t know. He was working on a different kind of thing than I was. I didn’t see much of him, in any way. OK. Enough for this stage?
You started to do some work with silicon.
I don’t remember that.
It’s down here -– “Orientation of crystals in silicon and iron.”
Silicon and iron. Well, that’s iron with a little silicon in it. Yes, really, it’s the kind of iron that they use in transformers.
I see. This is separate from the work on silicon that began later, in the late thirties that grew out of Ohl’s concern with microwave detection.
That is non-metallic silicon, you’re talking about. This was metallic. Entirely different applications.
I just did that as an X-ray — because somebody had said, that a man who invented a new kind of silicon steel, said, it couldn’t be the way the theorists thought about it, because the crystals were [???] — And I proved that they were what you would expect from the old idea by X-rays. We were still good friends.
I’d love to hear your recollections of how you came to observe the Barkhausen effect.
The Barkhausen effect? Well, that was suggested to me, really, by Buckley and I guess Kelly, I don’t know.
Where had they heard about it?
Well, they all knew about the Barkhausen effect.
It was well known when you started?
Yes. Yes. But not much work had been done about it. Anybody that’s worked with a circuit with a transformer in it or metal in it knows that the metal isn’t perfectly smooth, I mean, it doesn’t give a smooth signal. If you look at it enough, it’s irregular. And when it was decided I would go into basic work that was suggested to me as a good thing to work on.
It was suggested in the twenties, late twenties?
Yes. Must have been. Yes.
And then you worked on it off and on for many years.
Do you consider the Barkhausen effect work and the problems that related to it one of the main themes of the, work that you did at the Labs?
— that I did? Yes, I really do. Because it was concerned with domains and it’s the domains turning over, as they used to say. And then I got interested in domains, of course, from that. First I worked out the got the size of the discontinuities’ using this amplifier I’d made myself. Then, I was interested in the domain structure of materials, and did quite a bit on that. We did work much later on crystals. And finally, we could see them, under the microscope — this was all my work, summers, outside the Bell Labs. And we got many photographs. We got some photographs where there were spheres, particles, or spheres. I mean, it was a solid piece of material, but there where regions in there, an each region of a domain would be a circle, if you look at it. And then if you magnetize it, this circle might be moved over there, and the material wouldn’t move, but just the magnetization. It was on here, it would be on here — and that led eventually to the bubble theory of, bubbles used as –-
— memory —
Memory. Memory devices, yes. I said something about that in here. (Points to article for Reed)
I’ll read that afterwards. I notice that Foster Nix and Howell J. Williams have joined your group by ’35.
Well, Howell Williams has always been with me, really. On magnetics. Foster Nix’s work was an attempt to go, expand a little outside of magnetics. And nobody wanted Nix’s department so they gave it to me. He was a very hard man to get along with. He used to come around every Monday morning, to me, and complain about what he was getting out of the Be11 Lab. And I — I didn’t plan to — I didn’t look at what he was doing perhaps as carefully as I should have, but I thought he knew what he was doing in it.
Shockley joined in ’36. Did you interact with Shockley during 1930’s?
Yes. Oh yes. Well, you may think I’m a little bitter about things — certain things — but you take the bad along with the good, I hope. When I first saw Shockley, I thought he was a wonderful person. He got along with people. He knew just the right thing to do. Then, he went to war work. Then, after war work, they faced the decision, what to do with him. And Kelly wanted him to report to me, but wouldn’t force him to. I said, “Well, if he wants to, it’s all right.” And, we went along for a certain time. I knew his ability, no question about it. But, to make a long story short, I think they shouldn’t have increased his administration, but should have given him more money. When I came to Bell Labs, I went on the monthly payroll. To start with, it was $300 a month. And when Shockley came, sometime later, and he was a more able person, I’m sure of that, they kept him on the weekly payroll for a while. And when his check came around, he used to sort of hide it, so people wouldn’t see he was on the weekly payroll. Then, afterwards, he finally decided he’d be glad to come with me. I said, “Well, I’ll do what I can for you.” And then, about three days later — oh, then, Kelly walked up from the Ferry with me to the Laboratories, we all did in the morning, and many people from New Jersey, and he said to me, “Well, have you heard anything from Shockley?” I said, “Yes. He was in the other day. He said he’d be reporting to me pretty soon.” So I told Kelly this. And then, about two days later, Shockley came into my office, mad as anything. He said, “Just because I tell you that, I don’t think you should run to Kelly and tell him about it.” I was just struck dumb, for that. And he kept on talking and finally went out of the room. And I went to the door and called him back, to tell him that wasn’t right. And he said he wouldn’t listen to me. He went on. And the next thing I knew, Kelly decided to make him head of the solid state work, and he was all right. As far as his ability in solid state work was concerned, he had the ability. But he’d jump to conclusions, sometimes, like this, in a very embarrassing way. And then later — Then we got along pretty well. But I told him, told Jim Fisk then about a conversation we’d had about Williams, working, and Williams was unhappy about it, about something, and Shockley and I both had talked to him. And I talked to Bill Shockley alone about. I told him what I thought the trouble was. I think Williams naturally wanted to work with Shockley, because he was a young person, very smart and so on, and -–
You are talking about Howell J. Williams?
Yes. And he was having mental troubles. He really went to pieces. Did you know that?
He killed himself, and tried to kill his wife. Well, I said I thought, I felt that was the reason — that he would naturally want to work with him — but I didn’t think he should have anything against me. And then, — so I told — then I asked, I told Shockley what I thought about it. And I said, “What do you think about that?” He said, “It stinks.” I told Fisk just what he had said to me. He said, “Well, you won’t have to report to him anymore. Then three months went by, and — oh, he said, “In the meantime, you report to “— because Shockley and Morgan were in the same box — he said, “Well, for the present –-“
This is all 1945?
I guess so. I guess so. Yes. What was I saying? Oh, so I reported to Morgan. I originally said, I don‘t think need to go through Morgan if I have you, do I?“ And he said, “No. That will be all right… “Fisk said that was all right, because Morgan couldn’t help me, theoretically, physically, but Shockley could. And then, it went back the other way. Fisk said he’d arrange it. And when it was the same for some time, I said, “Well, what’s happening?” He said, “Well, I think you can just report to Morgan for the present.” That’s the way it was left. Then, the next I heard about Shockley was that he’d persuaded Kelly to make him department head, on what would be Fletcher’s level. Then, the next thing I knew, he was offered a job in Washington, which he more or less had to take. I think they realized that he wouldn’t be a good department head. So, is that enough?
I want to ask a question about a talk you gave in 1936; you gave a talk at MIT, in their cooperative program. Do you remember that?
Yes. I remember I talked two days in succession, two hours each day –-
Here’s a summary of your –-
Well, who wrote this summary? I don’t believe I ever saw this.
This is just something I found in the files. Here —
— oh yes. Yes. -–
I was wondering if you had any recollections of it.
Yes, I remember it. While we’re on Shockley — Shockley, I heard later, was in the audience. I didn’t know him then. He was a student, a young student. And later he said, he’d heard me talk, and he thought, “Well, if the Bell Lab will let you do work like that, it ought to be a pretty good place to work…” And that’s one reason he came to Bell Lab.
But, Mills — you know Mills? He was the go-between with MIT. They wanted somebody from the Bell Lab to come up every now and then and give them a talk. I think they had, every year they had somebody, every year or every two, they had somebody up for two days of talks. And I was chosen then. I’d been giving some lectures, for AIEE, at various places in the country. That’s how that happened. They were very nice. They had me — well, they had Slater have lunch with me one day. And the head of the engineering department another day, and so on.
Did you discuss your work with Slater?
Oh yes. Yes. He was very nice about it. I remember, at the luncheon meeting, early, he said –- Oh, Heisenberg had written something, not on quantum theory but on magnetism. What was it?
It was on ferromagnetism. 
Oh no, Slater was talking about the interaction curve that goes up like this, ferromagnetic; this is zero line, ferromagnetic, down here, ferromagnetic, this interaction between neighbors. And he was talking about that, and I said, “Well, Heisenberg has written something about that, on magnetism, recently, do you know about that?” And he said, “No. Tell me about it.” Well, he said, “I came over to see if I’m talking about the right thing…” So he knew well enough, but he was just being nice to me. I know him quite well. He’s not the friend that Van Vleck is. For me.
I notice that in some of your papers, you refer too many of the early quantum theory of solids papers, the papers of Bethe and Sommerfeld and Bloch and others.
Yes, I used the results.
Did you make a careful study of them when they first came out?
I read the articles. That’s all I can say. And tried to report it in summarizing articles.
They were very much dependent on the new quantum mechanics, of course.
Oh. Yes. Yes.
So that means you would have had to learn that material by yourself –-
— from their articles. Oh, yes indeed. Yes. All my magnetism, it was at the Lab, developed at the Laboratory.
How did you learn the mathematics that was needed in order to read those articles?
Well, you don’t have to know so much mathematics. I took their word for their mathematics, as I do in many cases.
Your focus was then primarily on the results.
Yes. Yes, that’s all. Well, I knew what to do with quantum numbers and so on.
Did you ever make a systematic study of the new quantum mechanics when it came out?
Do you know one of the early books by two men at the Bureau of Standards?
I’m not sure.
This man was later president of the Physical Society. He was made director of the — trying to find, using magnetic means to, trying to find where oil wells were likely to be. You don’t know that?
They wrote a book?
Yes, they wrote a book. INTRODUCTION TO QUANTUM MECHANICS, I think.
And you went through that book.
I took a course in it.
Oh. Where did you take the course?
At Cal Tech, under Tolman.
Oh, so actually you knew a little quantum mechanics.
Yes, I knew a little bit.
You couldn’t have known the quantum mechanics of Heisenberg and Schrodinger because that -–
— no. No, I didn’t. I knew the results. I couldn’t have replaced its mathematics. I’ve seen it enough times, and could see how you got one equation from another, but that’s about all.
There was a study group that Nix and Wooldridge and Shockley and Brattain and Fisk —
— oh yes. I attended that.
They went through Mott and Jones, Mott and Gurney and —
Did you go regularly? Were you a member of that group?
Yes. Yes. It was in the evening.
Any recollections you have about that group would help me because there doesn’t seem to be any documentation.
Well, that’s the best thing that Shockley — the kind of thing he does very well indeed. And he did that.
It was Shockley’s idea?
Shockley did it, primarily. Yes.
And Nix? Did he have much of a role in organizing it?
I didn’t know he was in it. Was he?
I don’t remember him much in that connection at all. He wasn’t important. But what’s the other person you mentioned?
Well, I have a list from Brattain’s interview — Nix, Wooldridge, Shockley, and Fisk…
— Wooldridge. Wooldridge had something — Wooldridge knew all about it. He knew what Shockley was saying.
Did you interact much with Wooldridge?
Did I do what?
Interact much with Wooldridge?
Oh no. Just in a friendly way, like this. I remember, he did a — he had a method of increasing the efficiency of tapes, recording tapes. And he patented it, and then found that the patent was not good because somebody else had done it the month before, or something like that.
And I remember, he came into Goucher’s and my office, and we said, “Well, don’t let that bother you, Heavens" - But Millikan, when he came — he was one of Millikan’s students — Millikan said when he passed through Bell Labs, he did often, he didn’t care what he works on, he’s just happy in any field. That was the thing about him. He was very able.
And the study group met once a week?
Yes, I think so.
For several years, 1936-1940. And what role did you play in it?
I didn’t do much, except listen. I presented some little thing, once. But I didn’t do it especially well. But I got Williams and Haworth to be invited. Williams did well, Haworth not so well.
This was in the study group.
Yes. In fact, he was up in the front row, and Shockley said, “Here’s a piece of chalk for Haworth,” because his mouth was open and he was asleep.
It seems to me, there were two crucial new threads during the late thirties, that helped lead into the transistor. One was the new developments in metallurgy, especially the role of impurities in silicon — and the other has to do with the entry of quantum mechanics into the research, and the greater emphasis on the theory behind semiconductor phenomena. Is that too simple?
No. It’s not my field.
Well, let me see, I had one idea, of that — what was it? Oh, I said to Shockley, and who else, Brattain, and who the other person on the transistor that got the Nobel Prize?
Bardeen. I said once to Bardeen, I can’t see anything that Shockley contributed to transistors, “because Brattain had been telling me that they did the new experiments to test out some ideas he had, and they’d all been wrong till they finally got back on the track, and they found it. I said to Bardeen, “I can’t figure out anything that Shockley’s contributed, besides getting you here, except using silicon instead of,” what was the other stuff?
“Using Germanium instead of silicon.” He said, “Well, I suggested that.”
I would like to ask a question about wartime activities. I gather, most of the important Bell Labs work was done in radar?
But your work was not in —
Well, it connected with radar, in a sense, because they used magnets, of course, and — yes, for the tubes that produced the waves. What were the tubes?  So they had — they wanted to carry their radars along with them, so they had to carry a magnet, as part of the apparatus. And we had a new material out then, and Cioffi really did that. He designed the magnets. He worked out a method which began at GE, and we’d been trying to get something that would quickly tell you the magnetic flux at any one point. And he worked this out very nicely, modifying the General Electric apparatus in a very good way. They had trouble with thermal amps. So he took his galvanometer apart, and wound it with the same piece of wire, that went through all the rest of the circuit, one pieces of wire. That’s the kind of thing he did very well. So he got a thing where he could determine very easily — and Cioffi designed the magnets. And some were this big, solid iron, almost. Well, I did the job on — in my group anyway, Cioffi was in my group too, but he did the work, and I kept better track of the work on a ferromagnetic mine. They had a magnetic amplifier in it. And they finally got it done, and dropped it from airplanes into shallow places in Japan. It worked very well. The Japanese found one that landed on land, instead of water. They took it apart, had a breadboard model of it within a week. And I have a good friend in Japan, and his part was, getting along — he used a long tube of perm alloy. They didn’t have anything like that. They had another one. So he knew all about what the Japanese did, and I knew all about what the Americans did. I saw him after the war. We talked it over. But this magnetic amplifier was worked out by a man in my group. Ashworth. Ashworth. He did a very nice job, in doing it, in preparing the material. And what else do I want to say about that? One other thing — Oh, yes, I was also working on magnetic airborne detection, and I showed, the people working on it said I made a good contribution, ‘but I find it a little hard to explain. Oh, there were, by the way, irregularities, such as Barkhausen effect or bigger lumps than that, and I demonstrated the critical value, the critical effect of these things, by taking two coils together and putting them opposing, and running them through the magnetization cycle. If the cycles were just the same, you’d get a straight line. But what you found was, there was always something down. Do you see what I mean?
Well, if you have one coil that showed Barkhausen effect, the Barkhausen effect, if you increase the magnetization, it would go up irregularly, don’t you? Well, then if you put another one, made the same way, it opposes it. Why, you’d just have a thing like this, wouldn’t you? Instead of going up, when the other one goes down —
— horizontal -–
— yes, and you could see the irregularities then. When you did that, and amplified it, of course if you amplified this, why, the thing would have to go across the street. But if you put them opposing each other, you just got the irregularities, not the main portions. And I did that on Cioffi’s machines, as a matter of fact, and it showed how important irregularities were in working with magnetic amplifiers.
I see. Did you then pick up on that after the war?
No. No. That was done for the magnetic airborne detector, MAD.
Did the work that you did during the war contribute at all to the work after?
I can’t see that it did. No. Can’t see that it did. The designs — lots of things were designed that hadn’t been designed before of course.
What about new materials?
Well, we did have a new material. We called it “super alloy.” That was done by — yes, that was used during the war. That’s right. Yes.
…an article in — on it in ’47.
Was that done during the war?
Well, it was published after the war. I was wondering –-
Yes, it really was, during, I think. I think it was. Yes, I’m sure it was done during the war.
Dictated by the war time needs?
Well, we were always — yes, it increased the stimulation, that way, but we were always interested in getting better materials. And we had a number of things of which the permeability would go — a million instead of, well maybe if the old value would have been — well, ten years before, it would have been five or ten thousands we got up to a million. And that was true for these magnetic amplifiers. And in the rods used for detecting the signal from the [???] ship in a mine. And it’s been — I think it’s still made commercially.
Well, now I have just a few more questions, to ask you about the forties. I wonder if maybe we take a short break first.
…look at the organization chart in 1945, at the new groups that were formed right after the war. We had physical electronics, electrodynamics, and solid state physics group that we were talking about a little before already.
Here is the Morgan-Shockley group. And now, I was told that these three groups were, created by, that they were Mervyn Kelly’s idea, and that they were thought of as something quite new in the Laboratory at that time, because of their more basic orientation. Does that agree with your recollections?
Well, I know even as far back as Oliver Buckley, before — Kelly probably was in on it too — Buckley was very much for having a solid state group, doing some fundamental work.
When was that?
Oh, five or ten years before, before this date.
Before the war?
Yes. It was well before the war. It finally came to fruition here, and Kelly was in favor of it, and he put it into practice which Buckley didn’t do, or didn’t have a chance, I don’t know. Anyhow, it was considered for a long time, having a solid state group. The war interfered, and then, then it came in.
Had you been aware of the discussions about this?
Well, all I — I wasn’t in any discussions, but I know that Buckley, by his remarks, had often said this, that they should have a solid state group. Now, I’m not sure whether it was his own idea, or Kelly’s.
And by solid state, it was meant the basic properties of solids or solids and liquids –-
— yes –-
— not an amplifier, not the solid-state amplifier —
— no, no.
It meant fundamental studies.
And then the group that was put together seems to have been divided into four parts. There was your group —
— yes —
— working on magnetics, and Goucher’s group, and Mason’s group –-
— yes –-
— and Morgan’s group –-
— yes. Well, yes, that’s right -–
What were the other groups focusing on? And how did the whole group seem to relate? Was it an integrated group? The four components — did they work together in any sense?
No. Not really. No. I didn‘t know much about Mason’s work or Morgan’s work. I knew Goucher because I happened to know him, and I heard him mention it now and then, but not in the Lab really. Outside the Lab. This was an idea that had been floating around for a long time, that we might have a solid state group.
And about ’47, you had Kittel? In your group — he then became a department head on his own three years later — Charles Kittel.
Oh yes. That was theoretical.
Yes, now, was he the only theoretical person in the group?
I think so. And Galt. Galt liked to be included in that, yes. Hopper, Merritt — also Yager — I don’t think they were all really professional people.
Who is this now?
Well, Hopper. And these men — let’s see, what year is this? ‘49. Well, yes, I wasn’t retired then. ‘49 — I was 53. I was 53 years old, and that was a long time before I retired. P.W. Anderson, of course, was very much a professional. Where is Herring?
Well, Herring is over in another group. He’s in the — he’s in physical electronics group, which is now the —
— oh yes, I see… Earlier it was Wooldridge’s group but now it’s being run by Ad White. That’s where Herring is.
Ah, yes. Is he in the group or head of it?
Herring is in the group.
In the group, here — yes.
He didn’t become a department head till much later.
When White retired, what happened to the group?
I don’t have that information.
Oh yes, well, no matter.
So then, generally — I was trying to get some impressions of your interactions with the other people who were working on magnetic work then. I believe Anderson was brought in under Kittel then. In 1939.
He — yes. Well, I went to him often, about theoretical things. And he worked on magnetic things, and then he’d change to something else, and so on.
Galt is a mixture of experimental and theoretical.
Going back to ‘47, in the same group, the solid state physics group, in December, ‘47, Bardeen and Brattain came out with the point-contact transistor of course in the smaller subgroup that had been working very intensively, Pearson and Gibney and… I’m looking for this —
I didn’t realize some of these people were the people they were — I didn‘t know Galt was under Kittel as a matter of fact. I thought he went into a theoretical group, the way Phil Anderson did — well, yes, he is the same, it’s the same.
Do you remember when you first heard about the transistor?
I don’t remember the date, but I remember hearing about it.
Do you remember your reaction?
Well, I always thought, it developed gradually, and for a while they didn’t know what the explanation was. Yes, they found they’d got something, all right. No question about that. Their lab was right next door to mine.
We left off discussing your recollections about the discovery of the transistor?
I knew it was a very important thing. And it happened. I do remember one thing about it. Before that, before they got really interested in it, Shockley was interested in magnetics, and he and Williams worked together quite a bit. And then he went over into — then he forgot about magnetics, then, and he left Williams. Williams was willing to work with him. He enjoyed working with him. I knew this. And then, then Shockley dropped his interest. So Williams’s didn’t work with him anymore. He was left high and dry. That was part of the trouble, I think. Because he’d really decided he’d rather work with him than with me. In the main. We were always good friends. He said, there are some things about him that people criticized me for — he said nothing he had to criticize me for. So, it was a kind of bad situation. And pretty soon after that, Williams killed himself.
I think, as a way of closing this interview session, I would like to ask you a very general question. In what respect, looking at the period, which we’ve examined in this interview today, l925-45, a twenty year period in your much longer career —
What do you consider to have been your most important research contribution?
Well, the way Kittel put it once, was that I had kept magnetism alive in a period when very few other people had been working on it. And it was some committee work which we haven’t talked about for AIEE, and I had proposed that we have a conference once a year, called Magnetism and Magnetic Materials. And that’s still going on, in its 20th year. So I think that was an innovation which I’m quite proud of, I guess. And it’s had various — well, three years later another committee in the AIEE decided that it was a good way to run conferences, so they organized another one. And ours was primarily physics, but — the one I proposed was primarily physics, but it was to get the physics and the engineers together. So that was the reason for starting it. And the other conference was primarily engineers, and some physics, physics too. So that the emphases were a little bit different. But I think they really just took our form of a conference and made another one, because they wanted to do it. And they called it, Inter-Mag, implying by it, international in scope. We always invited the international people, Russians. I had charge of some Russian visitors and got to know them very well. And they’ve then done kind things for me in return, as recent as a year ago, when I went to a conference out there, and they gave me a car and a driver and an interpreter, and said I could drive any place I wanted to. Well, am I keeping you?
No, it’s OK. I want to thank you very, very much.
Written for Reed College, Summer 1975. Although my experience at Reed is now some years away I believe that the basic philosophy has been followed, and improved, during more recent years. The staff and equipment have been increased so as to keep the college in the forefront of its kind of high quality institution. I can give you an example of what it has done for me. When I entered Reed in 1914, because of my interest in science and my record in preparatory school I was allowed to take two courses in chemistry (one designed for juniors) and one course in mathematics, in addition to the usual course in English. Later as an upper classman in physics, it was suggested that two of us work together to repeat a classical experiment on the charge of the electron, by measuring the rate of fall of a cloud of small charged drops produced by the sudden expansion of moist air and charged by exposure to radium. At the same time I was doing my thesis (for A.B. degree) in chemistry on the equilibrium of K and KI with KI3 in aqueous solution. In my junior year I was elected to the Student Council, composed of three men and three women students. I had received my athletic letter R in my sophomore year by being on two “selected” teams (football and basketball) in the same year. So my education was not confined to science but was broadened for more happy living. I had also taken courses in economics, biology (ecology) and philosophy, along with other courses in the sciences. The individual experiments in physics and chemistry were just finished when my National Guard Company of engineers was called to action in 1917. In the engineers, as a result of my record at Reed, I was later transferred to chemical laboratories of the Chemical Warfare Service, in Paris, for the duration. After the war I was given a fellowship at Caltech, upon recommendation by my chemistry professor at Reed. At Caltech I was considered to be well prepared for graduate work. I received my Ph.D. in 1922 in chemistry and physics, and stayed on at Caltech for another year as research fellow. My interest was in research rather than teaching (I stammered badly) and I could find no positions on the west coast so I applied for a position at what is now the Bell Laboratories. I had been told by one of the Caltech faculty that Bell was the best commercial company for research, and I talked to Millikan about it and he wrote a good letter for me. In my years at Bell I was allowed to continue my basic science work and was able to make my own program, with help for my experimental work. My specialty was magnetic phenomena and materials. Early in my work I decided to work on the behavior of “magnetic domains”, and though no practical applications were evident, scientific knowledge was advanced, and in recent years “magnetic bubbles” (single domains) are used in the storage of information in computers and other devices. I was also instrumental in preparing new alloys for industrial use. During my years at Caltech and Bell Laboratories I have published over 200 scientific articles. A treatise on “Ferromagnetism” of 1000 pages, published in 1951, is still selling (1975) at the rate of about 150/year, and in addition the USSR have translated it and Japan has reprinted the English edition. I have given invited lectures in the Universities in Oxford, London, Grenoble, Amsterdam, Gottingen, Tokyo, Moscow and Algiers, and in many places in the USA. I proposed and organized the annual “Conference on Magnetism and Magnetic Materials”, now in its 20th year, and have been made an honorary member of IEEE-Magnetics. Many people have told me that in college they have learned many things, but much of it is forgotten. I find that I have used much of the information that I learned at Reed and Caltech used it directly or built new knowledge upon it. I have had good teachers of good and useful material.
Foote and Mohler, Introduction to Quantum Theory 1922
M. B. Long
Included as appendix 1 to this interview.
See appendix 1
Buckley’s talk on Nov. 6, 1922, see Appendix 2
“Zur Theorie des Ferromagnetismus”, W. Heisenberg, Zs.f.Phys. 49 1928, 619
Also Addison White, Howell Williams, Alan Holden