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In this interview David BenDaniel discusses topics such as: family background and his education; attending the University of Pennsylvania; going into the United States Navy; doing graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Herb Callen; Will Allis; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI); electrical engineering; General Electric Company research laboratories; Henry Hurwitz; Stephen Crandall; Chauncey Guy Suits; Art Bueche; Henry Ehrenreich; hydro-magnetic stability; thermonuclear containment; solid-state physics; becoming a manager; being a fellow at Harvard University Business School; Howard Kurt; Exxon Enterprises; venture capital; Harold Craighead; Cornell University School of Management.
Born in Oregon 1912, entered Purdue University, 1932, studying solid state physics, teaching assistant work with Lothar Nordheim on crystal structure, 1937; Ph.D. thesis, 1937 (published 1940); physics department under Karl Lark-Horovitz grows in the 1930s, visiting lecturers (refugees from Germany and Europe: Lothar Nordheim, Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, Eugene Wigner). First cyclotron (homemade), 1935. War work: basic research in germanium, rectification of crystals (Bethe), close connections with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania; Lark-Horovitz chose solid state physics as less sensitive field with respect to clearance; showed silicon-germanium intrinsic semiconductors, 1942; General Electric’s germanium interest; success interpreting resistivity and thermoelectric behavior in germanium, 1944. American Physical Society meeting intense interest in Purdue presentations, January 1946; the transistor, 1948 (William Shockley, Ralph Bray); how to grow germanium crystals, 1949; Esther Conwell’s thesis (Victor Weisskopf). Also prominently mentioned are: John Backus, Seymour Benzer, Hubert Maxwell James, A. A. Knowlton, K. W. Meissner, E. P. Miller, Ronald Smith, Herbert J. Yearian; and Purdue University Department of Physics.