Furman University

Interviewed by
William V. Smith
Interview dates
June 18 and 20, 1979

Childhood and youth; his family life and siblings; eduation at Furman during the Depression, 1931-1935; merit scholarship. Graduate study at Duke University in 1936; shifts to Caltech during second year; early interest in astronomy; works with Fred Zwicky. His first job and Bell Telephone Laboratories, from 1939-1947; scientific associates (Deal Woodridge, William Schokley). Discussion of work on microwave spectroscopy and NH3 spectrum; competition with Bleaney and Good. Accepts I. I. Rabi's offer to join Columbia University faculty in 1948. Interest in molecules, atoms (not solid state physicians), and in short microwaves; comments on teaching, students and faculty; department head from 1952-1955. Inventions of the maser and laser in the 1950s, background ideas; Teshkas' and Lambs' writings on stimulated emission. Purcell, Pound, Dicke did not think of maser; discussion of effects contributing to the appearance of stimultaneity of inventions. Masers in radioastronomy; consultantship at BTL; joint laser invention with Arthur Schawlow. Interactions with Gordan Gould; BTL's interest in the laser.