Jan. 18, 1973: pages 44-86

This section of the Desch/Mumma interview runs from page 44 to page 86 of the transcript of Tape 1 from the second day, January 18, 1973

INTERVIEWEES: Joseph Desch and Robert Mumma


DATE: 18 January 1973

NB:Gaps at pages 61-64 and page 69 being remedied

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RM: He, he – I remember he had a cathode ray tube. I think that migHT:have been his indicator or something like that, that cathode ray tube.

JD: Well, I just looked at the one there and I just saw, I just thought, well, I just got done saying

RM: Yes.

JD: that we found 17 drawings where he had all the grids and all the anodes tied together. And, so, what he was – I don’t know what he was doing anymore. You know that’s been so long ago.

HT: Right, I’ll have to ask him.

RM: Yes. HT: I was looking for the dates but they don’t …

JD: Well, they’ll be on there.

HT: Right.

JD: But … we can look at that just in a minute when I’ve finished what I’m saying and then, we can go back to that one.

Then from there, the lawyers prepared .. prepared the summary of the cases and the briefs for the court in the Department of Commerce ..the Patent Department, where three judges stood in judgment on … on the presentation of testimony. Meanwhile, this, all this testimony had been

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sent to Washington and these men had been reading it. And, they made the decisions. Of course, briefs were presented by both sides and the briefs are in there, too … I just noticed one of ’em there … brief for Dickinson, brief for Desch

HT: Aha.

JD: in separate volumes. And.. they, they passed judgment on it and awarded us 8 and 3 for … IBM on these electronic approaches, and we, we had the advantage of an earlier date having … thrown out so much of their evidence because it was faulty.

HT: Right.

JD: They couldn’t stand in court

HT: Yes.

JD: and say these things would work. And it became apparent that they hadn’t built anything,

HT: Yes.

JD: over that period.

HT: You know it’s unfortunate, when you really stop to think about it. Many diagrams, when you’re sketching a circuit diagram, you’ll forget to put in a ground here or do something there which, if taken literally, will make it – will flaw it.

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But, once you start to build it, you look at that circuit carefully. You say, “Well, gee, nothing is going to flow between these two terminals. I’ve got to fix this.” and it’s in that plan. And that’s a very common error.

JD: Well, I’ll tell you – yes. I’ll tell you Bob and I always did work under this assumption because our management wanted it that way and that is that everything that they patented up here, we had to have a model.

HT: Mhm.

JD: And, oh, it was only very late in the, in the, , in the ’45, ‘6, ‘7, someplace along in there, where I think we filed one paper patent.

HT: Mhm.

JD: That’s all I recall and then I don’t know the circumstances of that because Bob was running the department at that time and I don’t recall why it was done. But it, it was of no consequence anyway. ‘ .

RM: Yes. Here’s a picture of what they came up with, . really a mass of wires.

JD:: Sure is.

HT: Now what was that machine supposed to be able to

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do — the one you’re showing a picture of in that book of blueprints?

RM: It was an electronic calculator. It had an accumulator, an impulse generator and I think the indicator was on the scope, to my recollection of it.

HT: Now that’s dated June 8th, ’39.

RM: ’39.Yes.

HT: Aha.

RM: I think they ended up at the hearing.

JD: You see that was probably involved in the defective .. ..defective claims because Bob didn’t finish until when? September of ’39?

RM: Yes. I forget when it was.

HT: Yes, September of ’39 sounds like the rigHT:date.

JD: So many of the dates –

RM: Yes, but we proved this inoperative. I think that’s the reason — oh yes, here’s the picture I had the recollection of. They had the special scope here, which was the indicator or read-out device.

HT: And that’s the diagram of the –

RM: Yes.

HT: of the device?

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RM: Mhm.

JD: Yes.

RM: That’s some type of indicator here on the scope.

HT: That one is labeled count 6.

RM: Yeah, this is expanded in its description.

HT: Totalizing apparatus, they called it.

RM: Bob Blakely witnessed this in 1937.


D: Blakely worked with me during the war.

RM: Yes. At the time he never did say anything about this device.

JD: Well, he gave a deposition. I wasn’t present at the time but he gave a deposition also.

RM: Yes. I never heard of that.

HT: That will be interesting talking to Mr. Dickinson.

JD: You know I had –

RM: Yes, you’ll enjoy talking to him.

JD: had quite a few IBM men working for me during the war.

HT: Talent was hard to get. You just – that was on your top secret military project.

RM: They were military men at the time.


D: They were in uniform at the time.

RM: They were military men sent down here because of their background.

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JD: They didn’t get hold of any of our – our counter work. That was

HT: That was in another area.

JD: put away. Strange as it may seem, our people and their people never did quiz each other about that. They never did violate security on our commercial stuff.

HT: Aha.

JD: Never did.

HT: .. We migHT:talk a bit about the post-war period, which, I guess, would begin with CRC and your later military work that you alluded to very quickly just in passing yesterday. We migHT:want to start looking at that in – in general.

JD: Well, let me explain. The way the operation, the super secret operation, ended, I left the operation and Bob remained in charge of it and, and terminated it. And I guess it was in ’46 when you finally terminated it, was it not?

RM: We were starting to move people back up to Building 10.

JD: Up to the third floor.

RM: Yes, we sent our better people, who wanted to stay with NCR, as they were released from war work,

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back up to Building 10. But, I think it was in 1946 before we sent any people. The war was over late in 1945.

HT: Right.

RM: And – but, but we finally got all of our people up to Building 10.

JD: We finally got all of the Navy out of here and we — and then the question was what programs should we follow. And one of Bob’s problems was to get that, that add-subtract-and multiply device and we still wanted to put the division in it at that time. …. He wanted that as one of the projects and also Trimble, at that time, had an idea of adding and subtracting and multiplying, using voltages and so forth and he, he wanted to work on that one. And, you can think of some more.

RM: We tried magnetic storage, we had drums, made drums in which we worked on – for magnetic storage and that sort of thing-

HT: Mhm.

RM: We made drums for magnetic storage. We wrapped wire with high magnetic retentivity and coercivity in a spiral around an aluminum drum. The read

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head contacted the wire following it around the drum.

But, the big job, just after the war, like, say, when I took over, was started when Mr. Allyn called me and told me that he was very much interested in picking up the old balance off of a ledger card in a bank as part of the posting operation.

HT: Right.

RM: And so I told him I would work on that and was up casting about for how to do it. And we picked up a, a 2000 bank machine which had what they call a rigHT:angle printer on it. The rigHT:angle printer is a printer in which the passbook is swallowed and pushed back out again. We had this type of motion, front and back motion, that was available. I knew that for magnetic pick-up – I was sort of thinking about magnetic pick-up – we had to have relative motion between the document and the pick-up head.

HT: Mhm.

RM: And so we took that machine and adapted it to .. putting into it a ledger card on which we had the magnetic material deposited on the back of

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-a ledger card. And, as we were doing the printing on the frontside, we were using a bar code on the backside, or it was magnetizing in the form of a bar code on stripes of magnetic material on the back side of the ledger card. The permanent numbers were printed on the front side. And then when that card was placed in the machine again for a subsequent operation, the first scan, which was a non-printing scan, would pick up this number and set up the keys. We had little solenoids to activate the keys. It was kind of a first. That machine, when it finally hit the market, what did they call it?

JD: Class 29.

RM: Class 29, Postronic, yes.

HT: And this was strictly for posting in, in banks?

RM: For posting, yes.

JD: Posting in banks. Our bank statements we got every month had those stripes on the back, and we – finally, instead of coding the whole thing, we just had stripes.

RM: Stripes, yes, recorded.

JD: and recorded in stripes — five stripes, six stripes, seven.

RM: The stripes, were printed on the back of the ledger card.

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JD: I remember.. my bank statements don’t come that way anymore,

RM: No.

JD: so they don’t use the 29 now at Winters, anyway. But, they, there for a long time they did. We sold an awful lot of those machines. And we developed the prototype and then the engineering division did a re-engineering on the thing because it was a complicated machine. And up until just very recently we were still making them.

RM: Oh, yes.

JD: over in, over in Building 29 where I had this military division during the last ten years. They.. they had a part of that floor that I was on that was involved in reconditioning the Class 29s that were coming back.

HT: They’re still in use then?

JD: Yea. They were coming back for .. maybe something burned out or broken and then we shipped back that to the customer. And it was quite a quite a traffic in ’em over there but they, they were extremely complicated machines.

RM: Postronic was the name I was trying to think of.

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JD: Yes. Posttronic.

HT: Postronic. I’ve heard that, that …

JD: Class 29 is the way we called it.

HT: Mhm. What were some of the ideas you had in the immediate post-war period about the ways in which electronics could be used to improve the product line?

JD: Well, the .. .. the thing that constantly. bothered us was the application of electronics to our mechanical machines to enhance them. The first thing that we did — I remember this because our ? Division asked me to do it. We put a punch paper tape device on a Class 21 cash register. And this was coded. I don’t know what the code was anymore, whether it was a five bit or a six bit code, I don’t remember. But anyway, that – that tape then could be fed -we didn’t have a computer –

HT: Right.

JD: could be fed into an IBM machine – and they cooperated with us on this – to punch cards, which would then go through sorters and so forth, and we, we could do a respectable job of accounting and control by this method by capturing from the machine.

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Now another way to do it would be to punch the card on the machine but that wasn’t a practical thing to do .

HT: So you went directly from the cash register to a punch paper tape

JD: paper tape

HT: which then could be fed into the IBM punch card

JD:that’s right


JD: Then when we acquired– of course during this period while we were doing this we acquired CRC– now instead of punching cards we could feed into the computer directly


JD:and that’s when we started aiming for a computer market, at that particular time and using our machines as a point of entry device into a system and we still do

RM Yes that’s right

JD:we presently are selling 260 and 270 and 280 and what they are are input machines online to a computer.

HT:: Well I think I viewed one last nigHT:that I mentioned to you on exhibit here at the new convention center here at the Convention Center

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JD: Yeah.

HT: where you pick an item off the shelf of the supermarket and it has sensitive bars, and you pass the sensitizing .. ligHT:device over it and it automatically records the price of the item, the code number of the item, the department from which the item comes, and you see a display of this. And then, in the cash register, you .. put in the tax, or the tax automatically computer, and then determine whether it’s a charge or cash; the whole record is kept and the total control. And, as I looked at that and I – I played with it last night, I thougHT:back to a comment that I think you made on the telephone: That when you first got involved with CRC and their computers, that this was the kind of system you were envisioning. You migHT:was to recapitulate that for me in terms of your thoughts in the early fifties.

JD: Well, what I just said to you was largely what we were thinking. It was tying .. electronic devices to existing machines — that is, amplifying the capabilities of our, of our mechanical machines, and redesigning and creating new mechanical

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JD: machines specifically designed to work with electronic dev- devices and pickups. And when I talk about the three latest announcements that we made, those are …. those are transistorized, or integrated circuit-type devices that go on line to a computer.

HT: right

JD: and , and … have a keyboard and a, and a thermal printer on them —

HT: right

JD: Some of ’em have a , a golf ball printer —

HT:Yes, this has a golf ball, or sort of similar type to that.

JD:That was a 270 then.

HT: Mhm, but these are all — all the cash registers in a given store then are on line with the comptuer–

JD: Yes. So you find that the cash register that we are accustomed to over the past is, is on the way out and, and these point of entry devices, as a man puts in a computer into his store, the point of entry device has changed

HT: Mhm

JD:and the cash registers go out and these simpler devices go in …

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JD: and the computer can print back to the operator exactly what the status of the account is or how much the bill was or

HT: Whether the card was good ….

JD: anything you want because a computer has the flexibility to do that. See?

HT: I noticed the same principle device being used on banks, the exterior of buildings where once you can go up and once you put your card in and dial your personal code then you can perform all these transactions either putting money in or taking money out directly in the same way you would with a cash register and in fact it even has a little drawer that brings out your receipt or your cash if you’re asking for money or a record of the transaction. And so the drawer opens up and the transaction is completed and a card pops out of the slot at the same time. Again, if you will, a new form of cash register.

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RM: Of course in the early days we were skeptical of that because there were so many stores that tried this and if you had a failure of the line between the online system, you shut the store down practically because there was no way to handle the cash.

HT: Right.

RM: So our early approach was to keep the cash register so it could operate independently and keep on taking the money in, even though–

HT: I – I think this system that we described can do that. I think you can operate everything manually — that the, the price stickers contained the coded information, color-coded, but it also contained it in conventional form, so that if the system was not operative,

RM that’s right

HT:the person who is handling the transaction for the store could then go to a manual operation.

JD: Yes.

HT: I think. I’m not sure.

JD: For a retail store, you need a cash drawer to take care of the cash.

HT: Well, they had a cash drawer in this —

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JD: Yeah.

HT: in this machine.

JD: Yeah, but there are applications where you don’t handle cash and, and … no cash drawer on those. Like the one up at Ohio State University now, there is no cash drawer on that. All there is — is a keyboard to type in the information and, and a printer.

HT: Right. Well now, you’re talking about the library…

JD: And it’s on-line. It’s on-line though.

the library system when you go

JD: Yes.

HT: in and say I want such and such a book.

JD: Yes. And, and so this, this is an on-line application of a device. Now that is, that is something that … it was, was part of our thinking at one time.

HT: Let me ask you about this —

JD: You said, what were we thinking about after the war and that —

HT: About this on-line system at Ohio State … is the on-line system also hooked up to the card file so that I, say information storage and retrieval, I can go in and I can say I want all books written by …

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HT: .. But just a, a very, very quick summary in your – in your own words so that I can, I can have this in our tape record.

JD: That’s what this is.

HT: Yes. Well

JD: Because I was asked that question on the stands and I had to give it in this summary form.

RM: My education started at Purdue University in electrical engineering,

HT: Oh well, you’re both Purdue graduates then.

RM: No, I didn’t graduate, that’s a – well, unfortunately, I went two years for electrical engineering and then I dropped out and went to work for a year at Frigidaire.

HT: When were you at Purdue?

RM: I was at Purdue in ’22 to ’24. And then I,

HT: Aha.

RM: somehow or other, I, my father was a minister, and I come from a different type of background [from] engineering, and I didn’t have enough self-confidence to believe I could be an engineer, so I decided I was going to be a school teacher.

HT: Yes.

RM: So then I went to Otterbein College and took my

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education courses and majored in the science so I could teach physics and chemistry and that sort of thing. Well, I did this for three years, teaching –

HT: At Otterbein?

RM: No, no, I did this in high school. I went to Tampa, Florida and taugHT:down there a year and taugHT:at a little town of Lewisburg, Ohio, for two years. Then I, after

HT: Aha.

RM: about three years of wrestling these kids, I decided that’s not for me and went. to General , Motors Radio. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this place or not.

HT: No.

RM: And there was a young man there in charge of .. inspection, as I recollect, and making develoment – developing equipment for inspection, and his name was J.R. Desch. And, he hired me.

HT: Where was General Motors Radio located?

RM: Here in Dayton.

HT: Oh, here in Dayton.

JD: RigHT:across the river, not too far away.

RM:’Course it’s – it’s now the Moraine Products

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Corporation of General Motors. And they made household radios at that time and they sold ’em like they, like they sell automobiles. They had dealerships, you know. You couldn’t buy them at a department store.

HT: Yes, these things.

RM: Oh, they had great big, big consoles at that time, remember? But, they didn’t make – they didn’t make money and then they quickly tried to change over to super-heterodynes in that last effort to change, but they finally went broke, and Joe and I went out – were out of a job. So then I went to get – I got a commercial.. license in radio – telephone for operating a broadcast station, and worked for the police department for three years as a police radio announcer and also was in charge of the station.

And, in the meantime, Joe went to work for Harry Nichols. I guess he ougHT:to tell that, tell his story.

JD: Well, I went with General Motors Radio.

RM: Well, yes, you did that, too, that’s right.

JD: I spent two years doing that.

RM: And then, after that experience, why, Joe in the

meantime had gotten back into Frigidaire, and I, he hired me again at Frigidaire in — what was it? I can’t think of the name of the department.

JD: Standards Division. It started out the Standards Division and ended up as the – as the – the, the, the total…..

RM: Product?

JD: the Total Processing

RM: Processing.

JD: Division,

RM: Processing.

JD: adding plant layout.

RM: The 291 Department — that’s right. And so I -was at Frigidaire, I think, what? Four years. The last year I took Joe’s place because he came to NCR, you see.

HT: That’s in ’38 when he came here. Aha.

RM: So I had charge of the laboratory, developing all the processing equipment at Frigidaire. And so after he came over here and things looked so interesting at National Cash Register that I really liked it and said to myself, “I’m going to come over here and get in where the action

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meantime had gotten back into Frigidaire, and I, he hired me again at Frigidaire in — what was it? I can’t think of the name of the department.

JD: Standards Division. It started out the Standards Division and ended up as the – as the – the, the, the total…..

RM: Product?

JD: the Total Processing

RM: Processing.

JD: Division,

RM: Processing.

JD: adding plant layout.

RM: The 291 Department — that’s right. And so I -was at Frigidaire, I think, what? Four years. The last year I took Joe’s place because he came to NCR, you see.

HT: That’s in ’38 when he came here. Aha.

RM: So I had charge of the laboratory, developing all the processing equipment at Frigidaire. And so after he came over here and things looked so interesting at National Cash Register that I really liked it and said to myself, “I’m going to come over here and get in where the action

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JD: or ’59 I guess it was.

HT: No, ’49.

JD: ’49 was a depression.

HT: ’49 was a major recession.

JD: And the boss was consolidating and he said, “Get that guy Desch back in over here, and put him to work. ”

RM: Yes, he said – he was having too good a time over there.

HT: Is that when you locked up the laboratory?

JD: That’s when I locked it up and it was locked up 18 years, because I know the calendar on the wall — that’s where I could tell how long it must have been locked up.

HT: I’m recalling Larry Benjamin’s short visit here. When did both of you get involved as ham radio operators?

JD: Oh, I was involved when I was still in grammer school before

HT: Aha.

JD: I ever graduated from the eighth grade. I don’t know when Bob got in.

RM: I got in in 1935. That’s when I was working for the police department. When I did not have

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anything else to do, I studied the continental telegraph code. The only thing I lacked was the knowledge of the code to obtain an Amateur License.

HT: Aha.

RM: I had the theory all the time. In fact, I had a commercial license, you see, at that time

HT: Aha.

RM: so then I took the code test and became a radio amateur in 1935.

HT: Did vou have to build your own rig in those days?

RM: Oh, yes. I did that . . I mean, yes. Didn’t have to, but I did. Everybody – everybody did in those days. You could buy the parts. Nowadays you can’t buy the parts.

HT: Yes.

JD: You have to buy ’em already made.

HT: Now you have to buy the package.

RM: Yes.

HT: Well, in terms of your, your later work here at NCR, what were the prime areas that you were interested in from the standpoint of research and development?

RM: Well, of course, while I was in research and

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development .. this Post-tronic was one item, and then we did work very hard in trying to adapt this second calculator with adding and subtracting and multiplication into an NCR machine. It finally was attached to an NCR Class 31 machine, and was known as the Computronic. This machine and the Postronic were the only items that saw the ligHT:of day. We did work on magnetic memories. We worked on a tape machine that would scan optically. You scan the tape. In other words, we thougHT:we migHT:print a tape in a cash register and scan the printed marks. In fact, I did make up a Class 21 machine with bar code on the type wheel instead of numbers

HT: Mhm.

RM: and I used magnetic tape. A tape in which we, instead of using lamp black, we used .. the oxide of iron .. for the coloring, and we would print with this tape and then use magnetic pick-up heads to pick up the information, from the bar code transferred from this tape to the detail tape.

JD: Is there a patent on that?

RM: Yes, I have a Patent #2,744,031 for this maqnetic

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transfer tape. It is still in use today for magnetic printing on bank checks.

JD: You’re going to get that –

RM: That’s a basic patent. It’s in my patent book.

JD: That is a very clever machine. Vince Gulden worked on that, too.

RM: Yeah. Well, I don’t know about that machine, I meant about the magnetic transfer tape. I’ve got the basic patent on all of the magnetic transfer tape for magnetic printing that is being used for encoding the amounts on bank checks used in todays’ automated systems. They’ve all had to use that patent to make their magnetic transfer tapes.

HT: Mhm.

RM: About that time it was decided to split our functions into Research and Engineering. Sohow I ended up in the engineering group. That’s when the fun stopped and hard work began, because engineering was a lot more difficult. We have to develop a product that could be sold econocally and would make money.. for the company. The first device we developed was this tape punch that Joe was talking about, then we expanded that

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into printers. And we went to look at the Shephard Drum Printer in New Jersey. We bougHT:the Shephard Printer and adapted it to our use. It was a drum type printer. It printed at the rate of, I think, 300 lines per minute. We worked on it to make it print at faster speeds.

Oh, then there were, of course, magnetic tape handlers, and finally we developed other peripheral devices for computers. As a result I ended up in charge of Peripheral Equipment Engineering.

HT: Oh.

RM: When I retired I was Manager of the Peripheral Engineering Department, making these peripherals for computers.

HT: You really spanned the whole field of this development in the last few decades.

RM: Yea.

HT: and almost every facet of it.

JD: Mhm.

RM: The only thing that I did not get involved in was the computer main frame.

JD: See, what happened in there was that

HT: Well, you did early.

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JD: The company was, was reorganized about every year or so, and we, this research work we were doing here was moved over into another area. And, to it was added the engineering and I had ’em both. I handled research. I still had that, and I had all this engineering that he’s now talking about. It was a question o£ who is going to be in research and who is going to be in engineering and my faith in Bob was so great, I wanted to put him in there closer to the customer than doing the research work. So, that’s how he got into this, but this – this is connected with the 304 computer, which –

HT: Mhm. I think Bob is being very modest about, about the role that he played and you migHT:want to expand on it.

JD: Well, do you want me to talk about my –

HT: Yes, talk, talk about you.

RM: Yes, talk about him.

JD: Talk about me?

HT: Yes.

JD: All right. I came here, as I told you before, in ’38, in April. And 00 part of that I was employed by Frigidaire, as Bob has already said. .

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And I was in charge of this department that was .. .. to set standards, what we called the Standards Department, and to build equipment to enforce those standards .. in, in production. This was in the manufacturing division.

HT: Essentially a quality control operation.

RM: It was a part of inspection; yes, that’s it.

JD: It was part of inspection and I worked for Mr. Williams, the same man who brougHT:me over here. And, prior to that I was employed by the Telecom Laboratories at Dayton, which .. [was] located out here in Oakwood. And, it was operated by a man named Nichols, who reported to Charlie Kettering. Kettering was supplying the money.

HT: Mhm.

JD: So.. .. I worked there several years, two years. And, what we did there was to put .. an IBM typewriter .. which had mechanically been designed to work by telegraph.

HT: Mhm.

JD: They hired me to make it run by carrier current and radio, so I had the dual problem of tieing them together by radio or by carrier current over power lines and so forth. And I was there.

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.. several years .. yes, I suppose it was several years.

HT: Really, kind of like the end product of a teletype.

JD: Well, it was a teletype system of a different nature.

HT: Right.

JD: The synchronization of – the two machines were maintained in synchronization, believe it or not. And every revolution of the commutator that scanned the entire set of, of keys, the entire set of, of printing fonts, every revoltion was synchronized so that it couldn’t creep away and start sneaking away and start getting z’s instead of a’s and so forth.

HT: Mhm.

JD: So, we finished that job and sold it to IBM and tried to sell it to this company and this company didn’t have anybody around here that understood it. So, we sold it to IBM and he got his money back plus a little more — that is, Charlie Kettering did. And it was a communications system type of work.

And prior to that I was employed by General

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Motors Radio Corporation, .. which was a division of General Motors, from the years 1929 until 1933, approximately four years. And, that was known as General Motors Radio during that period, and that was the period in which I hired Bob. And we, at that point, our work was in building testing equipment, designing it, conceiving it into radio sets. We built 3,000 radio sets a day and we – we had quite a – quite a job on our hands until the company folded. Then when it folded, .. it .. .. when they paid me off, I said, “Thank you” and so forth. And, the first thing you know the telephone was ringing and they said, “Come on back.”

HT: [Laugh]

JD: So I came back and they said, “Because you’re the only guy out – out of this whole outfit that didn’t want his vacation pay, we decided we’re gonna hire you allover again.” And he said, “Yes” he says, “I’m going to have you liquidate the company.” And so I got the job at age 23 to liquidate this General Motors corporation, which was a rather large order.

HT: Of course, the year was, was roughly 1930, and

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this was not an unusual happenstance in 1930 for a company to go under.

JD: That’s just about the time. And – well, it was their merchandising methods, I found out, because I had access to the vaults and everything, and I found out what was really wrong with them. When, when everybody was out of there,

HT: Mhm.

JD: and I could – I could spend my time back in the vault and look at the records

HT: Mhm.

JD: and I found out it was, it was merchandising. They tried to sell ’em like Chevrolets.

HT: Mhm.

JD: You don’t do that. You sell ’em in department stores and drugstores and everything else.

HT: Everybody knows today, but –

JD: But they, they, they wouldn’t do it, and finally they came to it in the end, but it was too late; they couldn’t recover.

HT: Mhm.

JD: Well, anyway, I said for four years I was there with General Motors. But, prior to that time, and it goes clear back to 1923 or – or, or ’25

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I think, .. .. from ’25 to ’29 I also worked in the same place, but it was under the name of Day-Fan and they made radios and motors. And I had – I did all the testing of radios, not motors, and I did it at night, because I was going to college at this time over here at the University of Dayton.

HT: Aha.

JD: And I worked at nigHT:testing those radios by listening to broadcast stations. …. Actually operate them, ’cause the only way you could really –

RM: On the air.

JD: On the air. It’s the only –

HT: Of course, there weren’t very many stations, but you were fortunate that Cincinnati had one of the first powerful stations in the country.

JD: No, I listened, I could even listen to San Frcisco. See, the antenna started at the top of the water tower and came down

HT: Oh!

JD: and I really had an antenna. Well, anyway.. I crawled to the top of that tower at one time. I don’t know how I ever did it, but I did.

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HT: Or why you ever did — that’s a more important question.

JD: You didn’t dare look down, I’ll tell you that. You look up.

HT&JD: [LauqhJ

JD: Well, anyway, .. I, see, I was already on the payroll when General Motors took them over.

HT: Mhm. What was the name of the company again? Day-Fan?

JD: Day-Fan.



JD: D-A-Y dash F-A-N. Dayton Fan and Motor. That was a, another name it had when I was hired there in, in ’25. It was Dayton Fan and Motor, and it was near a Frigidaire plant that was on the other end of town, Plant No.1.

RM: Meigs Street.

JD: Meigs Street, Meigs Street, and I just walked in off the street and asked for a job and got it. And that’s how I started.

HT: You were going to school simultaneously at the University of Dayton studying engineering?

JD: Yes. I did testing, the job I was given when I

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went and joined .. Dayton Fan and Motors to test radios, and I stayed with that testing during the summer and then they asked me to do this work at night, which I did all during my days at, at the, at the University of Dayton. And then I – it was assimilated by General Motors when they took the Day-Fan over

HT: Mhm.

JD: and then liquidated it .. when it folded.

HT: Mhm.

JD: And, and – and that is when I .. .. when I went to Telecom after that.

HT: Well, then –

JD: That’s the sequence of events.

HT: Aha. At the .. while you were doing your undergraduate work at Dayton, what was your major area of interest? Was it electrical engineering?

JD: Yeah, it was electrical engineering; but, but most of it was heavy, heavy type of electrical engineering, although I took radio courses.

HT: Power engineering essentially?

JD: Yes, power engineering.

HT: Yes.

JD: In fact, I started out to be a hydro-electric engineer

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HT: Mhm.

JD: but …. there weren’t a lot of radio courses available. There were an awful lot of instrumentation courses available and so forth.

HT: Of course, the thing I’m interested in is your background in this tube technology as we begin to, you know, get the picture.

JD: Well, the background in the tube tech — technology was purely from my hobby. When I .. when I was going to school at the University of Dayton, I became acquainted with Dr. Heil at OHio State University; he was dean of physics.

HT: H – i – l – e?

JD: H – e – i – l.

HT: H – e – i – l.

JD: And Dr. Heil was dean of physics and he – I was introduced to him by one of his graduates, .. .. a fellow named Loftis, who was in the engineering devision down at Dayton Fan and Motor or Day-Fan, whatever it was at the time. And he, he gave me a letter of introduction and I went up to see Heil. I found out that Heil was a glassblower. He was also doing some mighty intricate —- research work, very similar to what I was

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aiming at, in my basement, and I had built my own pumps, glassblowing and so forth. And.. I had a pumping station and could – and I was making tubes.

HT: Mhm.

JD: And, he and I joined forces, so I spent Saturdays and Sundays up in Columbus in the, in the physics department and I often attended classes at Ohio State in physics. And it was largely electronic, physics.

HT: I must say that was very early.. for this to be in the university.

JD: Yes. Well, I was still a, an undergraduate really

HT: Mhm.

JD: when, when this happened. And I, I think during that period I graduated

HT: Mhm.

JD: .. while I was working with Heil. And we got along very well because we had a common interest.

HT: Who’s the main –

JD: That’s where I learned a lot about how to do some of the .. do some of the, some of the tricks.

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RM Yes. When glassblowing.

HT: All right. Let me turn this tape over so that we can get a little more.