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Diary Entries

Part Four:
October 1935 - February 1936

10/7/35 - Dr. Zworykin was scheduled to be here today. I did not see him.

I had a discussion with Iams concerning our relationships with Dr. Zworykin, in which I outlined our desire to cooperate with him, and also requested Iams to bring Zworykin or any of his men in to see me when they call on him.

I had lunch and spent the afternoon until 4:30 with Messrs. Ure and Shearing, of the British Navy. They were particularly interested in our ultra-short-wave work. I told them of our work on input loading, and our work with magnetrons. Kilgore demonstrated his 50-cm tubes, and his tube for showing the electron path. Wagener showed them his small water-cooled tube for use in standing-wave circuits. I gave them a copy each of the preprints of North's and Ferris' papers on input loading. I also mentioned our theories on the filament bombardment effect.

10/8/35 - Today, at Dr. Shackelford's invitation, I had luncheon with Mr. Cosgrove and Dr. Benjamin, of the M. C. Valve Company in England. They spent most of the afternoon in my office, and I took Dr. Benjamin through the laboratory. I discussed my ideas on 5-meter amplifiers with Mr. Cosgrove, and my theories on the influence of positive ions in the region of potential minimum with both men. I showed our field-plot equipment to Dr. Benjamin, and discussed in general terms our work on semi-conductors.

10/9/35 - Yesterday I discussed our television work with Dr. Zworykin, and asked him for suggestions on our work. He thought everything here was going along satisfactorily now. He told me that he will have [Edward G.] Ramberg and [Louis] Malter visit me to discuss their calculations on maximum mutual conductance obtainable in triode-type amplifiers.

Dreyer called on me today to discuss our research work preparatory to writing his quarterly report. I outlined the general scope of all of our work, and promised to send him my progress reports for the last three months.

During a large part of our discussion with Dreyer, Shrader was present, having called on me to learn something of what we are doing; and at the conclusion of my discussion of our work Shrader offered to reciprocate by telling me of their work, but I declined it at the moment, promising to get in touch with him in a few days. It was at that time about 3:00 o'clock, and I had spent four hours with Dreyer, three of them with Shrader.

Our exhaust outfit was moved into the laboratory today for final assembly work.

10/11/35 - Yesterday Dr. Nottingham visited us to give his first lecture of a series. I spent from 10:15 until about 3:00 o'clock, and from about 4:00 until 6:15 with Dr. Nottingham. Dr. Nottingham suggested that he would like to have suggestions for thesis subjects for Bachelors and Masters. I proposed the measurement of positive-ion emission from oxide-coated cathodes, particularly as a function of temperature of the cathodes. Dr. Nottingham thought (p. 118) this was a very good subject. When I discussed the subject with him privately later, I suggested that we should be glad to cooperate with him in suggesting worth-while subjects for investigation, and in furnishing what advice and assistance we could. In return for that, we should like to have an opportunity to see the results of the investigation before publication. Nottingham assured me that he will keep us informed as to the progress of the work, and would submit the manuscript to us before publication so that we should have an opportunity to make suggestions or to offer criticism. He said that only in an exceptional case could he conceive of the work being published contrary to our wishes.

I discussed with Nottingham the theory of electron collision to produce high-velocity electrons as observed in magnetrons, etc. He said he would discuss this with Langmuir in Schenectady.

Today G. F. Metcalf, of Schenectady, and a chap named Meyer, who was with Metcalf, called on me to discuss their work on beam tubes. Orth, Shrader, Herold, and Wagner were present at the discussion. Metcalf outlined their work on the instability effect in their beam tubes, and suggested it should be useful in some form of amplifier or other device. We were unable to discover any particular application.

10/15/35 - Yesterday I went from 11:15 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. with Westman, of the I.R.E., in arranging material for this year's report of the Electronics Committee.

This afternoon I called a meeting of all of the engineers of the section, and spent an hour and a half discussing with them the various problems in connection with our technical work.

10/21/35 - Last Friday afternoon shortly before five o'clock, Mr. Warner and Mr. Ritter paid a visit to our laboratory. No one was working in the laboratory at the time of their visit. With Mr. Dreyer, who had been with me at the time of their arrival, we went through the laboratory, and I explained much of the current work to Mr. Warner, including some of that being done by Zottu, Kilgore, Ferris, Langmuir, Law, and [Harley] lams.

11/4/35 - This afternoon a discussion was held in my office amongst Spitzer, Wagener. Nergaard, Haeff, Zottu, Kilgore, and me, concerning the design of ultra short-wave power tubes. A number of questions concerning the relations between band-width, impedance, and capacity, of tuned circuits, both coupled and single circuits, and the capacity, transit time, and power dissipation abilities, of tubes were discussed. Various individuals agreed to work these problems out in the near future, so that we could have another discussion on the problem.

This afternoon D. F. Schmit called on me concerning the smell diodes for high-frequency measurements worked out by Nergaard. Nergaard and I showed him the tubes and explained the theory behind them. He showed him some of the applications, and explained the advantages of the tube over other possible means for measurement. Schmit stated that he was interested in the tube, and felt that it ought to be considered for development. I promised to have Nergaard write up a memorandum explaining the applications of the tube, and the requirements it would have to meet.

(p. 119) 11/14/35 - Today Barden, of the RCA License Bureau, called on North and me to discuss his paper on tube noise. I requested the deletion of a paragraph referring to my theory of space-charge suppression of noise, and Barden agreed to this readily.

11/20/35 - Today Painter called on me to discuss the desirability of our conducting an investigation of the effect of small variations in electrode alignment and spacing on spot distortion. I pointed out that this could be viewed from two angles as to whether or not it was a research project, and he agreed with me. I assured him of our desire to cooperate, and said that I would discuss the matter with Stinchfield to see what we could do.

I discussed with Ferris the usefulness of backing electrode tubes in reducing input loading, and pointed out some doubts which had arisen in my mind in connection with our previous theoretical arguments. I asked him to think the matter out further.

I discussed with North the implications of the Seeley and Barden paper on noise, and discussed the necessary revision in our attack on the problem. I recommended the installation of a diode for noise measurement, and pointed out the need for early results.

[Allen] DuMont and Perkins called on me this afternoon to discuss the matter of their preparing the material on methods of test for cathode-ray tubes in time for the next meeting of the main Electronics Committee. After I discussed it with Dr. Shackelford, it was agreed that they should do all they can before the next meeting, but should go ahead and prepare the material as completely as possible with a view of getting it in some time in the future.

12/10/35 - Yesterday I spent most of the day with T. M. Shrader discussing the work we are doing, particularly relating to those ideas which seem about ready for development. I listed as falling in this category Nergaard's small diodes, Ferris's single-stage electron multiplier, Wagner's beam forming cathode and beam tubes for converters and volume-control tubes. I also discussed our latest work on shot effect, including the effect of current to the screen grid. Shrader asked me questions as to the possibility of a magnetron oscillator for wavelengths of five meters and more operating at a plate voltage of not more than 300 volts for use in broadcast receivers. I told him that I felt this was a perfectly feasible thing. Shrader outlined to me the work that each of his men is doing.

Today Dr. Zworykin discussed with me our plans for next year's work on ultra-short waves. I described to him our ideas in general, including the study of conventional oscillators and power amplifiers, gas tubes, magnetrons, secondary-emission multipliers, etc. I later discussed Dr. Zworykin's interest in this with Ritter.

I called to Kilgore’s attention Shrader's interest in the negative resistance magnetron for broadcast receivers, and asked him to do some thinking about it.

(p. 120) 12/11/35 - The general plan of organization of the Research Section was discussed in considerable detail. The problem of providing an organization adapted to carry out assigned research projects of considerable length and still able to undertake short-term speculative projects was gone into at some length It has been my personal feeling in the past that each man should be assigned to some particular research project, and not be disturbed from that unless it is absolutely necessary. This tends to make it impossible to carry out any ideas off the assigned project. Speaking of the case in point, Zworykin’s recent demonstration of a static-type multiplier tube which was previously entered in Barry Thompson’s notebook some two years ago, I stated that it is my belief that it is essential to reduce an idea to practice in a form thoroughly demonstrating the mechanism. If this is not done, as a practical matter the idea is of little value, because it is not possible to prove to anyone else that it will work.

As possible alternatives, I suggested the provision of a special group for carrying out such ideas, or the provision of adequate facilities so that each man while working on some assigned project may stop at any time for a short period and carry out some new idea which has occurred to him or been assigned to him. Mr. Warner agreed with the necessity and desirability of some such provision, and felt that if proper men were in the section with adequate experience they would be capable of carrying out such work without interfering too much with their assigned project.

He also agreed that it was highly desirable to provide the necessary facilities for quick action. Such facilities I pointed out might take the form of non-technical and semi-technical assistants as well as mechanical facilities so that the technical would spend as little time as possible on other than technical activities. Mr. Warner agreed that with experienced men personal assistants might be provided, but that in other cases this would not be desirable. I suggested that the desirable type of assistants for most men would be men in the class of Smith and Potter available for the whole laboratory to do wiring, general assembly work, and other work of that type. Mr. Warner questioned whether or not it was desirable to provide many men of this type because their opportunity for advancement was not great and the problem of their future would be serious.  He thought something of the nature of test men might be desirable.  It was my feeling that it would be unwise to restrict the use of such men due to such consideration because it was perfectly possible to hire them for the term of six or four years with the understanding that the job would not last beyond that time.  This point was not concluded in any definite manner.

The general conclusion to the discussion of this subject was that as the organization became older and more and more experienced, and the proper men were provided and adequate facilities of various sorts, there would be no serious difficulties in carrying our this line of work and that too much concern should not be felt over any past situations of this nature.

12/11/35 - I discussed with Mr. McClair today for about forty-five minutes the claims for Mr. H. C. Thompson’s multiplier-tube application. I suggested the claims should be broad enough to cover all types of tubes of this nature. I also suggested that the type of tube consisting of a number of plates arranged about a circle and within the circle a grid maintained in potential more positive than that of the most positive plate[. W]ith a proper longitudinal magnetic field and proper spacing at the plates about the circle and proper potentials on the plates, it would be possible to cause the secondaries to describe orbits through the grid, they being drawn from one plate by means of the positive potential and caused by the magnetic field to strike the plate at next highest potential, regardless of whether that plate was adjacent or not.

(p. 121) 1/6/36 - This afternoon Dr. Zworykin visited our laboratory. I showed him our machine shop, including the watchmaker's lathe and one of the small apertures produced by Joe on it, the new exhaust outfit, Law's method for mounting apertures in cathode-ray tubes, the new thyratron welder, and other matters of general laboratory interest. He discussed with Kilgore his work on the high frequency-type electron-multiplier tube, and discussed with Haeff his secondary-emission multiplier tube intended as a short-wave power amplifier. Zworykin wishes to obtain the blueprints of our new exhaust outfit, and took down data on the thyratron welder.

This afternoon Kilgore and I spent several hours with Spitzer and Hirlinger discussing magnetrons. We gave them quite complete information on magnetron characteristics, and offered to cooperate with them in any way they desire.

1/27/36 - Today I called Mr. Coleman, of the Westinghouse Lamp Company, concerning P.C. Kiefer, a glass-blower. Coleman said he could not recommend Kiefer for the job. While he is a good glass-blower, Coleman said he is shiftless and that he cuts up on the job. Further, he suspects him of having outside contacts. Westinghouse let him go twice. Coleman said that in two to three months he expected to have a very good man whom he could recommend to us, and that he would let us know.

Today Mr. Wolff, of the Sensitive Research Instrument Company, called on us to discuss our requirements for new meters.

2/25/36 - Last Thursday Dr. Thatcher and Mr. Howe, of Union College, visited us to discuss with Dr. North and me their work on fluctuation phenomena in double-space-charge tubes. They outlined their results and requested an explanation.  I presented a rough explanation of my theory of space-change suppression of shot effect, and showed how this indicated that results contrary to those predicted by Llewellyn’s formula would be obtained in their double-space-charge tubes.  I also explained in general Dr. North’s application of my theory to derive the expression for noise in tube with positive grids.  At Thatcher’s request, I shoed him my notebook entries in November, 1931, dealing with double-space-charge tubes, in which the phenomena which he had considered new were described and explained.

Dr. L.P. Smith visited us on Thursday.  I spent some time discussing our plans with him, and then took him to interview Mr. Warner and Mr. Ritter.  In the evening I took him to dinner.

On Thursday morning, I went with Haeff, Nergaard, and Zottu to attend a meeting with Spitzer and his group, at which plans for carrying out the short-wave-power-tube research and development work were discussed.

On Friday Drs. P. T. Smith and Donal, and Messrs. [William? Finishing Ph.D. at M.I.T.] Shockley and R. P. Johnson visited me in connection with their applications for positions here.  Drs. Kingdom and Tonks paid a visit to our laboratory and I showed them the general set-up of our work.

Walter Ennis visited me on Friday, and I told him that we would give him the job as glass-blower on a two-months trial basis, beginning about the middle of March, if he could pass the physical examination. I promised him no definite rate, but told him that I presumed he would get the same as the other glass-blowers here.

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