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Oral-History:Charles Eldon

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== About Charles "Bud" Eldon<br>  ==
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== About Charles "Bud" Eldon ==
  
Charles Eldon was President of the IEEE in 1985, at a pivotal time in the Institute's history. The author of a formal strategic planning process implemented in 1986, Eldon also spearheaded, with Bruno Weinschel, negotiations to resume exchanges with the Soviet Union's Popov Society in the early days of Glasnost and Perestroika.  
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[[Charles Eldon|Charles Eldon]] was [[Presidents of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)|President of the IEEE]] in 1985, at a pivotal time in the Institute's history. The author of a formal strategic planning process implemented in 1986, Eldon also spearheaded, with [[Bruno Weinschel|Bruno Weinschel]], negotiations to resume exchanges with the Soviet Union's Popov Society in the early days of Glasnost and Perestroika.  
  
 
Eldon was educated at Stanford University, where he earned his B.S. in Physics and an M.B.A in 1950. He worked at Hewlett-Packard in a wide range of capacities focusing primarily on corporate systems management and operations research. He retired from HP in 1990 as Corporate Manager for Capital Equipment.  
 
Eldon was educated at Stanford University, where he earned his B.S. in Physics and an M.B.A in 1950. He worked at Hewlett-Packard in a wide range of capacities focusing primarily on corporate systems management and operations research. He retired from HP in 1990 as Corporate Manager for Capital Equipment.  
  
In this interview, he discusses his involvement in IRE and the IEEE merger in 1963 and the controversies and challenges of his presidency in 1985.  
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In this interview, he discusses his involvement in IRE and the [[Formation of IEEE by the Merger of AIEE and IRE|IEEE merger]] in 1963 and the controversies and challenges of his presidency in 1985.  
  
== <br>About the Interview  ==
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== About the Interview  ==
  
 
CHARLES "BUD" ELDON: An Interview Conducted by John Vardalas, IEEE History Center, June 16, 2009  
 
CHARLES "BUD" ELDON: An Interview Conducted by John Vardalas, IEEE History Center, June 16, 2009  
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Interview #504 For the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey  
 
Interview #504 For the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey  
  
== <br>Copyright Statement  ==
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== Copyright Statement  ==
  
 
This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.  
 
This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.  
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Charles “Bud” Eldon, an oral history conducted in 2009 by John Vardalas, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.  
 
Charles “Bud” Eldon, an oral history conducted in 2009 by John Vardalas, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.  
  
== <br>Interview  ==
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== Interview  ==
  
INTERVIEW: Charles “Bud” Eldon<br>INTERVIEWER: John Vardalas<br>DATE: 16 June 2009 <br>PLACE: Sierra Vista, Arizona  
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INTERVIEW: Charles “Bud” Eldon
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INTERVIEWER: John Vardalas
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 +
DATE: 16 June 2009
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PLACE: Sierra Vista, Arizona  
  
 
=== Background and Education  ===
 
=== Background and Education  ===
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Oh, all right. That’s pretty easy; I had a very careful selection of parents. One was an engineer and the other one was a teacher, but they met in Hawaii. After they got married they moved back to Hawaii, where they had met.  
 
Oh, all right. That’s pretty easy; I had a very careful selection of parents. One was an engineer and the other one was a teacher, but they met in Hawaii. After they got married they moved back to Hawaii, where they had met.  
  
[[Image:Eldon 001.jpg|thumb|right|Grade 5A Eleele School, Eleele, Kauai, Hawaii, 1906-1907, Mr. Raymond Nakashima, teacher (Note: Eldon is in back row, 5th from left)]]I had the good fortune of being raised in Hawaii. Interesting concept now when you think about our current president, who had the same life experience that I did, growing up in a multicultural environment, in the South Pacific. He spent a few years in Indonesia. Coincidentally I ran a business in Indonesia in 1969, ’70, ‘71. We have that common also. I went to school, as an elementary student, fifth, sixth, and seventh grade, in a school of 800 students, where I and the principal’s son, were the only white kids in the whole school: interesting, academically, socially, environmentally. But then I was sent away to school in Honolulu from the island of Kauai, where I was growing up. I attended, because of the start of the war, not one, not two, not three, but four different high schools, ending in Punahou, at the school where Obama graduated also.  
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[[Image:Eldon 001.jpg|thumb|right|Grade 5A Eleele School, Eleele, Kauai, Hawaii, 1906-1907, Mr. Raymond Nakashima, teacher (Note: Eldon is in back row, 5th from left)]]
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I had the good fortune of being raised in Hawaii. Interesting concept now when you think about our current president, who had the same life experience that I did, growing up in a multicultural environment, in the South Pacific. He spent a few years in Indonesia. Coincidentally I ran a business in Indonesia in 1969, ’70, ‘71. We have that common also. I went to school, as an elementary student, fifth, sixth, and seventh grade, in a school of 800 students, where I and the principal’s son, were the only white kids in the whole school: interesting, academically, socially, environmentally. But then I was sent away to school in Honolulu from the island of Kauai, where I was growing up. I attended, because of the start of the war, not one, not two, not three, but four different high schools, ending in Punahou, at the school where Obama graduated also.  
  
 
In the middle of my senior year, I was told that since I had very good grades that I might be interested in a special unique situation that Stanford, unlike MIT, where I wanted to go to school, was accepting students without them finishing high school, if they passed a test, and that sort of thing. To make the story short, I got shipped off to California from Honolulu, at age just turned 17, to go to Stanford to major in physics, which was the attraction. That’s no surprise, my father being an engineer.  
 
In the middle of my senior year, I was told that since I had very good grades that I might be interested in a special unique situation that Stanford, unlike MIT, where I wanted to go to school, was accepting students without them finishing high school, if they passed a test, and that sort of thing. To make the story short, I got shipped off to California from Honolulu, at age just turned 17, to go to Stanford to major in physics, which was the attraction. That’s no surprise, my father being an engineer.  
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=== Stanford and Hewlett-Packard  ===
 
=== Stanford and Hewlett-Packard  ===
  
'''[[Image:Eldon 002.jpg|thumb|left|Stanford Student, 1948]]Eldon:'''  
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[[Image:Eldon 002.jpg|thumb|left|Stanford Student, 1948]]
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'''Eldon:'''  
  
 
In 1946, of course, I went back to Stanford. Now the catch was, you see, that if I had gone to Stanford and gotten drafted out of Stanford, Stanford had to take me back as a student.  
 
In 1946, of course, I went back to Stanford. Now the catch was, you see, that if I had gone to Stanford and gotten drafted out of Stanford, Stanford had to take me back as a student.  
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'''Eldon:'''  
 
'''Eldon:'''  
  
[[Image:Eldon 003.jpg|thumb|right|Manufacturing Manager, New Jersey Division, 1961]]1963. All by myself, I invented the system that would generate this corporate control system. I assigned a couple of people—another Stanford MBA, as a matter of fact—to work on how we would tie inventory control and manufacturing control with standardized boxes of software to this input of information. The vice president of finance told me he wanted all cash eventually from the customers to go into a lockbox that he would specify. So here I had developed and implemented in the following year a system which, to my knowledge, did not exist anywhere else. It was a totally enterprise-integrated operating system.  
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[[Image:Eldon 003.jpg|thumb|right|Manufacturing Manager, New Jersey Division, 1961]]
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1963. All by myself, I invented the system that would generate this corporate control system. I assigned a couple of people—another Stanford MBA, as a matter of fact—to work on how we would tie inventory control and manufacturing control with standardized boxes of software to this input of information. The vice president of finance told me he wanted all cash eventually from the customers to go into a lockbox that he would specify. So here I had developed and implemented in the following year a system which, to my knowledge, did not exist anywhere else. It was a totally enterprise-integrated operating system.  
  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
  
So what did Mr. Packard and Mr. Hewlett think of all this?  
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So what did [[David Packard|Mr. Packard]] and [[William R. Hewlett|Mr. Hewlett]] think of all this?  
  
 
'''Eldon:'''  
 
'''Eldon:'''  
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'''Vardalas:'''  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
  
So going back to your early days after being hired at HP or Hewlett-Packard, how did you discover about the existence of IRE?  
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So going back to your early days after being hired at HP or Hewlett-Packard, how did you discover about the existence of [[IRE History 1912-1963|IRE]]?  
  
 
'''Eldon:'''  
 
'''Eldon:'''  
  
Interesting, John. Before all that, back in 1949, just after I had finished my undergraduate degree and was starting out in the MBA program, I went to an advisor who was the father of one of my fraternity brothers. His name was Terman, Frederick Emmons Terman, who had been the dean of engineering. He had already been a president of IRE.  
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Interesting, John. Before all that, back in 1949, just after I had finished my undergraduate degree and was starting out in the MBA program, I went to an advisor who was the father of one of my fraternity brothers. His name was [[Frederick Terman|Terman]], [[Frederick Terman|Frederick Emmons Terman]], who had been the dean of engineering. He had already been a [[Presidents of the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE)|president of IRE]].  
  
And because I expressed an interest in business, and writing in particular, Dr. Terman said, “Bud, I’ll introduce you to my McGraw-Hill editor, who publishes my books. He is also in charge of a so-called electronics magazine under McGraw-Hill, and he’s looking for editors. You might be interested. He might be interested in you.” So I went up to San Francisco and had an interview with a guy by the name of Don Fink.  
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And because I expressed an interest in business, and writing in particular, [[Frederick Terman|Dr. Terman]] said, “Bud, I’ll introduce you to my McGraw-Hill editor, who publishes my books. He is also in charge of a so-called electronics magazine under McGraw-Hill, and he’s looking for editors. You might be interested. He might be interested in you.” So I went up to San Francisco and had an interview with a guy by the name of [[Donald Fink|Don Fink]].  
  
Now, I’ve just told you a president of IRE, and founder of Hewlett-Packard who introduced me to the guy who gave me my first job offer, Donald Fink, who ended up being a president of IRE, and the first general manager of IEEE - Closed circuit.  
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Now, I’ve just told you a [[Presidents of the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE)|president of IRE]], and founder of Hewlett-Packard who introduced me to the guy who gave me my first job offer, [[Donald Fink|Donald Fink]], who ended up being a [[Presidents of the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE)|president of IRE]], and the first general manager of IEEE - Closed circuit.  
 
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'''Eldon:'''
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It didn’t end there.  
 
It didn’t end there.  
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'''Eldon:'''  
 
'''Eldon:'''  
  
And was working there for a few years. I started in January of 1951, and long about 1955, my boss, the guy who’d hired me, came walking down by my desk, and actually sat down on my desk, and said, “Bud, Bill wants us to start in this San Francisco Bay Area, a chapter of the IRE Technical Group on Product Engineering.” And I asked “Who?” Bill Hewlett? Uh, yes. I said, what’s IRE?  
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And was working there for a few years. I started in January of 1951, and long about 1955, my boss, the guy who’d hired me, came walking down by my desk, and actually sat down on my desk, and said, “Bud, Bill wants us to start in this San Francisco Bay Area, a chapter of the IRE Technical Group on Product Engineering.” And I asked “Who?” [[William R. Hewlett|Bill Hewlett]]? Uh, yes. I said, what’s [[IRE History 1912-1963|IRE]]?  
  
My boss grinned, and laughed at me. I remember distinctly his reaction. And said to me, “Bud, IRE is the Institute of Radio Engineers, and my boss, Bill Hewlett, happens to be the president of that organization, and we decided you are the guy who ought to start this chapter.” I said, “but I’m not a member.” I was a physics major, you remember, I wasn’t an IRE group member. To which he said, “ah, don’t worry about that. We’ll get you installed, that’s no problem. Just let’s take on this job, please, for Bill.” “Yes sir,” I replied.  
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My boss grinned, and laughed at me. I remember distinctly his reaction. And said to me, “Bud, [[IRE History 1912-1963|IRE is the Institute of Radio Engineers]], and my boss, [[William R. Hewlett|Bill Hewlett]], happens to be the [[Presidents of the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE)|president of that organization]], and we decided you are the guy who ought to start this chapter.” I said, “but I’m not a member.” I was a physics major, you remember, I wasn’t an IRE group member. To which he said, “ah, don’t worry about that. We’ll get you installed, that’s no problem. Just let’s take on this job, please, for Bill.” “Yes sir,” I replied.  
 
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'''Eldon:'''
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So I found out from Emily Surjane — a name out of the IRE and later IEEE history which any old, older IEEE member will recognize. (She was the—what is now known as—RAB manager.) And from a guy by the name of Dick Emberson, the technical groups manager of IRE at the time, who old-timers will also remember, I got the information of how to join IRE, and how to start the chapter.  
 
So I found out from Emily Surjane — a name out of the IRE and later IEEE history which any old, older IEEE member will recognize. (She was the—what is now known as—RAB manager.) And from a guy by the name of Dick Emberson, the technical groups manager of IRE at the time, who old-timers will also remember, I got the information of how to join IRE, and how to start the chapter.  
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Well, Emily Surjane gave me the paperwork and the instructions, how many members that I had to recruit. So I went around to Varian Associates and Stanford Research Institute, Litton Industries, and a few other electronics companies in the Bay Area, and identified other production engineers. I then recruited them into this organization. They said, "that sounds like a fun thing. We’ll get to know each other, and we can trade stories and technical information about how we make printed circuits and how we make other component connections how we deal with employees and the engineer designers, etcetera. So everybody was very enthusiastic about it. We’re going to be able to share ideas with each other. Yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s do that."  
 
Well, Emily Surjane gave me the paperwork and the instructions, how many members that I had to recruit. So I went around to Varian Associates and Stanford Research Institute, Litton Industries, and a few other electronics companies in the Bay Area, and identified other production engineers. I then recruited them into this organization. They said, "that sounds like a fun thing. We’ll get to know each other, and we can trade stories and technical information about how we make printed circuits and how we make other component connections how we deal with employees and the engineer designers, etcetera. So everybody was very enthusiastic about it. We’re going to be able to share ideas with each other. Yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s do that."  
  
The chapter was started for the Bay Area. It ultimately ended up as a chapter for Northern California in 1963, when IRE merged with AIEE. Well, a complication developed in 1963 because the 1965 president of IEEE happened to be a vice president of Hewlett-Packard Company: Dr. Barney Oliver, then an IRE officer.  
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The chapter was started for the Bay Area. It ultimately ended up as a chapter for Northern California in 1963, when [[Formation of IEEE by the Merger of AIEE and IRE|IRE merged with AIEE]]. Well, a complication developed in 1963 because the 1965 president of IEEE happened to be a vice president of Hewlett-Packard Company: Dr. [[Bernard Oliver|Barney Oliver]], then an IRE officer.  
  
Barney came up to me and said, “Bud - - you’re chairman of this little IRE society called PEP, Product Engineering and Production. There are a large number of these IRE technical groups, and other societies of AIEE. We’ve got too many. Can you look into the possibility of merging with some other technical group of IRE so we end up with fewer organizations?” And I replied, “well, sure. I’ll look into it.” I then contacted a guy by the name of Kahn, I think it’s Lou Kahn who, at the time, was the president, chairman, whatever of the Component Parts technical group of IRE. And I suggested that we get together. “Why don’t we try to do that and consolidate?” I asked. So we did and merged into what became ultimately the technical society, after a number of changes of name along the way, through all those many years, called Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology: CPMT.
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Barney came up to me and said, “Bud - - you’re chairman of this little IRE society called PEP, Product Engineering and Production. There are a large number of these IRE technical groups, and other societies of AIEE. We’ve got too many. Can you look into the possibility of merging with some other technical group of IRE so we end up with fewer organizations?” And I replied, “well, sure. I’ll look into it.” I then contacted a guy by the name of Kahn, I think it’s Lou Kahn who, at the time, was the president, chairman, whatever of the Component Parts technical group of IRE. And I suggested that we get together. “Why don’t we try to do that and consolidate?” I asked. So we did and merged into what became ultimately the technical society, after a number of changes of name along the way, through all those many years, called Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology: CPMT.  
  
 
=== The IEEE Merger  ===
 
=== The IEEE Merger  ===
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It picks up, John, right after the start of this organization, which I called, cutely, EEEI, but became ECI, the owner organization of the WESCON show, the owners being only the Northern [California] Council of IEEE and the Southern [California] Council of IEEE.  
 
It picks up, John, right after the start of this organization, which I called, cutely, EEEI, but became ECI, the owner organization of the WESCON show, the owners being only the Northern [California] Council of IEEE and the Southern [California] Council of IEEE.  
  
Setting up of this independent organization didn’t go over very well with the corporate headquarters of IEEE. They wanted to have a share of the profits, and the people who were running the Los Angeles council and the San Francisco council of IEEE said hey, “wait a minute, we’ve been running the WESCON show since 1954, what do you mean you want to come in and have IEEE national take 20% of the profits?” So we set up a separate corporation ECI. Bud Eldon got the opportunity to discuss, I guess "negotiate" is the right word, with the Executive Committee of IEEE for approval to set up the separate corporation, wholly owned by the Los Angeles council and San Francisco council of IEEE. Art Stern was an excom member.  
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Setting up of this independent organization didn’t go over very well with the corporate headquarters of IEEE. They wanted to have a share of the profits, and the people who were running the Los Angeles council and the San Francisco council of IEEE said hey, “wait a minute, we’ve been running the WESCON show since 1954, what do you mean you want to come in and have IEEE national take 20% of the profits?” So we set up a separate corporation ECI. Bud Eldon got the opportunity to discuss, I guess "negotiate" is the right word, with the Executive Committee of IEEE for approval to set up the separate corporation, wholly owned by the Los Angeles council and San Francisco council of IEEE. [[Arthur P. Stern|Art Stern]] was an excom member.  
  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
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'''Eldon:'''  
 
'''Eldon:'''  
  
No, but ECI was to be a separate legal entity, yeah. I got a lawyer down in Los Angeles to help me set it up. Then I appointed the chairman of the board, who was a vice president, executive vice president, of Varian Associates. I also appointed other members of the board of this corporation. But in the process of negotiating with IEEE corporation, the executive committee, really, I thought I had really put my foot in my mouth. I was looked at as a bad boy. So you can imagine my surprise when the phone on my desk rang, a couple of years later, 1975, and it was Art Stern.  
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No, but ECI was to be a separate legal entity, yeah. I got a lawyer down in Los Angeles to help me set it up. Then I appointed the chairman of the board, who was a vice president, executive vice president, of Varian Associates. I also appointed other members of the board of this corporation. But in the process of negotiating with IEEE corporation, the executive committee, really, I thought I had really put my foot in my mouth. I was looked at as a bad boy. So you can imagine my surprise when the phone on my desk rang, a couple of years later, 1975, and it was [[Arthur P. Stern|Art Stern]].  
  
“Bud,” Arthur said, “ I know you might be sensitive about this, but would you be willing to be my assistant for financial and budgeting matters, now that I’ve been elected vice president for RAB of IEEE. I was stunned. I couldn’t speak for a few minutes, naturally. I was highly complimented. Surprised, I said, “sure, whatever you want, Mr. Stern.”  
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“Bud,” [[Arthur P. Stern|Arthur]] said, “ I know you might be sensitive about this, but would you be willing to be my assistant for financial and budgeting matters, now that I’ve been elected vice president for RAB of IEEE. I was stunned. I couldn’t speak for a few minutes, naturally. I was highly complimented. Surprised, I said, “sure, whatever you want, [[Arthur P. Stern|Mr. Stern]].”  
  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
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There were the ongoing issues of WESCON. There was lots of that. There was the ECI organization, which I set up. I had a brilliant manager who developed the opportunity to run, through ECI, the old IEEE (formerly IRE) New York annual conference, convention and show in New York City, year after year. And he set up one up in the Southwest, and one in the Northwest, and one tentatively in Chicago area. There were a bunch of these technical shows analogous to, not identical to, but very close to identical to, the WESCON show that proliferated, all under the control for several years of this ECI organization. So that was the way we in Region 6 got very much involved in the politics, I guess, is the right word, as well as the administration of these conferences generally, throughout IEEE. And they became models for foreign shows, as a matter of fact.  
 
There were the ongoing issues of WESCON. There was lots of that. There was the ECI organization, which I set up. I had a brilliant manager who developed the opportunity to run, through ECI, the old IEEE (formerly IRE) New York annual conference, convention and show in New York City, year after year. And he set up one up in the Southwest, and one in the Northwest, and one tentatively in Chicago area. There were a bunch of these technical shows analogous to, not identical to, but very close to identical to, the WESCON show that proliferated, all under the control for several years of this ECI organization. So that was the way we in Region 6 got very much involved in the politics, I guess, is the right word, as well as the administration of these conferences generally, throughout IEEE. And they became models for foreign shows, as a matter of fact.  
  
That was a big issue, as well as the growth, of the region, setting up new sections in an area which was exploding in the electronics industry. There were small sections started. As a matter of fact, one closely related interest, I, as Region 6 director, had the opportunity to appoint regional or area chairpersons to be on the executive committee of the Region 6 operation. And I had the opportunity to identify, here at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, within the area of Sierra Vista, a guy who I appointed to be the area chairman, and now he has been recently working with me on the executive committee of the Fort Huachuca section of the IEEE. what goes around comes around. So we joke from time to time about how our relations go back to 1979  
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That was a big issue, as well as the growth, of the region, setting up new sections in an area which was exploding in the electronics industry. There were small sections started. As a matter of fact, one closely related interest, I, as [[Region 6 (Western U.S.) History|Region 6]] director, had the opportunity to appoint regional or area chairpersons to be on the executive committee of the Region 6 operation. And I had the opportunity to identify, here at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, within the area of Sierra Vista, a guy who I appointed to be the area chairman, and now he has been recently working with me on the executive committee of the [[IEEE Fort Huachuca Section History|Fort Huachuca section]] of the IEEE. what goes around comes around. So we joke from time to time about how our relations go back to 1979  
  
 
=== Negotiating Differences  ===
 
=== Negotiating Differences  ===
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'''Eldon:'''  
 
'''Eldon:'''  
  
Here is a little anecdote. I was carrying my suitcase in one hand and my office equipment in the other hand, walking out of Dick Emberson’s office, when I was accosted by this guy, IrwinFeerst, who stuck out his hand to me to shake hands, and I was shocked at that, because he’d called me names and made trouble for me in Region 6 at the time. Here he was trying to be friendly, so I put down my briefcase and stuck out my hand, to which he lifted his hand over his head. He refused to shake hands—  
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Here is a little anecdote. I was carrying my suitcase in one hand and my office equipment in the other hand, walking out of Dick Emberson’s office, when I was accosted by this guy, Irwin Feerst, who stuck out his hand to me to shake hands, and I was shocked at that, because he’d called me names and made trouble for me in [[Region 6 (Western U.S.) History|Region 6]] at the time. Here he was trying to be friendly, so I put down my briefcase and stuck out my hand, to which he lifted his hand over his head. He refused to shake hands—  
  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
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'''Eldon:'''  
 
'''Eldon:'''  
  
He ran for—I think he did run for president. Actually I think, from some standpoints, he was trying to do good for engineers who weren’t in the elite group among the IEEE members. But he was just not very politically adept, not very skilled... sad guy, I think. It was, in my mind, a tragedy.
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He ran for—I think he did run for president. Actually I think, from some standpoints, he was trying to do good for engineers who weren’t in the elite group among the IEEE members. But he was just not very politically adept, not very skilled... sad guy, I think. It was, in my mind, a tragedy.  
  
 
=== Treasurer and Executive Vice President  ===
 
=== Treasurer and Executive Vice President  ===
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'''Vardalas:'''  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
  
I thought that you volunteered for that position.<br> <br>'''[[Image:Eldon 004.jpg|thumb|right|IEEE Treasurer, February 1982]]Eldon:'''  
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I thought that you volunteered for that position.
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[[Image:Eldon 004.jpg|thumb|right|IEEE Treasurer, February 1982]]
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'''Eldon:'''  
  
 
Well, yes. Because I had been on the budget committee for several years, thanks to Tom Bartlett, who everybody, all the old-timers, will know. He was really a marvelous, really classical IEEE manager. A friend of Eric Herz. I liked him, and so working with him as the controller seemed like an attractive deal. With an MBA and having been in charge of running companies, I knew a little bit finances and budget. I volunteered, and got elected to that job.  
 
Well, yes. Because I had been on the budget committee for several years, thanks to Tom Bartlett, who everybody, all the old-timers, will know. He was really a marvelous, really classical IEEE manager. A friend of Eric Herz. I liked him, and so working with him as the controller seemed like an attractive deal. With an MBA and having been in charge of running companies, I knew a little bit finances and budget. I volunteered, and got elected to that job.  
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'''Eldon:'''  
 
'''Eldon:'''  
  
Oh yes, which I thought I could help with a little bit, and maybe I did, I don’t know, but I enjoyed working with Tom Bartlett, for sure. And it was successful. I can point out with some, again, lack of humility, that at the end of it, the last year I was treasurer, the budget came within 1/10 of 1% of the target in actual expenditures, which I gleefully noted was better than HP had done.  
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Oh yes, which I thought I could help with a little bit, and maybe I did, I don’t know, but I enjoyed working with [[Oral-History:Thomas Bartlett|Tom Bartlett]], for sure. And it was successful. I can point out with some, again, lack of humility, that at the end of it, the last year I was treasurer, the budget came within 1/10 of 1% of the target in actual expenditures, which I gleefully noted was better than HP had done.  
  
So then I thought that was the end of my IEEE career. Then I got a telephone call in my office in 1983, from Jerry Suran. The past president of IEEE, and therefore head of the nominating committee. Jerry said, “Bud you’ve been treasurer and we wondered if you would be willing and able to run as executive vice president.” That job no longer exists in IEEE, as you may know. At that time, this position was like the chief operating officer: the person who interfaced with the staff, and particularly the financial operations.  
+
So then I thought that was the end of my IEEE career. Then I got a telephone call in my office in 1983, from [[Jerome J. Suran|Jerry Suran]]. The past president of IEEE, and therefore head of the nominating committee. Jerry said, “Bud you’ve been treasurer and we wondered if you would be willing and able to run as executive vice president.” That job no longer exists in IEEE, as you may know. At that time, this position was like the chief operating officer: the person who interfaced with the staff, and particularly the financial operations.  
  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
Line 485: Line 497:
 
'''Eldon:'''  
 
'''Eldon:'''  
  
Wonderful. Wonderful. I admired all the people. I got to work very closely with Eric Herz of course, who was the general manager at the time, and I had known him since 1973, and then with the various directors of RAB and TAB and so on, and became friends. And I admired them all. It was a wonderful experience for me. But it was a one-year term.  
+
Wonderful. Wonderful. I admired all the people. I got to work very closely with Eric Herz of course, who was the general manager at the time, and I had known him since 1973, and then with the various directors of RAB and [[IEEE Technical Activities Board (TAB)|TAB]] and so on, and became friends. And I admired them all. It was a wonderful experience for me. But it was a one-year term.  
  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
Line 501: Line 513:
 
=== President of IEEE  ===
 
=== President of IEEE  ===
  
'''[[Image:Eldon 005.jpg|thumb|right|1985 IEEE President]]Eldon:'''  
+
[[Image:Eldon 005.jpg|thumb|right|1985 IEEE President]]
 +
 
 +
'''Eldon:'''  
  
 
And it was okay to have that job, and it was not an ongoing thing, and again, I thought that it was the end of my IEEE career.  
 
And it was okay to have that job, and it was not an ongoing thing, and again, I thought that it was the end of my IEEE career.  
  
Well, it wasn’t. It turned out that two years, I guess a year, later, I got a telephone call from Jim Owens, who was just past president, saying “Bud, as you may have heard, the guy who got elected as the incoming president-elect of IEEE, Dr. King, has died. I know you count yourself out, but would you be willing to be a candidate, one of two ways, either run for re-election in the following year, or be the fill-in candidate this year, for Dr. King, as the president-elect of IEEE?” And I said, “I’m not a politician. If I can fill in for right now, I’ll do that”. So I went to my vice president and asked, “hey, look, I’ve been telling you, I’m through with IEEE volunteer activities” (and I had been negotiating with him about a foreign assignment) should I do this?” And he said, “Bud, it’s such a big honor for HP, please, go do that, and we’ll take care of your assignments here at HP while you’re busy with that, if that’s necessary.” So I said, “okay,” and got elected. There was another candidate by the Board, but I guess they selected me because I’d been elected by the whole of IEEE to be executive vice president already, so my name had been out there to the whole organization. I guess the board felt more comfortable appointing me as the stand-in president-elect than anybody else.  
+
Well, it wasn’t. It turned out that two years, I guess a year, later, I got a telephone call from [[James B. Owens|Jim Owens]], who was just past president, saying “Bud, as you may have heard, the guy who got elected as the incoming president-elect of IEEE, Dr. King, has died. I know you count yourself out, but would you be willing to be a candidate, one of two ways, either run for re-election in the following year, or be the fill-in candidate this year, for Dr. King, as the president-elect of IEEE?” And I said, “I’m not a politician. If I can fill in for right now, I’ll do that”. So I went to my vice president and asked, “hey, look, I’ve been telling you, I’m through with IEEE volunteer activities” (and I had been negotiating with him about a foreign assignment) should I do this?” And he said, “Bud, it’s such a big honor for HP, please, go do that, and we’ll take care of your assignments here at HP while you’re busy with that, if that’s necessary.” So I said, “okay,” and got elected. There was another candidate by the Board, but I guess they selected me because I’d been elected by the whole of IEEE to be executive vice president already, so my name had been out there to the whole organization. I guess the board felt more comfortable appointing me as the stand-in president-elect than anybody else.  
  
 
So I, as far as I know, I am the only person elected by the board of IEEE, not by the membership at large. Although it did turn out I had to be elected, have my name on a ballot the following year to be endorsed by—approved by the general membership. And of course I’d been the president-elect, so that happened automatically.  
 
So I, as far as I know, I am the only person elected by the board of IEEE, not by the membership at large. Although it did turn out I had to be elected, have my name on a ballot the following year to be endorsed by—approved by the general membership. And of course I’d been the president-elect, so that happened automatically.  
Line 533: Line 547:
 
The issues grew on me, of course, but I had very little choice. Things got thrown at me. For instance, at the first executive committee, after when I had been elected president—I guess this would’ve been in February, I had a letter shown to me from an organization called the Popov Society, which is the International Association for the Eastern Bloc that was analogous to the IEEE, but much bigger than IEEE at the time. It was run by the Russians. It was known not as the Russian Popov Society, but the International Popov Society. They were going to have a 40th anniversary celebration in Moscow, and the IEEE president was invited to come there and try to reinstall relations which had been broken off ten years previous by the IEEE. They were broken off because of feeling anxiety about Russia, the USSR at the time, invading a place called Afghanistan.  
 
The issues grew on me, of course, but I had very little choice. Things got thrown at me. For instance, at the first executive committee, after when I had been elected president—I guess this would’ve been in February, I had a letter shown to me from an organization called the Popov Society, which is the International Association for the Eastern Bloc that was analogous to the IEEE, but much bigger than IEEE at the time. It was run by the Russians. It was known not as the Russian Popov Society, but the International Popov Society. They were going to have a 40th anniversary celebration in Moscow, and the IEEE president was invited to come there and try to reinstall relations which had been broken off ten years previous by the IEEE. They were broken off because of feeling anxiety about Russia, the USSR at the time, invading a place called Afghanistan.  
  
The IEEE didn’t want to be involved in that, and so they broke off relations in 1975. In 1985, the IEEE was invited to come back and talk again at the 40th anniversary meeting of the Popov Society. Very few people on the executive committee, let alone in the membership of IEEE, were enthusiastic about this. But I thought, backed up by Eric Herz and backed by my successor, Bruno Weinschel who is a German, born and raised, and knew about the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc of Europe, and so on. I was assured that maybe it was the right time to hold a finger out, or a hand out. And see if relations could be started. So I did that.  
+
The IEEE didn’t want to be involved in that, and so they broke off relations in 1975. In 1985, the IEEE was invited to come back and talk again at the 40th anniversary meeting of the Popov Society. Very few people on the executive committee, let alone in the membership of IEEE, were enthusiastic about this. But I thought, backed up by Eric Herz and backed by my successor, [[Bruno Weinschel|Bruno Weinschel]] who is a German, born and raised, and knew about the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc of Europe, and so on. I was assured that maybe it was the right time to hold a finger out, or a hand out. And see if relations could be started. So I did that.  
  
I accepted the invitation and went to Moscow in May of 1985 with a specific goal in my mind, backed up by the executive committee, but I think rather enthusiastically by Eric Herz and Bruno Weinschel, to reestablish formal relations with the Popov Society.  
+
I accepted the invitation and went to Moscow in May of 1985 with a specific goal in my mind, backed up by the executive committee, but I think rather enthusiastically by Eric Herz and [[Bruno Weinschel]], to reestablish formal relations with the Popov Society.  
  
 
I made the decision, with their concurrence, that it was going to be on different terms. Anything that they wanted to attend in the way of conferences, technical meetings, tours, plant tours, that sort of thing, in Western areas under the guidance of IEEE in Europe or in the United States, any other IEEE country, we would have a quid pro quo opportunity under USSR—in the Eastern Bloc, or elsewhere, or—but certainly in Russia. If they had a conference, we were going to be invited. If they were going to have plant tours—at the U.S., we were going to have plant tours in Russia, etcetera.  
 
I made the decision, with their concurrence, that it was going to be on different terms. Anything that they wanted to attend in the way of conferences, technical meetings, tours, plant tours, that sort of thing, in Western areas under the guidance of IEEE in Europe or in the United States, any other IEEE country, we would have a quid pro quo opportunity under USSR—in the Eastern Bloc, or elsewhere, or—but certainly in Russia. If they had a conference, we were going to be invited. If they were going to have plant tours—at the U.S., we were going to have plant tours in Russia, etcetera.  
  
That went over a little bit sticky at first. but in fact after a couple days of negotiation between Bruno Weinschel and me on one side, and the people from the Popov Society on the other side, they agreed that now they would be willing to work out something. And we wrote down the terms, tentatively. And in fact later on, in the next couple of years, I am pleased to say, that’s one of the things I would like to look at as my contribution to a legacy: we did reinstitute with the Popov Society. I maintained contact for a number of years with the fellow who was the English-speaking general manager of the Popov Society in Russia. Ted Hissey can verify that in the next couple years the IEEE did in fact establish not only formal relations but actually a Section in Moscow, and ultimately other sections later.  
+
That went over a little bit sticky at first. but in fact after a couple days of negotiation between [[Bruno Weinschel]] and me on one side, and the people from the Popov Society on the other side, they agreed that now they would be willing to work out something. And we wrote down the terms, tentatively. And in fact later on, in the next couple of years, I am pleased to say, that’s one of the things I would like to look at as my contribution to a legacy: we did reinstitute with the Popov Society. I maintained contact for a number of years with the fellow who was the English-speaking general manager of the Popov Society in Russia. Ted Hissey can verify that in the next couple years the IEEE did in fact establish not only formal relations but actually a Section in Moscow, and ultimately other sections later.  
  
 
Along similar lines, I happened to be in the right place at the right time, like everything else I’ve already described to you. I got to set up the first section in People’s Republic of China, too.  
 
Along similar lines, I happened to be in the right place at the right time, like everything else I’ve already described to you. I got to set up the first section in People’s Republic of China, too.  
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'''Eldon:'''  
 
'''Eldon:'''  
  
Yes. Emerson Pugh was a big ally of mine, and he'd go a long way the next two years towards implementing it. He’s been a close friend. He asked me to join his board when he was president of the foundation.
+
Yes. Emerson Pugh was a big ally of mine, and he'd go a long way the next two years towards implementing it. He’s been a close friend. He asked me to join his board when he was president of the foundation.  
  
 
=== The Investment Committee  ===
 
=== The Investment Committee  ===
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'''Vardalas:'''  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
  
But Dick Gowen is now head of the foundation.  
+
But [[Richard Gowen|Dick Gowen]] is now head of the foundation.  
  
 
'''Eldon:'''  
 
'''Eldon:'''  
  
Very good, very good chair. As was Emerson Pugh. And look at what they do? They are contributors themselves, and solicitors.  
+
Very good, very good chair. As was [[Emerson Pugh|Emerson Pugh]]. And look at what they do? They are contributors themselves, and solicitors.  
  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
 
'''Vardalas:'''  
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'''Eldon:'''  
 
'''Eldon:'''  
  
Thank you. It was an enormous honor for me to have been President of IEEE. And as I said earlier, I give special thanks to the other past presidents I've mentioned today who guided me from Prof. Terman to Emerson Pugh, in every key move in IRE/IEEE.  
+
Thank you. It was an enormous honor for me to have been [[Presidents of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)|President of IEEE]]. And as I said earlier, I give special thanks to the other past presidents I've mentioned today who guided me from [[Frederick Terman|Prof. Terman]] to [[Emerson Pugh]], in every key move in IRE/IEEE.  
  
 
[End of recording]  
 
[End of recording]  
 
<br>
 
  
 
[[Category:IEEE|{{PAGENAME}}]] [[Category:Prominent_members|{{PAGENAME}}]] [[Category:History_&_heritage|{{PAGENAME}}]] [[Category:Governance|{{PAGENAME}}]] [[Category:Nominations,_elections_&_appointments|{{PAGENAME}}]] [[Category:People_and_organizations|{{PAGENAME}}]] [[Category:Engineers|{{PAGENAME}}]]
 
[[Category:IEEE|{{PAGENAME}}]] [[Category:Prominent_members|{{PAGENAME}}]] [[Category:History_&_heritage|{{PAGENAME}}]] [[Category:Governance|{{PAGENAME}}]] [[Category:Nominations,_elections_&_appointments|{{PAGENAME}}]] [[Category:People_and_organizations|{{PAGENAME}}]] [[Category:Engineers|{{PAGENAME}}]]

Revision as of 21:26, 17 February 2010

Contents

About Charles "Bud" Eldon

Charles Eldon was President of the IEEE in 1985, at a pivotal time in the Institute's history. The author of a formal strategic planning process implemented in 1986, Eldon also spearheaded, with Bruno Weinschel, negotiations to resume exchanges with the Soviet Union's Popov Society in the early days of Glasnost and Perestroika.

Eldon was educated at Stanford University, where he earned his B.S. in Physics and an M.B.A in 1950. He worked at Hewlett-Packard in a wide range of capacities focusing primarily on corporate systems management and operations research. He retired from HP in 1990 as Corporate Manager for Capital Equipment.

In this interview, he discusses his involvement in IRE and the IEEE merger in 1963 and the controversies and challenges of his presidency in 1985.

About the Interview

CHARLES "BUD" ELDON: An Interview Conducted by John Vardalas, IEEE History Center, June 16, 2009

Interview #504 For the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

Charles “Bud” Eldon, an oral history conducted in 2009 by John Vardalas, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

INTERVIEW: Charles “Bud” Eldon

INTERVIEWER: John Vardalas

DATE: 16 June 2009

PLACE: Sierra Vista, Arizona

Background and Education

Vardalas:

Today’s the 16th, right?

Eldon:

[interposing] Yes. Sixteenth of June.

Vardalas:

16th of June. It is—

Eldon:

4:20 p.m.

Vardalas:

4:20. It’s been an exciting afternoon trying to, [laughter] to make this all work. Thank you so much for agreeing to be part of this oral history project. First, tell me something about your family background and early education.

Eldon:

Oh, all right. That’s pretty easy; I had a very careful selection of parents. One was an engineer and the other one was a teacher, but they met in Hawaii. After they got married they moved back to Hawaii, where they had met.

Grade 5A Eleele School, Eleele, Kauai, Hawaii, 1906-1907, Mr. Raymond Nakashima, teacher (Note: Eldon is in back row, 5th from left)
Grade 5A Eleele School, Eleele, Kauai, Hawaii, 1906-1907, Mr. Raymond Nakashima, teacher (Note: Eldon is in back row, 5th from left)

I had the good fortune of being raised in Hawaii. Interesting concept now when you think about our current president, who had the same life experience that I did, growing up in a multicultural environment, in the South Pacific. He spent a few years in Indonesia. Coincidentally I ran a business in Indonesia in 1969, ’70, ‘71. We have that common also. I went to school, as an elementary student, fifth, sixth, and seventh grade, in a school of 800 students, where I and the principal’s son, were the only white kids in the whole school: interesting, academically, socially, environmentally. But then I was sent away to school in Honolulu from the island of Kauai, where I was growing up. I attended, because of the start of the war, not one, not two, not three, but four different high schools, ending in Punahou, at the school where Obama graduated also.

In the middle of my senior year, I was told that since I had very good grades that I might be interested in a special unique situation that Stanford, unlike MIT, where I wanted to go to school, was accepting students without them finishing high school, if they passed a test, and that sort of thing. To make the story short, I got shipped off to California from Honolulu, at age just turned 17, to go to Stanford to major in physics, which was the attraction. That’s no surprise, my father being an engineer.

I had the opportunity to go for a full year before I was draft-bait. But because I was majoring in physics and engineering type things and mathematics, I was given a little test called the Eddy test, at the time, to show aptitude for electronics and other technical things. I passed. So I did not get drafted into the army like all the other males in my high school class. I got drafted, with no choice, into the Navy, as a student of electronics. And went through the better part of nine months of schooling in electronics, in various places, including Treasure Island, at the end, which is, as you know, close to Stanford University. So I still had the opportunity to make contacts with girlfriends and other friends back at Stanford.

And then I got shipped overseas, when I finished. Overseas. Well, where would I have been sent overseas during the war? One place, for me.

Vardalas:

Where was that? [laughter]

Eldon:

They sent me to Hawaii, to Pearl Harbor. To teach LORAN to primarily officers. It was a sort of interesting duty. I taught school in the mornings, and in the afternoons I went to Waikiki Beach to see my girlfriends, and then I went to my parents’ house to sleep at night. But it wasn’t all bad. I did get 20% overseas pay for being in a war zone, you see.

Vardalas:

What was it that you mentioned to me? You had to sign something that you wouldn’t come back to Hawaii?

Eldon:

Well, yeah, that was a requirement.

Vardalas:

You did come back.

Eldon:

I got sent back. The paper my parents had to sign was one any civilian leaving a war zone during the Second World War had to sign, saying that he or she would not come back for the duration. Nobody knew what the duration was at the start of 1944, when I went overseas, so my parents signed that I wouldn’t try to come back to Hawaii to join them. I’d have to do something else if I didn’t get into Stanford.

Vardalas:

Before you go on summarizing your career, were you young enough or old enough to recall the impact of Pearl Harbor bombing? Do you remember the circumstances when you heard about the attack?

Eldon:

That’s a little bit tough. I was there on December 7th, 1941. I watched the whole thing, and saw the Arizona get sunk.

Vardalas:

Oh my.

Eldon:

I was standing on the hill behind the house that I was living in and I watched a zero fly by my house on the side of the hill there, so close I could see the pilot. And then, because I was going to a high school across the street from a cemetery, I and a couple of my friends were volunteered on December 8th, to help bury the sailors who were killed in Pearl Harbor that day.

Vardalas:

It must’ve been quite traumatic.

Eldon:

[interposing] It was. I had forgotten the whole thing until 1991 when there was the 50th anniversary. General Schwarzkopf was talking on television about it and the situation I just described, the whole thing, came back to me

Eldon:

So I know. My wife can verify for you that my mother has warned her that the trauma of that situation would come back to me. And indeed it did. So I suffered from this post-traumatic stress disease.

Vardalas:

It bothers you every so often? - - still bother you?

Eldon:

Id had to get over that, over time.

Vardalas:

Oh.

Eldon:

Yeah. Let’s change the subject.

Vardalas:

- - all right - -. So you enter the war, you were trained in electronics, and then you were brought back to Hawaii.

Eldon:

Yes, I was stationed at Pearl Harbor until I got discharged.

Vardalas:

And then where did you go?

Stanford and Hewlett-Packard

Stanford Student, 1948
Stanford Student, 1948

Eldon:

In 1946, of course, I went back to Stanford. Now the catch was, you see, that if I had gone to Stanford and gotten drafted out of Stanford, Stanford had to take me back as a student.

Vardalas:

Oh.

Eldon:

Well, I had done well enough. I done pretty well, as a matter of fact, so that was no problem, but it was an opportunity that some of my friends missed out on, because they didn’t get into college before they were drafted, so they had to make up choices after they got out of the service.

Vardalas:

And you majored in physics? Did you finish with a physics degree?

Eldon:

Yes, I majored in physics, and when I went back, I finished up in a couple of years my degree in physics. I had done a little research work in X-Ray as a senior. I then got accepted by the head of the physics department to go on towards a master’s degree. But I’d run out of the GI Bill. Money was short, and opportunities in 1948 for getting jobs in physics in any way were very, very, very limited. Instead I went to the graduate school of business. I wanted to apply my physics and electronics—my physics was mostly, overwhelmingly electronics, although I did take physical optics, a whole year-ong course, which turned out to be sort of interesting and valuable when I got around to working at Hewlett-Packard Company.

I finished my MBA. Then I found out that a fraternity brother of mine worked at a little electronics company called Hewlett-Packard which was started by a couple of engineering graduates of Stanford University. He made an opening for me for an interview. I got hired and one thing led to another. I first worked in manufacturing planning then product engineering, and then got to be an administrator, actually a production manager, and production engineer. I was a manufacturing manager in three or four different places, but along the way in the mid, early 1960s, I got a side job — by the guy who first hired me, the vice president of manufacturing operations — to be in charge of corporate systems and operations analysis. That involved supervising all the company’s data processing activities and potential applications of operations research. I’d been sent by Mr. Packard himself to Case Institute of Technology, in the late 1950s, to learn about that, with potential applications for inventory control, and statistical analysis and so on for the company, for Hewlett-Packard.

That’s why I was given that job. And that ended up being rather interesting, because it occurred just when Hewlett-Packard was in the process of purchasing a bunch of independent entities who were known field representatives for electronics companies. Neely Enterprises was one rather famous one in the West Coast. And so Hewlett-Packard was involved in a potential major reorganization, and Mr. Packard and my boss said “Bud we’d like you to think about how we can integrate these entities. In addition to our independent companies there were subsidiaries, not divisions but subsidiaries of Hewlett-Packard to engineer and manufacture various products, and of course the operating divisions of Hewlett-Packard that existed: there were four of those at the time. How would we tie all these together? And I found out that there was a way to computerize all data. The interesting thing is that this tied in with my knowledge that in the near future, Hewlett-Packard would be releasing some products related to electronic computers.

And yet, none were available to us right at the time. I had contracted to buy a Model 360 from IBM for Hewlett-Packard Company. We installed that with full OS, which was the first time in the West of the United States that full OS under an IBM 360 system had been installed. Along with that, I found out that there was a opportunity to start working on the communication of information to handle orders and inventory from remote divisions by using TWX machines. They generated a punch paper tape. The punch paper tape fit directly into my Hewlett-Packard corporate computer operation, under my control. We could then distribute to the various operating divisions, from the sales offices, order information and then generate shipment and accounting information.

Vardalas:

What year was this?

Eldon:

Manufacturing Manager, New Jersey Division, 1961
Manufacturing Manager, New Jersey Division, 1961

1963. All by myself, I invented the system that would generate this corporate control system. I assigned a couple of people—another Stanford MBA, as a matter of fact—to work on how we would tie inventory control and manufacturing control with standardized boxes of software to this input of information. The vice president of finance told me he wanted all cash eventually from the customers to go into a lockbox that he would specify. So here I had developed and implemented in the following year a system which, to my knowledge, did not exist anywhere else. It was a totally enterprise-integrated operating system.

Vardalas:

So what did Mr. Packard and Mr. Hewlett think of all this?

Eldon:

They bought it, hands down. [laughter] They claimed they didn’t understand it. My boss absolutely did not understand it. and—

Eldon:

Then I went on to other things.

Vardalas:

Did you go into other engineering positions in the company or management?

Eldon:

Only manufacturing engineering things. I ended up finally just before I retired as the manager of capital equipment. I was in charge of testing and ordering all the standardized, not only computer systems, but also manufacturing systems for hardware of all kinds, and for making integrated circuits, etcetera. … Which was a fun job.

The Institute of Radio Engineers

Vardalas:

So going back to your early days after being hired at HP or Hewlett-Packard, how did you discover about the existence of IRE?

Eldon:

Interesting, John. Before all that, back in 1949, just after I had finished my undergraduate degree and was starting out in the MBA program, I went to an advisor who was the father of one of my fraternity brothers. His name was Terman, Frederick Emmons Terman, who had been the dean of engineering. He had already been a president of IRE.

And because I expressed an interest in business, and writing in particular, Dr. Terman said, “Bud, I’ll introduce you to my McGraw-Hill editor, who publishes my books. He is also in charge of a so-called electronics magazine under McGraw-Hill, and he’s looking for editors. You might be interested. He might be interested in you.” So I went up to San Francisco and had an interview with a guy by the name of Don Fink.

Now, I’ve just told you a president of IRE, and founder of Hewlett-Packard who introduced me to the guy who gave me my first job offer, Donald Fink, who ended up being a president of IRE, and the first general manager of IEEE - Closed circuit.

It didn’t end there.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Eldon:

I got this job at Hewlett-Packard after I finished my MBA.

Vardalas:

Yes.

Eldon:

And was working there for a few years. I started in January of 1951, and long about 1955, my boss, the guy who’d hired me, came walking down by my desk, and actually sat down on my desk, and said, “Bud, Bill wants us to start in this San Francisco Bay Area, a chapter of the IRE Technical Group on Product Engineering.” And I asked “Who?” Bill Hewlett? Uh, yes. I said, what’s IRE?

My boss grinned, and laughed at me. I remember distinctly his reaction. And said to me, “Bud, IRE is the Institute of Radio Engineers, and my boss, Bill Hewlett, happens to be the president of that organization, and we decided you are the guy who ought to start this chapter.” I said, “but I’m not a member.” I was a physics major, you remember, I wasn’t an IRE group member. To which he said, “ah, don’t worry about that. We’ll get you installed, that’s no problem. Just let’s take on this job, please, for Bill.” “Yes sir,” I replied.

So I found out from Emily Surjane — a name out of the IRE and later IEEE history which any old, older IEEE member will recognize. (She was the—what is now known as—RAB manager.) And from a guy by the name of Dick Emberson, the technical groups manager of IRE at the time, who old-timers will also remember, I got the information of how to join IRE, and how to start the chapter.

Vardalas:

How easy was it to form this chapter? Was it straightforward?

Eldon:

Well, Emily Surjane gave me the paperwork and the instructions, how many members that I had to recruit. So I went around to Varian Associates and Stanford Research Institute, Litton Industries, and a few other electronics companies in the Bay Area, and identified other production engineers. I then recruited them into this organization. They said, "that sounds like a fun thing. We’ll get to know each other, and we can trade stories and technical information about how we make printed circuits and how we make other component connections how we deal with employees and the engineer designers, etcetera. So everybody was very enthusiastic about it. We’re going to be able to share ideas with each other. Yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s do that."

The chapter was started for the Bay Area. It ultimately ended up as a chapter for Northern California in 1963, when IRE merged with AIEE. Well, a complication developed in 1963 because the 1965 president of IEEE happened to be a vice president of Hewlett-Packard Company: Dr. Barney Oliver, then an IRE officer.

Barney came up to me and said, “Bud - - you’re chairman of this little IRE society called PEP, Product Engineering and Production. There are a large number of these IRE technical groups, and other societies of AIEE. We’ve got too many. Can you look into the possibility of merging with some other technical group of IRE so we end up with fewer organizations?” And I replied, “well, sure. I’ll look into it.” I then contacted a guy by the name of Kahn, I think it’s Lou Kahn who, at the time, was the president, chairman, whatever of the Component Parts technical group of IRE. And I suggested that we get together. “Why don’t we try to do that and consolidate?” I asked. So we did and merged into what became ultimately the technical society, after a number of changes of name along the way, through all those many years, called Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology: CPMT.

The IEEE Merger

Vardalas:

Was it a fairly straightforward process to merge these two groups into one? Or was there some resistance?

Eldon:

Of course there was resistance. There was a fair amount of politicking that was involved along the way. I ended up getting the job done and getting it started as a merged group into IEEE from IRE, which was a fun experience. And then of course I got out of the way. But after being in charge of the local chapter and then the national society of that PEP group I got asked to run for the local San Francisco Section. That’s a regional kind of activity, not a professional group activity.

Vardalas:

Right.

Eldon:

And so I went from the technical stuff to involvement with not just people in my society but with the members of IEEE generally. That was in 1969, I got elected first as secretary, then treasurer, then vice chairman and finally chair of the whole section. I then got it turned into a Council, because it was a better deal for the membership - in terms of feedback of member dues.

Well, along about then—1973, when I ended up being the chairman of the Section came along a little organization called WEMA, Western Electronic Manufacturers Association. It had owned, along with IEEE a show called WESCON. WEMA decided that it wanted out of the business of running shows. They wanted to deal with the management of the different companies in the West. And so they formed what now is known as AEA, American Electronics Association. WEMA wanted out of the business of shows and asked IEEE to make an offer. I, as the chairman of the section where WEMA was located, had the opportunity to negotiate the purchase of the 50% of the WESCON show that was owned by WEMA. I negotiated that with a guy by the name of Herb Dwight, who was a member of the leadership of AEA at the time, and had his own company. We ended up with a price of $54,000. I got the ERA, Electronic Representatives Association for the West Coast involved, and interested, and they eventually bought 30% of the show WESCON show.

We got our money back by selling 30% of the WESCON show to the ERA for their involvement, which was invaluable through the years. I should point out that until it went into financial problems in 1999, Region 6 was the beneficiary of a total of $15 million from WESCON, with Los Angeles and San Francisco being the principal owners.

Towards the 1990s, ERA, for business reasons and some political reasons, wanted out. I think this contributed principally to the ultimate demise of WESCON..

Vardalas:

Can you just briefly in a few seconds say something on what—in retrospect, what was the significance of WESCON to California electronics industry over those years?

Eldon:

It was maybe the major vehicle for the manufacturers of electronic equipment throughout the West Coast, and eventually throughout the West, to demonstrate their wares, their new products, primarily. And the reason why IEEE was involved was that every show involved a long series of technical presentations related to those products. But there were also theoretical presentations. So it was a way for IEEE to show itself and to attract new members, as a matter of fact, just as the show per se was attracting customers for the companies.

Eldon:

So it was—that’s why the electronics companies were interested in continuing involvement in the show. But as electronics moved ahead, and the internet became a more practical way of showing off activities, IEEE got out of much of that kind of involvement

The Battle for ECI

Vardalas:

Tell me about your connection to Arthur Stern.

Eldon:

It picks up, John, right after the start of this organization, which I called, cutely, EEEI, but became ECI, the owner organization of the WESCON show, the owners being only the Northern [California] Council of IEEE and the Southern [California] Council of IEEE.

Setting up of this independent organization didn’t go over very well with the corporate headquarters of IEEE. They wanted to have a share of the profits, and the people who were running the Los Angeles council and the San Francisco council of IEEE said hey, “wait a minute, we’ve been running the WESCON show since 1954, what do you mean you want to come in and have IEEE national take 20% of the profits?” So we set up a separate corporation ECI. Bud Eldon got the opportunity to discuss, I guess "negotiate" is the right word, with the Executive Committee of IEEE for approval to set up the separate corporation, wholly owned by the Los Angeles council and San Francisco council of IEEE. Art Stern was an excom member.

Vardalas:

Were they legal entities, those two councils?

Eldon:

No, but ECI was to be a separate legal entity, yeah. I got a lawyer down in Los Angeles to help me set it up. Then I appointed the chairman of the board, who was a vice president, executive vice president, of Varian Associates. I also appointed other members of the board of this corporation. But in the process of negotiating with IEEE corporation, the executive committee, really, I thought I had really put my foot in my mouth. I was looked at as a bad boy. So you can imagine my surprise when the phone on my desk rang, a couple of years later, 1975, and it was Art Stern.

“Bud,” Arthur said, “ I know you might be sensitive about this, but would you be willing to be my assistant for financial and budgeting matters, now that I’ve been elected vice president for RAB of IEEE. I was stunned. I couldn’t speak for a few minutes, naturally. I was highly complimented. Surprised, I said, “sure, whatever you want, Mr. Stern.”

Vardalas:

Was that a fight for you to get the executive committee to approve the creation of this new corporation?

Eldon:

Fight is a nice word. It was a real battle.

Vardalas:

Do you remember what the issues were?

Eldon:

Yeah. Control. Control.

Vardalas:

And how did they justify their reason for control versus your reasons?

Eldon:

Because we were IEEE councils, Los Angeles and San Francisco were part of IEEE. Anything owned by IEEE had to be approved and ultimately managed by all the resources directed by the executives of IEEE, both the staff ones and the elected ones.

Vardalas:

And you felt otherwise?

Eldon:

It wasn’t only I, it was primarily people, the membership who had been running this WESCON show for years who said, “what do you mean somebody back East who doesn’t know anything about our show wants to be in charge and take 20% of the profit? No, that's not going to happen.” The way out was to set up this independent corporation.

Vardalas:

When you became president of IEEE did you have the same attitude towards outlying organizational units about sharing revenues and resources?

Eldon:

And the answer, categorically, John, is yes I did, and I preached that. It’s one of the things I thought was going to be my legacy. I was a federalist, from a technical point of view.

Why not? I grew up in Hewlett-Packard Company, which had independent operating divisions, with engineering and finance and marketing, not actual selling, but marketing, all controlled by these fiefdoms, if you’ll call it that, and Packard and Hewlett ran the company on the basis of delegation and accountability to each of these operating divisions of the company. So that was the way I feel.

Vardalas:

How did the RAB assignment as chairman of finance, work out for you

Eldon:

Well, I liked that. I had an MBA as well as technical society know-how, and I admired Stern, Art Stern. He’s such a brilliant guy. And a good, good manager: working for him was a privilege. Not to mention a real honor. And an education, too. So, I—but I thought that was the end of my career. Until 1979 when somebody from the nominations committee locally in the region asked me, “Bud, would you be, be willing to— would HP allow you, to be a candidate for region director?” And I then asked, “who else is running?” I found out a guy who was a director of engineering for one of the local companies was the other candidate, so I said “okay, I’ll do that.” Trouble. I misunderstood. I was the one who got elected, I guess because of being an HP employee. I knew it wasn’t because anybody knew me.

Vardalas:

Does anything stand out in your mind as to what you faced and did as Region 6 director? Does anything linger with you still?

Eldon:

Region 6 at the time was the biggest region of IEEE. And extended off to a place called Hawaii, where I’d grown up, as well as 11 western states.

There were the ongoing issues of WESCON. There was lots of that. There was the ECI organization, which I set up. I had a brilliant manager who developed the opportunity to run, through ECI, the old IEEE (formerly IRE) New York annual conference, convention and show in New York City, year after year. And he set up one up in the Southwest, and one in the Northwest, and one tentatively in Chicago area. There were a bunch of these technical shows analogous to, not identical to, but very close to identical to, the WESCON show that proliferated, all under the control for several years of this ECI organization. So that was the way we in Region 6 got very much involved in the politics, I guess, is the right word, as well as the administration of these conferences generally, throughout IEEE. And they became models for foreign shows, as a matter of fact.

That was a big issue, as well as the growth, of the region, setting up new sections in an area which was exploding in the electronics industry. There were small sections started. As a matter of fact, one closely related interest, I, as Region 6 director, had the opportunity to appoint regional or area chairpersons to be on the executive committee of the Region 6 operation. And I had the opportunity to identify, here at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, within the area of Sierra Vista, a guy who I appointed to be the area chairman, and now he has been recently working with me on the executive committee of the Fort Huachuca section of the IEEE. what goes around comes around. So we joke from time to time about how our relations go back to 1979

Negotiating Differences

Vardalas:

Well, let me ask you about the merger. How did you feel about the value of the merger for IRE members?

Eldon:

I remember having to think about this because the IRE, focusing on only electronics, was in a get-together with all these power guys, and operating systems people, and so on, and how was this going to relate? Well, yes. Electronics eventually was going to manage the operation of power stations. We know that now. But at the time of the merger it was looking ahead, seeing that the integration between electrical engineering and electronics was inevitable. It was growing faster and faster. It was inevitable. So having IEEE formed was the sensible, logical thing to do.

Vardalas:

Do you remember the views of others about this merger. Should the new organization be concerned with technical issues only, or also the professional, and economic well being of its members? Do you remember that debate?

Eldon:

Well, I remember that, yes,. IN 1973, as Section Chair, I appointed the first guy in the west who was the USAB representative, U.S. Activities Board. But this was a professional activities committee, as it was set up. Dr. Young. I think, was involved with that, as the first vice president, I think, of USAC (the name then).

Yes, the issue of professional activities and relations to companies of the members of IEEE was a big issue at the time, and there was lots of flack on that. In fact, I remember as the Region 6 director, getting phone calls in my lab or at my office desk from a guy whose name was Feerst. Maybe you haven’t heard of him, but every old-timer in IEEE knows about Irwin Feerst. He was a real troublemaker about the working engineer. As opposed to the scientists and other design engineers who were really professionals. A lot of working engineers had become members of one organization or the other before the merger, and therefore members of IEEE and he felt that they were underrepresented and that the eggheads in charge of IEEE were not sensitive to the needs of these working engineers. I took offense at that, feeling I was sort of a professional, but I remember being hassled by him.

Vardalas:

Arthur Stern also mentions him.

Eldon:

Here is a little anecdote. I was carrying my suitcase in one hand and my office equipment in the other hand, walking out of Dick Emberson’s office, when I was accosted by this guy, Irwin Feerst, who stuck out his hand to me to shake hands, and I was shocked at that, because he’d called me names and made trouble for me in Region 6 at the time. Here he was trying to be friendly, so I put down my briefcase and stuck out my hand, to which he lifted his hand over his head. He refused to shake hands—

Vardalas:

Really?

Eldon:

—and walked past me.

Vardalas:

What an action.

Eldon:

Yeah. So now you know - -.

Vardalas:

You must’ve been furious.

Eldon:

I was. No, I was shocked. [laughter]

Vardalas:

Did he run for president several times? Did he try to run?

Eldon:

He ran for—I think he did run for president. Actually I think, from some standpoints, he was trying to do good for engineers who weren’t in the elite group among the IEEE members. But he was just not very politically adept, not very skilled... sad guy, I think. It was, in my mind, a tragedy.

Treasurer and Executive Vice President

Vardalas:

You were next elected as exec VP of—

Eldon:

No, I got elected as treasurer.

Vardalas:

I thought that you volunteered for that position.

IEEE Treasurer, February 1982
IEEE Treasurer, February 1982

Eldon:

Well, yes. Because I had been on the budget committee for several years, thanks to Tom Bartlett, who everybody, all the old-timers, will know. He was really a marvelous, really classical IEEE manager. A friend of Eric Herz. I liked him, and so working with him as the controller seemed like an attractive deal. With an MBA and having been in charge of running companies, I knew a little bit finances and budget. I volunteered, and got elected to that job.

Vardalas:

For how long were you treasurer?

Eldon:

Two, two years.

Vardalas:

Did anything surprise you when you got the position? Anything you didn’t expect to find?

Eldon:

No, because I’d been so involved with the financial operations for six or eight years. It was something where I thought I could contribute to the budgeting using some HP technology and helping Tom Bartlett upgrade things, and so on.

Vardalas:

Did you feel there was any modernizing, if I can use that expression, to do to the budgeting process.

Eldon:

Oh yes, which I thought I could help with a little bit, and maybe I did, I don’t know, but I enjoyed working with Tom Bartlett, for sure. And it was successful. I can point out with some, again, lack of humility, that at the end of it, the last year I was treasurer, the budget came within 1/10 of 1% of the target in actual expenditures, which I gleefully noted was better than HP had done.

So then I thought that was the end of my IEEE career. Then I got a telephone call in my office in 1983, from Jerry Suran. The past president of IEEE, and therefore head of the nominating committee. Jerry said, “Bud you’ve been treasurer and we wondered if you would be willing and able to run as executive vice president.” That job no longer exists in IEEE, as you may know. At that time, this position was like the chief operating officer: the person who interfaced with the staff, and particularly the financial operations.

Vardalas:

[interposing] So tell me about this position. It put you in contact with other constituencies, the staff.

Eldon:

Yes.

Vardalas:

What did you learn from this experience

Eldon:

Wonderful. Wonderful. I admired all the people. I got to work very closely with Eric Herz of course, who was the general manager at the time, and I had known him since 1973, and then with the various directors of RAB and TAB and so on, and became friends. And I admired them all. It was a wonderful experience for me. But it was a one-year term.

Vardalas:

What challenges did you face?

Eldon:

To my recollection, it was all fun and games, for me.

Vardalas:

[laughter] All right.

President of IEEE

1985 IEEE President
1985 IEEE President

Eldon:

And it was okay to have that job, and it was not an ongoing thing, and again, I thought that it was the end of my IEEE career.

Well, it wasn’t. It turned out that two years, I guess a year, later, I got a telephone call from Jim Owens, who was just past president, saying “Bud, as you may have heard, the guy who got elected as the incoming president-elect of IEEE, Dr. King, has died. I know you count yourself out, but would you be willing to be a candidate, one of two ways, either run for re-election in the following year, or be the fill-in candidate this year, for Dr. King, as the president-elect of IEEE?” And I said, “I’m not a politician. If I can fill in for right now, I’ll do that”. So I went to my vice president and asked, “hey, look, I’ve been telling you, I’m through with IEEE volunteer activities” (and I had been negotiating with him about a foreign assignment) should I do this?” And he said, “Bud, it’s such a big honor for HP, please, go do that, and we’ll take care of your assignments here at HP while you’re busy with that, if that’s necessary.” So I said, “okay,” and got elected. There was another candidate by the Board, but I guess they selected me because I’d been elected by the whole of IEEE to be executive vice president already, so my name had been out there to the whole organization. I guess the board felt more comfortable appointing me as the stand-in president-elect than anybody else.

So I, as far as I know, I am the only person elected by the board of IEEE, not by the membership at large. Although it did turn out I had to be elected, have my name on a ballot the following year to be endorsed by—approved by the general membership. And of course I’d been the president-elect, so that happened automatically.

Vardalas:

Normally the people who become president have been thinking about it. They've already developed a platform. They think of what IEEE needs, what it doesn’t need. They’re already prepared to do battle if they have to do battle.

Eldon:

And I had none of that.

Vardalas:

All of a sudden you’re confronted with this position of what the—how did you handle it? What did you—?

Eldon:

Probably rather clumsily. By the time I got elected to be president I had had a shakedown as it were. I had been on executive committees, the executive committee for six months, I guess it was, and then I’d been, you know, involved in looking at other committees, particularly the long-range planning committee (that’s one I will come back to) but the membership committee, and so on, until I found out sort of what was going on, besides the technical stuff I’d been involved with as the treasurer.

Vardalas:

At what point did you say to yourself, “I’m president, this is what I want to change, this is what I want to do.” At what point did you have some kind of programming fixed in your own mind?

Eldon:

The issues grew on me, of course, but I had very little choice. Things got thrown at me. For instance, at the first executive committee, after when I had been elected president—I guess this would’ve been in February, I had a letter shown to me from an organization called the Popov Society, which is the International Association for the Eastern Bloc that was analogous to the IEEE, but much bigger than IEEE at the time. It was run by the Russians. It was known not as the Russian Popov Society, but the International Popov Society. They were going to have a 40th anniversary celebration in Moscow, and the IEEE president was invited to come there and try to reinstall relations which had been broken off ten years previous by the IEEE. They were broken off because of feeling anxiety about Russia, the USSR at the time, invading a place called Afghanistan.

The IEEE didn’t want to be involved in that, and so they broke off relations in 1975. In 1985, the IEEE was invited to come back and talk again at the 40th anniversary meeting of the Popov Society. Very few people on the executive committee, let alone in the membership of IEEE, were enthusiastic about this. But I thought, backed up by Eric Herz and backed by my successor, Bruno Weinschel who is a German, born and raised, and knew about the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc of Europe, and so on. I was assured that maybe it was the right time to hold a finger out, or a hand out. And see if relations could be started. So I did that.

I accepted the invitation and went to Moscow in May of 1985 with a specific goal in my mind, backed up by the executive committee, but I think rather enthusiastically by Eric Herz and Bruno Weinschel, to reestablish formal relations with the Popov Society.

I made the decision, with their concurrence, that it was going to be on different terms. Anything that they wanted to attend in the way of conferences, technical meetings, tours, plant tours, that sort of thing, in Western areas under the guidance of IEEE in Europe or in the United States, any other IEEE country, we would have a quid pro quo opportunity under USSR—in the Eastern Bloc, or elsewhere, or—but certainly in Russia. If they had a conference, we were going to be invited. If they were going to have plant tours—at the U.S., we were going to have plant tours in Russia, etcetera.

That went over a little bit sticky at first. but in fact after a couple days of negotiation between Bruno Weinschel and me on one side, and the people from the Popov Society on the other side, they agreed that now they would be willing to work out something. And we wrote down the terms, tentatively. And in fact later on, in the next couple of years, I am pleased to say, that’s one of the things I would like to look at as my contribution to a legacy: we did reinstitute with the Popov Society. I maintained contact for a number of years with the fellow who was the English-speaking general manager of the Popov Society in Russia. Ted Hissey can verify that in the next couple years the IEEE did in fact establish not only formal relations but actually a Section in Moscow, and ultimately other sections later.

Along similar lines, I happened to be in the right place at the right time, like everything else I’ve already described to you. I got to set up the first section in People’s Republic of China, too.

Vardalas:

What was IEEE’s policy about the whole question of technology transfer and security? Do you remember any of that?

Eldon:

I remember, because I was involved in one particular issue: the Defense Department was very anxious about things related to how defense R&D would be related, relayed, promulgated publicly. And so I had the opportunity, because of my job, of helping negotiate—well, did negotiate with the Defense Department, the document that authorized and specified the - - procedures for release of information, particularly attendance at technical conferences by people who are not in the Defense Department and vice versa: Defense Department people coming to IEEE conferences to talk about their technical issues and so on.

Vardalas:

But did you remember IEEE having a position about technology sharing with the Soviet Union?

Eldon:

I don’t remember an IEEE issue, as opposed to a U.S. issue.

Vardalas:

Right.

Eldon:

There, and I was talking about the U.S. Defense Department - -.

Vardalas:

Yeah, right, right, right, right.

Eldon:

- - I was talking about U.S. primarily. I don’t remember an institution-wide issue with that.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Eldon:

I didn’t get involved - -.

Planning Internal Processes

Vardalas:

Before we go into your presidency, I have some general questions about your earlier activity. You had served on the Board for 7 years. What do you recall about the way it functioned? Do you recall any of the issues that the board faced or the important debates?

Eldon:

[interposing] Yes.

Vardalas:

What were they?

Eldon:

One, there were a couple, I think, that occurred in my mind just instantly.

Vardalas:

Yes.

Eldon:

And I’m sure those were not the only ones, but one was a representation of technical societies compared to regional organizations. The overlap between them, and who was in charge, and how would representation be implemented on the board? Should there be directors of societies? And eventually what resulted was the ten region directors and ten society directors, who now are the representatives of the board, along with the secretary and the treasurer and the other administrators.

Vardalas:

So that was a hotly debated issue.

Eldon:

[interposing] That was one hot issue. I didn’t have much involvement with the resolution of that. But there was another one which occurred to me, when I was the president-elect, and that was the issue of planning. And I, having been involved in a highly, not regimented, but organized, "looking ahead" kind of organization run by a guy by the name of Dave Packard, I was conscious of making plans and delegating and opportunities, challenges.

So I was taken aback by what I found to be the so-called long-range planning committee. Turned out to be nothing more or less than a dumping ground of issues that the board didn’t want to deal with, or couldn’t deal with in real time. When I became president, one of the things I wanted to do was introduce strategic planning to the IEEE. I had an ally on the board, another director, from the East Coast, who was a technical director, not a regional director. He was familiar with what his company was doing in strategic planning, and so I had an ally there, someone who, with me, wrote the bylaw changes that obsoleted the long-range planning committee, and substituted a strategic planning committee. I personally submitted the procedures, I think they’re still working, for developing mission statements and strategic objectives, and local, time-bound goals, and how to measure achievement of goals, accountability, etcetera, etcetera. And I proposed it and got it approved. The next year, as the past president, I got the opportunity to implement it, teaching people how to do it, the mechanics of doing strategic planning.

IEEE would define the process and the overall long-range plans for the whole corporation. Then every entity within IEEE would follow the same identical process.

Vardalas:

You felt it important to create a new committee as opposed to working with the old one.

Eldon:

The idea of this new committee was that we would have a standard process. To make sure I provided the wording and definitions for composing strategic plans. The process, step by step, would be the same for every Section, Committee, Region and society of IEEE. So they would be compatible and consistent, coherent, and tie in with the overall strategic plan of the IEEE Board of Directors for the Institute.

I should be more specific. Here at the start of IEEE's second century, I thought the Board should develop a Vision for the future, and it should have a mechanism for both communicating that vision and encouraging every organizational element to do the same, but consistent with the overall vision – ALL OF IT IN WRITING. A standard Strategic Planning process would help. Each entity, as I just said, would write a Mission Statement, clarified by a set of Objectives, to define its job and how it would operate. Each year, it would identify a set of "issues" (problems and/or opportunities) related to its Objectives; select and prioritize measurable Goals for addressing each of those Issues; and specify who would be responsible for each Goal. At the end of each year, there would be identifiable achievements. Meanwhile, all Objectives, current Issues, measurable Goals and Assignments would be clearly visible and coherent throughout IEEE; and individual entities would have clear delegated responsibilities and accountabilities.

Vardalas:

What did you see were the weak points and strong points of the board?

Eldon:

I’m trying to articulate in my clumsy way a deficiency which I found on the board. There was a small group, not a clique or anything like that, but a small group who ran the IEEE, but very little planning relationship with the various entities. And along with that, this bad feeling between the people who ran the all the membership—the Regions—and people who ran the technical societies, who thought of themselves as only technical people. But the latter were much fewer in number, among the members of the IEEE than the whole membership. Back to the Irwing Feerst situation. The societies were run by professional engineers and scientists—people like that—who ended up becoming president.

Vardalas:

So you tried to institute this fundamental structural change by introducing a process a systemized way of planning—

Eldon:

[interposing] Processes appointed to individual accountability.

Vardalas:

How much of a struggle was this to get this through the board?

Eldon:

That was a pretty big struggle. Actually not too much of a struggle with a concept, because I think the members of the board, what 32 of them, or 36 of them or something like that, didn’t all understand what was happening. The trouble came the following year in—years, in implementing it.

Vardalas:

Ah.

Eldon:

Teaching the regions how to do strategic planning as opposed to just a thing called long-range planning with no identity and no continuity, no relationship with what the whole corporation was doing, no relationship with the other entities of IEEE.

Vardalas:

Right, right.

Eldon:

Etcetera.

Vardalas:

So that was a tough thing?

Eldon:

It was, it was tough duty. But it got done. I think that’s one of the things I’m really proud of. I got involved. But, again, let me say, please I happened to be the right guy at the right time in the right place. I didn’t go into IEEE thinking that I was going to implement that.

I got into IEEE and perceived a problem which seemed to be growing and could be helped by a process as opposed to an edict. A process that people could use in small groups or in big groups. And yes, it was a little bit of trouble teaching the techniques. I think selling the techniques is the right word to use. But it got done, and I think it has been pretty useful, because last I heard, it’s still being followed.

Vardalas:

Now you must’ve had—obviously, you must’ve had some allies on the board with you.

Eldon:

Oh yes, I did.

Vardalas:

Do you remember some of the allies? Can you remember?

Eldon:

Yes. Emerson Pugh was a big ally of mine, and he'd go a long way the next two years towards implementing it. He’s been a close friend. He asked me to join his board when he was president of the foundation.

The Investment Committee

Vardalas:

Let me ask you about one more committee before we move on to late ’86, the investment committee.

Eldon:

That’s my kind of thing - -.

Vardalas:

Did you volunteer for it? Or were you asked to do it?

Eldon:

Some of each. It came automatically with being treasurer. When I got to be president, the president gets to appoint the representative to that committee and I appointed myself. I kind of took over the job when I was executive vice president too. So I was on that committee…

Vardalas:

Six years, almost. Six, seven years I believe

Eldon:

I related to that sort of stuff. I’ve been in venture capital, and I’d started a few businesses, and—

Vardalas:

What did this committee do? What were the responsibilities?

Eldon:

Well, run overall funds of IEEE.

Vardalas:

Oh the investments - -.

Eldon:

The investments of it. Yeah.

Vardalas:

Okay. The investment funds. And over those six, seven years, were there any difficult decisions to be made? Because this is ’81 through ’87, in that time span. Do you recall? Did the fund take a dive anytime in there?

Eldon:

It was a bad, sort of bad period, economically, to start with: in ’80, in, I guess, ‘87—’85, ’86, or ’87. During that period of time the economy was not terribly good. I liked seeing the relationship of what the guys running the money, or managing the money, were to my operation of the IEEE. The source of the money and how much I would have to spend, and that sort of thing. So I related rather closely to what they were doing.

Theories of Governance

Vardalas:

Let’s talk about your presidency, first, ’85. You stated that you pushed federalism. What do you mean by federalism, and how did you pushed it?

Eldon:

Yes. Federalism in the classic U.S. organization was based on the principle that there would be a small corporate—overall country management who would take care of only things like defense of the country that could not be delegated to the states. The U.S. is a federalism. It’s not a democracy, per se. It’s a federalism.

Eldon:

Just ask any state legislator, governor, or anybody else in politics, whether they like the feds interfering with the management of their state. Uh-uh. They don’t. Well, I thought that’s the way to do it. Give people responsibility, but accountability. And then be there to help in every way. So wherever I went around the world, I preached a little. I thought that was the way to run an organization. That you let people have the maximum amount of opportunities to hang themselves or benefit themselves, and I think to some extent it has worked. I know that’s not the way all countries are run.

I know, therefore, that it wasn’t familiar to all countries, so it wasn’t familiar to all members of IEEE, as a matter of fact. But because of my experience at Hewlett-Packard Company, managed that way, I thought, yeah, that’s the way to run an organization. And so I did try to preach that.

Vardalas:

And was the process starting before you, or did you try to kick the process, to kick it going when you got president? I—

Eldon:

No, there’s no question, I tried to kick it.

Vardalas:

Yes. And then it continued on after you, your term.

Eldon:

Well, some did, and some don’t. Some people did. Some people still do, who always want to go back to corporate, to have corporate send them more money or do this or do that for them —not the way we’d run WESCON.

That’s not the way I’d run PEP national conference in 1956. It was our area of responsibility, technically, and area-wise, geographically. We’d take care of it ourselves, thank you, just the same, and we’d benefit. We’d pay the cost if we screwed up, but we would get the benefits, like nice meetings, and parties afterwards if we did well, or putting on scholarships, and that sort of thing, and think that still is the way most—at least most Americans - -.

Vardalas:

Power sharing is what you’re talking about, power sharing, centralized, decentralized, power sharing.

Eldon:

Exactly.

Vardalas:

So how did it all work? How did the revenue thing work out?

Eldon:

Well, the WESCON situation was a huge issue.

Eldon:

I was going to point that—mention that. I, with people, friends in the ERA I heard anxieties about the fact that IEEE never told him what was going on, and never paid attention to what they thought was interesting in the way of technology transfer and that reminds me of another initiative.

Vardalas:

For my benefit, what does the acronym ERA stand for, for my benefit?

Eldon:

Electronic Representative Association.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Eldon:

And SIA, which is Semiconductor Industry Association is another. CBEMA is another; EIA, you probably have heard of—its headquarter's there in Washington, not far from IEEE’s headquarters (Electronic Industry Association). What happened was that I decided I would call together a meeting of the elected heads of all those organizations. There were about eight of them, as I recall. And I asked Eric to call the staff managers for each of those organizations, and we had a meeting down in Florida, and the principle that I had in mind was—that we had in mind. (Not just me: Eric was party to this too.) What we had in mind was there ought to be some synergism that would develop in areas of representation to the government of the United States, etc. by starting a committee of leaders of these "electronics industry associations" (we gave it that name).

And it seemed to work that way for a while. But then with later IEEE presidents who weren’t particularly interested in that, or who maybe didn’t get along with industry, it sort of fell apart. I’m sorry to say it, because I think still that kind of an organization - combining industry representatives with US IEEE engineer representatives - would do more for the societies and the associations, both sides, in other words, than the American Association of Professional Societies does all by itself.

Vardalas:

How would you characterize your interaction with the board when you were president? How important is it, the interaction between the president and the board? Or is it important?

Eldon:

Well, I think it’s very important, and various - - guys have, and gals, have various skills at that. There’s of course - -.

Vardalas:

And how—how would you—well, would you—how would you see yourself?

Eldon:

- - comfortable, but I’m sure that I annoyed some people because I have been told that (I’m including by my wife) I tend to be impatient, and I am kind of pushy about things where I got the hot button.

Vardalas:

Yes.

Eldon:

And that must’ve—surely that annoyed some people. One way or the other. But I loved the whole experience.

Vardalas:

Did you see yourself as someone who would consensus on the board easily? Let me back step. What role should the president take in terms of leadership with the board?

Eldon:

Well - - the gift to see ourselves as others see us. I don’t know what other people think. I don’t know what went through their heads. But I did, introduce these various issues, and I got a result, at least temporarily, the strategic planning, I guess, for a long time. The relation with the USSR Popov Society has worked out a long time, too.

The IEEE Foundation

Vardalas:

I’d like to jump to your role in the IEEE Foundation. How did you get involved with the foundation?

Eldon:

Emerson Pugh called me and asked if I would be willing to be on it. I’d given them some money and I guess therefore the staff people had told him that I was not completely immune to the idea. I had done fundraising also for Stanford University. There are a bunch of plaques on the wall there—

Vardalas:

Ah, you’re a big fundraiser.

Eldon:

I got the highest award that Stanford gives out for that.

Vardalas:

Oh.

Eldon:

And so I felt that I could make a contribution on the foundation in that general area. And I had contacts with Stanford fundraisers and my high school fundraisers also, and I thought maybe I could contribute there too. I have to admit that did not go very well. I picked a very bad time to be on the board, 2001 and ’02, and ’03.

Vardalas:

Yes.

Eldon:

You know about the economy in that period?

Vardalas:

Yes.

Eldon:

That was not the time to be doing fundraising. But more than that,back to the federalism, I wanted to get more members involved in the Foundation, instead of having this remote thing, which is a fund that you send $25 every year. I wanted it to be more related to the Societies, on one side, and to the Sections and Regions with another group of members. And I thought if we would structure a way of having funds set up for different Societies, for different Regions, for different Sections, funds which they wanted to have to provide scholarships or to fund local activities, to be more independent, I thought, you’re back to federalism. That’s the way we ought to go. Well, that involved a lot of recruitment of volunteers. I have to confess, most of the members of the board didn’t want to follow the WWW (bring wealth, work, as well as wisdom) to the board.

Vardalas:

Oh I see. So that was a disappointment to you then.

Eldon:

So, well, a little bit. I have to say rather gleefully that I was delighted last year to find out that the Board now has set up that kind of mechanism. They want to have—and some societies, and some regions locally, the Phoenix section, for example, have indeed set up funds, under their control, with money managed by the foundation. In other words, you go through the 501(c)(3) foundation organization to make contributions to a fund, and then it gets spent where raised on a very local basis level. And that’s now being done. And I think more board members should solicit for contributions.

In the long run, internationally that ought to be the way that we can be successful with the Foundation. Instead of having just our small group of volunteers meet as a Board and tell a bunch of hired hands to do all the fundraising. I know universities do both. Some of each. I did a great deal being the volunteer at Stanford. I still have been involved, even in my class collections every five years at Stanford, I get involved. I was chairman of the business school fund at Stanford.

Vardalas:

But Dick Gowen is now head of the foundation.

Eldon:

Very good, very good chair. As was Emerson Pugh. And look at what they do? They are contributors themselves, and solicitors.

Vardalas:

Yes.

Eldon:

They don’t just bring to their brains to their, they also bring their wealth—a crude word, but anyway, they make contributions. And they, you know, do that in writing as well as in person—talking to potential big donors. That’s the way it ought to be. You know, not to just delegate to staff people. Absolutely the staff is essential. A sine qua non. If you don’t have a staff to get that done, trust me, it ain’t going to work. But the staff needs to have help, and involvement, by volunteers. And the more the volunteers are involved, the more successful they will become in raising money for the Foundation, as well as for exchanging technical information by papers or conferences

Vardalas:

Well, I think we’ve covered an awful lot. Is there anything else you wanted to add that to this impressive list of things?

Eldon:

Yes. It started with 1949. It ends in 2009. I’m now involved only peripherally with the section, this one section here. It is a very humbling experience. As I said, I didn’t aim to do this, any of it. Except being treasurer, I did like that. I got roped into—no, no, asked to, if I would be willing to help, in all these various tasks. Being asked to be chairman of the Eric Herz annual award recently, for example, was a huge honor to me.

Vardalas:

Something you said reminded me of something that Arthur Stern said, and Jerry brought up. In those days – fifties, sixties, seventies – large firms, particularly the Hewlett-Packards, the GEs, encouraged their engineers to be members of IRE or IEEE. There was this corporate consent. It made sense for your career within that company to get involved in IEEE. Do you see that changing today? And now, can that be a reason why membership is always an issue? I mean—

Eldon:

That is an issue that I tried to address when I had an aborted appointment by the board to be chairman of the Fellows committee. I had been asked by past president Joel Snyder to look at the relationship you’re describing, between industry and the IEEE. That had it been appearing to them as it had, even back in the eighties, to be deteriorating somewhat. No longer were the Hewletts and the Packards and the president of TI and that sort of being involved with IEEE, and more importantly the companies, like IBM, as a classic example, encouraging their engineers to join the IEEE, IRE, first, and then the IEEE. Encouraging them, paying for them, as HP paid all the way of my IEEE expenses until I was president. They paid. Because they thought it was a way to tie their engineers with their companies, and that has deteriorated over the years, starting in maybe the eighties. I was appointed to review the Fellows Committee, because maybe there was some relationship there—no members who were not key scientists or presidents of organizations, or presidents of IEEE being asked to be, or invited to be upgraded to fellow grade.

But there was no ongoing representation by IEEE of their engineers collectively in companies, and so the companies seemed to get disinterested, and the idea was maybe through a reconstruction of the fellows committee, among other things giving more awards, more recognition to more engineers who were actually developing products and getting products on the market would be a way of reinstituting relations with the management of our companies.

Vardalas:

So this awards process, you see that as part of that?

Eldon:

That was part of what I had in mind, as I said, with—via that Electronic Industry Committee. I thought maybe the Fellows Committee could help that effort too. There were very few people from industry who were on the Fellows Committee. Mostly academics were on the Fellows Committee, at that time. And very few people represented industry, if you will, so I nominated a few to be members of the Fellow Committee. Unfortunately in December of the year 2003, when I got appointed to be chair of the Fellows Committee, I had a relapse of, well, frankly I had prostrate cancer. The relapse turned out to be scary to me. And I had visions of being—of having started work as chairman of the fellows committee, and then not being able to attend meetings. And not being able to carry on anything, or provide any kind of leadership. And so I said I can’t do that. That’s not fair. I quit. I said, “I’m sorry, I won’t take that job.”

It was an honor to be asked to do it. I really thought that I did have some ideas that frankly went back to my period in the San Francisco Section, where the leader was a Fellow leader of the Section, and my mentor, one of my mentors there, who was very anxious, actually irritated, at the IEEE Fellows Committee, because his good engineers who were actually implementing really important statewide communications systems, telephone systems, were not being considered for Fellow, because they weren’t out of a lab somewhere, and he thought that was unfair. So I remembered that when I got asked to be on the Fellows Committee, I knew several real contributors at Hewlett-Packard who’d never been considered. Then I also knew some, like Art Fong is one Hewlett-Packard engineer who was a hero to me, had been elected fellow, and I thought, “yeah, that’s right.”

So I nominated the chief engineer for Hewlett-Packard, Chuck House is his name, not only to be Fellow, but I first of all asked him if he would come on the Board as my vice president for publications, because he had some knowledge about how to automate publications. And he did, and did a fabulous job there. He since has been elected president of ACM. Maybe you heard about that organization. [laughter].

We need better relations with industry

Vardalas:

Going back to your being a gadfly. [laughter] Do you think there’s any merit or any grain of truth to the fact that there may be too many academics as members of IEEE. That there’s too much theory, and too much academic focus. Is that a fault or a red herring? Is there any truth to that?

Eldon:

I’m not in a position to know what it is right now. I know efforts have been made in the last few years to enhance the relationship between industry and IEEE. And I don’t know how successful they have been, but this was a problem in 1985 while I was president, it was a problem still in the year 2000 when I was asked to do the study of the Fellow Committee, and so on.

Vardalas:

Now you put the cart the other way. I’ll ask the question this way. In the past, in the fifties, sixties, and seventies corporations encourage their young engineers to become members. Obviously the corporation saw something in it for itself.

Eldon:

Exactly.

Vardalas:

Now, could one say that corporations no longer see anything in it for themselves? Is that why members are not they’re not encouraging? Or do they—have they pulled away or has IEEE pulled away?

Eldon:

Well, no, it’s clearly that the industries have pulled away. Lack of identity. Too many accountants being in charge of companies, or lawyers being in charge of companies. In my view, a lack of identity of the kind that Packard and Hewlett and Barney Oliver and Frederick Terman promoted. They were the drivers of IRE and then IEEE and supported their people. In fact I wrote a memo to all Hewlett-Packard engineers to be signed by—it was signed by Packard and Hewlett, encouraging all engineers to consider joining IEEE.

Vardalas:

So then, would you say then the problem is a changing face of industry, then, the changing internal culture of industry?

Eldon:

I think that’s precisely it, yes. Yes. Industry has moved away. People running the companies are no longer engineers who’ve made their own way, but rather administrators or venture capitalists or accountants or lawyers who are focused strictly on managing the company, not on relating to technologies.

Vardalas:

Well, Bud, thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to interview you.

Eldon:

Thank you. It was an enormous honor for me to have been President of IEEE. And as I said earlier, I give special thanks to the other past presidents I've mentioned today who guided me from Prof. Terman to Emerson Pugh, in every key move in IRE/IEEE.

[End of recording]