IEEE
You are not logged in, please sign in to edit > Log in / create account  

Oral-History:Denis M. Robinson

From GHN

(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
Line 1: Line 1:
 
== About Denis M. Robinson  ==
 
== About Denis M. Robinson  ==
  
<p>This interview covers Robinson’s career, focusing on his World War II work. Robinson studied electrical engineering at the University of London and received his PhD in 1929. After two years at MIT on fellowship, he spent the remainder of the 1930s working in private industry. He was recruited by C. P. Snow in 1939 to do scientific work for the government. He began to work on radar and microwaves, more in an administrative capacity. Because he was not vital to the British research effort, he went to the [[MIT Rad Lab|MIT Rad Lab]] in 1941 as the British liaison; since his family was already in the US, this was agreeable to him. He worked in this capacity till the war’s end. After the war, he founded the High-Voltage Engineering Corporation, providing accelerators of up to 20 million volts. </p>
+
This interview covers Robinson’s career, focusing on his World War II work. Robinson studied electrical engineering at the University of London and received his PhD in 1929. After two years at MIT on fellowship, he spent the remainder of the 1930s working in private industry. He was recruited by C. P. Snow in 1939 to do scientific work for the government. He began to work on radar and microwaves, more in an administrative capacity. Because he was not vital to the British research effort, he went to the [[MIT Rad Lab|MIT Rad Lab]] in 1941 as the British liaison; since his family was already in the US, this was agreeable to him. He worked in this capacity till the war’s end. After the war, he founded the High-Voltage Engineering Corporation, providing accelerators of up to 20 million volts.  
  
<p>The addendum contains Robinson's thoughts on colleagues. He thought Lee DuBridge a remarkable leader of men and picker of men. A. P. Rowe was a splendid organizer, but a strict disciplinarian who made a certain number of enemies. His “Sunday Soviets”— high-level, informal chat sessions — were very helpful for the war effort. Wattson-Watt was very creative, but not so good a leader of men. W. B. Lewis was very effective, and devoted to his work, but never married. </p>
+
The addendum contains Robinson's thoughts on colleagues. He thought Lee DuBridge a remarkable leader of men and picker of men. A. P. Rowe was a splendid organizer, but a strict disciplinarian who made a certain number of enemies. His “Sunday Soviets”— high-level, informal chat sessions — were very helpful for the war effort. Wattson-Watt was very creative, but not so good a leader of men. W. B. Lewis was very effective, and devoted to his work, but never married.  
  
 
== About the Interview  ==
 
== About the Interview  ==
  
<p>DENIS M. ROBINSON: An Interview Conducted by [[John H. Bryant|John Bryant]], IEEE History Center, 10 June 1991 </p>
+
DENIS M. ROBINSON: An Interview Conducted by [[John H. Bryant|John Bryant]], IEEE History Center, 10 June 1991  
  
<p>Interview # 069 for the IEEE History Center The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. </p>
+
Interview # 069 for the IEEE History Center The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.  
  
 
== Copyright Statement  ==
 
== Copyright Statement  ==
  
<p>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. </p>
+
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.  
  
<p>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. </p>
+
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.  
  
<p>It is 10 June 1991 that this oral history be cited as follows: </p>
+
It is 10 June 1991 that this oral history be cited as follows:  
  
<p>Denis Robinson, an oral history conducted in 1991 by John Bryant, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA. </p>
+
Denis Robinson, an oral history conducted in 1991 by John Bryant, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.  
  
 
== Interview  ==
 
== Interview  ==
  
<p>Interview: Denis Robinson </p>
+
Interview: Denis Robinson  
  
<p>Interviewer: John Bryant Date: 10 June 1991 </p>
+
Interviewer: John Bryant Date: 10 June 1991  
  
<p>Location: Arlington, Massachusetts </p>
+
Location: Arlington, Massachusetts  
  
 
=== Background and Childhood  ===
 
=== Background and Childhood  ===
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>This is a recording on the 10th of June 1991 in Dr. Denis Robinson's home in Arlington, Massachusetts. John Bryant has come here to interview me. </p>
+
This is a recording on the 10th of June 1991 in Dr. Denis Robinson's home in Arlington, Massachusetts. John Bryant has come here to interview me.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>This is John Bryant of the University of Michigan and member of the IEEE History Committee. It's my pleasure to be in the home of Dr. Denis Robinson at 19 Orlando Avenue in Arlington, Massachusetts. Dr. Robinson, could we start by perhaps giving some background? Perhaps about your parents and why you decided to become an engineer or scientist. </p>
+
This is John Bryant of the University of Michigan and member of the IEEE History Committee. It's my pleasure to be in the home of Dr. Denis Robinson at 19 Orlando Avenue in Arlington, Massachusetts. Dr. Robinson, could we start by perhaps giving some background? Perhaps about your parents and why you decided to become an engineer or scientist.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, I'd be delighted. It started very early for me. My father was a journalist, and my mother was a teacher of speech and music and a convinced pacifist. My father was a middle-of-the-roader who joined up in the First World War. But besides being a journalist, he really wanted to be a scientist, but he didn't know how to start. At the age of 14 he pulled out of what his father wanted him to do at the Prudential Assurance Company and apprenticed himself to an optician, who had telescopic equipment and so on. My father thought that was the way to become an astronomer. Anyway, my father compensated for his real wish to be a scientist by buying sophisticated toys — electrical toys — as soon as he had the money and I was old enough to appreciate them, which started for me at age ten. He bought me a Wimshurst machine and played with it himself. And then we made induction coils together and so on. I had no doubt from the age of eight or ten that my future was in something electrical. It was clear. And then the great excitement happened: the BBC — the beginnings of the BBC — in London started a broadcast system. And we, 30 miles southwest of London, were able to receive this. Very exciting for us! My father bought... first of all we had a crystal set, then we had tubes, and so on. But I stuck with him until I went off to college. He really was a leader in this. He was driving forward all the time. </p>
+
Yes, I'd be delighted. It started very early for me. My father was a journalist, and my mother was a teacher of speech and music and a convinced pacifist. My father was a middle-of-the-roader who joined up in the First World War. But besides being a journalist, he really wanted to be a scientist, but he didn't know how to start. At the age of 14 he pulled out of what his father wanted him to do at the Prudential Assurance Company and apprenticed himself to an optician, who had telescopic equipment and so on. My father thought that was the way to become an astronomer. Anyway, my father compensated for his real wish to be a scientist by buying sophisticated toys — electrical toys — as soon as he had the money and I was old enough to appreciate them, which started for me at age ten. He bought me a Wimshurst machine and played with it himself. And then we made induction coils together and so on. I had no doubt from the age of eight or ten that my future was in something electrical. It was clear. And then the great excitement happened: the BBC — the beginnings of the BBC — in London started a broadcast system. And we, 30 miles southwest of London, were able to receive this. Very exciting for us! My father bought... first of all we had a crystal set, then we had tubes, and so on. But I stuck with him until I went off to college. He really was a leader in this. He was driving forward all the time.  
  
<p>So does that tell you enough about the background? No, it doesn't, because my mother was a great teacher of speech and got me onto small stages, where I had to start talking in the words of Shakespeare before I even understood them — even at age seven. I took Shakespeare parts and so on. My father believed in writing and helped me to learn to write. So that was the background in England. We lived in a very big, six-room house but with no kind of facility coming in except cold water. There was no electricity, no gas, no telephone, of course no radio or TV. And everything we used there went back into the ground, so we were using the recycling business before it ever had that name. What else would you like to know about my youth? </p>
+
So does that tell you enough about the background? No, it doesn't, because my mother was a great teacher of speech and got me onto small stages, where I had to start talking in the words of Shakespeare before I even understood them — even at age seven. I took Shakespeare parts and so on. My father believed in writing and helped me to learn to write. So that was the background in England. We lived in a very big, six-room house but with no kind of facility coming in except cold water. There was no electricity, no gas, no telephone, of course no radio or TV. And everything we used there went back into the ground, so we were using the recycling business before it ever had that name. What else would you like to know about my youth?  
  
 
=== Education  ===
 
=== Education  ===
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>You did your engineering study at the University of London? </p>
+
You did your engineering study at the University of London?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>That's right. </p>
+
That's right.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Electrical? </p>
+
Electrical?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, it was electrical engineering, and it was, corresponding to that time, a pretty elementary course. </p>
+
Yes, it was electrical engineering, and it was, corresponding to that time, a pretty elementary course.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Many of our engineering courses here were dominated by power. </p>
+
Many of our engineering courses here were dominated by power.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Dominated by power. Exactly! </p>
+
Dominated by power. Exactly!  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>We had to struggle even in the forties to get into electronics. [Chuckling] </p>
+
We had to struggle even in the forties to get into electronics. [Chuckling]  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Right. So that was it. </p>
+
Right. So that was it.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>And you took a Ph.D. in 1929? </p>
+
And you took a Ph.D. in 1929?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>That's right, and I decided to study the three-phase commutator motor and wrote my thesis on that. And then I got a fellowship — the Harkness or Commonwealth Fund Fellowship — to come to the U.S. </p>
+
That's right, and I decided to study the three-phase commutator motor and wrote my thesis on that. And then I got a fellowship — the Harkness or Commonwealth Fund Fellowship — to come to the U.S.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>You were at MIT? </p>
+
You were at MIT?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>I was for two years — 1929 to 1931. </p>
+
I was for two years — 1929 to 1931.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>What were you studying? </p>
+
What were you studying?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Electrical engineering under [[Vannevar Bush|Vannevar Bush]]. [Chuckling] It's rather amusing the way he treated me. He was a very forthright man. Did you ever meet him? </p>
+
Electrical engineering under [[Vannevar Bush|Vannevar Bush]]. [Chuckling] It's rather amusing the way he treated me. He was a very forthright man. Did you ever meet him?  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>No. </p>
+
No.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Well, he had all my papers, of course, and he saw that I had a Ph.D., and he thought that I was extremely young to have a doctorate degree, and he said, "Um! So you're a Brit, a Limey. Well, I don't like those guys, but I expect we'll get along all right." That was his way, his very forthright way. He was, at that time, working on the mechanical integraph, of which you must have seen a picture. And I was in the same big lab there, and he put me to studying the unpolarized resistivity of glass. So that was my first taste of solid-state research. He was a remarkably inspiring leader, no question. </p>
+
Well, he had all my papers, of course, and he saw that I had a Ph.D., and he thought that I was extremely young to have a doctorate degree, and he said, "Um! So you're a Brit, a Limey. Well, I don't like those guys, but I expect we'll get along all right." That was his way, his very forthright way. He was, at that time, working on the mechanical integraph, of which you must have seen a picture. And I was in the same big lab there, and he put me to studying the unpolarized resistivity of glass. So that was my first taste of solid-state research. He was a remarkably inspiring leader, no question.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>A counterpart to that was, I suppose, the beginnings of electronics that was being developed by Edward L. Bowles? </p>
+
A counterpart to that was, I suppose, the beginnings of electronics that was being developed by Edward L. Bowles?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>I never met Bowles at that time. He was at MIT at that time, but I never met him. Then I was back in England for ten years. The last four years I was in radar, and the Royal Air Force sent me over here to the Radiation Lab, which had just been founded by Bowen and the rest of them. You know that history well, right? </p>
+
I never met Bowles at that time. He was at MIT at that time, but I never met him. Then I was back in England for ten years. The last four years I was in radar, and the Royal Air Force sent me over here to the Radiation Lab, which had just been founded by Bowen and the rest of them. You know that history well, right?  
  
 
=== Underground Cables  ===
 
=== Underground Cables  ===
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>In the intervening time, from 1931 in England, you did what? </p>
+
In the intervening time, from 1931 in England, you did what?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>High voltage. The testing of underground cables. </p>
+
High voltage. The testing of underground cables.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>In industry? </p>
+
In industry?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>In industry. The company was called Callender's Cable Co. It was one of the two big ones then. I got that job at a very low salary, $1500 a year, but it was run by a very forthright and excellent man called Dr. L.G. Brazier. He was buying the very best equipment because it was believed that Britain's capability in the impregnated paper cable was not good enough. England had put in a 150,000 volt system. The national power grid was 150,000 volts. And to bring the grid connections through the big cities — London, Birmingham and the rest — they stepped it down to 38,000 volts to ground, three-phase. And even those cables never stood up. They lasted a year or two. I was put on the job of trying to find out how we would improve those cables. And I made a major contribution and wrote a book. </p>
+
In industry. The company was called Callender's Cable Co. It was one of the two big ones then. I got that job at a very low salary, $1500 a year, but it was run by a very forthright and excellent man called Dr. L.G. Brazier. He was buying the very best equipment because it was believed that Britain's capability in the impregnated paper cable was not good enough. England had put in a 150,000 volt system. The national power grid was 150,000 volts. And to bring the grid connections through the big cities — London, Birmingham and the rest — they stepped it down to 38,000 volts to ground, three-phase. And even those cables never stood up. They lasted a year or two. I was put on the job of trying to find out how we would improve those cables. And I made a major contribution and wrote a book.  
  
 
=== War and Radar  ===
 
=== War and Radar  ===
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Yes. Could you tell us when and under what circumstances you were first made aware of the then secret subject of radio location that we now call radar? </p>
+
Yes. Could you tell us when and under what circumstances you were first made aware of the then secret subject of radio location that we now call radar?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes. Because Callender's wouldn't give me any more money and by this time I had two boys and a wife, I went into the television business. And you probably know, but few Americans realize, that the BBC authorized a two-hour program of entertainment every day starting in 1935. That caused all the small companies to develop television receivers. I was in a small radio company in England called Scophony. When the war broke out, an organization run by the novelist and scientist, C.P. Snow, took over to make sure that the minimum number of people were taken out of science and put in what were expected to be the trenches. So I was nabbed. I had filled out all the necessary forms, of course, and it was all put on Hollerith punched tape. My name came up, and they sent me almost immediately — soon after the beginning of the war — to Dundee. Now you know about that history, do you? </p>
+
Yes. Because Callender's wouldn't give me any more money and by this time I had two boys and a wife, I went into the television business. And you probably know, but few Americans realize, that the BBC authorized a two-hour program of entertainment every day starting in 1935. That caused all the small companies to develop television receivers. I was in a small radio company in England called Scophony. When the war broke out, an organization run by the novelist and scientist, C.P. Snow, took over to make sure that the minimum number of people were taken out of science and put in what were expected to be the trenches. So I was nabbed. I had filled out all the necessary forms, of course, and it was all put on Hollerith punched tape. My name came up, and they sent me almost immediately — soon after the beginning of the war — to Dundee. Now you know about that history, do you?  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>AMRE at Dundee, Scotland. </p>
+
AMRE at Dundee, Scotland.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, I went there and was delighted that A.P. Rowe, whose name you probably know, and Ben Lewis were in charge up there at Dundee. Watson-Watt was already back in London. They made me party to all of their secrets. They said, "We only have one secret, and you can ask us anything, and we'll tell you. You have been cleared satisfactorily, so we'll tell you everything." </p>
+
Yes, I went there and was delighted that A.P. Rowe, whose name you probably know, and Ben Lewis were in charge up there at Dundee. [[Robert Watson-Watt|Watson-Watt]] was already back in London. They made me party to all of their secrets. They said, "We only have one secret, and you can ask us anything, and we'll tell you. You have been cleared satisfactorily, so we'll tell you everything."  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>So they went through a formal clearance search? </p>
+
So they went through a formal clearance search?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>That must have done by C.P. Snow's people, but I knew nothing about it. I was accepted, and I was delighted because I was told about the radar cover, at 14 meters approximately, around the whole coast. </p>
+
That must have done by C.P. Snow's people, but I knew nothing about it. I was accepted, and I was delighted because I was told about the radar cover, at 14 meters approximately, around the whole coast.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Those were the CH stations? </p>
+
Those were the CH stations?  
  
 
=== Receiver for Cavity Magnetron  ===
 
=== Receiver for Cavity Magnetron  ===
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>That's right, and I had no idea — although I'd been in radio for four years — I had no idea that we'd got that far. So that's how I got initiated. They said, "We don't want you to fuss with that. We think we've got that all ready. We want you to find a receiver on 10 centimeters because we have this thing called the cavity magnetron. It's already beginning to perk, and we're sure it's going to be good." That was at the University of Birmingham. </p>
+
That's right, and I had no idea — although I'd been in radio for four years — I had no idea that we'd got that far. So that's how I got initiated. They said, "We don't want you to fuss with that. We think we've got that all ready. We want you to find a receiver on 10 centimeters because we have this thing called the cavity magnetron. It's already beginning to perk, and we're sure it's going to be good." That was at the University of Birmingham.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>This was the summer or fall of 1939? </p>
+
This was the summer or fall of 1939?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>It was the fall — the late fall. The war had just started. It was November or December of '39. And they had the magnetron working, and they had moved it into G.E.C., Wembley, as well. </p>
+
It was the fall — the late fall. The war had just started. It was November or December of '39. And they had the magnetron working, and they had moved it into G.E.C., Wembley, as well.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>For production? </p>
+
For production?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes. I was pretty impressed by this demand placed on me to get a receiver, because the coils had got smaller and smaller, and everything had now disappeared into the only tubes we had. So I knew that we had to have a totally new look. </p>
+
Yes. I was pretty impressed by this demand placed on me to get a receiver, because the coils had got smaller and smaller, and everything had now disappeared into the only tubes we had. So I knew that we had to have a totally new look.  
  
<p>I went to the library and immersed myself there, and fortunately, found a little book called ''Hochfrequenztechnik'' (in German), produced by the wonderful Springer publishing company. It was by a man called Thoma, who was a professor at one of the lesser-known universities in the south of Germany. He had not the slightest idea that it was going to be used for any war or other purpose, but he studied the whole thing and said, "How do we make the next advance?" You've done the work on Hertz, so you know. He understood all that stuff, and like any good German professor, he had to start with [[Ohm's Law|Ohm's Law]] [Chuckling] in the book. He went through, and he gradually rejected every receiver that had a valve or tube or something like that. He said, "...the self-capacity there is more than we can use, so the only thing..."Finally, he came to the conclusion, "...the only thing we can use for a receiver is the crystal and cat's whisker." Well, I was delighted because that's what I'd used ten years previously. So I went back to W.B. Lewis and said, "Look, this is it." He could read German enough to read these pages that I'd marked for him, and he said, "Let's start." </p>
+
I went to the library and immersed myself there, and fortunately, found a little book called ''Hochfrequenztechnik'' (in German), produced by the wonderful Springer publishing company. It was by a man called Thoma, who was a professor at one of the lesser-known universities in the south of Germany. He had not the slightest idea that it was going to be used for any war or other purpose, but he studied the whole thing and said, "How do we make the next advance?" You've done the work on Hertz, so you know. He understood all that stuff, and like any good German professor, he had to start with [[Ohm's Law|Ohm's Law]] [Chuckling] in the book. He went through, and he gradually rejected every receiver that had a valve or tube or something like that. He said, "...the self-capacity there is more than we can use, so the only thing..."Finally, he came to the conclusion, "...the only thing we can use for a receiver is the crystal and cat's whisker." Well, I was delighted because that's what I'd used ten years previously. So I went back to W.B. Lewis and said, "Look, this is it." He could read German enough to read these pages that I'd marked for him, and he said, "Let's start."  
  
<p>The facilities at Dundee were appalling, but it did happen to have this collection of Springer books and had all the usual IEE publications and that sort of thing. But the only documents — secret documents — were those kept in the typical bureaucratic British system of minute keeping, which I think you're quite familiar with. I could dip into those, and I was amazed to find a big quarrel going on between Bowen and Rowe at that time. Bowen had been sent to Saint Athan in Wales. There he was supposed to install 125-centimeter stuff, which was all that they had, in night fighter planes. That was the highest frequency they could get from the tubes then available. He was furious with the cooperation that Rowe didn't give him, and he played around a little with Tizard. I found minutes by Rowe saying: "How is it possible that you get in touch directly with Tizard without letting me have copies!" And so on. So that'll give you the idea of how elementary it all was there. But Rowe was good himself. He was master of the civil service and the bomb business. And Ben Lewis, for his part, had been one of Rutherford's "boys" for many, many years. So he knew what to do, and he and I together started a crystal receiver for 10 cm (= 3000 MHz). </p>
+
The facilities at Dundee were appalling, but it did happen to have this collection of Springer books and had all the usual IEE publications and that sort of thing. But the only documents — secret documents — were those kept in the typical bureaucratic British system of minute keeping, which I think you're quite familiar with. I could dip into those, and I was amazed to find a big quarrel going on between Bowen and Rowe at that time. Bowen had been sent to Saint Athan in Wales. There he was supposed to install 125-centimeter stuff, which was all that they had, in night fighter planes. That was the highest frequency they could get from the tubes then available. He was furious with the cooperation that Rowe didn't give him, and he played around a little with Tizard. I found minutes by Rowe saying: "How is it possible that you get in touch directly with Tizard without letting me have copies!" And so on. So that'll give you the idea of how elementary it all was there. But Rowe was good himself. He was master of the civil service and the bomb business. And Ben Lewis, for his part, had been one of Rutherford's "boys" for many, many years. So he knew what to do, and he and I together started a crystal receiver for 10 cm (= 3000 MHz).  
  
<p>Fortunately, I was assisted right away by a man called W.B. Skinner, University of Bristol. He was one of Rutherford's boys, and fortunately he knew what the barrier layer was all about. So, in a way, we were starting on what Bell Labs later developed into the [[Transistors|transistor]]. That was tremendously important for us and for them. I must tell you about Skinner because he was a very unkempt man. If the word had been used then, we'd have called him a "beatnik." He never shaved properly, he cut his own hair. He was very proud of that. He was shabby and so on. He came from a well-to-do, upper-middle-class family. You may have heard of the Skinner Shoe business. Anyway, they were wealthy. So he didn't give a damn. He would walk into the poshest West End hotel in carpet slippers and messy tie, and because he had the air of the upper class, he would say to the maitre d', "Find us a good table," and the man did what he was told. It was a lesson to me because I came from the middle class and wouldn't have dared go into any hotel improperly dressed. </p>
+
Fortunately, I was assisted right away by a man called W.B. Skinner, University of Bristol. He was one of Rutherford's boys, and fortunately he knew what the barrier layer was all about. So, in a way, we were starting on what Bell Labs later developed into the [[Transistors|transistor]]. That was tremendously important for us and for them. I must tell you about Skinner because he was a very unkempt man. If the word had been used then, we'd have called him a "beatnik." He never shaved properly, he cut his own hair. He was very proud of that. He was shabby and so on. He came from a well-to-do, upper-middle-class family. You may have heard of the Skinner Shoe business. Anyway, they were wealthy. So he didn't give a damn. He would walk into the poshest West End hotel in carpet slippers and messy tie, and because he had the air of the upper class, he would say to the maitre d', "Find us a good table," and the man did what he was told. It was a lesson to me because I came from the middle class and wouldn't have dared go into any hotel improperly dressed.  
  
<p>We got along very well, and in our laboratory he sat hour after hour, tapping. He would put together a crystal — I think it was galena and wire, stainless steel wire, and do his own glassblowing. You possibly know that Rutherford was a real believer in everybody doing their own work with their own hands. Elementary. And all of his people were like this. So Skinner put these into quartz tubes, I think, and then he used to tap it with his filthy pipe cleaner. He had a filthy pipe, which he smoked unbrokenly. He used to clean out this pipe with a pocket knife, which was just full of nicotine and mess and he made mess all over the place. And yet these crystals came out better than anybody else's. He would tap them and tap them. He had a back-front Simpson meter to measure the back-to-front ratio. "That one's all right. Nobody touch it. That's ready to go." [Chuckling] "No! No! No! Don't clean my knife! It has exactly the right momentum now." [Chuckling] And people were quite afraid of him. I got along very well with him. Anyway, he produced these things. A few months later, when I got to MIT, I found them using beautifully made little capsule crystals from Bell Labs that were not nearly as effective as Skinner's. And so I said, "Oh, that's terrible. You're only seeing this DC-3 at three miles. That's hopeless. Put in this crystal, and you'll see it at ten." And they did, and so on. So we changed over. One of my delights several months later was to go into, I suppose Sylvania, and see four little girls in a row all with little tools tapping the glass. [Chuckling] They'd picked up this technique. You said you wanted to hear about my connection with Oliphant. </p>
+
We got along very well, and in our laboratory he sat hour after hour, tapping. He would put together a crystal — I think it was galena and wire, stainless steel wire, and do his own glassblowing. You possibly know that Rutherford was a real believer in everybody doing their own work with their own hands. Elementary. And all of his people were like this. So Skinner put these into quartz tubes, I think, and then he used to tap it with his filthy pipe cleaner. He had a filthy pipe, which he smoked unbrokenly. He used to clean out this pipe with a pocket knife, which was just full of nicotine and mess and he made mess all over the place. And yet these crystals came out better than anybody else's. He would tap them and tap them. He had a back-front Simpson meter to measure the back-to-front ratio. "That one's all right. Nobody touch it. That's ready to go." [Chuckling] "No! No! No! Don't clean my knife! It has exactly the right momentum now." [Chuckling] And people were quite afraid of him. I got along very well with him. Anyway, he produced these things. A few months later, when I got to MIT, I found them using beautifully made little capsule crystals from Bell Labs that were not nearly as effective as Skinner's. And so I said, "Oh, that's terrible. You're only seeing this DC-3 at three miles. That's hopeless. Put in this crystal, and you'll see it at ten." And they did, and so on. So we changed over. One of my delights several months later was to go into, I suppose Sylvania, and see four little girls in a row all with little tools tapping the glass. [Chuckling] They'd picked up this technique. You said you wanted to hear about my connection with Oliphant.  
  
 
=== Mark L. Oliphant  ===
 
=== Mark L. Oliphant  ===
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Yes, [[Mark Oliphant|Mark L. Oliphant]], who was head of physics at the University of Birmingham. He had been developing a cyclotron, but at the onset of the war he had to stop and I think that the cyclotron lab was made into a microwave electron tube development facility. </p>
+
Yes, [[Mark Oliphant|Mark L. Oliphant]], who was head of physics at the University of Birmingham. He had been developing a cyclotron, but at the onset of the war he had to stop and I think that the cyclotron lab was made into a microwave electron tube development facility.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>That's right, and he was a pusher. Oliphant was always alive and ready to go. He didn't actually do the magnetron himself, but he got the contract from the Admiralty. </p>
+
That's right, and he was a pusher. Oliphant was always alive and ready to go. He didn't actually do the magnetron himself, but he got the contract from the Admiralty.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>He must have had a lot of competition for that. </p>
+
He must have had a lot of competition for that.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>He did! Lord Cherwell, who was then Prof. Lindemann at Oxford, said, "Absolute nonsense to send that to Oliphant at a regular university. We should have it." </p>
+
He did! Lord Cherwell, who was then Prof. Lindemann at Oxford, said, "Absolute nonsense to send that to Oliphant at a regular university. We should have it."  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>That was a specific question I had. </p>
+
That was a specific question I had.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Oh yes. I don't know if I've ever seen it documented, but it was current that Cherwell never really forgave Oliphant for getting that contract. And the Navy — specifically, Charles Wright — gave Oliphant the contract. Oliphant always talked well. He got the contract, and he put Randall and Boot onto the job. You know those names? </p>
+
Oh yes. I don't know if I've ever seen it documented, but it was current that Cherwell never really forgave Oliphant for getting that contract. And the Navy — specifically, Charles Wright — gave Oliphant the contract. Oliphant always talked well. He got the contract, and he put Randall and Boot onto the job. You know those names?  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Yes. Very well. </p>
+
Yes. Very well.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Randall started — I do not know the history. I know Randall, and I know what he did after the war and everything. I do not know what possessed him to start on the magnetron. He got this idea, and he took that block of copper and had Boot, who was his mechanic, drill those cavities in there and the connections. You know what the magnetron looks like? </p>
+
Randall started — I do not know the history. I know Randall, and I know what he did after the war and everything. I do not know what possessed him to start on the magnetron. He got this idea, and he took that block of copper and had Boot, who was his mechanic, drill those cavities in there and the connections. You know what the magnetron looks like?  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Oh, yes. </p>
+
Oh, yes.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Then, there was a further contribution by Oliphant. He'd always traveled a lot, and he went to America a lot. He was at Stanford, and he saw what the Varian brothers were doing with the rhumbatron. </p>
+
Then, there was a further contribution by Oliphant. He'd always traveled a lot, and he went to America a lot. He was at Stanford, and he saw what the Varian brothers were doing with the rhumbatron.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>The [[Klystron|klystron]]. </p>
+
The [[Klystron|klystron]].  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>The klystron, and as you said, he was a devoted cyclotron man. So he thought, Maybe... I don't know how this arrived, but... but they got together, and they thought, well, we'll twist the electrons around that thing by putting a magnet at right-angles. </p>
+
The klystron, and as you said, he was a devoted cyclotron man. So he thought, Maybe... I don't know how this arrived, but... but they got together, and they thought, well, we'll twist the electrons around that thing by putting a magnet at right-angles.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>So Oliphant understood these things technically </p>
+
So Oliphant understood these things technically  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Oh, absolutely. </p>
+
Oh, absolutely.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>But he also must have been a good administrator, and leader, to let his people work on things. </p>
+
But he also must have been a good administrator, and leader, to let his people work on things.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, he had that ability to throw stuff out and get people working. </p>
+
Yes, he had that ability to throw stuff out and get people working.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>I believe that he did a lot of visiting — companies and field stations and other places, on his own. </p>
+
I believe that he did a lot of visiting — companies and field stations and other places, on his own.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Rowe of course had no power over Oliphant. Oliphant never joined what we'll call TRE. In fact, I have this nice story. We moved down to the south coast in May of 1940. There it was my great luck to be told by Rowe: "I want you to look after all these people that are coming to us from the universities..." </p>
+
Rowe of course had no power over Oliphant. Oliphant never joined what we'll call TRE. In fact, I have this nice story. We moved down to the south coast in May of 1940. There it was my great luck to be told by Rowe: "I want you to look after all these people that are coming to us from the universities..."  
  
 
=== Recruitment for TRE  ===
 
=== Recruitment for TRE  ===
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>What was your actual assignment back up at Dundee? Were you in charge of airborne? </p>
+
What was your actual assignment back up at Dundee? Were you in charge of airborne?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>No, as far as I remember I was supposed to be the man getting the receiver ready for the magnetron. At any rate, by the time we got to Worth Matravers, here was Rowe saying, "Robinson, I want you to take over these people." He had no conception of the intellectual power that was being funneled to him. This was being done, you see, by C.P. Snow. Rutherford was dead, and C.P. Snow was saying to all these fellow professors of his, "If you want to get something — do something for the war effort, attach yourself to TRE." </p>
+
No, as far as I remember I was supposed to be the man getting the receiver ready for the magnetron. At any rate, by the time we got to Worth Matravers, here was Rowe saying, "Robinson, I want you to take over these people." He had no conception of the intellectual power that was being funneled to him. This was being done, you see, by C.P. Snow. Rutherford was dead, and C.P. Snow was saying to all these fellow professors of his, "If you want to get something — do something for the war effort, attach yourself to TRE."  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>So this was an organized recruitment effort? </p>
+
So this was an organized recruitment effort?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, by C.P. Snow. </p>
+
Yes, by C.P. Snow.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>And keeping them out of military service? </p>
+
And keeping them out of military service?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>That's right, and they were told roughly that they would maintain all their salaries and perquisites. And of course they came there without the slightest understanding of civil service, or even industry. They didn't know anything about industry. I have some wonderful jokes about them. Here I was, and under my care and attention, and legally responsible to me, was P.I. Dee, Skinner, and Burcham, and all the rest of this wonderful group of Rutherford's boys. Because they all came. And they were brilliant, absolutely brilliant. After two or three months of this, it appeared to me... I had taken it for myself to try and develop a 50-centimeter radar. I was doing this when they came along. They, of course, went straight to the magnetron. They showed me right away. They said, "Why do you fuss with these horns?" I'd gotten the idea of the horns from MIT. "Why do you fuss with those? After all, it can be calculated straight from optical theory." </p>
+
That's right, and they were told roughly that they would maintain all their salaries and perquisites. And of course they came there without the slightest understanding of civil service, or even industry. They didn't know anything about industry. I have some wonderful jokes about them. Here I was, and under my care and attention, and legally responsible to me, was P.I. Dee, Skinner, and Burcham, and all the rest of this wonderful group of Rutherford's boys. Because they all came. And they were brilliant, absolutely brilliant. After two or three months of this, it appeared to me... I had taken it for myself to try and develop a 50-centimeter radar. I was doing this when they came along. They, of course, went straight to the magnetron. They showed me right away. They said, "Why do you fuss with these horns?" I'd gotten the idea of the horns from MIT. "Why do you fuss with those? After all, it can be calculated straight from optical theory."  
  
<p>Almost immediately, within weeks, I could understand that these people, starting with their physics training, were completely on another wavelength. I was trying to run them, and trying to answer the documents that they were supposed to answer. So I went to Rowe and said, "Look, I would prefer to take the six men that I've got on the other stuff and stay and let those guys run themselves." And I said, "Philip Dee is the obvious leader. They all think of him as their leader since Rutherford's gone." And Rowe said, "You really mean this?" To him, of course, as a civil servant, the idea of giving up part of one's imperial realm was ridiculous. I said, "Yes, I really mean it." "Well, if that's what you want, that's how it'll be." So, of course, Dee was absolutely delighted. I mean, he didn't expect anything like this, and he regarded me as something outside the usual realm. And that's how I eventually got to the United States, because of that. He took over, and he began to run it rather well. [Chuckling] But he made some awful boo-boos on the way, you know. Some Air Force officer said, "Don't you realize that I'm an Air Commodore? Dee replied, "Flight Lieutenant, Air Commodore, Air Marshall, I don't know the difference." [Chuckling] You can imagine. You know, in the Air Force they called us "boffins." You know that? And that was partly a term of affection and partly of irritability. Anyway, we got along fine. </p>
+
Almost immediately, within weeks, I could understand that these people, starting with their physics training, were completely on another wavelength. I was trying to run them, and trying to answer the documents that they were supposed to answer. So I went to Rowe and said, "Look, I would prefer to take the six men that I've got on the other stuff and stay and let those guys run themselves." And I said, "Philip Dee is the obvious leader. They all think of him as their leader since Rutherford's gone." And Rowe said, "You really mean this?" To him, of course, as a civil servant, the idea of giving up part of one's imperial realm was ridiculous. I said, "Yes, I really mean it." "Well, if that's what you want, that's how it'll be." So, of course, Dee was absolutely delighted. I mean, he didn't expect anything like this, and he regarded me as something outside the usual realm. And that's how I eventually got to the United States, because of that. He took over, and he began to run it rather well. [Chuckling] But he made some awful boo-boos on the way, you know. Some Air Force officer said, "Don't you realize that I'm an Air Commodore? Dee replied, "Flight Lieutenant, Air Commodore, Air Marshall, I don't know the difference." [Chuckling] You can imagine. You know, in the Air Force they called us "boffins." You know that? And that was partly a term of affection and partly of irritability. Anyway, we got along fine.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Boffin? You mean a civilian? </p>
+
Boffin? You mean a civilian?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>A boffin was a fellow who knew something about the job, but was a civilian. I don't know where the word comes from. It's a mythical bird of some kind... Dee very quickly fastened onto Bowen. Bowen was able to give admirable chalk lectures on interception and all that. </p>
+
A boffin was a fellow who knew something about the job, but was a civilian. I don't know where the word comes from. It's a mythical bird of some kind... Dee very quickly fastened onto Bowen. Bowen was able to give admirable chalk lectures on interception and all that.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Bowen at that point was still assigned to South Wales to get installation work done? </p>
+
Bowen at that point was still assigned to South Wales to get installation work done?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, but he kept on coming back again. He started as a physicist, and so he quickly saw that these fellows out of Rutherford's organization were what was needed in this game. </p>
+
Yes, but he kept on coming back again. He started as a physicist, and so he quickly saw that these fellows out of Rutherford's organization were what was needed in this game.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>So the Cavendish Labs had a large effect? </p>
+
So the Cavendish Labs had a large effect?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>A large effect. It wasn't only Cambridge, but a number of the people from Oxford as well, although Lord Cherwell was always a mixed blessing. Jackson came from there. Jackson was a spectroscopist and did awfully well. Now there were other people that came from Cambridge and not out of the physics department. C.P. Snow's organization realized that the people that had been working in biology had been using electrical stuff. They did all that work on the clamp circuit and so on. </p>
+
A large effect. It wasn't only Cambridge, but a number of the people from Oxford as well, although Lord Cherwell was always a mixed blessing. Jackson came from there. Jackson was a spectroscopist and did awfully well. Now there were other people that came from Cambridge and not out of the physics department. C.P. Snow's organization realized that the people that had been working in biology had been using electrical stuff. They did all that work on the clamp circuit and so on.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Their instrumentation experiences was valuable, I suppose. </p>
+
Their instrumentation experiences was valuable, I suppose.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes. So they pulled the man who later became president of the Royal Society, and they pulled him out. He was merely a lab man. I don't think he even had his Ph.D. They pulled him over. His name was Alan Hodgkin. </p>
+
Yes. So they pulled the man who later became president of the Royal Society, and they pulled him out. He was merely a lab man. I don't think he even had his Ph.D. They pulled him over. His name was Alan Hodgkin.  
  
 
=== Transmitter-Receiver Antenna Radar  ===
 
=== Transmitter-Receiver Antenna Radar  ===
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>When was the move from Dundee down to Worth Matravers? </p>
+
When was the move from Dundee down to Worth Matravers?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>May 5 of 1940. </p>
+
May 5 of 1940.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>At that point Oliphant and his people, and several other organizations, had developed klystrons giving several hundred watts peak power. </p>
+
At that point Oliphant and his people, and several other organizations, had developed klystrons giving several hundred watts peak power.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>It never competed with the magnetron in our eyes. </p>
+
It never competed with the magnetron in our eyes.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Your first radar used two horns? The TR, transmit-receive problem, was not yet solved? </p>
+
Your first radar used two horns? The TR, transmit-receive problem, was not yet solved?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>No. It was two parabolas. </p>
+
No. It was two parabolas.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Was there enough power just coupled between the transmitter and receiver antennas to give local oscillator power, or did you have directional coupling off the transmitter to the mixer? </p>
+
Was there enough power just coupled between the transmitter and receiver antennas to give local oscillator power, or did you have directional coupling off the transmitter to the mixer?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>I don't know. I know that we had a big struggle, and finally somebody did the TR box, which you're familiar with. </p>
+
I don't know. I know that we had a big struggle, and finally somebody did the TR box, which you're familiar with.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Was that Sutton? They called it the Soft Sutton tube? </p>
+
Was that Sutton? They called it the Soft Sutton tube?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, that's right. Sutton I knew, too. He was one of the people that came to us. </p>
+
Yes, that's right. Sutton I knew, too. He was one of the people that came to us.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Do you recall when the first combination transmitter-receiver antenna radar got done? </p>
+
Do you recall when the first combination transmitter-receiver antenna radar got done?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>It was pretty elementary, but as far as I can tell, it was the midsummer of '40. </p>
+
It was pretty elementary, but as far as I can tell, it was the midsummer of '40.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>That early? </p>
+
That early?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes. It's absolutely incredible how fast things worked. And with that, we were very excited because we saw a man on a bicycle at five miles or something. </p>
+
Yes. It's absolutely incredible how fast things worked. And with that, we were very excited because we saw a man on a bicycle at five miles or something.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>That was Reginald Batt, I believe. </p>
+
That was Reginald Batt, I believe.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Was it? </p>
+
Was it?  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Yes. I met him and talked to him. </p>
+
Yes. I met him and talked to him.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>I see. Well, then, you've seen more than I. So much was happening. You know, we had a visit by the chief of the Air Force Fighter Command. </p>
+
I see. Well, then, you've seen more than I. So much was happening. You know, we had a visit by the chief of the Air Force Fighter Command.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Dowding? </p>
+
Dowding?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Dowding, yes. Dowding came. And it was typical of Bowen. He never was careful what he said about anybody else. [Chuckling] And Dowding said, "Why isn't this working?" This was my 50-centimeter thing with the mattress. And Bowen said, "Because we couldn't get any liquid nitrogen." And Stuffy Dowding just went wild and said, "Incredible! Incredible! I will see to this!" And so on. And of course Bowen was absolutely upsetting three or four people in the hierarchy [Chuckling]. So I do remember that visit of Dowding's. Dowding was impressed with what we were doing at 50 centimeters because they needed that for low-level search on the Channel. </p>
+
Dowding, yes. Dowding came. And it was typical of Bowen. He never was careful what he said about anybody else. [Chuckling] And Dowding said, "Why isn't this working?" This was my 50-centimeter thing with the mattress. And Bowen said, "Because we couldn't get any liquid nitrogen." And Stuffy Dowding just went wild and said, "Incredible! Incredible! I will see to this!" And so on. And of course Bowen was absolutely upsetting three or four people in the hierarchy [Chuckling]. So I do remember that visit of Dowding's. Dowding was impressed with what we were doing at 50 centimeters because they needed that for low-level search on the Channel.  
  
<p>But, of course, the enormous problem was to put any of the 10 cm 3000 MHz equipment in the night fighter, the Beaufighter, which had never been planned to give it a regulated or stable power supply. It was unstable mechanically and unstable electrically. We had hell's own job to move these things from what we had made work once [in the laboratory] into that plane. And it took a long time before we had anything that could be called air interception. </p>
+
But, of course, the enormous problem was to put any of the 10 cm 3000 MHz equipment in the night fighter, the Beaufighter, which had never been planned to give it a regulated or stable power supply. It was unstable mechanically and unstable electrically. We had hell's own job to move these things from what we had made work once [in the laboratory] into that plane. And it took a long time before we had anything that could be called air interception.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>At what point was it that you had one to form and fit? In other words, one that would fit in the airplane? </p>
+
At what point was it that you had one to form and fit? In other words, one that would fit in the airplane?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>We had one or two by the late part of 1940, as far as I remember. You see, we had the German ''Luftwaffe'' coming over Swanage every day. They weren't trying to take us out because they didn't really think that radar was a threat to them. But masses of their bombers went inland to knock out the Royal Air Force. We watched this procession, all in squadron formation, beautifully organized and so on. We felt badly about it, and we said to Rowe, we want to drill with rifles on the south coast in case they come and invade. And he said, "It's a lot of nonsense. I'm going to ask Whitehall." I don't suppose he ever went to Whitehall, but he came back and said, "Whitehall says forget all that. You are to stick with the radar. And never mind all that toy soldier stuff. When I give you the word, you'll go to some place as yet unspoken in the middle of the country. Take all the equipment you can and destroy the rest." And so on and so on. </p>
+
We had one or two by the late part of 1940, as far as I remember. You see, we had the German ''Luftwaffe'' coming over Swanage every day. They weren't trying to take us out because they didn't really think that radar was a threat to them. But masses of their bombers went inland to knock out the Royal Air Force. We watched this procession, all in squadron formation, beautifully organized and so on. We felt badly about it, and we said to Rowe, we want to drill with rifles on the south coast in case they come and invade. And he said, "It's a lot of nonsense. I'm going to ask Whitehall." I don't suppose he ever went to Whitehall, but he came back and said, "Whitehall says forget all that. You are to stick with the radar. And never mind all that toy soldier stuff. When I give you the word, you'll go to some place as yet unspoken in the middle of the country. Take all the equipment you can and destroy the rest." And so on and so on.  
  
 
=== Mission to MIT  ===
 
=== Mission to MIT  ===
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p><flashmp3>069 - robinson - clip 1.mp3</flashmp3></p>
+
<flashmp3>069 - robinson - clip 1.mp3</flashmp3>
  
<p>One day in about April 1941, Dee came to me, very annoyed. We had separate offices. He said, "Robinson, it appears that damned Whitehall again wants one of our better men to go to United States. Now you know as well as I do," he said, "that those fellows in America will never do a damned thing." He had the lowest possible opinion of the idea that America would ever get into the war and do anything useful. "But Whitehall insists that we've got to send one of our better centimeter wave men who's experienced in the 9-centimeter stuff." And he said, "Look, will you help me, please. Go over all our list and see who we can spare and who we will send." We looked at the list. This one wouldn't do because he wasn't good enough. And this one was too good, and we needed him. And so on. </p>
+
One day in about April 1941, Dee came to me, very annoyed. We had separate offices. He said, "Robinson, it appears that damned Whitehall again wants one of our better men to go to United States. Now you know as well as I do," he said, "that those fellows in America will never do a damned thing." He had the lowest possible opinion of the idea that America would ever get into the war and do anything useful. "But Whitehall insists that we've got to send one of our better centimeter wave men who's experienced in the 9-centimeter stuff." And he said, "Look, will you help me, please. Go over all our list and see who we can spare and who we will send." We looked at the list. This one wouldn't do because he wasn't good enough. And this one was too good, and we needed him. And so on.  
  
<p>After a while, I said, "Look, Philip, I think I might be considered, too." [Chuckling] He said, "You mean to say you're willing to leave here — the center of everything — and go off to the United States where they will do nothing useful?" And I said, "Well, first of all, you may not remember, but I was at MIT for two years. Secondly, my wife is over there because my wife's brother is at Harvard. He got her and the children over there safely, in March 1941, and I'm grateful for that. So I'd be near them again." So he said, "Well, if you're willing to go — I don't understand you — but that settles it." And he put all this paperwork in a bunch and threw it in the trash. And he said, "I'm recommending that you go." So the thing went up to Whitehall, and Whitehall was apparently very pleased that Robinson was going. They knew me, you see. </p>
+
After a while, I said, "Look, Philip, I think I might be considered, too." [Chuckling] He said, "You mean to say you're willing to leave here — the center of everything — and go off to the United States where they will do nothing useful?" And I said, "Well, first of all, you may not remember, but I was at MIT for two years. Secondly, my wife is over there because my wife's brother is at Harvard. He got her and the children over there safely, in March 1941, and I'm grateful for that. So I'd be near them again." So he said, "Well, if you're willing to go — I don't understand you — but that settles it." And he put all this paperwork in a bunch and threw it in the trash. And he said, "I'm recommending that you go." So the thing went up to Whitehall, and Whitehall was apparently very pleased that Robinson was going. They knew me, you see.  
  
<p>But they said, "First we want you to go to see every aircraft that may come here on lend-lease from the U.S. and see which one, or if any one, would be suitable for prototyping." I went, and I spent five or six weeks on this. I went to every place where they had any American lend-lease aircraft. I had no doubt from the beginning that the B-24, the Liberator bomber, was the best one for the job. So I recommended it, and I wrote out the usual stuff and said, "I'm ready to go when you send me." And they did. They said, "All right. You go. We can't waste time on the ocean. You go by air from Prestwick." And I went by air from Prestwick. Bowen was already there, of course. </p>
+
But they said, "First we want you to go to see every aircraft that may come here on lend-lease from the U.S. and see which one, or if any one, would be suitable for prototyping." I went, and I spent five or six weeks on this. I went to every place where they had any American lend-lease aircraft. I had no doubt from the beginning that the B-24, the Liberator bomber, was the best one for the job. So I recommended it, and I wrote out the usual stuff and said, "I'm ready to go when you send me." And they did. They said, "All right. You go. We can't waste time on the ocean. You go by air from Prestwick." And I went by air from Prestwick. Bowen was already there, of course.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Bowen actually stayed on after Tizard Mission returned? </p>
+
Bowen actually stayed on after Tizard Mission returned?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>The Tizard Mission had come back, but Bowen was back and forth and was still there when I got there. But he was pledged to return to the U.K. I collected every last bit of information that I could about what we had been doing in Worth Matravers. The Radiation Lab at MIT was still rather small — 200 people. It had been formed in October 1940, and by the time I got there it was July of '41, but before Pearl Harbor, you see. [The British] had asked me to try and persuade them not to worry about AI — you know what that is? </p>
+
The Tizard Mission had come back, but Bowen was back and forth and was still there when I got there. But he was pledged to return to the U.K. I collected every last bit of information that I could about what we had been doing in Worth Matravers. The Radiation Lab at MIT was still rather small — 200 people. It had been formed in October 1940, and by the time I got there it was July of '41, but before Pearl Harbor, you see. [The British] had asked me to try and persuade them not to worry about AI — you know what that is?  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Airborne intercept radar. </p>
+
Airborne intercept radar.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes. They said, "Tell the Americans not to worry about AI. We'll do that in Britain. Instead, please concentrate on the submarine menace," which was very severe already. Very severe. Of course when I got to DuBridge and the rest of them, they laughed at this request. They said, "We've got the power; we've got the people. We'll do everything." </p>
+
Yes. They said, "Tell the Americans not to worry about AI. We'll do that in Britain. Instead, please concentrate on the submarine menace," which was very severe already. Very severe. Of course when I got to DuBridge and the rest of them, they laughed at this request. They said, "We've got the power; we've got the people. We'll do everything."  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Lee A. DuBridge was director of the MIT Radiation Laboratory. </p>
+
Lee A. DuBridge was director of the MIT Radiation Laboratory.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>That's right. Remarkably open guy and ready to help in every way. And of course it was already a wonderful group there. I see you've got that five-year book in your bag. </p>
+
That's right. Remarkably open guy and ready to help in every way. And of course it was already a wonderful group there. I see you've got that five-year book in your bag.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>The MTT Society of IEEE has reprinted it. </p>
+
The MTT Society of IEEE has reprinted it.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>I'm glad. I'm going to get one tomorrow I hope. </p>
+
I'm glad. I'm going to get one tomorrow I hope.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>They've put in the classified part that was missing. </p>
+
They've put in the classified part that was missing.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Good. </p>
+
Good.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>They've also put in Bowen's description of the Tizard Mission. </p>
+
They've also put in Bowen's description of the Tizard Mission.  
  
 
=== Alfred L. Loomis  ===
 
=== Alfred L. Loomis  ===
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Splendid! I'll get one tomorrow. My impression of the Radiation Lab was the tremendous amount of stuff that they had already collected, you see. Where we had two or three PPIs [plan position indicators], they already had six, or eight, or ten. Everything was like that. They had ordered up. You probably know the history of the financial work that was guaranteed through the Secretary of War. </p>
+
Splendid! I'll get one tomorrow. My impression of the Radiation Lab was the tremendous amount of stuff that they had already collected, you see. Where we had two or three PPIs [plan position indicators], they already had six, or eight, or ten. Everything was like that. They had ordered up. You probably know the history of the financial work that was guaranteed through the Secretary of War.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Stimson? </p>
+
Stimson?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, and he was a cousin of Loomis, wasn't he? </p>
+
Yes, and he was a cousin of Loomis, wasn't he?  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Alfred L. Loomis, yes. </p>
+
Alfred L. Loomis, yes.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>My story, though I have nothing to prove it, is that Alfred L. Loomis put his signature on a thing saying that he would pay all these guys until the U.S. could come through with the money. Did you ever hear that? </p>
+
My story, though I have nothing to prove it, is that Alfred L. Loomis put his signature on a thing saying that he would pay all these guys until the U.S. could come through with the money. Did you ever hear that?  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>I've also heard that MIT took the risk... </p>
+
I've also heard that MIT took the risk...  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Well, Compton took the risk. </p>
+
Well, Compton took the risk.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>...and actually did the payroll, but... </p>
+
...and actually did the payroll, but...  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes. I think he had Loomis behind him. </p>
+
Yes. I think he had Loomis behind him.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>So it's possible that Karl Compton had more than one back-up. Not only the expectation that the government would come through, but the back-up of Alfred Loomis. </p>
+
So it's possible that Karl Compton had more than one back-up. Not only the expectation that the government would come through, but the back-up of Alfred Loomis.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes. Who was, of course, a multimillionaire. You know how he got his money, don't you? </p>
+
Yes. Who was, of course, a multimillionaire. You know how he got his money, don't you?  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>As an investment banker. </p>
+
As an investment banker.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, and he sold out before the crash. Anyway, they had all been to his place on Long Island or somewhere. And many of them — Rabi and all the rest of them — had been there and done research work on his estate. So he was well known to be both a scientist and a statesman. I found him very friendly and very, very accommodating to me when I got there. He expected me to know as much as Bowen, which was a disappointment to him. [Chuckling] </p>
+
Yes, and he sold out before the crash. Anyway, they had all been to his place on Long Island or somewhere. And many of them — Rabi and all the rest of them — had been there and done research work on his estate. So he was well known to be both a scientist and a statesman. I found him very friendly and very, very accommodating to me when I got there. He expected me to know as much as Bowen, which was a disappointment to him. [Chuckling]  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>I didn't realize that Loomis was that visible... </p>
+
I didn't realize that Loomis was that visible...  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Oh, very visible. </p>
+
Oh, very visible.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>...around Radiation Laboratory. </p>
+
...around Radiation Laboratory.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, Alfred Loomis. </p>
+
Yes, Alfred Loomis.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Where was his office? </p>
+
Where was his office?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>[Chuckling] He had reserved accommodations in several large cities in the country, but he appeared to me to be in New York for his... </p>
+
[Chuckling] He had reserved accommodations in several large cities in the country, but he appeared to me to be in New York for his...  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>But you saw him in Cambridge quite a lot? </p>
+
But you saw him in Cambridge quite a lot?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, we saw him at Cambridge. And whenever I went to Washington, there he was and said, "Come up to my place, and I'll give you some real good bourbon tonight" and so on and so on. He had a place at the Wardman Park. </p>
+
Yes, we saw him at Cambridge. And whenever I went to Washington, there he was and said, "Come up to my place, and I'll give you some real good bourbon tonight" and so on and so on. He had a place at the Wardman Park.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>The Wardman Park Hotel. </p>
+
The Wardman Park Hotel.  
  
<p>Robinson: </p>
+
Robinson:  
  
<p>That's right, and we met at the National Academy in those days. He gave a talk, and I was to tell what I knew about the thing. And he said, "Come to my place tonight, and we'll talk more." So I remember going to the Wardman Park, suite so-and-so, pushed the button. He came to the door, opened it himself, wearing trunks and otherwise completely nude. He said, "I just want to show you how informal an American can be." [Chuckling] It was the first time I'd ever had bourbon, and he probably had the best bourbon anywhere. I just enjoyed it. Anyway, I was accepted because in a way I was the replacement for Bowen, who wanted to go back and did go back to England. He came back and forth, but I was his replacement at MIT. </p>
+
That's right, and we met at the National Academy in those days. He gave a talk, and I was to tell what I knew about the thing. And he said, "Come to my place tonight, and we'll talk more." So I remember going to the Wardman Park, suite so-and-so, pushed the button. He came to the door, opened it himself, wearing trunks and otherwise completely nude. He said, "I just want to show you how informal an American can be." [Chuckling] It was the first time I'd ever had bourbon, and he probably had the best bourbon anywhere. I just enjoyed it. Anyway, I was accepted because in a way I was the replacement for Bowen, who wanted to go back and did go back to England. He came back and forth, but I was his replacement at MIT.  
  
 
=== Role at MIT  ===
 
=== Role at MIT  ===
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>And where was your office at MIT? </p>
+
And where was your office at MIT?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>It began right there in the big building that Compton made available to them. I moved several times, and I shared an office with Rabi for a time. </p>
+
It began right there in the big building that Compton made available to them. I moved several times, and I shared an office with Rabi for a time.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Did you? </p>
+
Did you?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes. [Chuckling] And he was a great friend. Wonderful guy. </p>
+
Yes. [Chuckling] And he was a great friend. Wonderful guy.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Did you interact with all of the divisions or departments? </p>
+
Did you interact with all of the divisions or departments?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>With all of them. They regarded me as a useful liaison with Britain and kept on asking me, "Don't you want to have this? We'll send some of this for you?", and so on. "And could we get from England one of the strapped magnetrons?" And so on and so on. I did this. I also had an office on Massachusetts Avenue at the British Air Commission in Washington. I went back and forth, I suppose twice a month. </p>
+
With all of them. They regarded me as a useful liaison with Britain and kept on asking me, "Don't you want to have this? We'll send some of this for you?", and so on. "And could we get from England one of the strapped magnetrons?" And so on and so on. I did this. I also had an office on Massachusetts Avenue at the British Air Commission in Washington. I went back and forth, I suppose twice a month.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>The various organizations were quite effective in communications? </p>
+
The various organizations were quite effective in communications?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Very, I think. I discovered that the Air Force had something they called their signals, and their signals were cables. And I would write a cable, and it got sent off coded but almost unvetted to England. I found it a very effective way of working because I would be in England twice a year, going across the Atlantic. If I sent a cable asking for something complicated, I took care to send it just before I was leaving. When I got to London, it came without my name on it of course, "We just got a signal from Washington! We can't understand it. Could you help?" "Oh, yes. I can understand that." "What ought we do about it?" "Well, I wrote the signal, you see." [Chuckling] We got what we wanted. The shortest path. So I had a wonderful time; there's no doubt about it. And I was playing the British and the American systems both, interlocking. </p>
+
Very, I think. I discovered that the Air Force had something they called their signals, and their signals were cables. And I would write a cable, and it got sent off coded but almost unvetted to England. I found it a very effective way of working because I would be in England twice a year, going across the Atlantic. If I sent a cable asking for something complicated, I took care to send it just before I was leaving. When I got to London, it came without my name on it of course, "We just got a signal from Washington! We can't understand it. Could you help?" "Oh, yes. I can understand that." "What ought we do about it?" "Well, I wrote the signal, you see." [Chuckling] We got what we wanted. The shortest path. So I had a wonderful time; there's no doubt about it. And I was playing the British and the American systems both, interlocking.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>From the record, Bowen had an official connection at the Radiation Lab until some time in 1943. </p>
+
From the record, Bowen had an official connection at the Radiation Lab until some time in 1943.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, I think that's true. I wouldn't be sure of it. But anyway, he and I were very close. We never had a quarrel of any kind. And he and I felt the same about the AI. We did not agree with the way Britain was going with its AI. </p>
+
Yes, I think that's true. I wouldn't be sure of it. But anyway, he and I were very close. We never had a quarrel of any kind. And he and I felt the same about the AI. We did not agree with the way Britain was going with its AI.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>You mean the conical scan display? </p>
+
You mean the conical scan display?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes. I always wanted the raster scan. </p>
+
Yes. I always wanted the raster scan.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>The raster scan. </p>
+
The raster scan.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>So on things major and minor we were very much together. Bowen seemed to be quite happy to leave me representing him at Radiation Lab when he had to go back. </p>
+
So on things major and minor we were very much together. Bowen seemed to be quite happy to leave me representing him at Radiation Lab when he had to go back.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>His involvement at MIT Radiation Lab dropped very markedly when you came, is that true? </p>
+
His involvement at MIT Radiation Lab dropped very markedly when you came, is that true?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Well, of course I think it did. But I certainly never tried to outpace him or do his job. I think it's what he wanted, and he now saw that I was in close touch with Britain, with the Air Ministry, and London, and so on. So he was satisfied. That's my impression. Of course he got onto all kinds of other things. I never tried to follow up what he did with his time after that. </p>
+
Well, of course I think it did. But I certainly never tried to outpace him or do his job. I think it's what he wanted, and he now saw that I was in close touch with Britain, with the Air Ministry, and London, and so on. So he was satisfied. That's my impression. Of course he got onto all kinds of other things. I never tried to follow up what he did with his time after that.  
  
 
=== Microwave Committee  ===
 
=== Microwave Committee  ===
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Going back to the very start of the Radiation Laboratory in October of 1940, and predating that: the Microwave Committee, in consultation with Cockcroft and Bowen, set three priorities: AI radar, which we are speaking of, a gun-laying radar, and long-range navigation. Bowen laid out the design of a basic microwave radar. </p>
+
Going back to the very start of the Radiation Laboratory in October of 1940, and predating that: the Microwave Committee, in consultation with Cockcroft and Bowen, set three priorities: AI radar, which we are speaking of, a gun-laying radar, and long-range navigation. Bowen laid out the design of a basic microwave radar.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>That's right. </p>
+
That's right.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>The Microwave Committee, actually Alfred Loomis, got contracts placed for major subassemblies and key components from industries that were represented on the Microwave Committee. </p>
+
The Microwave Committee, actually Alfred Loomis, got contracts placed for major subassemblies and key components from industries that were represented on the Microwave Committee.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>That's right. </p>
+
That's right.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>And those started to be delivered in 1940. And it's from these that they put together their first experimental radars. </p>
+
And those started to be delivered in 1940. And it's from these that they put together their first experimental radars.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>True. That's right. </p>
+
True. That's right.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>And for the AI radar it was realized they needed a fighter aircraft. Our records are sparse, but I'm told that there was an XP-61 aircraft, in the planning stage at least, at Northrop. </p>
+
And for the AI radar it was realized they needed a fighter aircraft. Our records are sparse, but I'm told that there was an XP-61 aircraft, in the planning stage at least, at Northrop.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Can't tell you anything about it. </p>
+
Can't tell you anything about it.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Do you know who Frank D. Lewis is? </p>
+
Do you know who Frank D. Lewis is?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Frank D. Lewis. Yes, I knew him. </p>
+
Frank D. Lewis. Yes, I knew him.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>He left for England a little before you came over. </p>
+
He left for England a little before you came over.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, he was there when I was getting ready to leave, and he and I traveled a bit together in England. </p>
+
Yes, he was there when I was getting ready to leave, and he and I traveled a bit together in England.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>What do you remember of the [[W. W. Hansen|William Hansen]] Lectures? </p>
+
What do you remember of the [[W. W. Hansen|William Hansen]] Lectures?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>I went to the first one or two and found them too advanced for my style. I'm a very poor mathematician. But they appealed enormously and became an institution. He was tremendously popular at MIT and had the important turn-out of the people that could understand it. I know that Rabi thought him tremendously good. </p>
+
I went to the first one or two and found them too advanced for my style. I'm a very poor mathematician. But they appealed enormously and became an institution. He was tremendously popular at MIT and had the important turn-out of the people that could understand it. I know that Rabi thought him tremendously good.  
  
 
=== Information Sharing  ===
 
=== Information Sharing  ===
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Another thing, I'll be talking with [[Oral-History:Norman F. Ramsey (1991)|Norman Ramsey]] later. He's written about some things that he wants to talk about, scientific developments that were started, and one is the magnetron. There's been some confusion about how much the MIT Radiation Lab did, how much Raytheon contributed, and I have a question about how it interacted from England. When you came, you found a growing magnetron development group? </p>
+
Another thing, I'll be talking with [[Oral-History:Norman F. Ramsey (1991)|Norman Ramsey]] later. He's written about some things that he wants to talk about, scientific developments that were started, and one is the magnetron. There's been some confusion about how much the MIT Radiation Lab did, how much Raytheon contributed, and I have a question about how it interacted from England. When you came, you found a growing magnetron development group?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, they had picked up the [[Cavity Magnetron|magnetron]] at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]], and Raytheon, I think, was already making them. My impression was that as between the British people at G.E.C. England and Rabi, it was very, very close. I'm not aware of any standoffishness or any quarreling about it. I do remember that when the backstrapping — was that the name? </p>
+
Yes, they had picked up the [[Cavity Magnetron|magnetron]] at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]], and Raytheon, I think, was already making them. My impression was that as between the British people at G.E.C. England and Rabi, it was very, very close. I'm not aware of any standoffishness or any quarreling about it. I do remember that when the backstrapping — was that the name?  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Just 'strapping', I believe. </p>
+
Just 'strapping', I believe.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>I do remember that that was new. It had come from the man in Birmingham. What was his name? </p>
+
I do remember that that was new. It had come from the man in Birmingham. What was his name?  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>James Sayres. Well, there's no doubt that he originated that. </p>
+
James Sayres. Well, there's no doubt that he originated that.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Rabi took about five seconds to understand how important that was. I remember sitting across the table with Rabi and bringing out the backstrapping stuff that had just come from England, and he was delighted. </p>
+
Rabi took about five seconds to understand how important that was. I remember sitting across the table with Rabi and bringing out the backstrapping stuff that had just come from England, and he was delighted.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>You're the one that delivered that to him? </p>
+
You're the one that delivered that to him?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>I won't be sure, but I do remember that I had the papers there and that Rabi was delighted with it. </p>
+
I won't be sure, but I do remember that I had the papers there and that Rabi was delighted with it.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Was that possibly a report of the Committee on Valve Development, a CVD Report? </p>
+
Was that possibly a report of the Committee on Valve Development, a CVD Report?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Most likely. CVD. Most likely. </p>
+
Most likely. CVD. Most likely.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Could we go back a moment to Great Britain? The CVD was started and put under the auspices of the Admiralty. </p>
+
Could we go back a moment to Great Britain? The CVD was started and put under the auspices of the Admiralty.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Mullar. A man called Mullar. Yes. </p>
+
Mullar. A man called Mullar. Yes.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>It was started in early 1939, according to the records. </p>
+
It was started in early 1939, according to the records.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Right. </p>
+
Right.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>And all of your technical establishments had a library of these reports, I assume. </p>
+
And all of your technical establishments had a library of these reports, I assume.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>I don't remember, but I know that the CVD stuff was available to me in the form of these minutes that I've spoken about. </p>
+
I don't remember, but I know that the CVD stuff was available to me in the form of these minutes that I've spoken about.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>At Worth Matravers, for example, there would have been a library that would have had these reports? </p>
+
At Worth Matravers, for example, there would have been a library that would have had these reports?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>I'm not sure I would dignify it by the name of a "library," but it had files and you could get the stuff. Rowe and Lewis sent me to CVD Portsmouth as soon as I got into this thing, and there for the first time I saw the resonant cavity idea. </p>
+
I'm not sure I would dignify it by the name of a "library," but it had files and you could get the stuff. Rowe and Lewis sent me to CVD Portsmouth as soon as I got into this thing, and there for the first time I saw the resonant cavity idea.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>In a CVD report? </p>
+
In a CVD report?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>I don't remember the report. To me the reports were always so far behind what I could get from the individual. </p>
+
I don't remember the report. To me the reports were always so far behind what I could get from the individual.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Of course. [Chuckling] </p>
+
Of course. [Chuckling]  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>So I didn't take much time to read the reports. </p>
+
So I didn't take much time to read the reports.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>I've been surprised to learn that places such as Bell Labs and General Electric Labs and RCA Labs were also getting those reports. </p>
+
I've been surprised to learn that places such as Bell Labs and General Electric Labs and RCA Labs were also getting those reports.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Well, good. I'm glad. I didn't know that. </p>
+
Well, good. I'm glad. I didn't know that.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>I've been to the Public Record Office in London quite a lot — was there four times last year. </p>
+
I've been to the Public Record Office in London quite a lot — was there four times last year.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Well that's pretty good. You see, to me, one of the most excellent things that was ever done was this agreement between Churchill and Roosevelt to share the secrets. As far as I could ever see, there were no holds on that. They were indeed shared remarkably well. </p>
+
Well that's pretty good. You see, to me, one of the most excellent things that was ever done was this agreement between Churchill and Roosevelt to share the secrets. As far as I could ever see, there were no holds on that. They were indeed shared remarkably well.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>This became a partnership, expanded. One plus one became a lot more than just two. [Chuckling] </p>
+
This became a partnership, expanded. One plus one became a lot more than just two. [Chuckling]  
  
 
=== ASV Radar  ===
 
=== ASV Radar  ===
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Oh, unbelievably so. I was able to follow that in the anti-submarine/anti-U-boat war. That became more important to me than anything else. </p>
+
Oh, unbelievably so. I was able to follow that in the anti-submarine/anti-U-boat war. That became more important to me than anything else.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>One of the things that the Tizard Mission brought was a 200-megahertz air-to-surface vessel (ASV) radar, and it was installed on American aircraft. And places such as Philco Corporation manufactured thousands of the ASV Mark II. </p>
+
One of the things that the Tizard Mission brought was a 200-megahertz air-to-surface vessel (ASV) radar, and it was installed on American aircraft. And places such as Philco Corporation manufactured thousands of the ASV Mark II.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>I went through the Philco Labs at that time. </p>
+
I went through the Philco Labs at that time.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>So our first operational ASVs were the 200-megahertz radars with the Yagi antennas outside the aircraft. </p>
+
So our first operational ASVs were the 200-megahertz radars with the Yagi antennas outside the aircraft.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>We know that they were better than nothing, and they gave the U-boats a lot to worry about. </p>
+
We know that they were better than nothing, and they gave the U-boats a lot to worry about.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>So when was microwave ASV first operational? </p>
+
So when was microwave ASV first operational?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>I can't give you a date. I know that I went to some place in Devon or Cornwall, and there was a whole squadron that had microwave 9-centimeter magnetrons. </p>
+
I can't give you a date. I know that I went to some place in Devon or Cornwall, and there was a whole squadron that had microwave 9-centimeter magnetrons.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Was that British manufacture? </p>
+
Was that British manufacture?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Some of them were British, and some were U.S. I haven't told you this: When I told DuBridge what I'd been sent over to do, he said, "Fine, we'll arrange that — we'll make ten of these things for you here in Radiation Lab." They were called DMS 1000. Nothing to do with my name. I was given complete authority to have it designed the way I wanted it and so on, to be put in the B-24s. </p>
+
Some of them were British, and some were U.S. I haven't told you this: When I told DuBridge what I'd been sent over to do, he said, "Fine, we'll arrange that — we'll make ten of these things for you here in Radiation Lab." They were called DMS 1000. Nothing to do with my name. I was given complete authority to have it designed the way I wanted it and so on, to be put in the B-24s.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>This was microwave ASV equipment? </p>
+
This was microwave ASV equipment?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, with the magnetron and all. And it had the TR box. It had everything that MIT and TRE then had. And they started the first one of those, which was only a prototype. It was ready in March of 1942, and I flew with it across the Atlantic and took it first to TRE to show them but didn't demonstrate it there. They sent me to Northern Ireland with it, and we had a rather small British submarine on the lake there, one of the big lakes in Northern Ireland. And we got results, at all different heights, all kinds of this, that and the other. I flew back to London to see Air Marshall Joubert. Are you familiar with that name? I think he had the responsibility for all short-wave radar at the time. I went to see him at one of the big air bases, and he said, "Robinson, what the hell are you sitting there for? Get back across to America and get more of these!" I'd brought him the results, and they were clearly better than anything the British had then. </p>
+
Yes, with the magnetron and all. And it had the TR box. It had everything that MIT and TRE then had. And they started the first one of those, which was only a prototype. It was ready in March of 1942, and I flew with it across the Atlantic and took it first to TRE to show them but didn't demonstrate it there. They sent me to Northern Ireland with it, and we had a rather small British submarine on the lake there, one of the big lakes in Northern Ireland. And we got results, at all different heights, all kinds of this, that and the other. I flew back to London to see Air Marshall Joubert. Are you familiar with that name? I think he had the responsibility for all short-wave radar at the time. I went to see him at one of the big air bases, and he said, "Robinson, what the hell are you sitting there for? Get back across to America and get more of these!" I'd brought him the results, and they were clearly better than anything the British had then.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p><flashmp3>069 - robinson - clip 2.mp3</flashmp3></p>
+
<flashmp3>069 - robinson - clip 2.mp3</flashmp3>
  
<p>That's fast action! I mean, to have it operational in March [Chuckling] of '42. That's pretty remarkable. </p>
+
That's fast action! I mean, to have it operational in March [Chuckling] of '42. That's pretty remarkable.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>That's right. And of course there were big quarrels between the Air Force and the other people as to who was to do it and so on. But the following year we had a big set-to about H2S and H2X. And I'd come to England and was sat down... </p>
+
That's right. And of course there were big quarrels between the Air Force and the other people as to who was to do it and so on. But the following year we had a big set-to about H2S and H2X. And I'd come to England and was sat down...  
  
<p>Oh, I should have told you. I have to go back a bit. In 1943 suddenly DuBridge called me in and said, "Robinson, I haven't got any American to demonstrate the 3-centimeter search radar to Lord Cherwell, who is here with the Prime Minister in Washington. He wants to see it. I want you to go to Washington this morning and demonstrate it to him." [Chuckling] They were staying at the Mayflower Hotel. I was told to go to Room 506 or something and knock at the door. And sure enough, there was Cherwell. Morning coat, beautiful tie, stickpin, all the rest. "Oh, Robinson! I'm so glad you're here." We knew each other. "Please come in and sit down. I can't go until the PM is asleep." The PM — I knew this — took an afternoon nap, you see. This was about two o'clock, and he'd had plenty to drink. So I sat there for a few minutes chatting with Cherwell, and then an aide in a splendid RAF uniform came out and said, "Sir, the PM is asleep." "All right," says Cherwell, "We can go. Come on, Robinson." We went down the elevator, and there was a tremendous long Cadillac with diplomatic flags and everything. He said, "Get in." So I got in, and there was a nice Jamaican guy, and he tucked me in although it was not cold. I said, "Thank you very much. And he said in the most beautiful English, "Yes, we English do like our comfort, don't we, sir?" [Chuckling] So we drove off. We were to go to the Naval base. That was where the small AT-11 trainer was fitted with this thing [H2X radar]. The guards, overwhelmed by this Cadillac and all the flags, just waved us through. I was used to checking in. </p>
+
Oh, I should have told you. I have to go back a bit. In 1943 suddenly DuBridge called me in and said, "Robinson, I haven't got any American to demonstrate the 3-centimeter search radar to Lord Cherwell, who is here with the Prime Minister in Washington. He wants to see it. I want you to go to Washington this morning and demonstrate it to him." [Chuckling] They were staying at the Mayflower Hotel. I was told to go to Room 506 or something and knock at the door. And sure enough, there was Cherwell. Morning coat, beautiful tie, stickpin, all the rest. "Oh, Robinson! I'm so glad you're here." We knew each other. "Please come in and sit down. I can't go until the PM is asleep." The PM — I knew this — took an afternoon nap, you see. This was about two o'clock, and he'd had plenty to drink. So I sat there for a few minutes chatting with Cherwell, and then an aide in a splendid RAF uniform came out and said, "Sir, the PM is asleep." "All right," says Cherwell, "We can go. Come on, Robinson." We went down the elevator, and there was a tremendous long Cadillac with diplomatic flags and everything. He said, "Get in." So I got in, and there was a nice Jamaican guy, and he tucked me in although it was not cold. I said, "Thank you very much. And he said in the most beautiful English, "Yes, we English do like our comfort, don't we, sir?" [Chuckling] So we drove off. We were to go to the Naval base. That was where the small AT-11 trainer was fitted with this thing [H2X radar]. The guards, overwhelmed by this Cadillac and all the flags, just waved us through. I was used to checking in.  
  
<p>Then Cherwell said to me, "Well, do you know where this is?" I said, "Yes, you see over there? In the far distant corner." We went through without any permission or anything. We drove right over. There was this nice marine, a U.S. marine, who was the pilot. He knew me, fortunately. We got in, and Cherwell said, "Robinson, do you mind if I go up in the copilot seat until we're airborne? Then when it's really running nicely, tell me, and I'll come back and look." And I heard him on the intercom say to the pilot, "When we're airborne, do you mind if I take over?" [Laughter] Here was Cherwell in this perfect morning dress — bowler hat, everything. Anyway, Cherwell did take over. After a time, I had a most perfect picture. I'll just show you what kind of pictures we were getting then. This was the only 3-centimeter working unit, you see. The only one in the world. And I was demonstrating it to Cherwell. Cherwell was absolutely delighted. He said, "Robinson, I understand you're going to be in London next week. Before you do anything else, I want you to come to No. 11 Downing Street and see me." I was scared stiff because this was the sort of the picture that he had seen. But this photo shows the B24 plane that I actually went over in. You don't need to look through these. You've seen so many of them, these pictures. </p>
+
Then Cherwell said to me, "Well, do you know where this is?" I said, "Yes, you see over there? In the far distant corner." We went through without any permission or anything. We drove right over. There was this nice marine, a U.S. marine, who was the pilot. He knew me, fortunately. We got in, and Cherwell said, "Robinson, do you mind if I go up in the copilot seat until we're airborne? Then when it's really running nicely, tell me, and I'll come back and look." And I heard him on the intercom say to the pilot, "When we're airborne, do you mind if I take over?" [Laughter] Here was Cherwell in this perfect morning dress — bowler hat, everything. Anyway, Cherwell did take over. After a time, I had a most perfect picture. I'll just show you what kind of pictures we were getting then. This was the only 3-centimeter working unit, you see. The only one in the world. And I was demonstrating it to Cherwell. Cherwell was absolutely delighted. He said, "Robinson, I understand you're going to be in London next week. Before you do anything else, I want you to come to No. 11 Downing Street and see me." I was scared stiff because this was the sort of the picture that he had seen. But this photo shows the B24 plane that I actually went over in. You don't need to look through these. You've seen so many of them, these pictures.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>And that's a radar map of the ground? </p>
+
And that's a radar map of the ground?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>That's right. I had the Potomac. I've forgotten whether I've got the Potomac in here, but you could see every little thing. Here's Long Island, see. </p>
+
That's right. I had the Potomac. I've forgotten whether I've got the Potomac in here, but you could see every little thing. Here's Long Island, see.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>A radar map of New York City, looking out to Long Island. </p>
+
A radar map of New York City, looking out to Long Island.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes. Anyway, it was perfect. You could see everything on the Potomac. So Cherwell climbs down out of this AT-11, and the Marine lieutenant stops a moment to say, "Gee," he said, "you got anymore in the House of Lords like that?" [Laughter] So I said, "No, not many." And I said, "How did he fly?" He said "He's all right. He's all right." So I said "Did you know that he was the guy that showed the Royal Air Force in the First World War how to get out of a spin?" Did you know that? Cherwell, yes. He was a courageous guy and a very clever one. He put the airplane in a spin, and then he showed them how to get out of it. So he was able to pilot anything. I said to the marine lieutenant, "Well, what did you expect, anyway?" He said, "Well, I did expect to see some ermine, a tiara, a crown or something with some red." [Chuckling] </p>
+
Yes. Anyway, it was perfect. You could see everything on the Potomac. So Cherwell climbs down out of this AT-11, and the Marine lieutenant stops a moment to say, "Gee," he said, "you got anymore in the House of Lords like that?" [Laughter] So I said, "No, not many." And I said, "How did he fly?" He said "He's all right. He's all right." So I said "Did you know that he was the guy that showed the Royal Air Force in the First World War how to get out of a spin?" Did you know that? Cherwell, yes. He was a courageous guy and a very clever one. He put the airplane in a spin, and then he showed them how to get out of it. So he was able to pilot anything. I said to the marine lieutenant, "Well, what did you expect, anyway?" He said, "Well, I did expect to see some ermine, a tiara, a crown or something with some red." [Chuckling]  
  
<p>Just at this moment, while he was saying this to me, the admiral in charge of the base appears, red-faced. Wants to know how the hell we got on that base of his and into his plane without checking with him. You see, he was offended because here was the Prime Minister's No. 1 man who had come onto his base, and he wanted to be there to receive him. [Chuckling] DuBridge got this complaint the next morning. When I got back, DuBridge asked me, "How did this happen?" and then he said, "I'll settle it. Don't worry. He was just mad." </p>
+
Just at this moment, while he was saying this to me, the admiral in charge of the base appears, red-faced. Wants to know how the hell we got on that base of his and into his plane without checking with him. You see, he was offended because here was the Prime Minister's No. 1 man who had come onto his base, and he wanted to be there to receive him. [Chuckling] DuBridge got this complaint the next morning. When I got back, DuBridge asked me, "How did this happen?" and then he said, "I'll settle it. Don't worry. He was just mad."  
  
<p>So we went back in this precious Cadillac, and I got off at the Mayflower. And Cherwell said, "Don't forget, the first day you're there you are to see me at No. 11." Of course you know and I know what No. 11 means — next door to the Prime Minister. So I thought: Robinson, this is the only working 3-centimeter airborne radar in the world, and it's working beautifully. But if I go in to No. 11, Cherwell will say, "Now, how can we get this instead of our H2S?" I knew his characteristics. He was going to have it all cancelled and get everything changed over. So I thought I'd better go to the Air Ministry first. And I did. And they said, Oh, my God! Oh, my God! [Chuckling] I told them this was beautiful. I showed them pictures. It's the only one that exists. It'll be nine months to a year before we get even enough for the American Navy alone — at least a year. So they said, "The last thing we want is to have questions get into the H2S [program]." The sets were just getting out into the field. So I didn't go to No. 11. They begged me not to go see Cherwell. Well, three days later I was at a big meeting at the Air Ministry. And there was one of these half-a-block-long green baize tables. Around it were all the air marshals and admirals and so on. Enough gold braid to give a perfectly good radar echo. [Chuckling] It was all very quiet and orderly. </p>
+
So we went back in this precious Cadillac, and I got off at the Mayflower. And Cherwell said, "Don't forget, the first day you're there you are to see me at No. 11." Of course you know and I know what No. 11 means — next door to the Prime Minister. So I thought: Robinson, this is the only working 3-centimeter airborne radar in the world, and it's working beautifully. But if I go in to No. 11, Cherwell will say, "Now, how can we get this instead of our H2S?" I knew his characteristics. He was going to have it all cancelled and get everything changed over. So I thought I'd better go to the Air Ministry first. And I did. And they said, Oh, my God! Oh, my God! [Chuckling] I told them this was beautiful. I showed them pictures. It's the only one that exists. It'll be nine months to a year before we get even enough for the American Navy alone — at least a year. So they said, "The last thing we want is to have questions get into the H2S [program]." The sets were just getting out into the field. So I didn't go to No. 11. They begged me not to go see Cherwell. Well, three days later I was at a big meeting at the Air Ministry. And there was one of these half-a-block-long green baize tables. Around it were all the air marshals and admirals and so on. Enough gold braid to give a perfectly good radar echo. [Chuckling] It was all very quiet and orderly.  
  
<p>DuBridge had come across the Atlantic and was there. And Rabi, I think. And Dee — P.I. Dee — and the civilian hierarchy of the radar business. I've forgotten at what point — but I know that Dee got on his high horse. He was very, very direct, and he said, "I do not understand, sir." There was somebody — an air marshal — in charge. "I do not understand why we British are being forced to take the American 3-centimeter radar instead of the one we've got." And blah, blah, blah, you see. I thought, My God, they're being forced? Who's forcing them? The Americans haven't got them, so I appealed to DuBridge. I said, "Isn't the one I demonstrated to Lord Cherwell the only one in the whole United States?" "That's right." [Chuckling] DuBridge said, "I'm not aware that we're trying to force the British to take these. If we had any of them, we'd soon know where to put them." So then the big double doors of this magnificent apartment swung open. Aides side-to-side. And in comes Cherwell, complete with morning coat, stickpin and all. Everybody stood up. Every air marshal in the place. We all stood up. I didn't like it. I felt that this was the beginnings of some kind of fascism, you know, because he was just the representative. He was representing the big boss. But I stood up. Cherwell was sort of nodding to people. Then he suddenly saw me. He said, "You never came to see me!" [Laughter] That was all. But they knew, of course, by now everybody had the story. The H2S went on and did a good job, as you know. It would have been even better if it had been X-Band, but who knows? It would have taken a long time. </p>
+
DuBridge had come across the Atlantic and was there. And Rabi, I think. And Dee — P.I. Dee — and the civilian hierarchy of the radar business. I've forgotten at what point — but I know that Dee got on his high horse. He was very, very direct, and he said, "I do not understand, sir." There was somebody — an air marshal — in charge. "I do not understand why we British are being forced to take the American 3-centimeter radar instead of the one we've got." And blah, blah, blah, you see. I thought, My God, they're being forced? Who's forcing them? The Americans haven't got them, so I appealed to DuBridge. I said, "Isn't the one I demonstrated to Lord Cherwell the only one in the whole United States?" "That's right." [Chuckling] DuBridge said, "I'm not aware that we're trying to force the British to take these. If we had any of them, we'd soon know where to put them." So then the big double doors of this magnificent apartment swung open. Aides side-to-side. And in comes Cherwell, complete with morning coat, stickpin and all. Everybody stood up. Every air marshal in the place. We all stood up. I didn't like it. I felt that this was the beginnings of some kind of fascism, you know, because he was just the representative. He was representing the big boss. But I stood up. Cherwell was sort of nodding to people. Then he suddenly saw me. He said, "You never came to see me!" [Laughter] That was all. But they knew, of course, by now everybody had the story. The H2S went on and did a good job, as you know. It would have been even better if it had been X-Band, but who knows? It would have taken a long time.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Operational use of the American X-Band H2X lagged the H2S by more than a year, did it? </p>
+
Operational use of the American X-Band H2X lagged the H2S by more than a year, did it?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Oh, more than a year for sure. </p>
+
Oh, more than a year for sure.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>And in the meantime you made good use of the H2S. </p>
+
And in the meantime you made good use of the H2S.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Oh, no question. Of course, in the meantime, we'd had this whole business about the window, the chaff, you know. I wasn't particularly involved with that, but it was a great fight. [Chuckling] And then we also had the thing that we were supposed to have alongside every magnetron, a focused charge that was to blow up the magnetron. </p>
+
Oh, no question. Of course, in the meantime, we'd had this whole business about the window, the chaff, you know. I wasn't particularly involved with that, but it was a great fight. [Chuckling] And then we also had the thing that we were supposed to have alongside every magnetron, a focused charge that was to blow up the magnetron.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>For security, every equipment had a charge that would destroy the magnetron in case it crashed or something. </p>
+
For security, every equipment had a charge that would destroy the magnetron in case it crashed or something.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, that's right. Now, I've talked a lot. Do you want to ask me some more, John? </p>
+
Yes, that's right. Now, I've talked a lot. Do you want to ask me some more, John?  
  
 
=== Science and National Defense  ===
 
=== Science and National Defense  ===
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>I would like to inquire about electronic countermeasures. What you recall of the start of it in England and what you saw... </p>
+
I would like to inquire about electronic countermeasures. What you recall of the start of it in England and what you saw...  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>I was never involved with the countermeasures business. As you know, on this side of the water, the countermeasures went on at Harvard. When the British Branch of Radiation Laboratory (BBRL) was formed at TRE in Malvern, the countermeasures of Harvard went along with them. </p>
+
I was never involved with the countermeasures business. As you know, on this side of the water, the countermeasures went on at Harvard. When the British Branch of Radiation Laboratory (BBRL) was formed at TRE in Malvern, the countermeasures of Harvard went along with them.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>So at BBRL they were in the same organization? </p>
+
So at BBRL they were in the same organization?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes. Well, I don't know whether it was the same organization, but they were certainly within hailing distance. </p>
+
Yes. Well, I don't know whether it was the same organization, but they were certainly within hailing distance.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Most of the staff of Radio Research Lab at Harvard were engineers, in contrast to physicists at Radiation Lab. </p>
+
Most of the staff of Radio Research Lab at Harvard were engineers, in contrast to physicists at Radiation Lab.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes. I think I've already said, but I'd like to say it again: The thing that impressed me about the physicists was that they thought differently, and they were therefore an enormously important component. I never have thought that we could have done without the engineers — and there were hundreds, and later thousands, of very competent engineers involved — but that original injection of Rutherford's boys, and some of those from Oxford too, were tremendously important. As you know, in the United States, there was never that clear a distinction. They came out of the physics labs from the very beginning. </p>
+
Yes. I think I've already said, but I'd like to say it again: The thing that impressed me about the physicists was that they thought differently, and they were therefore an enormously important component. I never have thought that we could have done without the engineers — and there were hundreds, and later thousands, of very competent engineers involved — but that original injection of Rutherford's boys, and some of those from Oxford too, were tremendously important. As you know, in the United States, there was never that clear a distinction. They came out of the physics labs from the very beginning.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Well, let's go back a moment and think of applications of science to national defense, or what you may wish to call it. Great Britain, it seems to me, got an early start — say, by the mid-1930s — got commitment from senior scientists for help, advice. </p>
+
Well, let's go back a moment and think of applications of science to national defense, or what you may wish to call it. Great Britain, it seems to me, got an early start — say, by the mid-1930s — got commitment from senior scientists for help, advice.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>They did, yes. Because of course we knew we were on the receiving end. </p>
+
They did, yes. Because of course we knew we were on the receiving end.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>On the defensive? </p>
+
On the defensive?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Oh, yes. I mean, it was clear. I knew a good many young, active Air Force men at that time, and they were scared. They said, "We don't understand how this country can be defended." And you know Baldwin said the bomber would always get through. </p>
+
Oh, yes. I mean, it was clear. I knew a good many young, active Air Force men at that time, and they were scared. They said, "We don't understand how this country can be defended." And you know Baldwin said the bomber would always get through.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>He was only extrapolating from the past. </p>
+
He was only extrapolating from the past.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>That's right. So, enormous efforts were made in a particular direction, and that started with Watson-Watt. Watson-Watt tried to make more out of his contribution than I think he deserved, but he was there at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington. He did have a radio section there, and he did reply to the committee, which was Tizard and Blackett and so on, saying, "No, I can't provide a death ray for you." You remember that was the question. "But I could demonstrate to you the interference by..." and he did this. He pulsed the Daventry Station. He got permission, and he flew an aircraft over it. And he convinced that committee, which was a very important committee. You've got the names, I'm sure. </p>
+
That's right. So, enormous efforts were made in a particular direction, and that started with Watson-Watt. Watson-Watt tried to make more out of his contribution than I think he deserved, but he was there at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington. He did have a radio section there, and he did reply to the committee, which was Tizard and Blackett and so on, saying, "No, I can't provide a death ray for you." You remember that was the question. "But I could demonstrate to you the interference by..." and he did this. He pulsed the Daventry Station. He got permission, and he flew an aircraft over it. And he convinced that committee, which was a very important committee. You've got the names, I'm sure.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>There was a lot of foresight exercised on that. </p>
+
There was a lot of foresight exercised on that.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes, and then it got corrupted by Cherwell when Churchill took over. They were very annoyed with that. There was a big fight going on all the time. </p>
+
Yes, and then it got corrupted by Cherwell when Churchill took over. They were very annoyed with that. There was a big fight going on all the time.  
  
 
=== Postwar  ===
 
=== Postwar  ===
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>If you wouldn't mind a switch to one last subject, that is, the postwar results or effects. There must have been postwar effects resulting from of all of this concentrated technical/scientific effort on education, university education, university research, and industrial research. </p>
+
If you wouldn't mind a switch to one last subject, that is, the postwar results or effects. There must have been postwar effects resulting from of all of this concentrated technical/scientific effort on education, university education, university research, and industrial research.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Well, it was just enormous. The results were enormous. And at this point of course, as soon as the Japanese surrendered, there was a complete cut made between the British and the Americans, unfortunately. </p>
+
Well, it was just enormous. The results were enormous. And at this point of course, as soon as the Japanese surrendered, there was a complete cut made between the British and the Americans, unfortunately.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Oh, I didn't realize that. </p>
+
Oh, I didn't realize that.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes. You probably also don't realize that when Roosevelt was struggling hard, before he got into the war, he was struggling hard to get votes out of Congress. It was very similar to things today. With great reluctance they gave him the Draft Law, as you know. But they also said that the Lend-Lease, which he was very keen on, has to stop the day the last enemy surrenders. I was, by this time, back in England, and I felt it right away. Now we'd got rid of the U-boats, but we hadn't anything to pay the Americans for fuel and corn and all the rest of it. Suddenly Britain had the worst winter of its whole career. </p>
+
Yes. You probably also don't realize that when Roosevelt was struggling hard, before he got into the war, he was struggling hard to get votes out of Congress. It was very similar to things today. With great reluctance they gave him the Draft Law, as you know. But they also said that the Lend-Lease, which he was very keen on, has to stop the day the last enemy surrenders. I was, by this time, back in England, and I felt it right away. Now we'd got rid of the U-boats, but we hadn't anything to pay the Americans for fuel and corn and all the rest of it. Suddenly Britain had the worst winter of its whole career.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Without provisions. </p>
+
Without provisions.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes. Lend-Lease is to be cut. It isn't often spoken about in America, but it was felt very strongly. I can't say that the British grumbled. They said, "Well, that's what we would expect. We've had these enormous freedoms and this gift." But it was certainly pretty... </p>
+
Yes. Lend-Lease is to be cut. It isn't often spoken about in America, but it was felt very strongly. I can't say that the British grumbled. They said, "Well, that's what we would expect. We've had these enormous freedoms and this gift." But it was certainly pretty...  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>I suppose the scientific and the military exchange got cut, too. </p>
+
I suppose the scientific and the military exchange got cut, too.  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Also cut. I know very decisively because when I got back here — I mean, a few months later — my clearances were useless. </p>
+
Also cut. I know very decisively because when I got back here — I mean, a few months later — my clearances were useless.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>Really? </p>
+
Really?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>Yes. They didn't allow me... By this time I had founded the High-Voltage Engineering Corporation and was trying to sell an accelerator to the Navy. I went down to the usual place and tried to go through the gate which we'd traveled through so easily. They wouldn't let me in. So I phoned my opposite number, and he said, "It's too complicated to try and get that done. Just come down, and we'll sit in my car." And we did the whole contract arrangement in his car, rather than try and get me through. I was still British. No, I felt it very strongly. Then the British asked me to assist them in some business about the availability of magnetron patents. And I had to tell them, "I can't even get to the files that I was in every day during the war. I'm not allowed." So it was a tremendous cut. Not of course with my friends, but with every official thing. </p>
+
Yes. They didn't allow me... By this time I had founded the High-Voltage Engineering Corporation and was trying to sell an accelerator to the Navy. I went down to the usual place and tried to go through the gate which we'd traveled through so easily. They wouldn't let me in. So I phoned my opposite number, and he said, "It's too complicated to try and get that done. Just come down, and we'll sit in my car." And we did the whole contract arrangement in his car, rather than try and get me through. I was still British. No, I felt it very strongly. Then the British asked me to assist them in some business about the availability of magnetron patents. And I had to tell them, "I can't even get to the files that I was in every day during the war. I'm not allowed." So it was a tremendous cut. Not of course with my friends, but with every official thing.  
  
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
+
'''Bryant:'''  
  
<p>One last question: What effects did your Radiation Lab experience have on your subsequent career activities? </p>
+
One last question: What effects did your Radiation Lab experience have on your subsequent career activities?  
  
<p>'''Robinson:''' </p>
+
'''Robinson:'''  
  
<p>For twenty years it was an "open sesame" to the leading physicists of the U.S. and Britain, including the ones who had been in other fields, shut off from my radar interest, who were working on the atomic bomb, the proximity fuze, etc. As a supplier of accelerators up to 20 million volts and as president of the High-Voltage Engineering Corporation, I was on intimate terms with the physicists of America and Europe. To me it seemed like one community, including the French, Germans, and later, the Chinese. </p>
+
For twenty years it was an "open sesame" to the leading physicists of the U.S. and Britain, including the ones who had been in other fields, shut off from my radar interest, who were working on the atomic bomb, the proximity fuze, etc. As a supplier of accelerators up to 20 million volts and as president of the High-Voltage Engineering Corporation, I was on intimate terms with the physicists of America and Europe. To me it seemed like one community, including the French, Germans, and later, the Chinese.  
  
 
=== Addendum  ===
 
=== Addendum  ===
Line 1,025: Line 1,025:
 
==== Lee Dubridge  ====
 
==== Lee Dubridge  ====
  
<p>DENIS M. ROBINSON </p>
+
DENIS M. ROBINSON  
  
<p>Addendum, 28 September 1992 to </p>
+
Addendum, 28 September 1992 to  
  
<p>10 June 1991 interview with John Bryant </p>
+
10 June 1991 interview with John Bryant  
  
<p>This is in regard to John Bryant's letter to me of September 15, 1992. I have put the transcript of my talk in the envelope together with a few corrections and my life history bio. </p>
+
This is in regard to John Bryant's letter to me of September 15, 1992. I have put the transcript of my talk in the envelope together with a few corrections and my life history bio.  
  
<p>I am now going to try and answer John's queries to me about Watson-Watt, A.P. Rowe, Lee DuBridge and W. B. Lewis. </p>
+
I am now going to try and answer John's queries to me about Watson-Watt, A.P. Rowe, Lee DuBridge and W. B. Lewis.  
  
<p>I want you to understand that I have been at various times and over many years the associate, sometimes employed by one or other of these men, but always rather close to them. I knew them all well and I think most of them are now dead. But, nevertheless, I am going to try and answer your query about their effectiveness as leaders of men. </p>
+
I want you to understand that I have been at various times and over many years the associate, sometimes employed by one or other of these men, but always rather close to them. I knew them all well and I think most of them are now dead. But, nevertheless, I am going to try and answer your query about their effectiveness as leaders of men.  
  
<p>Lee DuBridge, as far as I know, is still alive. All the others are certainly dead. I was very fond of all these men, and so you have to realize that when I speak of them in a critical fashion, it is with careful attention because I liked them all and we all got along well. I quarreled with none of them. They were very different people altogether. I will start with Lee DuBridge, who was a splendid leader of the Radiation Lab at MIT and went on to become the president of Cal Tech. </p>
+
Lee DuBridge, as far as I know, is still alive. All the others are certainly dead. I was very fond of all these men, and so you have to realize that when I speak of them in a critical fashion, it is with careful attention because I liked them all and we all got along well. I quarreled with none of them. They were very different people altogether. I will start with Lee DuBridge, who was a splendid leader of the Radiation Lab at MIT and went on to become the president of Cal Tech.  
  
<p>DuBridge was a remarkable leader of men and picker of men. I cannot believe anybody would have adverse things to say about him as a head of that laboratory. It functioned through its four years of existence with extraordinary efficiency, and there is no doubt that he was a fine leader of men in every way. </p>
+
DuBridge was a remarkable leader of men and picker of men. I cannot believe anybody would have adverse things to say about him as a head of that laboratory. It functioned through its four years of existence with extraordinary efficiency, and there is no doubt that he was a fine leader of men in every way.  
  
 
==== A.P. Rowe  ====
 
==== A.P. Rowe  ====
  
<p>A.P. Rowe was equally a splendid organizer of men, but he did arouse a certain number of adversaries. Not everybody liked him. He was a strict disciplinarian, and some people disliked him for his ways which they considered non-democratic. I thought he was an excellent leader and I followed him. I suppose I was, in one way or another, under his leadership for the whole period of the war, although I was absent in the United States [assigned to the MIT Radiation Laboratory] over the last four years. </p>
+
A.P. Rowe was equally a splendid organizer of men, but he did arouse a certain number of adversaries. Not everybody liked him. He was a strict disciplinarian, and some people disliked him for his ways which they considered non-democratic. I thought he was an excellent leader and I followed him. I suppose I was, in one way or another, under his leadership for the whole period of the war, although I was absent in the United States [assigned to the MIT Radiation Laboratory] over the last four years.  
  
<p>Rowe always gave me excellent attention. He regarded me as a valuable part of his organization. He accused and kidded me at times of becoming an American, and I willingly agreed. In fact, Rowe said to DuBridge, "We all sometimes think of Robinson as being an American by now." And DuBridge said, "Oh yes, so do we." But nevertheless A. P. Rowe thought of me as a very useful adjunct to TRE, and I had no difficulty about this. Afterwards, when he went off to Australia, he wrote to me and asked me whether I wouldn't join him there in the government job that he was to set up on a long firing range, and so on. So there's no doubt that he and I remained good friends all those years. </p>
+
Rowe always gave me excellent attention. He regarded me as a valuable part of his organization. He accused and kidded me at times of becoming an American, and I willingly agreed. In fact, Rowe said to DuBridge, "We all sometimes think of Robinson as being an American by now." And DuBridge said, "Oh yes, so do we." But nevertheless A. P. Rowe thought of me as a very useful adjunct to TRE, and I had no difficulty about this. Afterwards, when he went off to Australia, he wrote to me and asked me whether I wouldn't join him there in the government job that he was to set up on a long firing range, and so on. So there's no doubt that he and I remained good friends all those years.  
  
 
==== W.B. Lewis  ====
 
==== W.B. Lewis  ====
  
<p>Now I will turn to W.B. Lewis, who, as you say, doesn't appear in many of the books as he ought to have done. He was Rowe's chief assistant throughout the war, and he assisted Rowe incredibly in running the establishment. </p>
+
Now I will turn to W.B. Lewis, who, as you say, doesn't appear in many of the books as he ought to have done. He was Rowe's chief assistant throughout the war, and he assisted Rowe incredibly in running the establishment.  
  
<p>The thing I remember about W. B. Lewis is that he would have long sheets of full paper lined, and, when you went to him with a problem or unsolved matter, he would make a note of it, and put on the side a number. It might be 35 or 156, and he would keep everything on that list until it was satisfactorily solved or abandoned. </p>
+
The thing I remember about W. B. Lewis is that he would have long sheets of full paper lined, and, when you went to him with a problem or unsolved matter, he would make a note of it, and put on the side a number. It might be 35 or 156, and he would keep everything on that list until it was satisfactorily solved or abandoned.  
  
<p>He never married and was completely faithful to his job. Then after the war he went off to Chalk River, Canada, where he eventually became the director. Lewis was most effective in setting this up and continued to run it with the same sort of efficiency that he had shown for Rowe. </p>
+
He never married and was completely faithful to his job. Then after the war he went off to Chalk River, Canada, where he eventually became the director. Lewis was most effective in setting this up and continued to run it with the same sort of efficiency that he had shown for Rowe.  
  
<p>I came into close contact with Lewis then. I had changed my whole basis and was now manufacturing very high voltage machines in Massachusetts. Lewis, having seen these and heard what we were doing, wanted one of these machines for his Chalk River job. He bought one at the cost of well over a million dollars. Lewis and I came to be very close. He was twice very, very important to our company in being a pioneer in the purchase of these machines. He eventually bought two, and they were remarkably effective under his leadership of the Canadian project. I was very fond of this man, traveled with him quite a lot. I knew him over a period of fifteen or eighteen years intimately. I was always surprised that he never married. </p>
+
I came into close contact with Lewis then. I had changed my whole basis and was now manufacturing very high voltage machines in Massachusetts. Lewis, having seen these and heard what we were doing, wanted one of these machines for his Chalk River job. He bought one at the cost of well over a million dollars. Lewis and I came to be very close. He was twice very, very important to our company in being a pioneer in the purchase of these machines. He eventually bought two, and they were remarkably effective under his leadership of the Canadian project. I was very fond of this man, traveled with him quite a lot. I knew him over a period of fifteen or eighteen years intimately. I was always surprised that he never married.  
  
 
==== Rowe Cont'd.  ====
 
==== Rowe Cont'd.  ====
  
<p>I should now go back to Rowe and say that Rowe was married to a very good-looking, [indeed] beautiful woman who was extremely devoted to her own appearance and the way she dressed. Rowe managed to arrange things throughout the six-year war in England so that his wife never had to deal with the rationing and all the other problems that most English housewives had to deal with. For this, Mrs. Rowe, and Rowe himself, were quite strongly disliked and envied particularly by the married women, the wives of his assistants. Rowe did this by finding her a place in an inn where she lived apart from the people of the TRE establishment, and she was able to maintain excellent dressing and excellent care of herself. He brought her to the various dances, where I had the greatest pleasure in dancing with her. She was quite the belle of the ball, and for this the other women did not forgive her. There was, however, in his history, not the slightest sign of any infidelity by him. He stuck with her, he looked after her well, and took her to Australia with him. </p>
+
I should now go back to Rowe and say that Rowe was married to a very good-looking, [indeed] beautiful woman who was extremely devoted to her own appearance and the way she dressed. Rowe managed to arrange things throughout the six-year war in England so that his wife never had to deal with the rationing and all the other problems that most English housewives had to deal with. For this, Mrs. Rowe, and Rowe himself, were quite strongly disliked and envied particularly by the married women, the wives of his assistants. Rowe did this by finding her a place in an inn where she lived apart from the people of the TRE establishment, and she was able to maintain excellent dressing and excellent care of herself. He brought her to the various dances, where I had the greatest pleasure in dancing with her. She was quite the belle of the ball, and for this the other women did not forgive her. There was, however, in his history, not the slightest sign of any infidelity by him. He stuck with her, he looked after her well, and took her to Australia with him.  
  
 
==== Watson-Watt  ====
 
==== Watson-Watt  ====
  
<p>Now I will go on to Watson-Watt. This is in many ways the most difficult. Watson-Watt was known as the father, or grandfather, of British radar. It was he who was appealed to by the committee studying how we would deal with the bombers back in 1935, when it was realized that Hitler was a menace. The committee, consisting of four prominent scientists, appealed to Watson-Watt, who was then the head of the National Physics Laboratory Radio Section, whether he could suggest something like a death ray, because many death rays had been suggested to the government and all of them were found to be hopeless or phoney. </p>
+
Now I will go on to Watson-Watt. This is in many ways the most difficult. Watson-Watt was known as the father, or grandfather, of British radar. It was he who was appealed to by the committee studying how we would deal with the bombers back in 1935, when it was realized that Hitler was a menace. The committee, consisting of four prominent scientists, appealed to Watson-Watt, who was then the head of the National Physics Laboratory Radio Section, whether he could suggest something like a death ray, because many death rays had been suggested to the government and all of them were found to be hopeless or phoney.  
  
<p>Watson-Watt went apparently to his chief assistant Wilkins, and he knew very well there was no likelihood of a death ray that would produce the amount of energy in a distant plane to upset either the engine or the pilot. The idea was absolutely hopeless. But he posed to Wilkins the idea of using radio. He wanted to know what energy could possibly be focused on an airplane and bounce back towards our shores at a given speed and a given height and so on and so on. At any rate, Wilkins came back with a favorable, or usable number of figures, and Watson-Watt then asked the committee for permission to pulse the Daventry station, just shut it all on and off while an RAF airplane was to fly over it. All this was done in great secrecy in 1935 and the result was favorable. The image, or rather the pulse, was detected on a screen and was shown to the committee which was duly impressed. As a result of this, Air Marshall Dowding, who was at that time in charge of fighter command, saw to it that 10,000 pounds sterling, or some figure like that, was made available for these people to continue with. In that sense, Watson-Watt was the pioneer and he continued. </p>
+
Watson-Watt went apparently to his chief assistant Wilkins, and he knew very well there was no likelihood of a death ray that would produce the amount of energy in a distant plane to upset either the engine or the pilot. The idea was absolutely hopeless. But he posed to Wilkins the idea of using radio. He wanted to know what energy could possibly be focused on an airplane and bounce back towards our shores at a given speed and a given height and so on and so on. At any rate, Wilkins came back with a favorable, or usable number of figures, and Watson-Watt then asked the committee for permission to pulse the Daventry station, just shut it all on and off while an RAF airplane was to fly over it. All this was done in great secrecy in 1935 and the result was favorable. The image, or rather the pulse, was detected on a screen and was shown to the committee which was duly impressed. As a result of this, Air Marshall Dowding, who was at that time in charge of fighter command, saw to it that 10,000 pounds sterling, or some figure like that, was made available for these people to continue with. In that sense, Watson-Watt was the pioneer and he continued.  
  
<p>Watson-Watt was put in charge of Bawdsey, and there he led a team of quite able people, mostly engineers. Rowe was on that team, and I can't tell you the story of that. But Watson-Watt was never in my estimation the equivalent leader of men to put together a team as were Lee DuBridge and A. P. Rowe. </p>
+
Watson-Watt was put in charge of Bawdsey, and there he led a team of quite able people, mostly engineers. Rowe was on that team, and I can't tell you the story of that. But Watson-Watt was never in my estimation the equivalent leader of men to put together a team as were Lee DuBridge and A. P. Rowe.  
  
<p>At any rate, Watson-Watt was called to be DCD, Director of Communications Development, and moved to London. Rowe took over from Watson-Watt at Bawdsey, and did, as I believe, a job that I do not think Watson-Watt was capable of. But Watson-Watt had a streak of inventiveness that neither Lee DuBridge or A. P. Rowe I think had. So it was finally the right man in the right place. </p>
+
At any rate, Watson-Watt was called to be DCD, Director of Communications Development, and moved to London. Rowe took over from Watson-Watt at Bawdsey, and did, as I believe, a job that I do not think Watson-Watt was capable of. But Watson-Watt had a streak of inventiveness that neither Lee DuBridge or A. P. Rowe I think had. So it was finally the right man in the right place.  
  
<p>At the end of the war, Watson-Watt was trying very hard to get a large sum for himself and his collaborators out of the British government, and did succeed to some extent. In the meantime, during the second half of the war, Watson-Watt paid several visits to the United States and to Radiation Lab, MIT. Because I was the English representative there, it fell to me to be his companion, to show him around, which I thoroughly enjoyed. He was uniformly courteous and helpful to me and I became very fond of him. </p>
+
At the end of the war, Watson-Watt was trying very hard to get a large sum for himself and his collaborators out of the British government, and did succeed to some extent. In the meantime, during the second half of the war, Watson-Watt paid several visits to the United States and to Radiation Lab, MIT. Because I was the English representative there, it fell to me to be his companion, to show him around, which I thoroughly enjoyed. He was uniformly courteous and helpful to me and I became very fond of him.  
  
<p>After the war he immigrated, or changed allegiance, to Canada and tried to set up some business of his own there, but it did not do well. I think he evidenced there that he was not a businessman and not capable of the kind of planning that a business of that kind would have required. I have to say, and I don't know whether I should, that he was not as careful about his wife as Lee DuBridge and A.P. Rowe were. He did have a mistress. He apparently took as his mistress the woman who was a very efficient secretary to him, and brought her to the United States on one of his trips. I realized what was happening. The Americans more or less winked at this: since he was a great man, he was obviously entitled to whatever alleviation he wanted. But he looked after this woman very, very well. He saw to it that she had the best accommodation and all the rest of it, and brought her along to the various meetings that we had. She was an intelligent woman who understood the radar business. </p>
+
After the war he immigrated, or changed allegiance, to Canada and tried to set up some business of his own there, but it did not do well. I think he evidenced there that he was not a businessman and not capable of the kind of planning that a business of that kind would have required. I have to say, and I don't know whether I should, that he was not as careful about his wife as Lee DuBridge and A.P. Rowe were. He did have a mistress. He apparently took as his mistress the woman who was a very efficient secretary to him, and brought her to the United States on one of his trips. I realized what was happening. The Americans more or less winked at this: since he was a great man, he was obviously entitled to whatever alleviation he wanted. But he looked after this woman very, very well. He saw to it that she had the best accommodation and all the rest of it, and brought her along to the various meetings that we had. She was an intelligent woman who understood the radar business.  
  
<p>Watson-Watt himself of course was very, very well informed and achieved good opinions from most of the American scientists with whom he dealt. There was never any question that when he and I were together, he mixed extremely well and was therefore completely on top of any discussion that we might be having. </p>
+
Watson-Watt himself of course was very, very well informed and achieved good opinions from most of the American scientists with whom he dealt. There was never any question that when he and I were together, he mixed extremely well and was therefore completely on top of any discussion that we might be having.  
  
 
==== Rowe Cont'd.  ====
 
==== Rowe Cont'd.  ====
  
<p>Back to A. P. Rowe, I find that neither in my transcript nor otherwise have I spoken to you about Rowe's Sunday Soviets. Rowe wrote a book called ''One Story of Radar'', published in May, 1948, by the University Cambridge Press. The book gives a remarkable impression of what Rowe did during the entire war with his team. </p>
+
Back to A. P. Rowe, I find that neither in my transcript nor otherwise have I spoken to you about Rowe's Sunday Soviets. Rowe wrote a book called ''One Story of Radar'', published in May, 1948, by the University Cambridge Press. The book gives a remarkable impression of what Rowe did during the entire war with his team.  
  
<p>One of the things I want to bring out is a tremendous achievement of Rowe outside the usual range: it was what he called the Sunday Soviet. He arranged that we would work six days a week, but not on Sundays, because on Sunday it was a day when he could encourage the top officers of the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy to come to our laboratory on the south coast of England and take part with us in a general discussion. The rules were quite straightforward and simple. Rank was not considered, nor did you have to make the usual careful remarks when speaking to somebody else. Anybody could say anything. Rowe was in charge. But you could ask these Air Force people what was happening to the latest equipment that we had provided, and we could get their frank opinions about everything. Because of the way that it was done, it was called our Sunday Soviet. </p>
+
One of the things I want to bring out is a tremendous achievement of Rowe outside the usual range: it was what he called the Sunday Soviet. He arranged that we would work six days a week, but not on Sundays, because on Sunday it was a day when he could encourage the top officers of the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy to come to our laboratory on the south coast of England and take part with us in a general discussion. The rules were quite straightforward and simple. Rank was not considered, nor did you have to make the usual careful remarks when speaking to somebody else. Anybody could say anything. Rowe was in charge. But you could ask these Air Force people what was happening to the latest equipment that we had provided, and we could get their frank opinions about everything. Because of the way that it was done, it was called our Sunday Soviet.  
  
<p>The people would come from Whitehall because they had the opportunity to get away from the shut-in bomb shelters and all the rest of it, come to the south coast and perhaps get in a round of golf or tennis on a Sunday. It became a very, very important thing. I cannot think of anything corresponding that was of equal importance, it was totally Rowe's idea and he made it work, got the Air Force officers to come, and he got all his scientists to come. We found it extremely valuable. Lord Cherwell came sometimes. </p>
+
The people would come from Whitehall because they had the opportunity to get away from the shut-in bomb shelters and all the rest of it, come to the south coast and perhaps get in a round of golf or tennis on a Sunday. It became a very, very important thing. I cannot think of anything corresponding that was of equal importance, it was totally Rowe's idea and he made it work, got the Air Force officers to come, and he got all his scientists to come. We found it extremely valuable. Lord Cherwell came sometimes.  
  
<p>You will find reference to the Sunday Soviets on pages 83 and 85 of Rowe's book. You will also see in the frontispiece several of the top members of TRE, including W. B. Lewis. You will find W.B. Lewis again in the picture plate 7. Lewis is at the back, just behind the king, striding mostly forward. Rowe is on the right in front of P. I. Dee. I was wrong when I said there was a picture of the Sunday Soviet in that book; there is not. But I do remember that we sometimes had as many as 25 people, including sometimes 10 top RAF and other officers. Cherwell came on several occasions. So, as somebody said, I think it was Joubert, you can say anything you like in Rowe's office on Sunday morning. It was a very, very important thing and I give Rowe the full credit for that. </p>
+
You will find reference to the Sunday Soviets on pages 83 and 85 of Rowe's book. You will also see in the frontispiece several of the top members of TRE, including W. B. Lewis. You will find W.B. Lewis again in the picture plate 7. Lewis is at the back, just behind the king, striding mostly forward. Rowe is on the right in front of P. I. Dee. I was wrong when I said there was a picture of the Sunday Soviet in that book; there is not. But I do remember that we sometimes had as many as 25 people, including sometimes 10 top RAF and other officers. Cherwell came on several occasions. So, as somebody said, I think it was Joubert, you can say anything you like in Rowe's office on Sunday morning. It was a very, very important thing and I give Rowe the full credit for that.  
  
<p>I should have inserted that when Rowe left TRE, he got his first big job in Australia at the University of Adelaide, where he was the top man. There his combination of "lack of democracy and strong disciplinarian attitude" caused him a lot of trouble. He did not think the Australians were working hard enough, and he made public reference to the amount of time they spent on the beaches and so on. For this he became quite unpopular with certain of the people there. But I believe he continued to work just as he had always done. </p>
+
I should have inserted that when Rowe left TRE, he got his first big job in Australia at the University of Adelaide, where he was the top man. There his combination of "lack of democracy and strong disciplinarian attitude" caused him a lot of trouble. He did not think the Australians were working hard enough, and he made public reference to the amount of time they spent on the beaches and so on. For this he became quite unpopular with certain of the people there. But I believe he continued to work just as he had always done.  
  
 
==== W.B. Lewis Cont'd.  ====
 
==== W.B. Lewis Cont'd.  ====
  
<p>I have not said enough about W. B. Lewis' achievements. Before World War II, he was at the Cavendish, and Rutherford gave him the job of doing the early computer work and other instrumentation that was needed there. Then he came to TRE and, as I have explained, did an extraordinary job of keeping everything together there throughout the six year period of the war. I am including in my package to you a page taken from my own work of December, 1944, when I was trying to decide how I should change my job at the end of the war. I took as my models the various people I had worked with during the war and their positive and negative characteristics. The one I am sending you is about Lewis, and you will see on the left-hand page that I characterize him as having outstanding memory and very high practical and theoretical ability. Then I have some modest criticisms. </p>
+
I have not said enough about W. B. Lewis' achievements. Before World War II, he was at the Cavendish, and Rutherford gave him the job of doing the early computer work and other instrumentation that was needed there. Then he came to TRE and, as I have explained, did an extraordinary job of keeping everything together there throughout the six year period of the war. I am including in my package to you a page taken from my own work of December, 1944, when I was trying to decide how I should change my job at the end of the war. I took as my models the various people I had worked with during the war and their positive and negative characteristics. The one I am sending you is about Lewis, and you will see on the left-hand page that I characterize him as having outstanding memory and very high practical and theoretical ability. Then I have some modest criticisms.  
  
<p>Now I would like to tell you what Lewis did after the war. After one or two changes he became director of the atomic energy [organization] of Canada and went, I suppose, from Montreal where he started, to Chalk River, Canada, where the huge laboratories were set up. He became a pioneer in the work that led to the CANDU system of atomic energy for Canada. I cannot praise him sufficiently for an article that he wrote to give as the I.E.E. Centenary Lecture. It is called "Frontier Events in Electrical and Electronic Radio Engineering, from Picowatts to Terawatts in the Last Forty and the Next Sixty Years." This was published in 1971. The lecture was given at the Science Center, Toronto, Ontario, May 19, 1971. I have a copy of it which is precious to me, but I think you can have it dug out of one of the libraries. It is an outstanding summary. It does not give him the credit I think he could have claimed but goes through the whole history with plenty of references. The title gives the story. </p>
+
Now I would like to tell you what Lewis did after the war. After one or two changes he became director of the atomic energy [organization] of Canada and went, I suppose, from Montreal where he started, to Chalk River, Canada, where the huge laboratories were set up. He became a pioneer in the work that led to the CANDU system of atomic energy for Canada. I cannot praise him sufficiently for an article that he wrote to give as the I.E.E. Centenary Lecture. It is called "Frontier Events in Electrical and Electronic Radio Engineering, from Picowatts to Terawatts in the Last Forty and the Next Sixty Years." This was published in 1971. The lecture was given at the Science Center, Toronto, Ontario, May 19, 1971. I have a copy of it which is precious to me, but I think you can have it dug out of one of the libraries. It is an outstanding summary. It does not give him the credit I think he could have claimed but goes through the whole history with plenty of references. The title gives the story.  
  
<p>I would like to say here a few words about W.B. Lewis, whom as I have told you, I knew intimately, traveled with, stayed with, and so on, over a period of 15 or 20 years. As far as I could ever see or determine, he had no problems with sex. I do not think he had a girlfriend or anything like that throughout the whole of the time I knew him. When I visited him at Chalk River, where he had a beautiful director's house, he had installed his mother there. She was a vegetarian and a very prominent, religious person, I suppose a Quaker. Although she was a vegetarian, she arranged that he got a full meat diet as he preferred. I knew Lewis had a devoted secretary at TRE, and I often looked at her and hoped and wished that he would marry her. But I do not think there was anything between them. I am sure she was fond of him and that's as far as it went. </p>
+
I would like to say here a few words about W.B. Lewis, whom as I have told you, I knew intimately, traveled with, stayed with, and so on, over a period of 15 or 20 years. As far as I could ever see or determine, he had no problems with sex. I do not think he had a girlfriend or anything like that throughout the whole of the time I knew him. When I visited him at Chalk River, where he had a beautiful director's house, he had installed his mother there. She was a vegetarian and a very prominent, religious person, I suppose a Quaker. Although she was a vegetarian, she arranged that he got a full meat diet as he preferred. I knew Lewis had a devoted secretary at TRE, and I often looked at her and hoped and wished that he would marry her. But I do not think there was anything between them. I am sure she was fond of him and that's as far as it went.  
  
<p>As I have said, Lewis was sometimes short-tempered and peppery, but on the whole he was passionless about his work and about his affairs with other people. Probably among all my male acquaintances over a long life, he is unique in that he showed no interest in sex with women or, of course, with men. So it is a remarkable story. And it was this that enabled Lewis to work ten hours a day, six or more days a week, and to produce. There is no doubt in my mind that as the director of Chalk River, he was quite largely responsible for the success of the CANDU reactors and their installation at the Pickering Plant near Toronto, where they really were very, very successful and trouble-free. </p>
+
As I have said, Lewis was sometimes short-tempered and peppery, but on the whole he was passionless about his work and about his affairs with other people. Probably among all my male acquaintances over a long life, he is unique in that he showed no interest in sex with women or, of course, with men. So it is a remarkable story. And it was this that enabled Lewis to work ten hours a day, six or more days a week, and to produce. There is no doubt in my mind that as the director of Chalk River, he was quite largely responsible for the success of the CANDU reactors and their installation at the Pickering Plant near Toronto, where they really were very, very successful and trouble-free.  
  
<p>Further evidence of Lewis' freedom from affairs with other people: I mentioned that whenever I was available, he would be willing to walk with me. We used to take our sandwich lunches onto the cliffs at Worth Matravers, and he and I enjoyed walking back and forth towards the edge of the cliffs to eat our lunch. Then, when I came back from America to Malvern, I found him completely available on a Saturday morning to walk over the lowland hills with me. I think he did this alone, otherwise. But this availability — I never remember him saying no, I can't do that, I have another engagement, or something like that. So, it is among my experience of men completely unique. </p>
+
Further evidence of Lewis' freedom from affairs with other people: I mentioned that whenever I was available, he would be willing to walk with me. We used to take our sandwich lunches onto the cliffs at Worth Matravers, and he and I enjoyed walking back and forth towards the edge of the cliffs to eat our lunch. Then, when I came back from America to Malvern, I found him completely available on a Saturday morning to walk over the lowland hills with me. I think he did this alone, otherwise. But this availability — I never remember him saying no, I can't do that, I have another engagement, or something like that. So, it is among my experience of men completely unique.  
  
<p>Lewis came back from Chalk River to attend the Rutherford centenary in 1971, and I came from High Voltage Engineering in Massachusetts. He was seated in a place of honor next to the high table, so there's no doubt that he was fully accepted among the great ones of English physics, although we cannot find references to that in the literature, partly because he was himself so undemanding for recognition. </p>
+
Lewis came back from Chalk River to attend the Rutherford centenary in 1971, and I came from High Voltage Engineering in Massachusetts. He was seated in a place of honor next to the high table, so there's no doubt that he was fully accepted among the great ones of English physics, although we cannot find references to that in the literature, partly because he was himself so undemanding for recognition.  
  
 
=== References  ===
 
=== References  ===
  
<p>Robinson, Denis M., "British Microwave Radar 1939-41," Proc. American Philosophical Society, vol. 127, no. 1, pp. 26-31, 1983. </p>
+
Robinson, Denis M., "British Microwave Radar 1939-41," Proc. American Philosophical Society, vol. 127, no. 1, pp. 26-31, 1983.  
  
<p>Batt, Reginald, ''The Radar Army'', 1991. </p>
+
Batt, Reginald, ''The Radar Army'', 1991.  
  
<p>Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ''Five Years at the Radiation Laboratory'', Cambridge, Mass., 1946. Distributed to former staff members of the MIT Radiation Laboratory. Reprinted in 1991 by the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) — including some text (not extensive) deleted for security reasons from the 1946 publication, and a new Part III containing excerpts from Radar Days by E. G. Bowen — and distributed to registrants at the MTT-S Symposium in Boston, June 1991. </p>
+
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ''Five Years at the Radiation Laboratory'', Cambridge, Mass., 1946. Distributed to former staff members of the MIT Radiation Laboratory. Reprinted in 1991 by the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) — including some text (not extensive) deleted for security reasons from the 1946 publication, and a new Part III containing excerpts from Radar Days by E. G. Bowen — and distributed to registrants at the MTT-S Symposium in Boston, June 1991.  
  
 
[[Category:People and organizations|Robinson]] [[Category:Engineers|Robinson]] [[Category:Inventors|Robinson]] [[Category:Research and development labs|Robinson]] [[Category:Culture and society|Robinson]] [[Category:Defense & security|Robinson]] [[Category:Signals|Robinson]] [[Category:Signal detection|Robinson]] [[Category:Radar detection|Robinson]] [[Category:Engineered materials & dielectrics|Robinson]] [[Category:Insulation|Robinson]] [[Category:Insulators|Robinson]] [[Category:World War II|Robinson]] [[Category:Communications|Robinson]] [[Category:Communication equipment|Robinson]] [[Category:Receivers|Robinson]] [[Category:Materials|Robinson]] [[Category:Crystalline materials|Robinson]] [[Category:Components, circuits, devices & systems|Robinson]] [[Category:Electron devices|Robinson]] [[Category:Vacuum technology|Robinson]] [[Category:Nuclear and plasma sciences|Robinson]] [[Category:Particles|Robinson]] [[Category:Particle accelerators|Robinson]] [[Category:Fields, waves & electromagnetics|Robinson]] [[Category:Antennas|Robinson]] [[Category:Radar antennas|Robinson]] [[Category:Microwave technology|Robinson]] [[Category:News|Robinson]]
 
[[Category:People and organizations|Robinson]] [[Category:Engineers|Robinson]] [[Category:Inventors|Robinson]] [[Category:Research and development labs|Robinson]] [[Category:Culture and society|Robinson]] [[Category:Defense & security|Robinson]] [[Category:Signals|Robinson]] [[Category:Signal detection|Robinson]] [[Category:Radar detection|Robinson]] [[Category:Engineered materials & dielectrics|Robinson]] [[Category:Insulation|Robinson]] [[Category:Insulators|Robinson]] [[Category:World War II|Robinson]] [[Category:Communications|Robinson]] [[Category:Communication equipment|Robinson]] [[Category:Receivers|Robinson]] [[Category:Materials|Robinson]] [[Category:Crystalline materials|Robinson]] [[Category:Components, circuits, devices & systems|Robinson]] [[Category:Electron devices|Robinson]] [[Category:Vacuum technology|Robinson]] [[Category:Nuclear and plasma sciences|Robinson]] [[Category:Particles|Robinson]] [[Category:Particle accelerators|Robinson]] [[Category:Fields, waves & electromagnetics|Robinson]] [[Category:Antennas|Robinson]] [[Category:Radar antennas|Robinson]] [[Category:Microwave technology|Robinson]] [[Category:News|Robinson]]

Revision as of 15:20, 20 November 2013

Contents

About Denis M. Robinson

This interview covers Robinson’s career, focusing on his World War II work. Robinson studied electrical engineering at the University of London and received his PhD in 1929. After two years at MIT on fellowship, he spent the remainder of the 1930s working in private industry. He was recruited by C. P. Snow in 1939 to do scientific work for the government. He began to work on radar and microwaves, more in an administrative capacity. Because he was not vital to the British research effort, he went to the MIT Rad Lab in 1941 as the British liaison; since his family was already in the US, this was agreeable to him. He worked in this capacity till the war’s end. After the war, he founded the High-Voltage Engineering Corporation, providing accelerators of up to 20 million volts.

The addendum contains Robinson's thoughts on colleagues. He thought Lee DuBridge a remarkable leader of men and picker of men. A. P. Rowe was a splendid organizer, but a strict disciplinarian who made a certain number of enemies. His “Sunday Soviets”— high-level, informal chat sessions — were very helpful for the war effort. Wattson-Watt was very creative, but not so good a leader of men. W. B. Lewis was very effective, and devoted to his work, but never married.

About the Interview

DENIS M. ROBINSON: An Interview Conducted by John Bryant, IEEE History Center, 10 June 1991

Interview # 069 for the IEEE History Center The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

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 10 June 1991 that this oral history be cited as follows:

Denis Robinson, an oral history conducted in 1991 by John Bryant, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

Interview: Denis Robinson

Interviewer: John Bryant Date: 10 June 1991

Location: Arlington, Massachusetts

Background and Childhood

Robinson:

This is a recording on the 10th of June 1991 in Dr. Denis Robinson's home in Arlington, Massachusetts. John Bryant has come here to interview me.

Bryant:

This is John Bryant of the University of Michigan and member of the IEEE History Committee. It's my pleasure to be in the home of Dr. Denis Robinson at 19 Orlando Avenue in Arlington, Massachusetts. Dr. Robinson, could we start by perhaps giving some background? Perhaps about your parents and why you decided to become an engineer or scientist.

Robinson:

Yes, I'd be delighted. It started very early for me. My father was a journalist, and my mother was a teacher of speech and music and a convinced pacifist. My father was a middle-of-the-roader who joined up in the First World War. But besides being a journalist, he really wanted to be a scientist, but he didn't know how to start. At the age of 14 he pulled out of what his father wanted him to do at the Prudential Assurance Company and apprenticed himself to an optician, who had telescopic equipment and so on. My father thought that was the way to become an astronomer. Anyway, my father compensated for his real wish to be a scientist by buying sophisticated toys — electrical toys — as soon as he had the money and I was old enough to appreciate them, which started for me at age ten. He bought me a Wimshurst machine and played with it himself. And then we made induction coils together and so on. I had no doubt from the age of eight or ten that my future was in something electrical. It was clear. And then the great excitement happened: the BBC — the beginnings of the BBC — in London started a broadcast system. And we, 30 miles southwest of London, were able to receive this. Very exciting for us! My father bought... first of all we had a crystal set, then we had tubes, and so on. But I stuck with him until I went off to college. He really was a leader in this. He was driving forward all the time.

So does that tell you enough about the background? No, it doesn't, because my mother was a great teacher of speech and got me onto small stages, where I had to start talking in the words of Shakespeare before I even understood them — even at age seven. I took Shakespeare parts and so on. My father believed in writing and helped me to learn to write. So that was the background in England. We lived in a very big, six-room house but with no kind of facility coming in except cold water. There was no electricity, no gas, no telephone, of course no radio or TV. And everything we used there went back into the ground, so we were using the recycling business before it ever had that name. What else would you like to know about my youth?

Education

Bryant:

You did your engineering study at the University of London?

Robinson:

That's right.

Bryant:

Electrical?

Robinson:

Yes, it was electrical engineering, and it was, corresponding to that time, a pretty elementary course.

Bryant:

Many of our engineering courses here were dominated by power.

Robinson:

Dominated by power. Exactly!

Bryant:

We had to struggle even in the forties to get into electronics. [Chuckling]

Robinson:

Right. So that was it.

Bryant:

And you took a Ph.D. in 1929?

Robinson:

That's right, and I decided to study the three-phase commutator motor and wrote my thesis on that. And then I got a fellowship — the Harkness or Commonwealth Fund Fellowship — to come to the U.S.

Bryant:

You were at MIT?

Robinson:

I was for two years — 1929 to 1931.

Bryant:

What were you studying?

Robinson:

Electrical engineering under Vannevar Bush. [Chuckling] It's rather amusing the way he treated me. He was a very forthright man. Did you ever meet him?

Bryant:

No.

Robinson:

Well, he had all my papers, of course, and he saw that I had a Ph.D., and he thought that I was extremely young to have a doctorate degree, and he said, "Um! So you're a Brit, a Limey. Well, I don't like those guys, but I expect we'll get along all right." That was his way, his very forthright way. He was, at that time, working on the mechanical integraph, of which you must have seen a picture. And I was in the same big lab there, and he put me to studying the unpolarized resistivity of glass. So that was my first taste of solid-state research. He was a remarkably inspiring leader, no question.

Bryant:

A counterpart to that was, I suppose, the beginnings of electronics that was being developed by Edward L. Bowles?

Robinson:

I never met Bowles at that time. He was at MIT at that time, but I never met him. Then I was back in England for ten years. The last four years I was in radar, and the Royal Air Force sent me over here to the Radiation Lab, which had just been founded by Bowen and the rest of them. You know that history well, right?

Underground Cables

Bryant:

In the intervening time, from 1931 in England, you did what?

Robinson:

High voltage. The testing of underground cables.

Bryant:

In industry?

Robinson:

In industry. The company was called Callender's Cable Co. It was one of the two big ones then. I got that job at a very low salary, $1500 a year, but it was run by a very forthright and excellent man called Dr. L.G. Brazier. He was buying the very best equipment because it was believed that Britain's capability in the impregnated paper cable was not good enough. England had put in a 150,000 volt system. The national power grid was 150,000 volts. And to bring the grid connections through the big cities — London, Birmingham and the rest — they stepped it down to 38,000 volts to ground, three-phase. And even those cables never stood up. They lasted a year or two. I was put on the job of trying to find out how we would improve those cables. And I made a major contribution and wrote a book.

War and Radar

Bryant:

Yes. Could you tell us when and under what circumstances you were first made aware of the then secret subject of radio location that we now call radar?

Robinson:

Yes. Because Callender's wouldn't give me any more money and by this time I had two boys and a wife, I went into the television business. And you probably know, but few Americans realize, that the BBC authorized a two-hour program of entertainment every day starting in 1935. That caused all the small companies to develop television receivers. I was in a small radio company in England called Scophony. When the war broke out, an organization run by the novelist and scientist, C.P. Snow, took over to make sure that the minimum number of people were taken out of science and put in what were expected to be the trenches. So I was nabbed. I had filled out all the necessary forms, of course, and it was all put on Hollerith punched tape. My name came up, and they sent me almost immediately — soon after the beginning of the war — to Dundee. Now you know about that history, do you?

Bryant:

AMRE at Dundee, Scotland.

Robinson:

Yes, I went there and was delighted that A.P. Rowe, whose name you probably know, and Ben Lewis were in charge up there at Dundee. Watson-Watt was already back in London. They made me party to all of their secrets. They said, "We only have one secret, and you can ask us anything, and we'll tell you. You have been cleared satisfactorily, so we'll tell you everything."

Bryant:

So they went through a formal clearance search?

Robinson:

That must have done by C.P. Snow's people, but I knew nothing about it. I was accepted, and I was delighted because I was told about the radar cover, at 14 meters approximately, around the whole coast.

Bryant:

Those were the CH stations?

Receiver for Cavity Magnetron

Robinson:

That's right, and I had no idea — although I'd been in radio for four years — I had no idea that we'd got that far. So that's how I got initiated. They said, "We don't want you to fuss with that. We think we've got that all ready. We want you to find a receiver on 10 centimeters because we have this thing called the cavity magnetron. It's already beginning to perk, and we're sure it's going to be good." That was at the University of Birmingham.

Bryant:

This was the summer or fall of 1939?

Robinson:

It was the fall — the late fall. The war had just started. It was November or December of '39. And they had the magnetron working, and they had moved it into G.E.C., Wembley, as well.

Bryant:

For production?

Robinson:

Yes. I was pretty impressed by this demand placed on me to get a receiver, because the coils had got smaller and smaller, and everything had now disappeared into the only tubes we had. So I knew that we had to have a totally new look.

I went to the library and immersed myself there, and fortunately, found a little book called Hochfrequenztechnik (in German), produced by the wonderful Springer publishing company. It was by a man called Thoma, who was a professor at one of the lesser-known universities in the south of Germany. He had not the slightest idea that it was going to be used for any war or other purpose, but he studied the whole thing and said, "How do we make the next advance?" You've done the work on Hertz, so you know. He understood all that stuff, and like any good German professor, he had to start with Ohm's Law [Chuckling] in the book. He went through, and he gradually rejected every receiver that had a valve or tube or something like that. He said, "...the self-capacity there is more than we can use, so the only thing..."Finally, he came to the conclusion, "...the only thing we can use for a receiver is the crystal and cat's whisker." Well, I was delighted because that's what I'd used ten years previously. So I went back to W.B. Lewis and said, "Look, this is it." He could read German enough to read these pages that I'd marked for him, and he said, "Let's start."

The facilities at Dundee were appalling, but it did happen to have this collection of Springer books and had all the usual IEE publications and that sort of thing. But the only documents — secret documents — were those kept in the typical bureaucratic British system of minute keeping, which I think you're quite familiar with. I could dip into those, and I was amazed to find a big quarrel going on between Bowen and Rowe at that time. Bowen had been sent to Saint Athan in Wales. There he was supposed to install 125-centimeter stuff, which was all that they had, in night fighter planes. That was the highest frequency they could get from the tubes then available. He was furious with the cooperation that Rowe didn't give him, and he played around a little with Tizard. I found minutes by Rowe saying: "How is it possible that you get in touch directly with Tizard without letting me have copies!" And so on. So that'll give you the idea of how elementary it all was there. But Rowe was good himself. He was master of the civil service and the bomb business. And Ben Lewis, for his part, had been one of Rutherford's "boys" for many, many years. So he knew what to do, and he and I together started a crystal receiver for 10 cm (= 3000 MHz).

Fortunately, I was assisted right away by a man called W.B. Skinner, University of Bristol. He was one of Rutherford's boys, and fortunately he knew what the barrier layer was all about. So, in a way, we were starting on what Bell Labs later developed into the transistor. That was tremendously important for us and for them. I must tell you about Skinner because he was a very unkempt man. If the word had been used then, we'd have called him a "beatnik." He never shaved properly, he cut his own hair. He was very proud of that. He was shabby and so on. He came from a well-to-do, upper-middle-class family. You may have heard of the Skinner Shoe business. Anyway, they were wealthy. So he didn't give a damn. He would walk into the poshest West End hotel in carpet slippers and messy tie, and because he had the air of the upper class, he would say to the maitre d', "Find us a good table," and the man did what he was told. It was a lesson to me because I came from the middle class and wouldn't have dared go into any hotel improperly dressed.

We got along very well, and in our laboratory he sat hour after hour, tapping. He would put together a crystal — I think it was galena and wire, stainless steel wire, and do his own glassblowing. You possibly know that Rutherford was a real believer in everybody doing their own work with their own hands. Elementary. And all of his people were like this. So Skinner put these into quartz tubes, I think, and then he used to tap it with his filthy pipe cleaner. He had a filthy pipe, which he smoked unbrokenly. He used to clean out this pipe with a pocket knife, which was just full of nicotine and mess and he made mess all over the place. And yet these crystals came out better than anybody else's. He would tap them and tap them. He had a back-front Simpson meter to measure the back-to-front ratio. "That one's all right. Nobody touch it. That's ready to go." [Chuckling] "No! No! No! Don't clean my knife! It has exactly the right momentum now." [Chuckling] And people were quite afraid of him. I got along very well with him. Anyway, he produced these things. A few months later, when I got to MIT, I found them using beautifully made little capsule crystals from Bell Labs that were not nearly as effective as Skinner's. And so I said, "Oh, that's terrible. You're only seeing this DC-3 at three miles. That's hopeless. Put in this crystal, and you'll see it at ten." And they did, and so on. So we changed over. One of my delights several months later was to go into, I suppose Sylvania, and see four little girls in a row all with little tools tapping the glass. [Chuckling] They'd picked up this technique. You said you wanted to hear about my connection with Oliphant.

Mark L. Oliphant

Bryant:

Yes, Mark L. Oliphant, who was head of physics at the University of Birmingham. He had been developing a cyclotron, but at the onset of the war he had to stop and I think that the cyclotron lab was made into a microwave electron tube development facility.

Robinson:

That's right, and he was a pusher. Oliphant was always alive and ready to go. He didn't actually do the magnetron himself, but he got the contract from the Admiralty.

Bryant:

He must have had a lot of competition for that.

Robinson:

He did! Lord Cherwell, who was then Prof. Lindemann at Oxford, said, "Absolute nonsense to send that to Oliphant at a regular university. We should have it."

Bryant:

That was a specific question I had.

Robinson:

Oh yes. I don't know if I've ever seen it documented, but it was current that Cherwell never really forgave Oliphant for getting that contract. And the Navy — specifically, Charles Wright — gave Oliphant the contract. Oliphant always talked well. He got the contract, and he put Randall and Boot onto the job. You know those names?

Bryant:

Yes. Very well.

Robinson:

Randall started — I do not know the history. I know Randall, and I know what he did after the war and everything. I do not know what possessed him to start on the magnetron. He got this idea, and he took that block of copper and had Boot, who was his mechanic, drill those cavities in there and the connections. You know what the magnetron looks like?

Bryant:

Oh, yes.

Robinson:

Then, there was a further contribution by Oliphant. He'd always traveled a lot, and he went to America a lot. He was at Stanford, and he saw what the Varian brothers were doing with the rhumbatron.

Bryant:

The klystron.

Robinson:

The klystron, and as you said, he was a devoted cyclotron man. So he thought, Maybe... I don't know how this arrived, but... but they got together, and they thought, well, we'll twist the electrons around that thing by putting a magnet at right-angles.

Bryant:

So Oliphant understood these things technically

Robinson:

Oh, absolutely.

Bryant:

But he also must have been a good administrator, and leader, to let his people work on things.

Robinson:

Yes, he had that ability to throw stuff out and get people working.

Bryant:

I believe that he did a lot of visiting — companies and field stations and other places, on his own.

Robinson:

Rowe of course had no power over Oliphant. Oliphant never joined what we'll call TRE. In fact, I have this nice story. We moved down to the south coast in May of 1940. There it was my great luck to be told by Rowe: "I want you to look after all these people that are coming to us from the universities..."

Recruitment for TRE

Bryant:

What was your actual assignment back up at Dundee? Were you in charge of airborne?

Robinson:

No, as far as I remember I was supposed to be the man getting the receiver ready for the magnetron. At any rate, by the time we got to Worth Matravers, here was Rowe saying, "Robinson, I want you to take over these people." He had no conception of the intellectual power that was being funneled to him. This was being done, you see, by C.P. Snow. Rutherford was dead, and C.P. Snow was saying to all these fellow professors of his, "If you want to get something — do something for the war effort, attach yourself to TRE."

Bryant:

So this was an organized recruitment effort?

Robinson:

Yes, by C.P. Snow.

Bryant:

And keeping them out of military service?

Robinson:

That's right, and they were told roughly that they would maintain all their salaries and perquisites. And of course they came there without the slightest understanding of civil service, or even industry. They didn't know anything about industry. I have some wonderful jokes about them. Here I was, and under my care and attention, and legally responsible to me, was P.I. Dee, Skinner, and Burcham, and all the rest of this wonderful group of Rutherford's boys. Because they all came. And they were brilliant, absolutely brilliant. After two or three months of this, it appeared to me... I had taken it for myself to try and develop a 50-centimeter radar. I was doing this when they came along. They, of course, went straight to the magnetron. They showed me right away. They said, "Why do you fuss with these horns?" I'd gotten the idea of the horns from MIT. "Why do you fuss with those? After all, it can be calculated straight from optical theory."

Almost immediately, within weeks, I could understand that these people, starting with their physics training, were completely on another wavelength. I was trying to run them, and trying to answer the documents that they were supposed to answer. So I went to Rowe and said, "Look, I would prefer to take the six men that I've got on the other stuff and stay and let those guys run themselves." And I said, "Philip Dee is the obvious leader. They all think of him as their leader since Rutherford's gone." And Rowe said, "You really mean this?" To him, of course, as a civil servant, the idea of giving up part of one's imperial realm was ridiculous. I said, "Yes, I really mean it." "Well, if that's what you want, that's how it'll be." So, of course, Dee was absolutely delighted. I mean, he didn't expect anything like this, and he regarded me as something outside the usual realm. And that's how I eventually got to the United States, because of that. He took over, and he began to run it rather well. [Chuckling] But he made some awful boo-boos on the way, you know. Some Air Force officer said, "Don't you realize that I'm an Air Commodore? Dee replied, "Flight Lieutenant, Air Commodore, Air Marshall, I don't know the difference." [Chuckling] You can imagine. You know, in the Air Force they called us "boffins." You know that? And that was partly a term of affection and partly of irritability. Anyway, we got along fine.

Bryant:

Boffin? You mean a civilian?

Robinson:

A boffin was a fellow who knew something about the job, but was a civilian. I don't know where the word comes from. It's a mythical bird of some kind... Dee very quickly fastened onto Bowen. Bowen was able to give admirable chalk lectures on interception and all that.

Bryant:

Bowen at that point was still assigned to South Wales to get installation work done?

Robinson:

Yes, but he kept on coming back again. He started as a physicist, and so he quickly saw that these fellows out of Rutherford's organization were what was needed in this game.

Bryant:

So the Cavendish Labs had a large effect?

Robinson:

A large effect. It wasn't only Cambridge, but a number of the people from Oxford as well, although Lord Cherwell was always a mixed blessing. Jackson came from there. Jackson was a spectroscopist and did awfully well. Now there were other people that came from Cambridge and not out of the physics department. C.P. Snow's organization realized that the people that had been working in biology had been using electrical stuff. They did all that work on the clamp circuit and so on.

Bryant:

Their instrumentation experiences was valuable, I suppose.

Robinson:

Yes. So they pulled the man who later became president of the Royal Society, and they pulled him out. He was merely a lab man. I don't think he even had his Ph.D. They pulled him over. His name was Alan Hodgkin.

Transmitter-Receiver Antenna Radar

Bryant:

When was the move from Dundee down to Worth Matravers?

Robinson:

May 5 of 1940.

Bryant:

At that point Oliphant and his people, and several other organizations, had developed klystrons giving several hundred watts peak power.

Robinson:

It never competed with the magnetron in our eyes.

Bryant:

Your first radar used two horns? The TR, transmit-receive problem, was not yet solved?

Robinson:

No. It was two parabolas.

Bryant:

Was there enough power just coupled between the transmitter and receiver antennas to give local oscillator power, or did you have directional coupling off the transmitter to the mixer?

Robinson:

I don't know. I know that we had a big struggle, and finally somebody did the TR box, which you're familiar with.

Bryant:

Was that Sutton? They called it the Soft Sutton tube?

Robinson:

Yes, that's right. Sutton I knew, too. He was one of the people that came to us.

Bryant:

Do you recall when the first combination transmitter-receiver antenna radar got done?

Robinson:

It was pretty elementary, but as far as I can tell, it was the midsummer of '40.

Bryant:

That early?

Robinson:

Yes. It's absolutely incredible how fast things worked. And with that, we were very excited because we saw a man on a bicycle at five miles or something.

Bryant:

That was Reginald Batt, I believe.

Robinson:

Was it?

Bryant:

Yes. I met him and talked to him.

Robinson:

I see. Well, then, you've seen more than I. So much was happening. You know, we had a visit by the chief of the Air Force Fighter Command.

Bryant:

Dowding?

Robinson:

Dowding, yes. Dowding came. And it was typical of Bowen. He never was careful what he said about anybody else. [Chuckling] And Dowding said, "Why isn't this working?" This was my 50-centimeter thing with the mattress. And Bowen said, "Because we couldn't get any liquid nitrogen." And Stuffy Dowding just went wild and said, "Incredible! Incredible! I will see to this!" And so on. And of course Bowen was absolutely upsetting three or four people in the hierarchy [Chuckling]. So I do remember that visit of Dowding's. Dowding was impressed with what we were doing at 50 centimeters because they needed that for low-level search on the Channel.

But, of course, the enormous problem was to put any of the 10 cm 3000 MHz equipment in the night fighter, the Beaufighter, which had never been planned to give it a regulated or stable power supply. It was unstable mechanically and unstable electrically. We had hell's own job to move these things from what we had made work once [in the laboratory] into that plane. And it took a long time before we had anything that could be called air interception.

Bryant:

At what point was it that you had one to form and fit? In other words, one that would fit in the airplane?

Robinson:

We had one or two by the late part of 1940, as far as I remember. You see, we had the German Luftwaffe coming over Swanage every day. They weren't trying to take us out because they didn't really think that radar was a threat to them. But masses of their bombers went inland to knock out the Royal Air Force. We watched this procession, all in squadron formation, beautifully organized and so on. We felt badly about it, and we said to Rowe, we want to drill with rifles on the south coast in case they come and invade. And he said, "It's a lot of nonsense. I'm going to ask Whitehall." I don't suppose he ever went to Whitehall, but he came back and said, "Whitehall says forget all that. You are to stick with the radar. And never mind all that toy soldier stuff. When I give you the word, you'll go to some place as yet unspoken in the middle of the country. Take all the equipment you can and destroy the rest." And so on and so on.

Mission to MIT

Robinson:

One day in about April 1941, Dee came to me, very annoyed. We had separate offices. He said, "Robinson, it appears that damned Whitehall again wants one of our better men to go to United States. Now you know as well as I do," he said, "that those fellows in America will never do a damned thing." He had the lowest possible opinion of the idea that America would ever get into the war and do anything useful. "But Whitehall insists that we've got to send one of our better centimeter wave men who's experienced in the 9-centimeter stuff." And he said, "Look, will you help me, please. Go over all our list and see who we can spare and who we will send." We looked at the list. This one wouldn't do because he wasn't good enough. And this one was too good, and we needed him. And so on.

After a while, I said, "Look, Philip, I think I might be considered, too." [Chuckling] He said, "You mean to say you're willing to leave here — the center of everything — and go off to the United States where they will do nothing useful?" And I said, "Well, first of all, you may not remember, but I was at MIT for two years. Secondly, my wife is over there because my wife's brother is at Harvard. He got her and the children over there safely, in March 1941, and I'm grateful for that. So I'd be near them again." So he said, "Well, if you're willing to go — I don't understand you — but that settles it." And he put all this paperwork in a bunch and threw it in the trash. And he said, "I'm recommending that you go." So the thing went up to Whitehall, and Whitehall was apparently very pleased that Robinson was going. They knew me, you see.

But they said, "First we want you to go to see every aircraft that may come here on lend-lease from the U.S. and see which one, or if any one, would be suitable for prototyping." I went, and I spent five or six weeks on this. I went to every place where they had any American lend-lease aircraft. I had no doubt from the beginning that the B-24, the Liberator bomber, was the best one for the job. So I recommended it, and I wrote out the usual stuff and said, "I'm ready to go when you send me." And they did. They said, "All right. You go. We can't waste time on the ocean. You go by air from Prestwick." And I went by air from Prestwick. Bowen was already there, of course.

Bryant:

Bowen actually stayed on after Tizard Mission returned?

Robinson:

The Tizard Mission had come back, but Bowen was back and forth and was still there when I got there. But he was pledged to return to the U.K. I collected every last bit of information that I could about what we had been doing in Worth Matravers. The Radiation Lab at MIT was still rather small — 200 people. It had been formed in October 1940, and by the time I got there it was July of '41, but before Pearl Harbor, you see. [The British] had asked me to try and persuade them not to worry about AI — you know what that is?

Bryant:

Airborne intercept radar.

Robinson:

Yes. They said, "Tell the Americans not to worry about AI. We'll do that in Britain. Instead, please concentrate on the submarine menace," which was very severe already. Very severe. Of course when I got to DuBridge and the rest of them, they laughed at this request. They said, "We've got the power; we've got the people. We'll do everything."

Bryant:

Lee A. DuBridge was director of the MIT Radiation Laboratory.

Robinson:

That's right. Remarkably open guy and ready to help in every way. And of course it was already a wonderful group there. I see you've got that five-year book in your bag.

Bryant:

The MTT Society of IEEE has reprinted it.

Robinson:

I'm glad. I'm going to get one tomorrow I hope.

Bryant:

They've put in the classified part that was missing.

Robinson:

Good.

Bryant:

They've also put in Bowen's description of the Tizard Mission.

Alfred L. Loomis

Robinson:

Splendid! I'll get one tomorrow. My impression of the Radiation Lab was the tremendous amount of stuff that they had already collected, you see. Where we had two or three PPIs [plan position indicators], they already had six, or eight, or ten. Everything was like that. They had ordered up. You probably know the history of the financial work that was guaranteed through the Secretary of War.

Bryant:

Stimson?

Robinson:

Yes, and he was a cousin of Loomis, wasn't he?

Bryant:

Alfred L. Loomis, yes.

Robinson:

My story, though I have nothing to prove it, is that Alfred L. Loomis put his signature on a thing saying that he would pay all these guys until the U.S. could come through with the money. Did you ever hear that?

Bryant:

I've also heard that MIT took the risk...

Robinson:

Well, Compton took the risk.

Bryant:

...and actually did the payroll, but...

Robinson:

Yes. I think he had Loomis behind him.

Bryant:

So it's possible that Karl Compton had more than one back-up. Not only the expectation that the government would come through, but the back-up of Alfred Loomis.

Robinson:

Yes. Who was, of course, a multimillionaire. You know how he got his money, don't you?

Bryant:

As an investment banker.

Robinson:

Yes, and he sold out before the crash. Anyway, they had all been to his place on Long Island or somewhere. And many of them — Rabi and all the rest of them — had been there and done research work on his estate. So he was well known to be both a scientist and a statesman. I found him very friendly and very, very accommodating to me when I got there. He expected me to know as much as Bowen, which was a disappointment to him. [Chuckling]

Bryant:

I didn't realize that Loomis was that visible...

Robinson:

Oh, very visible.

Bryant:

...around Radiation Laboratory.

Robinson:

Yes, Alfred Loomis.

Bryant:

Where was his office?

Robinson:

[Chuckling] He had reserved accommodations in several large cities in the country, but he appeared to me to be in New York for his...

Bryant:

But you saw him in Cambridge quite a lot?

Robinson:

Yes, we saw him at Cambridge. And whenever I went to Washington, there he was and said, "Come up to my place, and I'll give you some real good bourbon tonight" and so on and so on. He had a place at the Wardman Park.

Bryant:

The Wardman Park Hotel.

Robinson:

That's right, and we met at the National Academy in those days. He gave a talk, and I was to tell what I knew about the thing. And he said, "Come to my place tonight, and we'll talk more." So I remember going to the Wardman Park, suite so-and-so, pushed the button. He came to the door, opened it himself, wearing trunks and otherwise completely nude. He said, "I just want to show you how informal an American can be." [Chuckling] It was the first time I'd ever had bourbon, and he probably had the best bourbon anywhere. I just enjoyed it. Anyway, I was accepted because in a way I was the replacement for Bowen, who wanted to go back and did go back to England. He came back and forth, but I was his replacement at MIT.

Role at MIT

Bryant:

And where was your office at MIT?

Robinson:

It began right there in the big building that Compton made available to them. I moved several times, and I shared an office with Rabi for a time.

Bryant:

Did you?

Robinson:

Yes. [Chuckling] And he was a great friend. Wonderful guy.

Bryant:

Did you interact with all of the divisions or departments?

Robinson:

With all of them. They regarded me as a useful liaison with Britain and kept on asking me, "Don't you want to have this? We'll send some of this for you?", and so on. "And could we get from England one of the strapped magnetrons?" And so on and so on. I did this. I also had an office on Massachusetts Avenue at the British Air Commission in Washington. I went back and forth, I suppose twice a month.

Bryant:

The various organizations were quite effective in communications?

Robinson:

Very, I think. I discovered that the Air Force had something they called their signals, and their signals were cables. And I would write a cable, and it got sent off coded but almost unvetted to England. I found it a very effective way of working because I would be in England twice a year, going across the Atlantic. If I sent a cable asking for something complicated, I took care to send it just before I was leaving. When I got to London, it came without my name on it of course, "We just got a signal from Washington! We can't understand it. Could you help?" "Oh, yes. I can understand that." "What ought we do about it?" "Well, I wrote the signal, you see." [Chuckling] We got what we wanted. The shortest path. So I had a wonderful time; there's no doubt about it. And I was playing the British and the American systems both, interlocking.

Bryant:

From the record, Bowen had an official connection at the Radiation Lab until some time in 1943.

Robinson:

Yes, I think that's true. I wouldn't be sure of it. But anyway, he and I were very close. We never had a quarrel of any kind. And he and I felt the same about the AI. We did not agree with the way Britain was going with its AI.

Bryant:

You mean the conical scan display?

Robinson:

Yes. I always wanted the raster scan.

Bryant:

The raster scan.

Robinson:

So on things major and minor we were very much together. Bowen seemed to be quite happy to leave me representing him at Radiation Lab when he had to go back.

Bryant:

His involvement at MIT Radiation Lab dropped very markedly when you came, is that true?

Robinson:

Well, of course I think it did. But I certainly never tried to outpace him or do his job. I think it's what he wanted, and he now saw that I was in close touch with Britain, with the Air Ministry, and London, and so on. So he was satisfied. That's my impression. Of course he got onto all kinds of other things. I never tried to follow up what he did with his time after that.

Microwave Committee

Bryant:

Going back to the very start of the Radiation Laboratory in October of 1940, and predating that: the Microwave Committee, in consultation with Cockcroft and Bowen, set three priorities: AI radar, which we are speaking of, a gun-laying radar, and long-range navigation. Bowen laid out the design of a basic microwave radar.

Robinson:

That's right.

Bryant:

The Microwave Committee, actually Alfred Loomis, got contracts placed for major subassemblies and key components from industries that were represented on the Microwave Committee.

Robinson:

That's right.

Bryant:

And those started to be delivered in 1940. And it's from these that they put together their first experimental radars.

Robinson:

True. That's right.

Bryant:

And for the AI radar it was realized they needed a fighter aircraft. Our records are sparse, but I'm told that there was an XP-61 aircraft, in the planning stage at least, at Northrop.

Robinson:

Can't tell you anything about it.

Bryant:

Do you know who Frank D. Lewis is?

Robinson:

Frank D. Lewis. Yes, I knew him.

Bryant:

He left for England a little before you came over.

Robinson:

Yes, he was there when I was getting ready to leave, and he and I traveled a bit together in England.

Bryant:

What do you remember of the William Hansen Lectures?

Robinson:

I went to the first one or two and found them too advanced for my style. I'm a very poor mathematician. But they appealed enormously and became an institution. He was tremendously popular at MIT and had the important turn-out of the people that could understand it. I know that Rabi thought him tremendously good.

Information Sharing

Bryant:

Another thing, I'll be talking with Norman Ramsey later. He's written about some things that he wants to talk about, scientific developments that were started, and one is the magnetron. There's been some confusion about how much the MIT Radiation Lab did, how much Raytheon contributed, and I have a question about how it interacted from England. When you came, you found a growing magnetron development group?

Robinson:

Yes, they had picked up the magnetron at Bell Labs, and Raytheon, I think, was already making them. My impression was that as between the British people at G.E.C. England and Rabi, it was very, very close. I'm not aware of any standoffishness or any quarreling about it. I do remember that when the backstrapping — was that the name?

Bryant:

Just 'strapping', I believe.

Robinson:

I do remember that that was new. It had come from the man in Birmingham. What was his name?

Bryant:

James Sayres. Well, there's no doubt that he originated that.

Robinson:

Rabi took about five seconds to understand how important that was. I remember sitting across the table with Rabi and bringing out the backstrapping stuff that had just come from England, and he was delighted.

Bryant:

You're the one that delivered that to him?

Robinson:

I won't be sure, but I do remember that I had the papers there and that Rabi was delighted with it.

Bryant:

Was that possibly a report of the Committee on Valve Development, a CVD Report?

Robinson:

Most likely. CVD. Most likely.

Bryant:

Could we go back a moment to Great Britain? The CVD was started and put under the auspices of the Admiralty.

Robinson:

Mullar. A man called Mullar. Yes.

Bryant:

It was started in early 1939, according to the records.

Robinson:

Right.

Bryant:

And all of your technical establishments had a library of these reports, I assume.

Robinson:

I don't remember, but I know that the CVD stuff was available to me in the form of these minutes that I've spoken about.

Bryant:

At Worth Matravers, for example, there would have been a library that would have had these reports?

Robinson:

I'm not sure I would dignify it by the name of a "library," but it had files and you could get the stuff. Rowe and Lewis sent me to CVD Portsmouth as soon as I got into this thing, and there for the first time I saw the resonant cavity idea.

Bryant:

In a CVD report?

Robinson:

I don't remember the report. To me the reports were always so far behind what I could get from the individual.

Bryant:

Of course. [Chuckling]

Robinson:

So I didn't take much time to read the reports.

Bryant:

I've been surprised to learn that places such as Bell Labs and General Electric Labs and RCA Labs were also getting those reports.

Robinson:

Well, good. I'm glad. I didn't know that.

Bryant:

I've been to the Public Record Office in London quite a lot — was there four times last year.

Robinson:

Well that's pretty good. You see, to me, one of the most excellent things that was ever done was this agreement between Churchill and Roosevelt to share the secrets. As far as I could ever see, there were no holds on that. They were indeed shared remarkably well.

Bryant:

This became a partnership, expanded. One plus one became a lot more than just two. [Chuckling]

ASV Radar

Robinson:

Oh, unbelievably so. I was able to follow that in the anti-submarine/anti-U-boat war. That became more important to me than anything else.

Bryant:

One of the things that the Tizard Mission brought was a 200-megahertz air-to-surface vessel (ASV) radar, and it was installed on American aircraft. And places such as Philco Corporation manufactured thousands of the ASV Mark II.

Robinson:

I went through the Philco Labs at that time.

Bryant:

So our first operational ASVs were the 200-megahertz radars with the Yagi antennas outside the aircraft.

Robinson:

We know that they were better than nothing, and they gave the U-boats a lot to worry about.

Bryant:

So when was microwave ASV first operational?

Robinson:

I can't give you a date. I know that I went to some place in Devon or Cornwall, and there was a whole squadron that had microwave 9-centimeter magnetrons.

Bryant:

Was that British manufacture?

Robinson:

Some of them were British, and some were U.S. I haven't told you this: When I told DuBridge what I'd been sent over to do, he said, "Fine, we'll arrange that — we'll make ten of these things for you here in Radiation Lab." They were called DMS 1000. Nothing to do with my name. I was given complete authority to have it designed the way I wanted it and so on, to be put in the B-24s.

Bryant:

This was microwave ASV equipment?

Robinson:

Yes, with the magnetron and all. And it had the TR box. It had everything that MIT and TRE then had. And they started the first one of those, which was only a prototype. It was ready in March of 1942, and I flew with it across the Atlantic and took it first to TRE to show them but didn't demonstrate it there. They sent me to Northern Ireland with it, and we had a rather small British submarine on the lake there, one of the big lakes in Northern Ireland. And we got results, at all different heights, all kinds of this, that and the other. I flew back to London to see Air Marshall Joubert. Are you familiar with that name? I think he had the responsibility for all short-wave radar at the time. I went to see him at one of the big air bases, and he said, "Robinson, what the hell are you sitting there for? Get back across to America and get more of these!" I'd brought him the results, and they were clearly better than anything the British had then.

Bryant:

That's fast action! I mean, to have it operational in March [Chuckling] of '42. That's pretty remarkable.

Robinson:

That's right. And of course there were big quarrels between the Air Force and the other people as to who was to do it and so on. But the following year we had a big set-to about H2S and H2X. And I'd come to England and was sat down...

Oh, I should have told you. I have to go back a bit. In 1943 suddenly DuBridge called me in and said, "Robinson, I haven't got any American to demonstrate the 3-centimeter search radar to Lord Cherwell, who is here with the Prime Minister in Washington. He wants to see it. I want you to go to Washington this morning and demonstrate it to him." [Chuckling] They were staying at the Mayflower Hotel. I was told to go to Room 506 or something and knock at the door. And sure enough, there was Cherwell. Morning coat, beautiful tie, stickpin, all the rest. "Oh, Robinson! I'm so glad you're here." We knew each other. "Please come in and sit down. I can't go until the PM is asleep." The PM — I knew this — took an afternoon nap, you see. This was about two o'clock, and he'd had plenty to drink. So I sat there for a few minutes chatting with Cherwell, and then an aide in a splendid RAF uniform came out and said, "Sir, the PM is asleep." "All right," says Cherwell, "We can go. Come on, Robinson." We went down the elevator, and there was a tremendous long Cadillac with diplomatic flags and everything. He said, "Get in." So I got in, and there was a nice Jamaican guy, and he tucked me in although it was not cold. I said, "Thank you very much. And he said in the most beautiful English, "Yes, we English do like our comfort, don't we, sir?" [Chuckling] So we drove off. We were to go to the Naval base. That was where the small AT-11 trainer was fitted with this thing [H2X radar]. The guards, overwhelmed by this Cadillac and all the flags, just waved us through. I was used to checking in.

Then Cherwell said to me, "Well, do you know where this is?" I said, "Yes, you see over there? In the far distant corner." We went through without any permission or anything. We drove right over. There was this nice marine, a U.S. marine, who was the pilot. He knew me, fortunately. We got in, and Cherwell said, "Robinson, do you mind if I go up in the copilot seat until we're airborne? Then when it's really running nicely, tell me, and I'll come back and look." And I heard him on the intercom say to the pilot, "When we're airborne, do you mind if I take over?" [Laughter] Here was Cherwell in this perfect morning dress — bowler hat, everything. Anyway, Cherwell did take over. After a time, I had a most perfect picture. I'll just show you what kind of pictures we were getting then. This was the only 3-centimeter working unit, you see. The only one in the world. And I was demonstrating it to Cherwell. Cherwell was absolutely delighted. He said, "Robinson, I understand you're going to be in London next week. Before you do anything else, I want you to come to No. 11 Downing Street and see me." I was scared stiff because this was the sort of the picture that he had seen. But this photo shows the B24 plane that I actually went over in. You don't need to look through these. You've seen so many of them, these pictures.

Bryant:

And that's a radar map of the ground?

Robinson:

That's right. I had the Potomac. I've forgotten whether I've got the Potomac in here, but you could see every little thing. Here's Long Island, see.

Bryant:

A radar map of New York City, looking out to Long Island.

Robinson:

Yes. Anyway, it was perfect. You could see everything on the Potomac. So Cherwell climbs down out of this AT-11, and the Marine lieutenant stops a moment to say, "Gee," he said, "you got anymore in the House of Lords like that?" [Laughter] So I said, "No, not many." And I said, "How did he fly?" He said "He's all right. He's all right." So I said "Did you know that he was the guy that showed the Royal Air Force in the First World War how to get out of a spin?" Did you know that? Cherwell, yes. He was a courageous guy and a very clever one. He put the airplane in a spin, and then he showed them how to get out of it. So he was able to pilot anything. I said to the marine lieutenant, "Well, what did you expect, anyway?" He said, "Well, I did expect to see some ermine, a tiara, a crown or something with some red." [Chuckling]

Just at this moment, while he was saying this to me, the admiral in charge of the base appears, red-faced. Wants to know how the hell we got on that base of his and into his plane without checking with him. You see, he was offended because here was the Prime Minister's No. 1 man who had come onto his base, and he wanted to be there to receive him. [Chuckling] DuBridge got this complaint the next morning. When I got back, DuBridge asked me, "How did this happen?" and then he said, "I'll settle it. Don't worry. He was just mad."

So we went back in this precious Cadillac, and I got off at the Mayflower. And Cherwell said, "Don't forget, the first day you're there you are to see me at No. 11." Of course you know and I know what No. 11 means — next door to the Prime Minister. So I thought: Robinson, this is the only working 3-centimeter airborne radar in the world, and it's working beautifully. But if I go in to No. 11, Cherwell will say, "Now, how can we get this instead of our H2S?" I knew his characteristics. He was going to have it all cancelled and get everything changed over. So I thought I'd better go to the Air Ministry first. And I did. And they said, Oh, my God! Oh, my God! [Chuckling] I told them this was beautiful. I showed them pictures. It's the only one that exists. It'll be nine months to a year before we get even enough for the American Navy alone — at least a year. So they said, "The last thing we want is to have questions get into the H2S [program]." The sets were just getting out into the field. So I didn't go to No. 11. They begged me not to go see Cherwell. Well, three days later I was at a big meeting at the Air Ministry. And there was one of these half-a-block-long green baize tables. Around it were all the air marshals and admirals and so on. Enough gold braid to give a perfectly good radar echo. [Chuckling] It was all very quiet and orderly.

DuBridge had come across the Atlantic and was there. And Rabi, I think. And Dee — P.I. Dee — and the civilian hierarchy of the radar business. I've forgotten at what point — but I know that Dee got on his high horse. He was very, very direct, and he said, "I do not understand, sir." There was somebody — an air marshal — in charge. "I do not understand why we British are being forced to take the American 3-centimeter radar instead of the one we've got." And blah, blah, blah, you see. I thought, My God, they're being forced? Who's forcing them? The Americans haven't got them, so I appealed to DuBridge. I said, "Isn't the one I demonstrated to Lord Cherwell the only one in the whole United States?" "That's right." [Chuckling] DuBridge said, "I'm not aware that we're trying to force the British to take these. If we had any of them, we'd soon know where to put them." So then the big double doors of this magnificent apartment swung open. Aides side-to-side. And in comes Cherwell, complete with morning coat, stickpin and all. Everybody stood up. Every air marshal in the place. We all stood up. I didn't like it. I felt that this was the beginnings of some kind of fascism, you know, because he was just the representative. He was representing the big boss. But I stood up. Cherwell was sort of nodding to people. Then he suddenly saw me. He said, "You never came to see me!" [Laughter] That was all. But they knew, of course, by now everybody had the story. The H2S went on and did a good job, as you know. It would have been even better if it had been X-Band, but who knows? It would have taken a long time.

Bryant:

Operational use of the American X-Band H2X lagged the H2S by more than a year, did it?

Robinson:

Oh, more than a year for sure.

Bryant:

And in the meantime you made good use of the H2S.

Robinson:

Oh, no question. Of course, in the meantime, we'd had this whole business about the window, the chaff, you know. I wasn't particularly involved with that, but it was a great fight. [Chuckling] And then we also had the thing that we were supposed to have alongside every magnetron, a focused charge that was to blow up the magnetron.

Bryant:

For security, every equipment had a charge that would destroy the magnetron in case it crashed or something.

Robinson:

Yes, that's right. Now, I've talked a lot. Do you want to ask me some more, John?

Science and National Defense

Bryant:

I would like to inquire about electronic countermeasures. What you recall of the start of it in England and what you saw...

Robinson:

I was never involved with the countermeasures business. As you know, on this side of the water, the countermeasures went on at Harvard. When the British Branch of Radiation Laboratory (BBRL) was formed at TRE in Malvern, the countermeasures of Harvard went along with them.

Bryant:

So at BBRL they were in the same organization?

Robinson:

Yes. Well, I don't know whether it was the same organization, but they were certainly within hailing distance.

Bryant:

Most of the staff of Radio Research Lab at Harvard were engineers, in contrast to physicists at Radiation Lab.

Robinson:

Yes. I think I've already said, but I'd like to say it again: The thing that impressed me about the physicists was that they thought differently, and they were therefore an enormously important component. I never have thought that we could have done without the engineers — and there were hundreds, and later thousands, of very competent engineers involved — but that original injection of Rutherford's boys, and some of those from Oxford too, were tremendously important. As you know, in the United States, there was never that clear a distinction. They came out of the physics labs from the very beginning.

Bryant:

Well, let's go back a moment and think of applications of science to national defense, or what you may wish to call it. Great Britain, it seems to me, got an early start — say, by the mid-1930s — got commitment from senior scientists for help, advice.

Robinson:

They did, yes. Because of course we knew we were on the receiving end.

Bryant:

On the defensive?

Robinson:

Oh, yes. I mean, it was clear. I knew a good many young, active Air Force men at that time, and they were scared. They said, "We don't understand how this country can be defended." And you know Baldwin said the bomber would always get through.

Bryant:

He was only extrapolating from the past.

Robinson:

That's right. So, enormous efforts were made in a particular direction, and that started with Watson-Watt. Watson-Watt tried to make more out of his contribution than I think he deserved, but he was there at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington. He did have a radio section there, and he did reply to the committee, which was Tizard and Blackett and so on, saying, "No, I can't provide a death ray for you." You remember that was the question. "But I could demonstrate to you the interference by..." and he did this. He pulsed the Daventry Station. He got permission, and he flew an aircraft over it. And he convinced that committee, which was a very important committee. You've got the names, I'm sure.

Bryant:

There was a lot of foresight exercised on that.

Robinson:

Yes, and then it got corrupted by Cherwell when Churchill took over. They were very annoyed with that. There was a big fight going on all the time.

Postwar

Bryant:

If you wouldn't mind a switch to one last subject, that is, the postwar results or effects. There must have been postwar effects resulting from of all of this concentrated technical/scientific effort on education, university education, university research, and industrial research.

Robinson:

Well, it was just enormous. The results were enormous. And at this point of course, as soon as the Japanese surrendered, there was a complete cut made between the British and the Americans, unfortunately.

Bryant:

Oh, I didn't realize that.

Robinson:

Yes. You probably also don't realize that when Roosevelt was struggling hard, before he got into the war, he was struggling hard to get votes out of Congress. It was very similar to things today. With great reluctance they gave him the Draft Law, as you know. But they also said that the Lend-Lease, which he was very keen on, has to stop the day the last enemy surrenders. I was, by this time, back in England, and I felt it right away. Now we'd got rid of the U-boats, but we hadn't anything to pay the Americans for fuel and corn and all the rest of it. Suddenly Britain had the worst winter of its whole career.

Bryant:

Without provisions.

Robinson:

Yes. Lend-Lease is to be cut. It isn't often spoken about in America, but it was felt very strongly. I can't say that the British grumbled. They said, "Well, that's what we would expect. We've had these enormous freedoms and this gift." But it was certainly pretty...

Bryant:

I suppose the scientific and the military exchange got cut, too.

Robinson:

Also cut. I know very decisively because when I got back here — I mean, a few months later — my clearances were useless.

Bryant:

Really?

Robinson:

Yes. They didn't allow me... By this time I had founded the High-Voltage Engineering Corporation and was trying to sell an accelerator to the Navy. I went down to the usual place and tried to go through the gate which we'd traveled through so easily. They wouldn't let me in. So I phoned my opposite number, and he said, "It's too complicated to try and get that done. Just come down, and we'll sit in my car." And we did the whole contract arrangement in his car, rather than try and get me through. I was still British. No, I felt it very strongly. Then the British asked me to assist them in some business about the availability of magnetron patents. And I had to tell them, "I can't even get to the files that I was in every day during the war. I'm not allowed." So it was a tremendous cut. Not of course with my friends, but with every official thing.

Bryant:

One last question: What effects did your Radiation Lab experience have on your subsequent career activities?

Robinson:

For twenty years it was an "open sesame" to the leading physicists of the U.S. and Britain, including the ones who had been in other fields, shut off from my radar interest, who were working on the atomic bomb, the proximity fuze, etc. As a supplier of accelerators up to 20 million volts and as president of the High-Voltage Engineering Corporation, I was on intimate terms with the physicists of America and Europe. To me it seemed like one community, including the French, Germans, and later, the Chinese.

Addendum

Lee Dubridge

DENIS M. ROBINSON

Addendum, 28 September 1992 to

10 June 1991 interview with John Bryant

This is in regard to John Bryant's letter to me of September 15, 1992. I have put the transcript of my talk in the envelope together with a few corrections and my life history bio.

I am now going to try and answer John's queries to me about Watson-Watt, A.P. Rowe, Lee DuBridge and W. B. Lewis.

I want you to understand that I have been at various times and over many years the associate, sometimes employed by one or other of these men, but always rather close to them. I knew them all well and I think most of them are now dead. But, nevertheless, I am going to try and answer your query about their effectiveness as leaders of men.

Lee DuBridge, as far as I know, is still alive. All the others are certainly dead. I was very fond of all these men, and so you have to realize that when I speak of them in a critical fashion, it is with careful attention because I liked them all and we all got along well. I quarreled with none of them. They were very different people altogether. I will start with Lee DuBridge, who was a splendid leader of the Radiation Lab at MIT and went on to become the president of Cal Tech.

DuBridge was a remarkable leader of men and picker of men. I cannot believe anybody would have adverse things to say about him as a head of that laboratory. It functioned through its four years of existence with extraordinary efficiency, and there is no doubt that he was a fine leader of men in every way.

A.P. Rowe

A.P. Rowe was equally a splendid organizer of men, but he did arouse a certain number of adversaries. Not everybody liked him. He was a strict disciplinarian, and some people disliked him for his ways which they considered non-democratic. I thought he was an excellent leader and I followed him. I suppose I was, in one way or another, under his leadership for the whole period of the war, although I was absent in the United States [assigned to the MIT Radiation Laboratory] over the last four years.

Rowe always gave me excellent attention. He regarded me as a valuable part of his organization. He accused and kidded me at times of becoming an American, and I willingly agreed. In fact, Rowe said to DuBridge, "We all sometimes think of Robinson as being an American by now." And DuBridge said, "Oh yes, so do we." But nevertheless A. P. Rowe thought of me as a very useful adjunct to TRE, and I had no difficulty about this. Afterwards, when he went off to Australia, he wrote to me and asked me whether I wouldn't join him there in the government job that he was to set up on a long firing range, and so on. So there's no doubt that he and I remained good friends all those years.

W.B. Lewis

Now I will turn to W.B. Lewis, who, as you say, doesn't appear in many of the books as he ought to have done. He was Rowe's chief assistant throughout the war, and he assisted Rowe incredibly in running the establishment.

The thing I remember about W. B. Lewis is that he would have long sheets of full paper lined, and, when you went to him with a problem or unsolved matter, he would make a note of it, and put on the side a number. It might be 35 or 156, and he would keep everything on that list until it was satisfactorily solved or abandoned.

He never married and was completely faithful to his job. Then after the war he went off to Chalk River, Canada, where he eventually became the director. Lewis was most effective in setting this up and continued to run it with the same sort of efficiency that he had shown for Rowe.

I came into close contact with Lewis then. I had changed my whole basis and was now manufacturing very high voltage machines in Massachusetts. Lewis, having seen these and heard what we were doing, wanted one of these machines for his Chalk River job. He bought one at the cost of well over a million dollars. Lewis and I came to be very close. He was twice very, very important to our company in being a pioneer in the purchase of these machines. He eventually bought two, and they were remarkably effective under his leadership of the Canadian project. I was very fond of this man, traveled with him quite a lot. I knew him over a period of fifteen or eighteen years intimately. I was always surprised that he never married.

Rowe Cont'd.

I should now go back to Rowe and say that Rowe was married to a very good-looking, [indeed] beautiful woman who was extremely devoted to her own appearance and the way she dressed. Rowe managed to arrange things throughout the six-year war in England so that his wife never had to deal with the rationing and all the other problems that most English housewives had to deal with. For this, Mrs. Rowe, and Rowe himself, were quite strongly disliked and envied particularly by the married women, the wives of his assistants. Rowe did this by finding her a place in an inn where she lived apart from the people of the TRE establishment, and she was able to maintain excellent dressing and excellent care of herself. He brought her to the various dances, where I had the greatest pleasure in dancing with her. She was quite the belle of the ball, and for this the other women did not forgive her. There was, however, in his history, not the slightest sign of any infidelity by him. He stuck with her, he looked after her well, and took her to Australia with him.

Watson-Watt

Now I will go on to Watson-Watt. This is in many ways the most difficult. Watson-Watt was known as the father, or grandfather, of British radar. It was he who was appealed to by the committee studying how we would deal with the bombers back in 1935, when it was realized that Hitler was a menace. The committee, consisting of four prominent scientists, appealed to Watson-Watt, who was then the head of the National Physics Laboratory Radio Section, whether he could suggest something like a death ray, because many death rays had been suggested to the government and all of them were found to be hopeless or phoney.

Watson-Watt went apparently to his chief assistant Wilkins, and he knew very well there was no likelihood of a death ray that would produce the amount of energy in a distant plane to upset either the engine or the pilot. The idea was absolutely hopeless. But he posed to Wilkins the idea of using radio. He wanted to know what energy could possibly be focused on an airplane and bounce back towards our shores at a given speed and a given height and so on and so on. At any rate, Wilkins came back with a favorable, or usable number of figures, and Watson-Watt then asked the committee for permission to pulse the Daventry station, just shut it all on and off while an RAF airplane was to fly over it. All this was done in great secrecy in 1935 and the result was favorable. The image, or rather the pulse, was detected on a screen and was shown to the committee which was duly impressed. As a result of this, Air Marshall Dowding, who was at that time in charge of fighter command, saw to it that 10,000 pounds sterling, or some figure like that, was made available for these people to continue with. In that sense, Watson-Watt was the pioneer and he continued.

Watson-Watt was put in charge of Bawdsey, and there he led a team of quite able people, mostly engineers. Rowe was on that team, and I can't tell you the story of that. But Watson-Watt was never in my estimation the equivalent leader of men to put together a team as were Lee DuBridge and A. P. Rowe.

At any rate, Watson-Watt was called to be DCD, Director of Communications Development, and moved to London. Rowe took over from Watson-Watt at Bawdsey, and did, as I believe, a job that I do not think Watson-Watt was capable of. But Watson-Watt had a streak of inventiveness that neither Lee DuBridge or A. P. Rowe I think had. So it was finally the right man in the right place.

At the end of the war, Watson-Watt was trying very hard to get a large sum for himself and his collaborators out of the British government, and did succeed to some extent. In the meantime, during the second half of the war, Watson-Watt paid several visits to the United States and to Radiation Lab, MIT. Because I was the English representative there, it fell to me to be his companion, to show him around, which I thoroughly enjoyed. He was uniformly courteous and helpful to me and I became very fond of him.

After the war he immigrated, or changed allegiance, to Canada and tried to set up some business of his own there, but it did not do well. I think he evidenced there that he was not a businessman and not capable of the kind of planning that a business of that kind would have required. I have to say, and I don't know whether I should, that he was not as careful about his wife as Lee DuBridge and A.P. Rowe were. He did have a mistress. He apparently took as his mistress the woman who was a very efficient secretary to him, and brought her to the United States on one of his trips. I realized what was happening. The Americans more or less winked at this: since he was a great man, he was obviously entitled to whatever alleviation he wanted. But he looked after this woman very, very well. He saw to it that she had the best accommodation and all the rest of it, and brought her along to the various meetings that we had. She was an intelligent woman who understood the radar business.

Watson-Watt himself of course was very, very well informed and achieved good opinions from most of the American scientists with whom he dealt. There was never any question that when he and I were together, he mixed extremely well and was therefore completely on top of any discussion that we might be having.

Rowe Cont'd.

Back to A. P. Rowe, I find that neither in my transcript nor otherwise have I spoken to you about Rowe's Sunday Soviets. Rowe wrote a book called One Story of Radar, published in May, 1948, by the University Cambridge Press. The book gives a remarkable impression of what Rowe did during the entire war with his team.

One of the things I want to bring out is a tremendous achievement of Rowe outside the usual range: it was what he called the Sunday Soviet. He arranged that we would work six days a week, but not on Sundays, because on Sunday it was a day when he could encourage the top officers of the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy to come to our laboratory on the south coast of England and take part with us in a general discussion. The rules were quite straightforward and simple. Rank was not considered, nor did you have to make the usual careful remarks when speaking to somebody else. Anybody could say anything. Rowe was in charge. But you could ask these Air Force people what was happening to the latest equipment that we had provided, and we could get their frank opinions about everything. Because of the way that it was done, it was called our Sunday Soviet.

The people would come from Whitehall because they had the opportunity to get away from the shut-in bomb shelters and all the rest of it, come to the south coast and perhaps get in a round of golf or tennis on a Sunday. It became a very, very important thing. I cannot think of anything corresponding that was of equal importance, it was totally Rowe's idea and he made it work, got the Air Force officers to come, and he got all his scientists to come. We found it extremely valuable. Lord Cherwell came sometimes.

You will find reference to the Sunday Soviets on pages 83 and 85 of Rowe's book. You will also see in the frontispiece several of the top members of TRE, including W. B. Lewis. You will find W.B. Lewis again in the picture plate 7. Lewis is at the back, just behind the king, striding mostly forward. Rowe is on the right in front of P. I. Dee. I was wrong when I said there was a picture of the Sunday Soviet in that book; there is not. But I do remember that we sometimes had as many as 25 people, including sometimes 10 top RAF and other officers. Cherwell came on several occasions. So, as somebody said, I think it was Joubert, you can say anything you like in Rowe's office on Sunday morning. It was a very, very important thing and I give Rowe the full credit for that.

I should have inserted that when Rowe left TRE, he got his first big job in Australia at the University of Adelaide, where he was the top man. There his combination of "lack of democracy and strong disciplinarian attitude" caused him a lot of trouble. He did not think the Australians were working hard enough, and he made public reference to the amount of time they spent on the beaches and so on. For this he became quite unpopular with certain of the people there. But I believe he continued to work just as he had always done.

W.B. Lewis Cont'd.

I have not said enough about W. B. Lewis' achievements. Before World War II, he was at the Cavendish, and Rutherford gave him the job of doing the early computer work and other instrumentation that was needed there. Then he came to TRE and, as I have explained, did an extraordinary job of keeping everything together there throughout the six year period of the war. I am including in my package to you a page taken from my own work of December, 1944, when I was trying to decide how I should change my job at the end of the war. I took as my models the various people I had worked with during the war and their positive and negative characteristics. The one I am sending you is about Lewis, and you will see on the left-hand page that I characterize him as having outstanding memory and very high practical and theoretical ability. Then I have some modest criticisms.

Now I would like to tell you what Lewis did after the war. After one or two changes he became director of the atomic energy [organization] of Canada and went, I suppose, from Montreal where he started, to Chalk River, Canada, where the huge laboratories were set up. He became a pioneer in the work that led to the CANDU system of atomic energy for Canada. I cannot praise him sufficiently for an article that he wrote to give as the I.E.E. Centenary Lecture. It is called "Frontier Events in Electrical and Electronic Radio Engineering, from Picowatts to Terawatts in the Last Forty and the Next Sixty Years." This was published in 1971. The lecture was given at the Science Center, Toronto, Ontario, May 19, 1971. I have a copy of it which is precious to me, but I think you can have it dug out of one of the libraries. It is an outstanding summary. It does not give him the credit I think he could have claimed but goes through the whole history with plenty of references. The title gives the story.

I would like to say here a few words about W.B. Lewis, whom as I have told you, I knew intimately, traveled with, stayed with, and so on, over a period of 15 or 20 years. As far as I could ever see or determine, he had no problems with sex. I do not think he had a girlfriend or anything like that throughout the whole of the time I knew him. When I visited him at Chalk River, where he had a beautiful director's house, he had installed his mother there. She was a vegetarian and a very prominent, religious person, I suppose a Quaker. Although she was a vegetarian, she arranged that he got a full meat diet as he preferred. I knew Lewis had a devoted secretary at TRE, and I often looked at her and hoped and wished that he would marry her. But I do not think there was anything between them. I am sure she was fond of him and that's as far as it went.

As I have said, Lewis was sometimes short-tempered and peppery, but on the whole he was passionless about his work and about his affairs with other people. Probably among all my male acquaintances over a long life, he is unique in that he showed no interest in sex with women or, of course, with men. So it is a remarkable story. And it was this that enabled Lewis to work ten hours a day, six or more days a week, and to produce. There is no doubt in my mind that as the director of Chalk River, he was quite largely responsible for the success of the CANDU reactors and their installation at the Pickering Plant near Toronto, where they really were very, very successful and trouble-free.

Further evidence of Lewis' freedom from affairs with other people: I mentioned that whenever I was available, he would be willing to walk with me. We used to take our sandwich lunches onto the cliffs at Worth Matravers, and he and I enjoyed walking back and forth towards the edge of the cliffs to eat our lunch. Then, when I came back from America to Malvern, I found him completely available on a Saturday morning to walk over the lowland hills with me. I think he did this alone, otherwise. But this availability — I never remember him saying no, I can't do that, I have another engagement, or something like that. So, it is among my experience of men completely unique.

Lewis came back from Chalk River to attend the Rutherford centenary in 1971, and I came from High Voltage Engineering in Massachusetts. He was seated in a place of honor next to the high table, so there's no doubt that he was fully accepted among the great ones of English physics, although we cannot find references to that in the literature, partly because he was himself so undemanding for recognition.

References

Robinson, Denis M., "British Microwave Radar 1939-41," Proc. American Philosophical Society, vol. 127, no. 1, pp. 26-31, 1983.

Batt, Reginald, The Radar Army, 1991.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Five Years at the Radiation Laboratory, Cambridge, Mass., 1946. Distributed to former staff members of the MIT Radiation Laboratory. Reprinted in 1991 by the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) — including some text (not extensive) deleted for security reasons from the 1946 publication, and a new Part III containing excerpts from Radar Days by E. G. Bowen — and distributed to registrants at the MTT-S Symposium in Boston, June 1991.