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== About Eugene Gordon<br> ==
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== About Eugene Gordon ==
  
Gordon received his BS from the City College of New York in physics and his PhD from MIT in 1957 in plasma physics. He went to work for Bell Laboratories, where his first research involved inventing a microwave tube called a cyclotron wave amplifier, for use in submarine cables. He switched over to the new field of lasers, developing gas lasers. He was early concerned with the lifetime and reliability of lasers, and did the practical work of making single frequency oscillators, frequency stabilizers, etc, which turned laser technology into a practical communication system. He co-developed the first CW argon ion laser—which eventually had medical applications, such as saving from blindness people with diabetic retinopathy. He then helped develop the display and imaging devices for AT&amp;T’s picturephone system (through 1970). In the 1970s he worked to develop solid-state versions of these devices—co-inventing CCD, the basis for color cameras, fax machines, etc., though internal A&amp;T politics denied him credit. He also worked to improve the reliability of semiconductor lasers, and on photolithography for integrated circuits, manufacturing electron beam system, systems applications for integrated circuits. In 1979 he returned to lasers, in charge of the laser lab, and developed lasers for AT&amp;T’s new fiber optic local trunking applications and undersea fiber-optic communication, able to last 25 years. He finished the necessary research in 1983 (the cables were installed in 1988, with no failures since), and retired. He then started a laser company called Litell, purchased by Amp Inc., whose products put AT&amp;T’s semiconductor laser business out of business. He is now involved with a new company, supplanting laser technology with water-jet.
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[[Eugene I. Gordon|Gordon]] received his BS from the City College of New York in physics and his PhD from MIT in 1957 in plasma physics. He went to work for [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]], where his first research involved inventing a microwave tube called a cyclotron wave amplifier, for use in submarine cables. He switched over to the new field of [[Laser|lasers]], developing gas lasers. He was early concerned with the lifetime and reliability of lasers, and did the practical work of making single frequency oscillators, frequency stabilizers, etc, which turned laser technology into a practical communication system. He co-developed the first CW argon ion laser—which eventually had medical applications, such as saving from blindness people with diabetic retinopathy. He then helped develop the display and imaging devices for AT&amp;T’s picturephone system (through 1970). In the 1970s he worked to develop solid-state versions of these devices—co-inventing [[Charge-Coupled Device|CCD]], the basis for color cameras, fax machines, etc., though internal A&amp;T politics denied him credit. He also worked to improve the reliability of semiconductor lasers, and on photolithography for integrated circuits, manufacturing electron beam system, systems applications for integrated circuits. In 1979 he returned to lasers, in charge of the laser lab, and developed lasers for AT&amp;T’s new fiber optic local trunking applications and undersea fiber-optic communication, able to last 25 years. He finished the necessary research in 1983 (the cables were installed in 1988, with no failures since), and retired. He then started a laser company called Litell, purchased by Amp Inc., whose products put AT&amp;T’s semiconductor laser business out of business. He is now involved with a new company, supplanting laser technology with water-jet.  
  
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Gordon got involved with the [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Device Society (EDS)]] in 1959, after giving a talk on microwave tubes. He got more involved in its committees and conferences thereafter. He became associate editor for Transactions of [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Device Society (EDS)]] and put together a special issue on [[Laser|lasers]]. With [[Oral-History:Glen Wade|Glen Wade]] he dreamt up idea of Journal of Quantum Electronics, to bring together electrical engineers and physicists—though it turned out to have a more exclusively engineering focus and audience. He helped found the [[IEEE Lasers & Electro-Optics Society History|Laser Electro-Optic Society (LEOS)]]. He was associate editor of Journal of Quantum Electronics ca. 1970, in charge of Russian and Japanese papers. Often asking for better English, he would do the translation from broken English into real English himself as often as not.
  
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Gordon perceived a long-running backbiting from what he saw as the arrogant research side of [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] towards the development side, self-defeating in its pettiness, which eventually prompted him to retire from [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]]. He admired Jack Morton for his technological insight and managerial ability, while noting that Morton was perceived by many as being a difficult person. His admiration for Morton got in the way of Gordon’s own promotions at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]], since he was identified too much with Morton. He also believed the Japanese to be devoid of innovative research, and to have reduced global innovation by not investing in new research once they had copied American techniques. He had been predicting Japan’s economic troubles of the 1990s for a long time.
  
Gordon got involved with the Electron Device Society (EDS) in 1959, after giving a talk on microwave tubes. He got more involved in its committees and conferences thereafter. Heecame associate editor for Transactions of Electron Device Society (EDS) and put together a special issue on lasers. With Glen Wade he dreamt up idea of Journal of Quantum Electronics, to bring together electrical engineers and physicists—though it turned out to have a more exclusively engineering focus and audience. He helped found the Laser Electro-Optic Society (LEOS). He was associate editor of Journal of Quantum Electronics ca. 1970, in charge of Russian and Japanese papers. Often asking for better English, he would do the translation from broken English into real English himself as often as not.
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For further discussion of the picturephone project and [[Charge-Coupled Device|charge-coupled device]] development at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]], see [[Oral-History:George E. Smith|George E. Smith Oral History]].  
  
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== About the Interview  ==
  
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EUGENE GORDON: An Interview Conducted by David Morton, IEEE History Center, 23 March 2000
  
Gordon notes the long-running backbiting from the arrogant research side of Bell Labs towards the development side, self-defeating in its pettiness, which eventually prompted him to retire from Bell Labs. He admired Jack Morton for his technological insight and managerial ability, though he was a nasty piece of work. His admiration for Morton got in the way of Gordon’s own promotions at Bell Labs, since he was identified too much with the hated Morton. He also believes the Japanese to be devoid of innovative research, and to have reduced global innovation by not investing in new research once they had copied American techniques. He had been predicting Japan’s economic troubles of the 1990s for a long time.
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Interview #390 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.  
  
== About the Interview<br> ==
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== Copyright Statement  ==
  
EUGENE GORDON: An Interview Conducted by David Morton, IEEE History Center, 23 March 2000
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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.
  
<br>Interview #390 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
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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.
  
== <br>Copyright Statement<br> ==
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
  
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.<br><br>
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Eugene Gordon, an oral history conducted in 2000 by David Morton, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.  
  
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== Interview  ==
  
Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, Rutgers - the State University, 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. <br><br>
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Interview: Eugene Gordon
  
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Interviewer: David Morton
  
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:<br>Eugene Gordon, an oral history conducted in 2000 by David Morton, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.
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Date: 23 March 2000  
  
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Place: Edison, New Jersey
  
== Interview<br>  ==
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=== Childhood, family, and educational background ===
 
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Interview: Eugene Gordon<br>Interviewer: David Morton<br>Date: 23 March 2000 <br>Place: Edison, New Jersey
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<br>
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=== Childhood, family, and educational background ===
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'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Where and when you were born?<br>
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Where and when you were born?  
 
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'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
I was born in New York City in 1930 to immigrant parents.<br>
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I was born in New York City in 1930 to immigrant parents.  
 
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'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Where were they from?<br>
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Where were they from?  
 
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'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
One was from Russia and the other from England. Both were uneducated, but my mother was very intent on my getting a good education. As a child I was pushed very hard to do well in school, which seemed to come easily for me.<br>
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One was from Russia and the other from England. Both were uneducated, but my mother was very intent on my getting a good education. As a child I was pushed very hard to do well in school, which seemed to come easily for me.  
 
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'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Was your father a tradesman?<br>
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Was your father a tradesman?  
 
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'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Yes, he was a printer – a typesetter. I did well in school. I did very well in high school and so was able to get into City College. At that time City College was a very high level school that required good grades and good scores on Regents’ exams. I wanted to study physics, but my father could not understand why anyone would want to go to school and study physics or anything like that. He thought I would be much better off if I went into the printing trade and do art. At the time, I was a good artist. We had some battles over that and I finally compromised by entering the engineering program. I did this mainly because I knew that the course requirements for the first year were the same as for physics. I switched over to physics in the middle of the year without making a big deal about it. <br>
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Yes, he was a printer – a typesetter. I did well in school. I did very well in high school and so was able to get into City College. At that time City College was a very high level school that required good grades and good scores on Regents’ exams. I wanted to study physics, but my father could not understand why anyone would want to go to school and study physics or anything like that. He thought I would be much better off if I went into the printing trade and do art. At the time, I was a good artist. We had some battles over that and I finally compromised by entering the engineering program. I did this mainly because I knew that the course requirements for the first year were the same as for physics. I switched over to physics in the middle of the year without making a big deal about it.  
  
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I graduated from City College in the physics program. I was very, very fortunate to be associated at that time with M. W. Zamansky, a well-known teacher, physics text writer, and a good researcher. He really sparked my interest in physics. I did very well at City College, graduated magna cum laude, and was able to get into MIT – which was Zamansky’s recommendation.
  
I graduated from City College in the physics program. I was very, very fortunate to be associated at that time with M. W. Zamansky, a well-known teacher, physics text writer, and a good researcher. He really sparked my interest in physics. I did very well at City College, graduated magna cum laude, and was able to get into MIT – which was Zamansky’s recommendation.<br>
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=== Graduate studies and fusion postdoc at MIT ===
  
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'''Gordon:'''  
 
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=== Graduate studies and fusion postdoc at MIT ===
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'''Gordon:'''
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I went to graduate school at MIT and ultimately worked for Professor Sanborn C. Brown in plasma physics, particularly measurement of plasmas with microwave radiation. That is how I got my real introduction to electrical engineering, microwave tubes and so on. Incidentally, most of the instrumentation that we used at the Radiation Laboratory was left over from wartime. We were using magnetrons and other things that were used during the war. Much of it had been hidden away after the war so the Navy could not get it back. Then it slowly began to emerge into the research labs.<br>
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I went to graduate school at MIT and ultimately worked for Professor Sanborn C. Brown in plasma physics, particularly measurement of plasmas with microwave radiation. That is how I got my real introduction to electrical engineering, microwave tubes and so on. Incidentally, most of the instrumentation that we used at the [[MIT Rad Lab|Radiation Laboratory]] was left over from wartime. We were using [[Cavity Magnetron|magnetrons]] and other things that were used during the war. Much of it had been hidden away after the war so the Navy could not get it back. Then it slowly began to emerge into the research labs.
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
I never heard that story before.<br>
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I never heard that story before.  
 
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'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Yes. It was an interesting time, because there were no companies that made devices. We had to build everything ourselves. By the time I graduated in 1957 the first companies making microwave hardware began to appear. Then we could buy equipment. When I graduated I was asked to stay and do a postdoc while working in plasma fusion. It was the beginnings of the attempt to generate power from hydrogen fusion, called Project Sherwood.<br>
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Yes. It was an interesting time, because there were no companies that made devices. We had to build everything ourselves. By the time I graduated in 1957 the first companies making microwave hardware began to appear. Then we could buy equipment. When I graduated I was asked to stay and do a postdoc while working in plasma fusion. It was the beginnings of the attempt to generate power from hydrogen fusion, called Project Sherwood.  
 
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'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Was that still focused on building a bomb?<br>
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Was that still focused on building a bomb?  
 
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'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
No, it was focused on generating energy. The bomb had already been built.<br>
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No, it was focused on generating energy. The bomb had already been built.  
 
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'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Right. That would have been a few years earlier.<br>
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Right. That would have been a few years earlier.  
 
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'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
This was the beginning of hydrogen fusion for energy generation. I worked generating high-density plasmas with magnetic fields and so on with the idea of ultimately understanding how to get them to high density and hot enough to produce energy. <br>
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This was the beginning of hydrogen fusion for energy generation. I worked generating high-density plasmas with magnetic fields and so on with the idea of ultimately understanding how to get them to high density and hot enough to produce energy.  
 
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'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Was that still at MIT?<br>
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Was that still at MIT?  
 
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'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
That was at MIT as a post doc.<br>
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That was at MIT as a post doc.  
 
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'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
MIT did not really become a big force in fusion research, did they?<br>
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MIT did not really become a big force in fusion research, did they?  
 
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'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
That fizzled out. They never got beyond medium density plasma work at that time. I think the reason was that two students of Professor Brown’s – myself and Saul Buchsbaum -- were recruited to work at Bell Laboratories in 1957. Buchsbaum and I worked together and were good friends. When we left, no one remained to do experimental work. A little later George Bekefi joined MIT and the program continued, but it never amounted to much as far as I could tell. <br> I had a personal revelation during that period. I said to myself, “Hydrogen fusion is not going to happen for a very long time, and I don’t want to spend my entire career working on something that will not come to fruition in my lifetime.” As I pondered that I began to realize that my interest was not as much in research as in doing practical things. Therefore, when I went to Bell Laboratories I chose to go into development rather than research, though I had the option of going into the research area.<br>
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That fizzled out. They never got beyond medium density plasma work at that time. I think the reason was that two students of Professor Brown’s – myself and Saul Buchsbaum -- were recruited to work at [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]] in 1957. Buchsbaum and I worked together and were good friends. When we left, no one remained to do experimental work. A little later George Bekefi joined MIT and the program continued, but it never amounted to much as far as I could tell. I had a personal revelation during that period. I said to myself, “Hydrogen fusion is not going to happen for a very long time, and I don’t want to spend my entire career working on something that will not come to fruition in my lifetime.” As I pondered that I began to realize that my interest was not as much in research as in doing practical things. Therefore, when I went to [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]] I chose to go into development rather than research, though I had the option of going into the research area.  
 
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=== Bell Labs employment ===
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=== Bell Labs employment ===
  
==== Microwave tubes development ====
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==== Microwave tubes development ====
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
In your biography there is mention of important developments in microwave tubes later used in commercial devices. Would you talk a little bit about that development?<br>
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In your biography there is mention of important developments in microwave tubes later used in commercial devices. Would you talk a little bit about that development?  
 
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'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
When I joined Bell Laboratories I was supposed to use my background in plasma physics so I joined a group working on submarine cables. Tubes are used for amplification in submarine cables, but because of the way the cable is configured there is a high voltage supply on one shore and a high voltage supply of the opposite polarity on the other shore. <br>
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When I joined [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]] I was supposed to use my background in plasma physics so I joined a group working on submarine cables. Tubes are used for amplification in submarine cables, but because of the way the cable is configured there is a high voltage supply on one shore and a high voltage supply of the opposite polarity on the other shore.  
  
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The d.c. current is run through the whole cable. As the current goes through a relay the current is used to power the amplifiers and so on. However if ever that current is interrupted, the whole cable goes. Thus there was a shorting device in every relay that would bypass that repeater if it ever failed. That was a gas tube. If there were an open circuit in the electronics, the gas tube would bridge the gap. That repeater would be out, but all the other repeaters would be whistling their particular frequency so that it could be determined which one had died. Then presumably a ship would be sent out to replace the repeater. Gas tubes were therefore a very important part of it, and that was enough rationalization for me to join that particular group. After about a year of working on that I began to realize it was going nowhere and got interested in microwave tubes.
  
The d.c. current is run through the whole cable. As the current goes through a relay the current is used to power the amplifiers and so on. However if ever that current is interrupted, the whole cable goes. Thus there was a shorting device in every relay that would bypass that repeater if it ever failed. That was a gas tube. If there were an open circuit in the electronics, the gas tube would bridge the gap. That repeater would be out, but all the other repeaters would be whistling their particular frequency so that it could be determined which one had died. Then presumably a ship would be sent out to replace the repeater. Gas tubes were therefore a very important part of it, and that was enough rationalization for me to join that particular group. After about a year of working on that I began to realize it was going nowhere and got interested in microwave tubes.<br>
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I was fortunate enough to invent a particular microwave tube called a cyclotron wave amplifier. It was a very interesting device and it worked, so I was allowed to present a paper on it at the [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Device Society’s]] meeting in Mexico City in 1959. That was my introduction to the [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Device Society]]. That year I was also promoted to supervisor. I ran a microwave tube group. We were developing a particular [[Traveling Wave Tube|traveling wave tube]] amplifier for radio relay numbered 416-B. At that same time people were really getting excited about [[Laser|lasers]] and their possibilities. They were called optical [[Maser|masers]] at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]], but the rest of the world knew them as [[Laser|lasers]].  
  
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==== Laser development  ====
  
I was fortunate enough to invent a particular microwave tube called a cyclotron wave amplifier. It was a very interesting device and it worked, so I was allowed to present a paper on it at the Electron Device Society’s meeting in Mexico City in 1959. That was my introduction to the Electron Device Society. That year I was also promoted to supervisor. I ran a microwave tube group. We were developing a particular traveling wave tube amplifier for radio relay numbered 416-B. At that same time people were really getting excited about lasers and their possibilities. They were called optical masers at Bell Labs, but the rest of the world knew them as lasers.<br>
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'''Gordon:'''
  
==== Laser development ====
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<flashmp3>390 - gordon - clip 1.mp3</flashmp3>
  
'''Gordon:'''
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There was a group in [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] under [[Ali Javan]] trying to make a helium neon gas laser system. He didn’t have any background in plasma physics, so I became a sort of consultant to Javan on the plasma physics side of the gas tube they needed for their laser. Ultimately they made the first helium neon laser operating at an infrared wavelength of 1.15 microns. I learned a little bit about lasers and it excited my interest, so I asked my boss if I could be involved in laser work. I was then put in charge of a small group of guys – including most notably Alan White and J. Dane Rigden – to begin to develop gas lasers. They were already onto the idea of making a helium neon laser that would operate at a visible red wavelength, so I came in at a good time.
  
There was a group in Bell Labs under Ali Javan trying to make a helium neon gas laser system. He didn’t have any background in plasma physics, so I became a sort of consultant to Javan on the plasma physics side of the gas tube they needed for their laser. Ultimately they made the first helium neon laser operating at an infrared wavelength of 1.15 microns. I learned a little bit about lasers and it excited my interest, so I asked my boss if I could be involved in laser work. I was then put in charge of a small group of guys – including most notably Alan White and J. Dane Rigden – to begin to develop gas lasers. They were already onto the idea of making a helium neon laser that would operate at a visible red wavelength, so I came in at a good time. <br>
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This was very crucial to what happened later. They had the idea that they could make the helium neon laser work at 6328 Å. However, we were in a development area at [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]], and the research people condescended upon the development people as if they were second class citizens. We were saying we were going to make a laser at 6328 Å. We had done all the measurements and there was gain and so on. We didn’t have any mirrors to make the laser work at that wavelength, but the people in research did have a pair of mirrors that were appropriate. However they would not give them to us, so we had to order a pair from Bausch and Lomb and wait for several months. When we finally got the mirrors we had the laser working in a day.  
  
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We told everyone at [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]] about this laser and everyone ran over to see it. It was incredible to see the beam of red light coming out of this thing. It was beautiful. Of course by that time the pulsed ruby had been demonstrated at Hughes Research Laboratories by [[Theodore H. Maiman|Ted Maiman]]. Shortly thereafter at [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]] it was discovered that a mistake had been made in photoluminescence efficiency measurements and that in fact that laser could work. It had previously been rejected by the [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] research people.
  
This was very crucial to what happened later. They had the idea that they could make the helium neon laser work at 6328 Å. However, we were in a development area at Bell Laboratories, and the research people condescended upon the development people as if they were second class citizens. We were saying we were going to make a laser at 6328 Å. We had done all the measurements and there was gain and so on. We didn’t have any mirrors to make the laser work at that wavelength, but the people in research did have a pair of mirrors that were appropriate. However they would not give them to us, so we had to order a pair from Bausch and Lomb and wait for several months. When we finally got the mirrors we had the laser working in a day. <br>
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==== Laser theory, publication, and applications  ====
  
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'''Gordon:'''  
 
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We told everyone at Bell Laboratories about this laser and everyone ran over to see it. It was incredible to see the beam of red light coming out of this thing. It was beautiful. Of course by that time the pulsed ruby had been demonstrated at Hughes Research Laboratories by Ted Maiman. Shortly thereafter at Bell Laboratories it was discovered that a mistake had been made in photoluminescence efficiency measurements and that in fact that laser could work. It had previously been rejected by the Bell Labs research people. <br>
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==== Laser theory, publication, and applications ====
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'''Gordon:'''
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In any case, we had this laser. There were five other lines that could potentially go or laser in that particular system, but they were weaker lines. At the very beginning we did not have any success in getting them to work. The research people came over and saw it. The next day, the research people announced that they had gotten the other lines working – including the green line, which was especially elusive. We asked if we could go over and see their result, and our request was denied. After weeks of asking them I finally went to the upper management in the research area and asked if we could be allowed to see this thing. <br>
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We went over there and watched as they turned on the laser. There was a little, dim green spot on the wall. By that time we had recognized that lasers produced spots on walls that were granulated and sparkling and so on. I had already done the work to explain the granularity of the laser light. I was already getting ready to submit a letter to the ''Transactions'' regarding this, which eventually was published. That’s interesting too, because after it was published people began to tell me that there were papers before lasers in which this phenomenon was predicted. There was a paper in 1916 by Von Laue in German, and in that paper referenced a paper in 1871 by Exner. In fact these guys had done the same math and had reached this conclusion that you could get this granularity if the light were narrow band enough or collimated enough or whatever. Therefore we were seeing a phenomenon that had been predicted long before but had never really been seen except under very special circumstances. <br>
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However I did not see this granularity in this spot on the wall. I asked, “Is that really lasing?” Their answer was, “Oh yes.” I asked, “Why is it so dim?” They said, “This is a very low gain transition.” Then I asked if I could put my hand in the cavity and put my hand in front of the back mirror of the laser. That should have stopped it. The spot did not change at all, so I asked for an explanation and was told that single pass gain was adequate. Suddenly I realized that these brilliant physicists in the research area didn’t know anything about lasers. They really didn’t understand how oscillators worked. I thought to myself that I should sit down and do the whole theory of lasers from an electrical engineering point of view. That way I would show them that electrical engineers could predict from basic principles all the laser equations they had worked so hard to produce in a sort of ad hoc manner.<br>
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In any case, we had this laser. There were five other lines that could potentially go or laser in that particular system, but they were weaker lines. At the very beginning we did not have any success in getting them to work. The research people came over and saw it. The next day, the research people announced that they had gotten the other lines working – including the green line, which was especially elusive. We asked if we could go over and see their result, and our request was denied. After weeks of asking them I finally went to the upper management in the research area and asked if we could be allowed to see this thing.  
  
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We went over there and watched as they turned on the laser. There was a little, dim green spot on the wall. By that time we had recognized that lasers produced spots on walls that were granulated and sparkling and so on. I had already done the work to explain the granularity of the laser light. I was already getting ready to submit a letter to the ''Transactions'' regarding this, which eventually was published. That’s interesting too, because after it was published people began to tell me that there were papers before lasers in which this phenomenon was predicted. There was a paper in 1916 by Von Laue in German, and in that paper referenced a paper in 1871 by Exner. In fact these guys had done the same math and had reached this conclusion that you could get this granularity if the light were narrow band enough or collimated enough or whatever. Therefore we were seeing a phenomenon that had been predicted long before but had never really been seen except under very special circumstances.
  
I wrote a paper on “Optical Maser Oscillators and Noise” published in the ''Bell System Technical Journal'', which did exactly that. I devised the whole theory of lasers from electrical engineering scattering matrices with all the key equations and so on for its principles of operation. That got me to thinking that while physicists know a lot about atomic physics and radiating systems, electrical engineers were the ones who were going to make the practical lasers.<br>
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However I did not see this granularity in this spot on the wall. I asked, “Is that really lasing?” Their answer was, “Oh yes.” I asked, “Why is it so dim?” They said, “This is a very low gain transition.” Then I asked if I could put my hand in the cavity and put my hand in front of the back mirror of the laser. That should have stopped it. The spot did not change at all, so I asked for an explanation and was told that single pass gain was adequate. Suddenly I realized that these brilliant physicists in the research area didn’t know anything about lasers. They really didn’t understand how oscillators worked. I thought to myself that I should sit down and do the whole theory of lasers from an electrical engineering point of view. That way I would show them that electrical engineers could predict from basic principles all the laser equations they had worked so hard to produce in a sort of ad hoc manner.  
  
<br>
+
I wrote a paper on “Optical Maser Oscillators and Noise” published in the ''Bell System Technical Journal'', which did exactly that. I devised the whole theory of lasers from electrical engineering scattering matrices with all the key equations and so on for its principles of operation. That got me to thinking that while physicists know a lot about atomic physics and radiating systems, electrical engineers were the ones who were going to make the practical lasers.
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
I don’t know a lot about the early development of lasers, but when you read about these things going on at Bell Labs, it seems abstracted from practical application. It seems like it was a very long time before anyone ever mentioned practical applications for lasers. What applications did they foresee for these things? Or was it just a kind of sweet technical problem on which everyone was dying to work?<br>
+
I don’t know a lot about the early development of lasers, but when you read about these things going on at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]], it seems abstracted from practical application. It seems like it was a very long time before anyone ever mentioned practical applications for lasers. What applications did they foresee for these things? Or was it just a kind of sweet technical problem on which everyone was dying to work?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
No. By that time I guess people at Bell Labs were beginning to accept these things being called lasers rather than optical masers. Laser is an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” We joked about our own translation of the acronym, which was “lucrative acquisition scheme for expensive research.” For a lot of people it was just fun and games, but for people who thought about it – and I counted myself among those – the laser was going to be a very important communication tool.<br>
+
No. By that time I guess people at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] were beginning to accept these things being called lasers rather than optical masers. Laser is an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” We joked about our own translation of the acronym, which was “lucrative acquisition scheme for expensive research.” For a lot of people it was just fun and games, but for people who thought about it – and I counted myself among those – the laser was going to be a very important communication tool.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
In terms of the technology of those times, how was that going to work?<br>
+
In terms of the technology of those times, how was that going to work?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
It was going to be atmospheric transmission.<br>
+
It was going to be atmospheric transmission.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
A sort of microwave type point-to-point technique.<br>
+
A sort of microwave type point-to-point technique.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Yes. A microwave radio relay type of transmission through the atmosphere. The red wavelength was very important.<br>
+
Yes. A microwave radio relay type of transmission through the atmosphere. The red wavelength was very important.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Why was that important?<br>
+
Why was that important?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Blue is absorbed in transmission more than red. That is why the sky is blue for example, because the blue light is scattered more than the red light. I immediately focused on what had to be done to achieve practical systems. Therefore we immediately began putting these lasers on life, testing their lifetime and discovering what made them fail, and trying to improve the lifetime of the lasers. The second thing we did was to do a marketing study within Bell Laboratories. We discovered that there were about twenty-five research groups that could make profitable use of a laser. Then we stopped everything else we were doing and made twenty-five systems for people. We gave the systems to them with a set of instructions on how to use it and so on. I could go into great detail about how silly some of the things were that people were doing with those lasers.<br>
+
Blue is absorbed in transmission more than red. That is why the sky is blue for example, because the blue light is scattered more than the red light. I immediately focused on what had to be done to achieve practical systems. Therefore we immediately began putting these lasers on life, testing their lifetime and discovering what made them fail, and trying to improve the lifetime of the lasers. The second thing we did was to do a marketing study within [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]]. We discovered that there were about twenty-five research groups that could make profitable use of a laser. Then we stopped everything else we were doing and made twenty-five systems for people. We gave the systems to them with a set of instructions on how to use it and so on. I could go into great detail about how silly some of the things were that people were doing with those lasers.  
  
<br>
+
However the point is, we made the lasers, did the reliability studies, did the basic physics studies showing the mechanism for population inversion and scaling laws and published papers in ''Applied Physics Letters'' and the ''Journal of Applied Physics''. The point is, I made single frequency oscillators, frequency stabilizers and built all of the components and developed all of the pieces that would make this into a real communication system. I did that by sort of thinking about an analog system being transmitted through the atmosphere and so on. As it turned out, all of those ideas were wrong in the sense that the atmosphere was not a favorable medium for transmission due to turbulence and so on.  
 
+
However the point is, we made the lasers, did the reliability studies, did the basic physics studies showing the mechanism for population inversion and scaling laws and published papers in ''Applied Physics Letters'' and the ''Journal of Applied Physics''. The point is, I made single frequency oscillators, frequency stabilizers and built all of the components and developed all of the pieces that would make this into a real communication system. I did that by sort of thinking about an analog system being transmitted through the atmosphere and so on. As it turned out, all of those ideas were wrong in the sense that the atmosphere was not a favorable medium for transmission due to turbulence and so on. <br>
+
  
 
==== Experimentation; competition between research and development  ====
 
==== Experimentation; competition between research and development  ====
Line 264: Line 187:
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
We did experiments between Murray Hill and Holmdel or Crawford Hill. None of that work turned out to be useful for communications through the atmosphere, but it certainly provided a basis for a lot of exciting work. I think we established the way of thinking about gas lasers and what techniques to use for studying them and so on. I think we did some very groundbreaking work. None of this endeared me to my friends in the research area. <br>
+
We did experiments between Murray Hill and Holmdel or Crawford Hill. None of that work turned out to be useful for communications through the atmosphere, but it certainly provided a basis for a lot of exciting work. I think we established the way of thinking about gas lasers and what techniques to use for studying them and so on. I think we did some very groundbreaking work. None of this endeared me to my friends in the research area.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Was it because this was too close to their turf?<br>
+
Was it because this was too close to their turf?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
The research people at Bell Laboratories were very haughty and could not accept the idea that there was a group of people in the development area who were smart and well educated and could compete with them. <br>
+
The research people at [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]] were very haughty and could not accept the idea that there was a group of people in the development area who were smart and well educated and could compete with them.  
  
=== ''Journal of Quantum Electronics'' <br> ===
+
=== ''Journal of Quantum Electronics'' ===
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
After getting involved in the Electron Devices Society, Glen Wade, who was then the editor of the ''Transactions'', asked me to be an associate editor. I put together a special issue on lasers. Then the idea began to percolate that the physicists really needed to be brought into this thing because of their basic knowledge of materials and atomic physics, and the physicists needed to be taught some things about lasers as devices. To that purpose, we dreamt up the idea of the ''Journal of Quantum Electronics''. It was to be the meeting ground of the physicists and electrical engineers in this area. We thought it would be a very fertile area to bring them together. We were competing against the ''Journal of Applied Physics'' and ''Applied Physics Letters'', however.<br>
+
After getting involved in the Electron Devices Society, Glen Wade, who was then the editor of the ''Transactions'', asked me to be an associate editor. I put together a special issue on lasers. Then the idea began to percolate that the physicists really needed to be brought into this thing because of their basic knowledge of materials and atomic physics, and the physicists needed to be taught some things about lasers as devices. To that purpose, we dreamt up the idea of the ''Journal of Quantum Electronics''. It was to be the meeting ground of the physicists and electrical engineers in this area. We thought it would be a very fertile area to bring them together. We were competing against the ''Journal of Applied Physics'' and ''Applied Physics Letters'', however.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Was that an IEEE publication? Is it still around?<br>
+
Was that an IEEE publication? Is it still around?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
The''Journal of Quantum Electronics'' was going to be hosted by the Electron Devices Society. There was to be a split from the ''Transactions''. Glen Wade and myself had done all of the preliminary work and put together the first issue. Then The Microwave Theory and Techniques Society decided they would also like to be involved. At the time I did not fully appreciate the fact that their involvement would put such a practical bent on this thing that the physicists would not be attracted to it. In my opinion, they killed the possibility of this being a common meeting ground for electrical engineers and physicists. We could not thwart their involvement, and it was thanks to the Electron Devices Society that their involvement was welcomed. This meant that this would not be strictly an Electron Devices Society initiative and would have to have an advisory committee by IEEE rules to oversee the publication. The advisory group would of course have people from both the Microwave Theory and Techniques Society and the Electron Devices Society. <br>
+
The''Journal of Quantum Electronics'' was going to be hosted by the Electron Devices Society. There was to be a split from the ''Transactions''. [[Oral-History:Glen Wade|Glen Wade]] and myself had done all of the preliminary work and put together the first issue. Then the [[IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society History|Microwave Theory and Techniques Society]] decided they would also like to be involved. At the time I did not fully appreciate the fact that their involvement would put such a practical bent on this thing that the physicists would not be attracted to it. In my opinion, they killed the possibility of this being a common meeting ground for electrical engineers and physicists. We could not thwart their involvement, and it was thanks to the [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Devices Society]] that their involvement was welcomed. This meant that this would not be strictly an [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Devices Society]] initiative and would have to have an advisory committee by IEEE rules to oversee the publication. The advisory group would of course have people from both the [[IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society History|Microwave Theory and Techniques Society]] and the [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Devices Society]].  
  
<br>
+
That advisory group was the genesis of what is now known as [[IEEE Lasers & Electro-Optics Society History|LEOS, the Laser Electro-Optic Society]]. Our first meeting of the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optic Applications (CLEA) was in 1967. That was a very successful meeting. I was the chairman. Now we had a journal and a good meeting. It was obvious that all of the elements were there for another society, and that’s what happened.
  
That advisory group was the genesis of what is now known as LEOS, the Laser Electro-Optic Society. Our first meeting of the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optic Applications (CLEA) was in 1967. That was a very successful meeting. I was the chairman. Now we had a journal and a good meeting. It was obvious that all of the elements were there for another society, and that’s what happened.<br>
+
=== Electron devices conferences ===
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
=== Electron devices conferences<br> ===
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
What year did you begin to get involved with the electron devices group?<br>
+
What year did you begin to get involved with the electron devices group?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
I got involved after I gave the talk on microwave tubes in 1959. I was on paper committees and so on. I don’t remember whether I was ever chairman of the meeting, but I was chairman of the program committee on different occasions. I got very involved in the research conference. Looking back at it, it was a really great conference. We met every June, usually at a university. We would stay in dormitories, eat in university dining halls, and we used the classrooms for meetings. In larger sessions we sometimes used an auditorium. <br>
+
I got involved after I gave the talk on microwave tubes in 1959. I was on paper committees and so on. I don’t remember whether I was ever chairman of the meeting, but I was chairman of the program committee on different occasions. I got very involved in the research conference. Looking back at it, it was a really great conference. We met every June, usually at a university. We would stay in dormitories, eat in university dining halls, and we used the classrooms for meetings. In larger sessions we sometimes used an auditorium.  
  
<br>
+
These were spectacular meetings. Maybe a couple hundred people would show up, people of many different disciplines attended, and we would spend a great week together. Many people brought their families. The papers were great. The discussion intense and would continue on into the night. We would fight over all kinds of things. It was a great, exciting time for electron devices. There were not only lasers, but parametric amplifiers and [[Electron (or Vacuum) Tubes|electron tubes]]. I guess the research conference started out from a group working on [[Electron (or Vacuum) Tubes|electron tubes]].  
 
+
These were spectacular meetings. Maybe a couple hundred people would show up, people of many different disciplines attended, and we would spend a great week together. Many people brought their families. The papers were great. The discussion intense and would continue on into the night. We would fight over all kinds of things. It was a great, exciting time for electron devices. There were not only lasers, but parametric amplifiers and electron tubes. I guess the research conference started out from a group working on electron tubes.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
There was a tube conference every year in the fifties, and probably in the forties.<br>
+
There was a tube conference every year in the fifties, and probably in the forties.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Right. That was the genesis of the research conference. I guess it then split off into the Solid State Device Conference and so on.<br>
+
Right. That was the genesis of the research conference. I guess it then split off into the Solid State Device Conference and so on.  
  
<br>
+
=== Electron devices, 1960s  ===
  
=== Electron devices research in the 1960s<br> ===
+
==== Professional organization ====
 
+
==== Professional organization<br> ====
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
It sounds like you got involved shortly before the IRE and the AIEE merged.<br>
+
It sounds like you got involved shortly before the [[Formation of IEEE by the Merger of AIEE and IRE|IRE and the AIEE merged]].  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Right.<br>
+
Right.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Did that merger have any noticeable effect on the Electron Devices Group?<br>
+
Did [[Formation of IEEE by the Merger of AIEE and IRE|that merger]] have any noticeable effect on the [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Devices Group]]?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
No. Things just went on. I don’t know how to express it, but the sixties were spectacular times. I used to hang around on Saturday afternoons waiting for the mail to arrive so I could get my copy of''Applied Physics Letters''. Every day something was happening – a new laser transition, or whatever. It was just an amazing time. <br>
+
No. Things just went on. I don’t know how to express it, but the sixties were spectacular times. I used to hang around on Saturday afternoons waiting for the mail to arrive so I could get my copy of''Applied Physics Letters''. Every day something was happening – a new laser transition, or whatever. It was just an amazing time.  
  
==== Transistors, tubes, and semiconductors<br> ====
+
==== Transistors, tubes, and semiconductors ====
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
By the time you had gotten started, transistors had already appeared and were starting to be used.<br>
+
By the time you had gotten started, [[Transistors|transistors]] had already appeared and were starting to be used.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Right.<br>
+
Right.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Was there any rivalry within the group? Of course by the sixties the tube people were in the minority.<br>
+
Was there any rivalry within the group? Of course by the sixties the tube people were in the minority.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Right. <br>
+
Right.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Did you get the sense that there was or had been a rivalry between these two groups? Did people care about that issue?<br>
+
Did you get the sense that there was or had been a rivalry between these two groups? Did people care about that issue?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
No. Tube people moved on to high-power tubes and traveling wave amplifiers, which were needed for microwaves and military systems. The semiconductor people moved toward logic and analog devices. <br>
+
No. Tube people moved on to high-power tubes and traveling wave amplifiers, which were needed for microwaves and military systems. The [[Semiconductors|semiconductor]] people moved toward logic and analog devices.  
  
<br>
+
==== Integrated circuits  ====
  
==== Integrated circuits<br> ====
+
'''Gordon:'''
  
'''Gordon:'''<br>
+
Debates went on at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] in the late fifties when people were still having trouble making individual [[Transistors|transistors]], wondering whether an integrated circuit could ever even be imagined. At [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] they pretty much decided the answer was no, because they were so involved in reliability issues and so on. I remember when Dawon Kahng invented the MOS transistor device around 1960. The [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] people didn’t think it was worth very much.  
 
+
Debates went on at Bell Labs in the late fifties when people were still having trouble making individual transistors, wondering whether an integrated circuit could ever even be imagined. At Bell Labs they pretty much decided the answer was no, because they were so involved in reliability issues and so on. I remember when Dawon Kahng invented the MOS transistor device around 1960. The Bell Labs people didn’t think it was worth very much.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
That was a big mistake.<br>
+
That was a big mistake.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Yes. They did not move aggressively into integrated circuits, but for good reasons. The telephone system was an analog system. It still needed capacitors, inductors and big resistors, so that the idea was to make transistor circuits maybe at some low level of integration and develop technology for putting them all on a common substrate. Bell Labs, through Marty Lepselter developed the beam lead concept, which was really a great technology that worked very well in the analog, and later in the mixed analog, digital world. They moved in that direction. Of course Jack Morton headed our area.<br>
+
Yes. They did not move aggressively into integrated circuits, but for good reasons. The telephone system was an analog system. It still needed capacitors, inductors and big resistors, so that the idea was to make transistor circuits maybe at some low level of integration and develop technology for putting them all on a common substrate. [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]], through [[Martin P. Lepselter|Marty Lepselter]] developed the beam lead concept, which was really a great technology that worked very well in the analog, and later in the mixed analog, digital world. They moved in that direction. Of course Jack Morton headed our area.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
No relation.<br>
+
No relation.  
  
==== Jack Morton <br> ====
+
==== Jack Morton ====
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
In the early days of the transistor, Jack Morton was very instrumental in developing transistor technology and moving it away from germanium and toward silicon. And as a tube guy he had also been instrumental in developing the microwave triode that made the relay systems practical. The relay systems were great for the telephone system, but additionally they were so good that it was possible to transmit television cross country using the NTSC system. NTSC was a terrible system, but it worked and it was good enough because AT&amp;T systems were so great. The European telephone systems could not support NTSC, so they developed the PAL system which was a very sophisticated solution appropriate to a lousy telephone system. I saw Morton emerge from that. He had incredible wisdom and insight, and he was my mentor. A lot of what I did and learned came from Jack Morton. <br>
+
In the early days of the [[Transistors|transistor]], Jack Morton was very instrumental in developing [[Transistors|transistor]] technology and moving it away from germanium and toward silicon. And as a tube guy he had also been instrumental in developing the microwave triode that made the relay systems practical. The relay systems were great for the telephone system, but additionally they were so good that it was possible to transmit television cross country using the NTSC system. NTSC was a terrible system, but it worked and it was good enough because AT&amp;T systems were so great. The European telephone systems could not support NTSC, so they developed the PAL system which was a very sophisticated solution appropriate to a lousy telephone system. I saw Morton emerge from that. He had incredible wisdom and insight, and he was my mentor. A lot of what I did and learned came from Jack Morton.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
I’ve heard conflicting things about Jack Morton. What was it like to work with him?<br>
+
I’ve heard conflicting things about Jack Morton. What was it like to work with him?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
He was absolutely a tough guy.<br>
+
He was absolutely a tough guy.  
  
<br>
+
He was a very bigoted and very tough guy, but had tremendous insight and instincts about the way things should be done, including how to get innovation out of people. I tried to learn from him what was needed to be a good manager, but I was also determined not to be as tough as he had been. He generated so much hatred that it limited his effectiveness.
  
He was a very bigoted and very tough guy, but had tremendous insight and instincts about the way things should be done, including how to get innovation out of people. I tried to learn from him what was needed to be a good manager, but I was also determined not to be as tough as he had been. He generated so much hatred that it limited his effectiveness. <br>
+
==== Electron Devices Society ====
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
==== Electron Devices Society<br> ====
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
I’m trying to get a handle on where the Electron Devices Society was at various points in time. The Electron Devices Society’s name covers a huge range of things. During the early years when you first got involved with the Society was there a set of things with which the Society concerned itself and another set of things that were the concern of other societies? You hinted that the computer people were more interested in the digital devices. Would you talk about what interested the Electron Devices Society most during the sixties?<br>
+
I’m trying to get a handle on where the [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Devices Society]] was at various points in time. The [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Devices Society]]’s name covers a huge range of things. During the early years when you first got involved with the Society was there a set of things with which the Society concerned itself and another set of things that were the concern of other societies? You hinted that the computer people were more interested in the digital devices. Would you talk about what interested the [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Devices Society]] most during the sixties?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Yes. They did not get involved in integrated circuits. That was the Solid State Circuits Conference and I don’t remember which society was responsible for that. However that was a split that took place, and probably at about that time. We didn’t get involved in integrated circuits. It was tubes, lasers, displays and ultimately imaging devices. Of course there was the Display Society, so displays tended to go that way. However there were always enough new things coming along that there was plenty to keep us interested. There were the lasers, electro-optics and semiconductor lasers. Then I got started in imaging devices in 1965-66. <br>
+
Yes. They did not get involved in [[Integrated Circuits|integrated circuits]]. That was the Solid State Circuits Conference and I don’t remember which society was responsible for that. However that was a split that took place, and probably at about that time. We didn’t get involved in integrated circuits. It was tubes, lasers, displays and ultimately imaging devices. Of course there was the Display Society, so displays tended to go that way. However there were always enough new things coming along that there was plenty to keep us interested. There were the lasers, electro-optics and semiconductor lasers. Then I got started in imaging devices in 1965-66.  
  
<br>
+
I guess was in mostly what you would call electron devices, where free electrons were somehow involved.
  
I guess was in mostly what you would call electron devices, where free electrons were somehow involved. <br>
+
==== CW argon ion laser  ====
  
==== CW argon ion laser<br> ====
+
'''Gordon:'''
  
'''Gordon:'''<br>
+
<flashmp3>390 - gordon - clip 2.mp3</flashmp3>  
  
Let me tell you another thing that happened in the interim period, beginning in December of 1963. There was a paper by Arnold Bell. I have forgotten the names of the other authors on the paper, but it was “Pulsed Mercury Ion Laser.” It was probably published in ''Applied Physics Letters''. It was the first of the ion lasers. Bill Bridges, a friend of mine from Hughes Aircraft Company, and I attended an Electron Devices Society meeting at the engineering society building on 47th Street in New York in preparation for one of the Device Research Conferences in early 1964. We talked about this device on the way back to the PATH subway station. I said, “I’m not interested in that at all. That’s a pulse device that’s not useful for communication purposes. I’m strictly a CW guy.” <br>
+
Let me tell you another thing that happened in the interim period, beginning in December of 1963. There was a paper by Arnold Bell. I have forgotten the names of the other authors on the paper, but it was “Pulsed Mercury Ion Laser.” It was probably published in ''Applied Physics Letters''. It was the first of the ion lasers. Bill Bridges, a friend of mine from Hughes Aircraft Company, and I attended an [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Devices Society]] meeting at the engineering society building on 47th Street in New York in preparation for one of the Device Research Conferences in early 1964. We talked about this device on the way back to the PATH subway station. I said, “I’m not interested in that at all. That’s a pulse device that’s not useful for communication purposes. I’m strictly a CW guy.”  
  
<br>
+
Then he said, “What do you think is the mechanism that is causing it to happen?” I suggested that instead of helium he should put argon in the tube with the mercury. I went through what would happen with argon versus what would happen with helium and what the implications would be for the mechanism. He did that experiment and discovered that the argon itself would lase [inaudible phrase]. At the next meeting in the series we met again in New York, and I asked him what had happened with that experiment. He said, “There is an argon ion laser.” He told me all about it, and I looked at the data and said, “You know what? That’s going to go CW.” He said, “I kind of think so myself.” I said, “I’ll tell you what. I’m going to go back to Murray Hill and you go back to Malibu and we’ll keep in touch and see what happens.” I had concluded that the key to making that happen was a very small diameter discharge tube, whereas the pulse devices are long tubes with a big diameter that carry a tremendous amount of current for very short periods of time. I had experience making a miniature helium neon laser for a single frequency, so that was easy for me. [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]], because I had built all these lasers and started the reliability program, gave me an incredible amount of support. I had glass shops, quartz shops, mirror shops, and I could do anything I wanted. I had it all under my thumb. The next day Ed Labuda and I designed a tube and gave it to the quartz people, and two or three days later they had the tube. We coated the mirrors we needed. I figured out I needed a high current. I got an old magnet supply, and it worked as soon as we turned it on. It went CW. There were problems with gas pumping and so on, so we went back to the German literature from fifty or a hundred years earlier and found out how to deal with that. We solved the gas pumping problems and all the other problems associated with that laser. I called Bill and asked him how he was doing, and he still hadn’t gotten it to go CW. We told him what to do, and he also tried some of the other noble gases. In May of 1964 we jointly published a paper in ''Applied Physics Letters'' on the first CW argon ion laser. That was very exhilarating.
  
Then he said, “What do you think is the mechanism that is causing it to happen?” I suggested that instead of helium he should put argon in the tube with the mercury. I went through what would happen with argon versus what would happen with helium and what the implications would be for the mechanism. He did that experiment and discovered that the argon itself would lase [inaudible phrase]. At the next meeting in the series we met again in New York, and I asked him what had happened with that experiment. He said, “There is an argon ion laser.” He told me all about it, and I looked at the data and said, “You know what? That’s going to go CW.” He said, “I kind of think so myself.” I said, “I’ll tell you what. I’m going to go back to Murray Hill and you go back to Malibu and we’ll keep in touch and see what happens.” I had concluded that the key to making that happen was a very small diameter discharge tube, whereas the pulse devices are long tubes with a big diameter that carry a tremendous amount of current for very short periods of time.<br> I had experience making a miniature helium neon laser for a single frequency, so that was easy for me. Bell Labs, because I had built all these lasers and started the reliability program, gave me an incredible amount of support. I had glass shops, quartz shops, mirror shops, and I could do anything I wanted. I had it all under my thumb. The next day Ed Labuda and I designed a tube and gave it to the quartz people, and two or three days later they had the tube. We coated the mirrors we needed. I figured out I needed a high current. I got an old magnet supply, and it worked as soon as we turned it on. It went CW. There were problems with gas pumping and so on, so we went back to the German literature from fifty or a hundred years earlier and found out how to deal with that. We solved the gas pumping problems and all the other problems associated with that laser. I called Bill and asked him how he was doing, and he still hadn’t gotten it to go CW. We told him what to do, and he also tried some of the other noble gases. In May of 1964 we jointly published a paper in ''Applied Physics Letters'' on the first CW argon ion laser. That was very exhilarating. <br>
+
The point is that with the helium neon laser, the red beam, it was very clear that the body did not absorb the radiation. If the beam were put into the back of your hand the light would come out the front from your palm. It was scattered, but there was no attenuation. It was not being absorbed by the blood or by anything. It was clear that with the argon, which is blue and green, there were medical implications. I didn’t know what to do about it. Neither was it a [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] kind of thing. However as soon as we published a paper there were many people descending on me to help them do medical experiments with the laser. That was a whole other part of my life, which was in the evenings. We’ll come back to that.  
  
<br>
+
=== AT&amp;T Picturephone  ===
  
The point is that with the helium neon laser, the red beam, it was very clear that the body did not absorb the radiation. If the beam were put into the back of your hand the light would come out the front from your palm. It was scattered, but there was no attenuation. It was not being absorbed by the blood or by anything. It was clear that with the argon, which is blue and green, there were medical implications. I didn’t know what to do about it. Neither was it a Bell Labs kind of thing. However as soon as we published a paper there were many people descending on me to help them do medical experiments with the laser. That was a whole other part of my life, which was in the evenings. We’ll come back to that.<br> <br>
+
==== High bandwidth system  ====
  
=== AT&amp;T Picturephone <br> ===
+
'''Gordon:'''  
 
+
==== High bandwidth system<br> ====
+
 
+
'''Gordon:'''<br>
+
 
+
The World’s Fair was in Flushing in 1964, and at that time AT&amp;T had developed a video telephone system called Picturephone. It was a system in which a sequence of photographs of a person were displayed at either end of the phone connection for a few seconds each. The photographs would jump, but one could see the face of the person to whom one was talking. AT&amp;T demonstrated a real time system system at the World’s Fair. It got a lot of positive response, so in 1965 AT&amp;T made a very interesting business decision. They decided to develop a video telephone system to be introduced in 1970, and they started working on it.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
  
What was going on with that is very interesting, and at this late date it is okay to tell the story. AT&amp;T wanted to introduce a high bandwidth system into the network for providing services other than voice. Business services. The voice network was referred to as Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS). The new system was going to be network services. They figured that if they went to the FCC and talked about video telephone or Picturephone they could convince the FCC to allow them to put in a broad bandwidth line. They argued for this on the basis that it was for a video telephone rather than for their hidden agenda of network services because the FCC had already told them they could not put in network services.<br>
+
The World’s Fair was in Flushing in 1964, and at that time AT&amp;T had developed a video telephone system called Picturephone. It was a system in which a sequence of photographs of a person were displayed at either end of the phone connection for a few seconds each. The photographs would jump, but one could see the face of the person to whom one was talking. AT&amp;T demonstrated a real time system system at the World’s Fair. It got a lot of positive response, so in 1965 AT&amp;T made a very interesting business decision. They decided to develop a video telephone system to be introduced in 1970, and they started working on it.  
  
<br>
+
What was going on with that is very interesting, and at this late date it is okay to tell the story. AT&amp;T wanted to introduce a high bandwidth system into the network for providing services other than voice. Business services. The voice network was referred to as Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS). The new system was going to be network services. They figured that if they went to the FCC and talked about video telephone or Picturephone they could convince the FCC to allow them to put in a broad bandwidth line. They argued for this on the basis that it was for a video telephone rather than for their hidden agenda of network services because the FCC had already told them they could not put in network services.
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
What exactly do you mean by “network services”?<br>
+
What exactly do you mean by “network services”?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Basically computer interconnects and others kinds of data services for business. They were not allowed to put in data services. They were refused. They basically saw the Picturephone as a way of convincing the FCC to let them put in a large bandwidth capability. Then they were going to increment them to death with a little bit of this and a little bit of that and gradually develop network services. We called that system Picturephone And Network Services (PANS). Therefore we had POTS and PANS.<br>
+
Basically computer interconnects and others kinds of data services for business. They were not allowed to put in data services. They were refused. They basically saw the Picturephone as a way of convincing the FCC to let them put in a large bandwidth capability. Then they were going to increment them to death with a little bit of this and a little bit of that and gradually develop network services. We called that system Picturephone And Network Services (PANS). Therefore we had POTS and PANS.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Right.<br>
+
Right.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
The reason they chose 1970 was because of the fear that by that time the Japanese would start introducing a system for internal PBS type services just within the company. However then the Japanese would have the technical basis for doing it, and the fear was that then the FCC would never allow AT&amp;T to do it. Therefore, 1970 was a critical year. We had to do it, get it into production and introduce the service. <br>
+
The reason they chose 1970 was because of the fear that by that time the Japanese would start introducing a system for internal PBS type services just within the company. However then the Japanese would have the technical basis for doing it, and the fear was that then the FCC would never allow AT&amp;T to do it. Therefore, 1970 was a critical year. We had to do it, get it into production and introduce the service.  
  
<br>
+
==== Picturephone display and imaging devices development  ====
  
==== Picturephone display and imaging devices development<br> ====
+
'''Gordon:'''
  
'''Gordon:'''<br>
+
I was asked to be responsible for the display and imaging devices for the Picturephone system.
  
I was asked to be responsible for the display and imaging devices for the Picturephone system. <br>
+
At that instant in time when I was asked to do that they talked about a vidicon. I had never even heard of a vidicon and didn’t know what it was. I had to start from scratch. The display was basically a trivial problem. They wanted a flat CRT so we had to develop a flat CRT. That was kind of straightforward stuff. Later on we got into other kinds of displays to make them smaller and flatter. It was the Picturephone system that got me into the display business.  
  
<br>
+
The imaging part was tougher. The problem at the time was that the telephone set was going to sit on a person’s office desk and there would be bright light coming in the window. Bright light would kill a vidicon. It had an antimony trisulfide photoconductor, an amorphous [[Semiconductors|semiconductor]], target. It necessarily had traps. That’s why it worked as a photoconductor. These traps would shift around when bright light shone on the device. Then bright spots (burn-in) would occur wherever the light hit. There would be a white spot associated with high dark current. Antimony trisulfide was an anathema, yet no one knew how to do it any other way. Philips Philips had a plumbicon device that was lead-based, but it was essentially the same kind of material.  
 
+
At that instant in time when I was asked to do that they talked about a vidicon. I had never even heard of a vidicon and didn’t know what it was. I had to start from scratch. The display was basically a trivial problem. They wanted a flat CRT so we had to develop a flat CRT. That was kind of straightforward stuff. Later on we got into other kinds of displays to make them smaller and flatter. It was the Picturephone system that got me into the display business. <br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
The imaging part was tougher. The problem at the time was that the telephone set was going to sit on a person’s office desk and there would be bright light coming in the window. Bright light would kill a vidicon. It had an antimony trisulfide photoconductor, an amorphous semiconductor, target. It necessarily had traps. That’s why it worked as a photoconductor. These traps would shift around when bright light shone on the device. Then bright spots (burn-in) would occur wherever the light hit. There would be a white spot associated with high dark current. Antimony trisulfide was an anathema, yet no one knew how to do it any other way. Philips Philips had a plumbicon device that was lead-based, but it was essentially the same kind of material.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Wasn’t a vidicon used in television for the one purpose of film transmission?<br>
+
Wasn’t a vidicon used in television for the one purpose of film transmission?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
It was used for reading film and converting it into video.<br>
+
It was used for reading film and converting it into video.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
There was another technology that was used for filming people live. <br>
+
There was another technology that was used for filming people live.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
That was the antimony trisulfide vidicon. That was an RCA device. The plumbicon, which I believe was lead selenide, was a Phillips’ Philips device. Those were the two technologies that were then current. Filters and so on could be used and three-tube or four-tube color cameras could be made. That was the technology at that time. <br> <br>
+
That was the antimony trisulfide vidicon. That was an RCA device. The plumbicon, which I believe was lead selenide, was a&nbsp; Philips device. Those were the two technologies that were then current. Filters and so on could be used and three-tube or four-tube color cameras could be made. That was the technology at that time.  
  
==== Inventing the silicon target vidicon<br> ====
+
==== Inventing the silicon target vidicon ====
  
'''Gordon:'''<br>Knowing very little about photoconductors and the like, my first instinct was to go to the research people and ask for help. I asked them, “How can we develop a photoconductor or fix the antimony trisulfide so that it won’t burn in?” The research people said, “Sorry, but since it’s not a crystal we won’t work on it. Good physics cannot be done unless it’s a crystal.” There was a lot of truth in what they said, but that just reinforced my view of the research people. I used to say to them, “You guys are like the National Guard. You play around. We’re the Marines. If someone has to land and fix the problem, they call us in.” That’s the way it was, and that’s the way it is. <br>
+
'''Gordon:'''  
  
<br>
+
Knowing very little about photoconductors and the like, my first instinct was to go to the research people and ask for help. I asked them, “How can we develop a photoconductor or fix the antimony trisulfide so that it won’t burn in?” The research people said, “Sorry, but since it’s not a crystal we won’t work on it. Good physics cannot be done unless it’s a crystal.” There was a lot of truth in what they said, but that just reinforced my view of the research people. I used to say to them, “You guys are like the National Guard. You play around. We’re the Marines. If someone has to land and fix the problem, they call us in.” That’s the way it was, and that’s the way it is.
  
In any case, I thought about the problem and I decided that the way to solve this problem was to use a silicon crystal and the integrated circuit technology to somehow build a sensing target from a high-density array of photo detectors and do the imaging that way. I had only five years to get this thing into production, and I knew I could never develop a solid state imaging device and get it into production within that time frame. Therefore I decided to develop a silicon-based tube device that could trade on the integrated circuit technology. It would not take it that far, but it would make it possible for us to avoid all the trapping problems associated with photoconductors. My plan was to put a silicon-based tube device into production and then think about how to do an all-solid-state device. I had from late 1965 to early 1970 to accomplish that.<br>
+
In any case, I thought about the problem and I decided that the way to solve this problem was to use a silicon crystal and the integrated circuit technology to somehow build a sensing target from a high-density array of photo detectors and do the imaging that way. I had only five years to get this thing into production, and I knew I could never develop a solid state imaging device and get it into production within that time frame. Therefore I decided to develop a silicon-based tube device that could trade on the integrated circuit technology. It would not take it that far, but it would make it possible for us to avoid all the trapping problems associated with photoconductors. My plan was to put a silicon-based tube device into production and then think about how to do an all-solid-state device. I had from late 1965 to early 1970 to accomplish that.  
  
<br>
+
In a few months I invented the silicon target vidicon, which was a way of arraying diodes on a silicon target. A version of that tube is sitting out in the lobby.  
 
+
In a few months I invented the silicon target vidicon, which was a way of arraying diodes on a silicon target. A version of that tube is sitting out in the lobby.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
I would like to see that.<br>
+
I would like to see that.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
At any rate, a number of semiconductor people pooh-poohed the idea and said it would never work. My view was that I had done the calculations and maybe the dark current was going to be too high, but maybe not. I did not think the theory was good enough to tell us. I had used silicon photo detectors for my laser work and they had very low dark current. I felt that we had to try, because to succeed was a must. People could make all the negative statements they wanted, but we had to try it. That’s the only way to get there. I was not able to get any help from any of the integrated circuit people, so we started another group to do the technology for making this tube. We built it, and it worked. Then we improved it, and by 1970 we went into production with a beautiful tube. Along the way, the Apollo people ran into the same problem. The sunlight was killing the devices they were using for their TV cameras. They turned to our device.<br>
+
At any rate, a number of [[Semiconductors|semiconductor]] people pooh-poohed the idea and said it would never work. My view was that I had done the calculations and maybe the dark current was going to be too high, but maybe not. I did not think the theory was good enough to tell us. I had used silicon photo detectors for my laser work and they had very low dark current. I felt that we had to try, because to succeed was a must. People could make all the negative statements they wanted, but we had to try it. That’s the only way to get there. I was not able to get any help from any of the integrated circuit people, so we started another group to do the technology for making this tube. We built it, and it worked. Then we improved it, and by 1970 we went into production with a beautiful tube. Along the way, the Apollo people ran into the same problem. The sunlight was killing the devices they were using for their TV cameras. They turned to our device.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
How was this constructed?<br>
+
How was this constructed?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
In a vidicon there is a tube with a low energy electron beam scanning a target surface. The surface has a distributed charge, and when the beam lands at low energy it tends because of low secondary emission to charge it negatively causing the potential to go back to zero until the beam can no longer land. The charge that it puts on the surface flows out through a lead so that there’s a capacitive readout of the status of the surface charge on the surface. The amount of surface charge is influenced by the light falling on each part of the target. The local variations in light produce local variations in surface charge, and the beam discharges everything to zero. Then it integrates for a thirtieth of a second and then comes back and reads it again. The result is a continuing, capacitively coupled signal, out of the output lead. <br>
+
In a vidicon there is a tube with a low energy electron beam scanning a target surface. The surface has a distributed charge, and when the beam lands at low energy it tends because of low secondary emission to charge it negatively causing the potential to go back to zero until the beam can no longer land. The charge that it puts on the surface flows out through a lead so that there’s a capacitive readout of the status of the surface charge on the surface. The amount of surface charge is influenced by the light falling on each part of the target. The local variations in light produce local variations in surface charge, and the beam discharges everything to zero. Then it integrates for a thirtieth of a second and then comes back and reads it again. The result is a continuing, capacitively coupled signal, out of the output lead.  
  
<br>
+
In the silicon device, instead of a photoconductor there is an array of maybe half a million to a million photodiodes. Each one, when the light is shown on the backside of the array, collected minority carriers and discharged. That raised the surface potential. Then when the beam hit it, it would recharge the diodes to the target voltage. Then the recharging current was read out was the signal.  
 
+
In the silicon device, instead of a photoconductor there is an array of maybe half a million to a million photodiodes. Each one, when the light is shown on the backside of the array, collected minority carriers and discharged. That raised the surface potential. Then when the beam hit it, it would recharge the diodes to the target voltage. Then the recharging current was read out was the signal.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
The actual array is made with integrated circuit construction techniques.<br>
+
The actual array is made with integrated circuit construction techniques.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Yes. We just made little holes in the oxide and then diffused the opposite donor in there and made a P-N photodiode. The fact that the silicon had a very long lifetime for the minority carriers meant that they could diffuse from anywhere in the target and then were collected in the nearby photodiodes. It was a great idea, and it worked very well. It took a lot of work to get rid of the defects such as the diodes that leaked. We published in the Electron Devices journals and talked about all the problems with the photodiodes and so on. People used to say, “Gene, you’re the only guy that publishes truthful papers in this subject. You talk about the problems.”<br>
+
Yes. We just made little holes in the oxide and then diffused the opposite donor in there and made a P-N photodiode. The fact that the silicon had a very long lifetime for the minority carriers meant that they could diffuse from anywhere in the target and then were collected in the nearby photodiodes. It was a great idea, and it worked very well. It took a lot of work to get rid of the defects such as the diodes that leaked. We published in the Electron Devices journals and talked about all the problems with the photodiodes and so on. People used to say, “Gene, you’re the only guy that publishes truthful papers in this subject. You talk about the problems.”  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Yes.<br>
+
Yes.  
  
=== The Charge-coupled Device (CCD) ===
+
=== The Charge-coupled Device (CCD) ===
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
We started sort of a new attitude toward these kinds of devices, and made devices that were X ray-sensitive and particle-sensitive. We detected all kinds of things. It was a lot of fun. In late 1969 we transferred the manufacturing responsibility to Western Electric in Reading, Pennsylvania. Then I came back and said to the group, “I promised you that after we did this we could start thinking about all-solid-state versions of the device, so let’s start thinking about it.” I started thinking about it and came up with the idea of using a clocking mechanism for shifting charge, minority carriers, along the silicon-silicon dioxide interface. I was thinking along the lines of a display device and injecting and then shifting charge in and then collapsing the depletion layers and getting light out. I went to George Smith, one of my department heads at that time, and said, “Here’s this three-phase clock. You can move charge along. Think about it and put in the numbers. You’re a solid-state physicist and I’m not.” He thought about it, and it occurred to him that it would be better used for imaging. In effect that was the invention of the CCD. <br>
+
We started sort of a new attitude toward [[Charge-Coupled Device|these kinds of devices]], and made devices that were X ray-sensitive and particle-sensitive. We detected all kinds of things. It was a lot of fun. In late 1969 we transferred the manufacturing responsibility to Western Electric in Reading, Pennsylvania. Then I came back and said to the group, “I promised you that after we did this we could start thinking about all-solid-state versions of the device, so let’s start thinking about it.” I started thinking about it and came up with the idea of using a clocking mechanism for shifting charge, minority carriers, along the silicon-silicon dioxide interface. I was thinking along the lines of a display device and injecting and then shifting charge in and then collapsing the depletion layers and getting light out. I went to George Smith, one of my department heads at that time, and said, “Here’s this three-phase clock. You can move charge along. Think about it and put in the numbers. You’re a solid-state physicist and I’m not.” He thought about it, and it occurred to him that it would be better used for imaging. In effect that was the invention of the [[Charge-Coupled Device|CCD]].  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Did you know about the things that were going on at RCA about the same time? I happened to come across something in my files about George Heilmeier.<br>
+
Did you know about the things that were going on at RCA about the same time? I happened to come across something in my files about [[George H. Heilmeier|George Heilmeier]].  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
George Heilmeier and CCD devices or liquid crystals?<br>
+
[[George H. Heilmeier|George Heilmeier]] and [[Charge-Coupled Device|CCD]] devices or liquid crystals?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
CCD devices.<br>
+
[[Charge-Coupled Device|CCD devices]].  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Yes I knew George. That wasn’t the CCD, however. That was a different thing.<br>
+
Yes I knew George. That wasn’t the [[Charge-Coupled Device|CCD]], however. That was a different thing.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Was someone else at RCA also doing CCDs?<br>
+
Was someone else at [[RCA (Radio Corporation of America)|RCA]] also doing [[Charge-Coupled Device|CCDs]]?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Yes, Ralph Simon. <br>
+
Yes, [[Ralph E. Simon|Ralph Simon]].  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Okay. I guess he just didn’t get mentioned in the sources I checked.<br>
+
Okay. I guess he just didn’t get mentioned in the sources I checked.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
At that time my boss was Bill Boyle. He was executive director, I was director and George Smith was a department head. Boyle was the same guy that totally pooh-poohed the idea of the silicon target vidicon and wouldn’t help me. At that time he had been the director of the laboratory and George Smith worked for him. Bill Boyle’s claim to fame up until that time was that he had come out of the research area and had done something on the ruby laser. It was nothing very significant. As far as I know that’s all he ever did from a research point of view. In any case, he brought George Smith from the research area and they were buddies. Smith told Boyle about the idea of the CCD and a patent application was prepared which listed all three of our names: George Smith, Bill Boyle and myself. <br>  
+
<flashmp3>390 - gordon - clip 3.mp3</flashmp3>  
  
<br>
+
At that time my boss was [[Willard S. Boyle|Bill Boyle]]. He was executive director, I was director and George Smith was a department head. Boyle was the same guy that totally pooh-poohed the idea of the silicon target vidicon and wouldn’t help me. At that time he had been the director of the laboratory and George Smith worked for him. Bill Boyle’s claim to fame up until that time was that he had come out of the research area and had done something on the ruby laser. It was nothing very significant. As far as I know that’s all he ever did from a research point of view. In any case, he brought George Smith from the research area and they were buddies. Smith told Boyle about the idea of the [[Charge-Coupled Device|CCD]] and a patent application was prepared which listed all three of our names: George Smith, Bill Boyle and myself.
  
I never could understand why Bill Boyle was listed. The story I heard was that Boyle had gone to Smith and said, “Jack Morton wants an electron version of the bubble device,” which was a shift register type of device. That was his total contribution to CCDs. And I’m not sure that he even contributed that much. At any rate, Bill Boyle was listed as a co-inventor and the specification was submitted to the patent attorneys. Several months later I called up the patent people and said, “What’s happening with that application? There has been no follow-up.” They said it had been filed, so I said, “How could it have been filed? I never signed any papers to make the assignment to Bell Labs.” They told me that my name is not on the application. I said, “What do you mean my name isn’t on it?” They said, “Bill Boyle didn’t want your name on it.”<br>
+
I never could understand why Bill Boyle was listed. The story I heard was that Boyle had gone to Smith and said, “Jack Morton wants an electron version of the bubble device,” which was a shift register type of device. That was his total contribution to [[Charge-Coupled Device|CCDs]]. And I’m not sure that he even contributed that much. At any rate, Bill Boyle was listed as a co-inventor and the specification was submitted to the patent attorneys. Several months later I called up the patent people and said, “What’s happening with that application? There has been no follow-up.” They said it had been filed, so I said, “How could it have been filed? I never signed any papers to make the assignment to [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]].” They told me that my name is not on the application. I said, “What do you mean my name isn’t on it?” They said, “Bill Boyle didn’t want your name on it.”  
  
<br>
+
At that point I had some decisions to make. If the proper co-inventors are not listed, the patent could be lost. On the other hand, I didn’t want to make a big fuss about it. After all, he was my boss, and I already had plenty of patents. I didn’t really need that particular patent. My career was going fine. I decided to just let it go. In fact, I wrote the nomination for Bill Boyle and [[George E. Smith|George Smith]] to become [[IEEE Fellow Grade History|Fellows]] and get an IEEE award for the invention of the [[Charge-Coupled Device|CCD]] and so forth. I was the good soldier, and I say that unblushingly because it is true. However I did expect that some day the truth would come out. It’s coming out now for the first time. Later, one of my department heads, Hugh Watson, submitted an application for me to receive an award for the invention of the silicon target vidicon, but Bill Boyle was my boss and he nixed it. He wouldn’t let the application be submitted.
  
At that point I had some decisions to make. If the proper co-inventors are not listed, the patent could be lost. On the other hand, I didn’t want to make a big fuss about it. After all, he was my boss, and I already had plenty of patents. I didn’t really need that particular patent. My career was going fine. I decided to just let it go. In fact, I wrote the nomination for Bill Boyle and George Smith to become Fellows and get an IEEE award for the invention of the CCD and so forth. I was the good soldier, and I say that unblushingly because it is true. However I did expect that some day the truth would come out. It’s coming out now for the first time. Later, one of my department heads, Hugh Watson, submitted an application for me to receive an award for the invention of the silicon target vidicon, but Bill Boyle was my boss and he nixed it. He wouldn’t let the application be submitted.<br>
+
By that time I had become friends with Ralph Simon at [[RCA (Radio Corporation of America)|RCA]]. I told him about the [[Charge-Coupled Device|CCD]] and helped RCA get into the [[Charge-Coupled Device|CCD]] business because RCA had helped me with the vidicon. In 1974 or 1975 when I received a letter from [[RCA (Radio Corporation of America)|RCA]] asking me if I would support the nomination of Ralph Simon for an award for his work on the silicon target device, I was amazed. It turned out that Ralph had a similar idea at an earlier time but had never actually tried it because he was not confident that it would work. The targets that he made were still in his desk drawer. We decided to do it the right way, so I supported his nomination and he supported my nomination. By that time Boyle was out of the way, so we won the award for the silicon target device together. There is no doubt in my mind who did it first and who helped [[RCA (Radio Corporation of America)|RCA]] get into that business. Ralph and I were good friends. It didn’t really make any difference. There was no competition between the two of us.  
  
<br>
+
I led the group that developed the [[Charge-Coupled Device|CCD]]. We understood its importance for color cameras and understood its importance for facsimile machines. I asked Hugh Watson to make the first fax machine that utilized a [[Charge-Coupled Device|CCD]] device. It was a flatbed scanner very similar to devices seen today. I tried to convince AT&amp;T to get into the fax machine business, but they wouldn’t do it. We also understood that camcorders were possible and the whole gamut of other uses. [[Michael Tompsett|Mike Tompsett]] invented and made the first color [[Charge-Coupled Device|CCD]] camera even though I told him to let the system people do it. It was a great success.
  
By that time I had become friends with Ralph Simon at RCA. I told him about the CCD and helped RCA get into the CCD business because RCA had helped me with the vidicon. In 1974 or 1975 when I received a letter from RCA asking me if I would support the nomination of Ralph Simon for an award for his work on the silicon target device, I was amazed. It turned out that Ralph had a similar idea at an earlier time but had never actually tried it because he was not confident that it would work. The targets that he made were still in his desk drawer. We decided to do it the right way, so I supported his nomination and he supported my nomination. By that time Boyle was out of the way, so we won the award for the silicon target device together. There is no doubt in my mind who did it first and who helped RCA get into that business. Ralph and I were good friends. It didn’t really make any difference. There was no competition between the two of us. <br>
+
The thing that got Boyle into it, the [[Charge-Coupled Device|CCD]] shift register, never happened. Maybe they make some [[Charge-Coupled Device|CCD]] devices for handling video signals and delay devices, but if so it’s not very important. I have some bitterness about the circumstances.  
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
I led the group that developed the CCD. We understood its importance for color cameras and understood its importance for facsimile machines. I asked Hugh Watson to make the first fax machine that utilized a CCD device. It was a flatbed scanner very similar to devices seen today. I tried to convince AT&amp;T to get into the fax machine business, but they wouldn’t do it. We also understood that camcorders were possible and the whole gamut of other uses. Mike Tompsett invented and made the first color CCD camera even though I told him to let the system people do it. It was a great success.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
The thing that got Boyle into it, the CCD shift register, never happened. Maybe they make some CCD devices for handling video signals and delay devices, but if so it’s not very important. I have some bitterness about the circumstances. <br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
The whole business sounds very political.<br>
+
The whole business sounds very political.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Yes. It was one of the few political things I ran into at AT&amp;T. Most people there are very apolitical – or so I thought. I was naïve. There is an old Chinese proverb that says. “The smaller the bone, the more the dogs fight over it.” At universities the bones are very small. That’s why universities are so political. However at Bell Labs the bones were very big so that people didn’t need to fight very much.<br>
+
Yes. It was one of the few political things I ran into at AT&amp;T. Most people there are very apolitical – or so I thought. I was naïve. There is an old Chinese proverb that says. “The smaller the bone, the more the dogs fight over it.” At universities the bones are very small. That’s why universities are so political. However at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] the bones were very big so that people didn’t need to fight very much.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Moving on, I want to be sure to hear about your later work with lasers and their medical applications.<br>
+
Moving on, I want to be sure to hear about your later work with lasers and their medical applications.  
  
=== Translating articles for''Journal of Quantum Electronics'' ===
+
=== Translating articles for Journal of Quantum Electronics  ===
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
There is another interesting story I would like to share that picks up on another theme. By 1970 I was no longer really involved with the Electron Devices Society. I had become much more involved in the ''Journal of Quantum Electronics ''and had become an associate editor of that publication. I asked Bob Kingston from Lincoln Labs to be the editor because I didn’t have the time to do it myself. However I did work very hard as an associate editor and handled most of the papers from Russia and Japan. <br>
+
There is another interesting story I would like to share that picks up on another theme. By 1970 I was no longer really involved with the [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Devices Society]]. I had become much more involved in the ''Journal of Quantum Electronics ''and had become an associate editor of that publication. I asked Bob Kingston from Lincoln Labs to be the editor because I didn’t have the time to do it myself. However I did work very hard as an associate editor and handled most of the papers from Russia and Japan.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
A high percentage of the papers at that time came from Russia and Japan, and most of them were written in terrible English. When I wrote back to them saying, “The paper is fine, but can you get somebody to help you write it in better English?” they would write back and say that there was no one with better English. That was an interesting time. In order to publish good papers, I edited the papers myself. I worked four mornings a week from 4:30 until 7:30 translating for the ''Journal of Quantum Electronics''. I became expert at translating Ringlish and Jinglish into English. I knew enough of the physics to do it. That was a labor of love. <br>
+
A high percentage of the papers at that time came from Russia and Japan, and most of them were written in terrible English. When I wrote back to them saying, “The paper is fine, but can you get somebody to help you write it in better English?” they would write back and say that there was no one with better English. That was an interesting time. In order to publish good papers, I edited the papers myself. I worked four mornings a week from 4:30 until 7:30 translating for the ''Journal of Quantum Electronics''. I became expert at translating Ringlish and Jinglish into English. I knew enough of the physics to do it. That was a labor of love.  
  
=== Medical projects<br> ===
+
=== Medical projects ===
  
==== Photo coagulators for the ear<br> ====
+
==== Photo coagulators for the ear ====
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
In 1965 I had built a photo coagulator with the argon laser for doing microscopic work on the ear.<br>
+
In 1965 I had built a photo coagulator with the argon laser for doing microscopic work on the ear.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
What would it do?<br>
+
What would it do?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
In the ear there are tiny bones that carry the sound. When those bones become diseased then the sound isn’t transmitted and one becomes deaf or hearing impaired. The idea was to fold the ear forward and cut a flap behind the ear, expose the bones, drill little holes in the bones and attach a wire to bypass the diseased bone. The wire would become the sound conduction path. I worked with Dr. Felix Shiffman at Manhattan.Eye and Ear Hospital. I had a microscope with a argon ion laser coupled to it that could do all that.<br>
+
In the ear there are tiny bones that carry the sound. When those bones become diseased then the sound isn’t transmitted and one becomes deaf or hearing impaired. The idea was to fold the ear forward and cut a flap behind the ear, expose the bones, drill little holes in the bones and attach a wire to bypass the diseased bone. The wire would become the sound conduction path. I worked with Dr. Felix Shiffman at Manhattan.Eye and Ear Hospital. I had a microscope with a argon ion laser coupled to it that could do all that.  
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Dr. Francis L’Esperance, Jr. from Columbia University Medical School approached me. He told me he wanted to try it on diabetic retinopathy. I said, “Sure. Bring your rabbits here, we’ll work in the lab and you can do the experiments.” He worked for two years in my lab and developed the power levels and everything else. Then I made and gave him a system that he used at Columbia University. In 1967 or ’68 he did the first surgery to cure diabetic retinopathy on a twelve-year-old girl. Diabetic retinopathy is a disease in which the blood vessels in the retina have gone out of control and vision has been lost. It’s a diabetic problem. By basically burning out those blood vessels – the blue light would cauterize them – vision could be saved. That turned out to be a very successful procedure and it’s still done today. By ten years ago some 20 million people had had the procedure. <br>
+
  
<br>
+
Dr. Francis L’Esperance, Jr. from Columbia University Medical School approached me. He told me he wanted to try it on diabetic retinopathy. I said, “Sure. Bring your rabbits here, we’ll work in the lab and you can do the experiments.” He worked for two years in my lab and developed the power levels and everything else. Then I made and gave him a system that he used at Columbia University. In 1967 or ’68 he did the first surgery to cure diabetic retinopathy on a twelve-year-old girl. Diabetic retinopathy is a disease in which the blood vessels in the retina have gone out of control and vision has been lost. It’s a diabetic problem. By basically burning out those blood vessels – the blue light would cauterize them – vision could be saved. That turned out to be a very successful procedure and it’s still done today. By ten years ago some 20 million people had had the procedure.
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
At some point you translated this into a business venture.<br>
+
At some point you translated this into a business venture.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Yes. At the time everyone was saying, “Gene, why don’t you go into business and make photo coagulators?” But I was having too much fun at Bell Labs. That was at the time when we were trying very hard to get into fiber optic communications. I had a group making semiconductor lasers in the development area, and the research people were trying in their area. I couldn’t imagine leaving Bell Labs at that time. A company called Coherent Radiation built those devices. It turned out to be a good business for them and a good thing to do for humanity. I never made a penny out of it, but that’s all right. I got a lot of personal satisfaction.<br>
+
Yes. At the time everyone was saying, “Gene, why don’t you go into business and make photo coagulators?” But I was having too much fun at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]]. That was at the time when we were trying very hard to get into fiber optic communications. I had a group making semiconductor lasers in the development area, and the research people were trying in their area. I couldn’t imagine leaving [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] at that time. A company called Coherent Radiation built those devices. It turned out to be a good business for them and a good thing to do for humanity. I never made a penny out of it, but that’s all right. I got a lot of personal satisfaction.  
<br>
+
  
==== Laser vision correction<br> ====
+
==== Laser vision correction ====
  
'''Gordon:'''<br>
+
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Fran L’Esperance came back to me in 1984 after I had left AT&amp;T and asked me if I would help him start a company to do laser vision correction. That company, Taunton Technology, got started, and I was on their board of directors and did some consulting for them. Eventually Taunton Technology, bought a company called VISX and kept the VISX name. It is now the biggest company in that particular business. I got my payback late, but it was okay. And of course that’s what got me started in this business, which has the goal to supplant the laser technology with the water-jet.<br>
+
Fran L’Esperance came back to me in 1984 after I had left AT&amp;T and asked me if I would help him start a company to do laser vision correction. That company, Taunton Technology, got started, and I was on their board of directors and did some consulting for them. Eventually Taunton Technology, bought a company called VISX and kept the VISX name. It is now the biggest company in that particular business. I got my payback late, but it was okay. And of course that’s what got me started in this business, which has the goal to supplant the laser technology with the water-jet.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
That’s an interesting shift. Now you have gone—<br>
+
That’s an interesting shift. Now you have gone—  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Backwards. <br>
+
Backwards.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
It seems like you have gone out of electron devices altogether. You kept the medical focus of it but dropped the rest. How did that happen?<br>
+
It seems like you have gone out of electron devices altogether. You kept the medical focus of it but dropped the rest. How did that happen?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
That’s a fair question. I can give you a good philosophical answer to that. The most satisfying things I have done in my career are in medicine. This is because in medicine I am helping people, and that gives me a lot of satisfaction. Looking back, saying 20 million people can see that would otherwise have been blind, is pretty heady stuff. It’s a lot more exciting than saying there are 20 million camcorders out there. To me, the medical side is much more exciting.<br>
+
That’s a fair question. I can give you a good philosophical answer to that. The most satisfying things I have done in my career are in medicine. This is because in medicine I am helping people, and that gives me a lot of satisfaction. Looking back, saying 20 million people can see that would otherwise have been blind, is pretty heady stuff. It’s a lot more exciting than saying there are 20 million camcorders out there. To me, the medical side is much more exciting.  
  
<br>
+
=== Conflicts of Bell research and development  ===
  
=== Room temperature continuously operating semiconductor laser<br> ===
+
==== Room temperature continuously operating semiconductor laser ====
  
'''Gordon:'''<br>
+
'''Gordon:'''  
 
+
There is another aspect to it that really gets back to the laser story. In 1970 there were two momentous events. The first was the demonstration by Corning Glass that a fiber could be made that had less than 20 decibels of loss per kilometer. Today that sounds like an enormous amount because now losses are in the few tenths of a decibel. However at that point with 20 decibels a practical system coming along could be imagined. The other thing was that Bell Labs developed the first room temperature continuously operating semiconductor laser. Bell Labs didn’t develop the first room temperature continuously operating semiconductor laser. It was done in Russia a few months earlier, but Bell Labs would never admit that. <br>
+
  
<br>  
+
<flashmp3>390 - gordon - clip 4.mp3</flashmp3>  
  
The group that did the room temperature continuously operating semiconductor laser at Bell Labs was in the research area. My group in the development area led by Art D’Asaro, had developed the so-called narrow stripe geometry laser that allowed a narrow cavity. It was a much better laser. The research people had a wide stripe laser. There was competition between the research area and the development area to get the first room temperature CW device. I thought it was much more important for Bell Labs to get the first one. It didn’t matter which area within Bell Laboratories got it first. Therefore I instructed my people to help the research people. I told them, “As much as we hate their guts, you’re going to help them.” And I also told them, “If you do the first one, I’m not going to let you publish it.” They understood I was serious and they helped the research people.<br>
+
There is another aspect to it that really gets back to the laser story. In 1970 there were two momentous events. The first was the demonstration by Corning Glass that a fiber could be made that had less than 20 decibels of loss per kilometer. Today that sounds like an enormous amount because now losses are in the few tenths of a decibel. However at that point with 20 decibels a practical system coming along could be imagined. The other thing was that [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] developed the first room temperature continuously operating [[Semiconductor Laser|semiconductor laser]]. [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] didn’t develop the first room temperature continuously operating semiconductor laser. It was done in Russia a few months earlier, but [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] would never admit that.  
  
<br>
+
The group that did the room temperature continuously operating semiconductor laser at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] was in the research area. My group in the development area led by Art D’Asaro, had developed the so-called narrow stripe geometry laser that allowed a narrow cavity. It was a much better laser. The research people had a wide stripe laser. There was competition between the research area and the development area to get the first room temperature CW device. I thought it was much more important for [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] to get the first one. It didn’t matter which area within [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]] got it first. Therefore I instructed my people to help the research people. I told them, “As much as we hate their guts, you’re going to help them.” And I also told them, “If you do the first one, I’m not going to let you publish it.” They understood I was serious and they helped the research people.
  
My group was given a wafer in which we were going to make stripe geometry lasers. The research people suddenly got very afraid about sharing this with the development people, so they came and took back the wafer. Several months later they made another wafer that did demonstrate room temperature, continuous operation and held a big press conference to tell the world about it. However, when it came time for the press conference the few lasers they had made had already died. None were left with which to demonstrate. At that point they came back to us with the first wafer and asked us if we would make some stripe geometry devices for them. We did, and they worked fine. They would have worked six months earlier if the development area had been allowed to do it and we would have beat out the Russians fair and square. Anyway, ours worked and lasted a little bit longer, so they had their devices for the press conference. <br> When the research people published their papers, they refused to give any credits to my people. It is a consistent story of terrible arrogance. They published in ''Physics Today'' or whatever journal, and did their thing. We published in the ''Journal of Quantum Electronics''. That’s the way it was and that’s the way it is, and it’s never going to change. It’s really very sad. It’s like the Israelis and the Palestinians.<br>
+
My group was given a wafer in which we were going to make stripe geometry lasers. The research people suddenly got very afraid about sharing this with the development people, so they came and took back the wafer. Several months later they made another wafer that did demonstrate room temperature, continuous operation and held a big press conference to tell the world about it. However, when it came time for the press conference the few lasers they had made had already died. None were left with which to demonstrate. At that point they came back to us with the first wafer and asked us if we would make some stripe geometry devices for them. We did, and they worked fine. They would have worked six months earlier if the development area had been allowed to do it and we would have beat out the Russians fair and square. Anyway, ours worked and lasted a little bit longer, so they had their devices for the press conference.  
  
<br>
+
When the research people published their papers, they refused to give any credits to my people. It is a consistent story of terrible arrogance. They published in ''Physics Today'' or whatever journal, and did their thing. We published in the ''Journal of Quantum Electronics''. That’s the way it was and that’s the way it is, and it’s never going to change. It’s really very sad. It’s like the Israelis and the Palestinians.
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Irascible. <br>
+
Irascible.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Yes. Each side has totally different but valid perspectives and points of view. <br>
+
Yes. Each side has totally different but valid perspectives and points of view.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
=== Semiconductor lasers by liquid epitaxy<br> ===
+
==== Semiconductor lasers by liquid epitaxy ====
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
This must have eventually driven you away from Bell Labs. <br>
+
This must have eventually driven you away from [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]].  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Yes, it did. A point came where I’d had enough of it. Another example was when we were making semiconductor lasers by liquid epitaxy. That was a very complex and uncertain process for growing the layers. We thought this new technology chemical vapor deposition, CVD, that was being developed by a guy out on the West Coast would be a better way to do it. I had done all the analysis, production rates and so on, and we were convinced CVD was the way to go. The guy came to interview at Bell Labs and wanted to work for us, but was stolen away by the research people. Therefore the CVD work was being done in the research area. Our group said, “The hell with that. We’re going to collaborate with this guy. Everything he builds, we’re going to duplicate. When he’s got it working we’ll be close behind him.” And that’s what we did. <br>
+
Yes, it did. A point came where I’d had enough of it. Another example was when we were making semiconductor lasers by liquid epitaxy. That was a very complex and uncertain process for growing the layers. We thought this new technology chemical vapor deposition, CVD, that was being developed by a guy out on the West Coast would be a better way to do it. I had done all the analysis, production rates and so on, and we were convinced CVD was the way to go. The guy came to interview at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] and wanted to work for us, but was stolen away by the research people. Therefore the CVD work was being done in the research area. Our group said, “The hell with that. We’re going to collaborate with this guy. Everything he builds, we’re going to duplicate. When he’s got it working we’ll be close behind him.” And that’s what we did.  
  
<br>
+
We got a very nice CVD system working, and my plan was to put that into production. Then the research people said, “No, you can’t put that into production. You have to put molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) into production.” When I asked why, they said, “Because we want you to.” They didn’t say it, but what they were really saying was that they had put so much into developing molecular beam epitaxy and made such a hoopla over it that they would be embarrassed if it did not go into production. That was a very complex device. It was a great research tool, but very difficult for production. It was certainly not within the capability of the Western Electric people. Yet I had to hire a guy and build a molecular beam epitaxy system and to have a shoot-out between CVD and MBE just to satisfy the research people. CVD won. It illustrates that they have tremendous power there. The development people had to face West properly and bow to the research people. I couldn’t even start a talk without giving some credits to the research people. It was a really outrageous situation. That’s all right. It made me stronger.
  
We got a very nice CVD system working, and my plan was to put that into production. Then the research people said, “No, you can’t put that into production. You have to put molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) into production.” When I asked why, they said, “Because we want you to.” They didn’t say it, but what they were really saying was that they had put so much into developing molecular beam epitaxy and made such a hoopla over it that they would be embarrassed if it did not go into production. That was a very complex device. It was a great research tool, but very difficult for production. It was certainly not within the capability of the Western Electric people. Yet I had to hire a guy and build a molecular beam epitaxy system and to have a shoot-out between CVD and MBE just to satisfy the research people. CVD won. It illustrates that they have tremendous power there. The development people had to face West properly and bow to the research people. I couldn’t even start a talk without giving some credits to the research people. It was a really outrageous situation. That’s all right. It made me stronger.<br>
+
After that I said, “The [[Semiconductor Laser|semiconductor laser]] is really the solution to the communication problem, and it’s never going to get anywhere unless it’s reliable.” I started a reliability program on semiconductor lasers that went through the entire decade of the seventies with everybody pooh-poohing it and AT&amp;T saying [[Fiber Optics|fiber optics]] would never get anywhere. If we hadn’t done that reliability work the implementation of fiber optic systems would have been delayed by half a decade. I went off to do other things. I worked on photolithography for integrated circuits and developed the manufacturing electron beam system EBES, now known as MEBES. It is the basis for making all the reticles for semiconductor device photolithography and so on. Then I got into systems applications for integrated circuits.  
  
<br>
+
=== Fiber optic communications at AT&amp;T  ===
  
After that I said, “The semiconductor laser is really the solution to the communication problem, and it’s never going to get anywhere unless it’s reliable.” I started a reliability program on semiconductor lasers that went through the entire decade of the seventies with everybody pooh-poohing it and AT&amp;T saying fiber optics would never get anywhere. If we hadn’t done that reliability work the implementation of fiber optic systems would have been delayed by half a decade. <br> I went off to do other things. I worked on photolithography for integrated circuits and developed the manufacturing electron beam system EBES, now known as MEBES. It is the basis for making all the reticles for semiconductor device photolithography and so on. Then I got into systems applications for integrated circuits. <br>
+
'''Gordon:'''
  
<br>
+
By 1979 I had had it with [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]]. I needed to last until 1982 to retire, so I asked if I could go back and work on lasers. I was put in charge of the laser lab to develop lasers for fiber optic communications. At that point of course all my interest had gone from the [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Devices Society]] and to the Laser Electro-Optic Society ([[IEEE Lasers & Electro-Optics Society History|LEOS]]). However I have to say that if it were not for the [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Devices Society]] and the Electron Device Research Conference in the early sixties, things would not have gone that way. The [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Devices Society]] was a very distinguished, very good group of people – the finest I have ever dealt with in this business. And they had the foresight to make things happen. [[IEEE Lasers & Electro-Optics Society History|LEOS]] is a very successful society, and that is something for which [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Devices Society]] deserves credit. NTT just rode the coattails of the thing.  
 
+
=== Fiber optic communications at AT&amp;T ===
+
 
+
'''Gordon:'''
+
 
+
By 1979 I had had it with Bell Labs. I needed to last until 1982 to retire, so I asked if I could go back and work on lasers. I was put in charge of the laser lab to develop lasers for fiber optic communications. At that point of course all my interest had gone from the Electron Devices Society and to the Laser Electro-Optic Society (LEOS). However I have to say that if it were not for the Electron Devices Society and the Electron Device Research Conference in the early sixties, things would not have gone that way. The Electron Devices Society was a very distinguished, very good group of people – the finest I have ever dealt with in this business. And they had the foresight to make things happen. LEOS is a very successful society, and that is something for which Electron Devices Society deserves credit. NTT just rode the coattails of the thing.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
That’s an interesting perspective.<br>
+
That’s an interesting perspective.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
By 1980 AT&amp;T was seeing the light and beginning to believe in fiber optics. AT&amp;T had begun to implement systems connecting local offices. This was not being done to the home of course, but it was trunking. And now they wanted to begin to put in undersea fiber optics. This is why I got back into the cable business. I started in the cable business and I ended in the cable business.<br>
+
By 1980 AT&amp;T was seeing the light and beginning to believe in fiber optics. AT&amp;T had begun to implement systems connecting local offices. This was not being done to the home of course, but it was trunking. And now they wanted to begin to put in undersea fiber optics. This is why I got back into the cable business. I started in the cable business and I ended in the cable business.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Right.<br>
+
Right.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
My job – aside from making the lasers for the local trunking applications – was developing a laser for undersea fiber optic communications. That was a very difficult problem, because the laser had to last for twenty-five years. I had about three years to prove the laser could last twenty-five years. It was really an impossible deadline, and we had major battles over it. <br>  
+
<flashmp3>390 - gordon - clip 5.mp3</flashmp3>  
  
<br>
+
My job – aside from making the lasers for the local trunking applications – was developing a laser for undersea fiber optic communications. That was a very difficult problem, because the laser had to last for twenty-five years. I had about three years to prove the laser could last twenty-five years. It was really an impossible deadline, and we had major battles over it.
  
Here is another insider story than can now be told. Telstar was the first communication satellite and it was developed by AT&amp;T. I was in the Telstar lab also but had nothing to do with it.. AT&amp;T had been preempted from the satellite communication business by government decree back in the early 1960s. AT&amp;T could only rent lines on the satellites. They could not provide the basic service, and submarine cable was the most profitable part of the telephone business. There was an annual return of forty cents on every dollar invested.<br>
+
Here is another insider story than can now be told. Telstar was the first communication satellite and it was developed by AT&amp;T. I was in the Telstar lab also but had nothing to do with it. AT&amp;T had been preempted from the satellite communication business by government decree back in the early 1960s. AT&amp;T could only rent lines on the satellites. They could not provide the basic service, and submarine cable was the most profitable part of the telephone business. There was an annual return of forty cents on every dollar invested.  
  
<br>
+
The next system, scheduled for implementation in 1988, was scheduled to be a satellite system. That would have preempted AT&amp;T and would have marked the end of their dominance of undersea telecommunications. Therefore AT&amp;T desperately wanted a submarine cable system. That would have been cheaper than the satellite system. Another special advantage with submarine cables is that the transmission time is a tiny fraction of a second, whereas for a satellite system it’s three-tenths of a second up and down and then three-tenths of a second up and down again, making a six-tenths of a second roundtrip delay. We see that delay when we watch television from Europe – the broadcasters sitting awkwardly and waiting for a voice prompt as a result of the time delays.
  
The next system, scheduled for implementation in 1988, was scheduled to be a satellite system. . That would have preempted AT&amp;T and would have marked the end of their dominance of undersea telecommunications. Therefore AT&amp;T desperately wanted a submarine cable system. That would have been cheaper than the satellite system. Another special advantage with submarine cables is that the transmission time is a tiny fraction of a second, whereas for a satellite system it’s three-tenths of a second up and down and then three-tenths of a second up and down again, making a six-tenths of a second roundtrip delay. We see that delay when we watch television from Europe – the broadcasters sitting awkwardly and waiting for a voice prompt as a result of the time delays. <br>
+
The satellite up-and-down and up-and-down communication is no good for holding a telephone conversation, so it has to be only one leg satellite and one leg submarine cable. It would be much better if it were all submarine cable. AT&amp;T would have been able to own the system or at least would have been able to provide the system. There were twenty-three companies that owned pieces of it. They desperately wanted a fiber optic system. It was the only one that would compete. I was told to develop a reliable semiconductor laser for that system, and I said, “It cannot be done. It’s not possible.” There was a major battle within [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]] over that. I almost got fired for taking that position. My boss, Klaus Bowers, saved my job.  
  
<br>
+
AT&amp;T insisted that we had to find the solution. We had big committees at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] to think about how we would do it, and we worked on it for a year before we gave up. It just wasn’t possible. Then I invented the solution, and we implemented it. I worked with the Japanese company Hitachi to develop the reliability techniques, and they worked. The cable was installed on schedule in 1988, and there has not been a single failure since. The reliability objectives for the system were more than met.  
 
+
The satellite up-and-down and up-and-down communication is no good for holding a telephone conversation, so it has to be only one leg satellite and one leg submarine cable. It would be much better if it were all submarine cable. AT&amp;T would have been able to own the system or at least would have been able to provide the system. There were twenty-three companies that owned pieces of it. They desperately wanted a fiber optic system. It was the only one that would compete. I was told to develop a reliable semiconductor laser for that system, and I said, “It cannot be done. It’s not possible.” There was a major battle within Bell Laboratories over that. I almost got fired for taking that position. My boss, Klaus Bowers, saved my job.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
AT&amp;T insisted that we had to find the solution. We had big committees at Bell Labs to think about how we would do it, and we worked on it for a year before we gave up. It just wasn’t possible. Then I invented the solution, and we implemented it. I worked with the Japanese company Hitachi to develop the reliability techniques, and they worked. The cable was installed on schedule in 1988, and there has not been a single failure since. The reliability objectives for the system were more than met.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Would you tell me more about that invention?<br>
+
Would you tell me more about that invention?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
It was a burn-in strategy I call purging. It was a very rigorous purging procedure that would eliminate failure modes that were not temperature-dependent and leave only temperature-dependent failure modes so we could do temperature aging. It was a relatively simple idea, but involved some sophisticated understanding of the way the reliability modes in the laser behaved. It worked, and we got a patent on it and published a very fine paper on it. That was the basis for the submarine cable business. I was finished with that in 1983 and said, “This is a good time to retire.” I retired in 1983 on a real high. <br>
+
It was a burn-in strategy I call purging. It was a very rigorous purging procedure that would eliminate failure modes that were not temperature-dependent and leave only temperature-dependent failure modes so we could do temperature aging. It was a relatively simple idea, but involved some sophisticated understanding of the way the reliability modes in the laser behaved. It worked, and we got a patent on it and published a very fine paper on it. That was the basis for the submarine cable business. I was finished with that in 1983 and said, “This is a good time to retire.” I retired in 1983 on a real high.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
It sounds like it.<br>
+
It sounds like it.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Back again in the electron device theme.<br>
+
Back again in the electron device theme.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Was it at that point you went on to the Visx?<br>
+
Was it at that point you went on to the Visx?  
  
<br>
+
=== Starting Litell Lytel laser company in retirement  ===
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
No. At that point I started a laser company in Somerville called Litell Lytel, Lytel which was ultimately purchased by Amp Incorporated. It became perhaps the largest division at that company, and eventually put AT&amp;T’s semiconductor lasers out of business. I have not kept track of Litell Lytel in recent times, but I understand that Amp was purchased by Tyco and that Tyco has sold or is selling Litell Lytel to Lucent.<br>
+
No. At that point I started a laser company in Somerville called Litell Lytel, Lytel which was ultimately purchased by Amp Incorporated. It became perhaps the largest division at that company, and eventually put AT&amp;T’s semiconductor lasers out of business. I have not kept track of Litell Lytel in recent times, but I understand that Amp was purchased by Tyco and that Tyco has sold or is selling Litell Lytel to Lucent.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
It’s coming back around.<br>
+
It’s coming back around.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
It’s amazing. At one time we had 250 employees. Later it was generating several hundred million dollars worth of laser business. That was a great first shot at starting a company. When we got into the manufacturing end of things, I got an offer from Hughes Aircraft Company to come out there and run their research labs. That was exciting for me. This is going to sound awful, but Jack Morton was an incredible inspiration to me. I understood that he had a bad personality that turned a lot of people off and so on. However I thought that it would be possible to learn from him the positive things without taking on the negative things. <br>
+
It’s amazing. At one time we had 250 employees. Later it was generating several hundred million dollars worth of laser business. That was a great first shot at starting a company. When we got into the manufacturing end of things, I got an offer from Hughes Aircraft Company to come out there and run their research labs. That was exciting for me. This is going to sound awful, but Jack Morton was an incredible inspiration to me. I understood that he had a bad personality that turned a lot of people off and so on. However I thought that it would be possible to learn from him the positive things without taking on the negative things.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
My ambition throughout my career at Bell Labs was to become vice president of the electron device area. The problem was that I was Morton’s protégé and everyone saw in me the qualities they saw in Morton, so my promotions got blocked. My promotion got blocked by Arno Penzias, the vice president of the research area. When that happened, that was the last straw. I left. When I express things about my problems with the research people, these feelings run very deep and long. They really made life very difficult for me in Bell Laboratories. I think it was unnecessary as well as to their detriment. I think it was caused by the fact that the bones in the research area were smaller than the bones in the development area. It’s a much more political place. When things got going in the development area, they could spend a lot of money and do really great things. Overall, however, no one could imagine what a great place it was. It was really fantastic.<br>
+
My ambition throughout my career at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] was to become vice president of the electron device area. The problem was that I was Morton’s protégé and everyone saw in me the qualities they saw in Morton, so my promotions got blocked. My promotion got blocked by [[Arno Allan Penzias|Arno Penzias]], the vice president of the research area. When that happened, that was the last straw. I left. When I express things about my problems with the research people, these feelings run very deep and long. They really made life very difficult for me in [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]]. I think it was unnecessary as well as to their detriment. I think it was caused by the fact that the bones in the research area were smaller than the bones in the development area. It’s a much more political place. When things got going in the development area, they could spend a lot of money and do really great things. Overall, however, no one could imagine what a great place it was. It was really fantastic.  
  
<br>
+
=== Influence of Japanese manufacturing, 1970s-1980s  ===
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Looking back at the period in the seventies and eighties, did Japan’s rise in the manufacturing of technology have much impact? They were in some of the fields in which you were involved. I am wondering if there is an international side to this story..<br>
+
Looking back at the period in the seventies and eighties, did Japan’s rise in the manufacturing of technology have much impact? They were in some of the fields in which you were involved. I am wondering if there is an international side to this story.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
There is definitely an international side to the story. The Japanese loved Jack Morton for example. They thought he had the key to innovation, and the Japanese are almost devoid of innovative capability. That’s a terrible thing to say, but if you look at what the Japanese have done, they have basically become great at manufacturing technology developed in the United States and Europe. Their best people went into manufacturing, not research. Culturally the Japanese way of thinking and learning makes it difficult to think in the unrestrained manner needed for innovation. <br> The Japanese constantly came to Bell Laboratories asking about innovation, “How do you do that?” When we went to Japan we were welcomed with open arms, because they thought we had the secret. I developed a lot of good friendships in Japan, but I never had a high opinion for Japanese research capability. However I hasten to add that there have been important exceptions.<br>
+
There is definitely an international side to the story. The Japanese loved Jack Morton for example. They thought he had the key to innovation, and the Japanese are almost devoid of innovative capability. That’s a terrible thing to say, but if you look at what the Japanese have done, they have basically become great at manufacturing technology developed in the United States and Europe. Their best people went into manufacturing, not research. Culturally the Japanese way of thinking and learning makes it difficult to think in the unrestrained manner needed for innovation.  
  
<br>
+
The Japanese constantly came to [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]] asking about innovation, “How do you do that?” When we went to Japan we were welcomed with open arms, because they thought we had the secret. I developed a lot of good friendships in Japan, but I never had a high opinion for Japanese research capability. However I hasten to add that there have been important exceptions.
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Does that mean that the Japanese were not a very important presence in the Electron Devices Society? Was that society for people doing research? <br>
+
Does that mean that the Japanese were not a very important presence in the [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Devices Society]]? Was that society for people doing research?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
It was an American society. Miki Uenohara worked at Bell Laboratories and did a tremendous job on parametric amplifiers. He went back to Japan and became executive vice president of NEC. Kani Kurakawa also worked at Bell Labs and went back to Japan to become a vice president of research for Fujitsu. They got their training at Bell Labs and went back, but a few people couldn’t make the difference. The Japanese don’t have the ability to innovate, but are great borrowers. That’s true not only in the past fifty years or a hundred years, but it is historic for several millennia. They have always borrowed the best of what the world has had to offer and then implemented it into Japanese society. Their written language was borrowed from the Chinese, and silk was taken from the Chinese. The same is true in technology. It hasn’t changed. <br>
+
It was an American society. [[Oral-History:Michiyuki Uenohara|Miki Uenohara]] worked at [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]] and did a tremendous job on parametric amplifiers. He went back to Japan and became executive vice president of NEC. Kani Kurakawa also worked at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] and went back to Japan to become a vice president of research for Fujitsu. They got their training at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] and went back, but a few people couldn’t make the difference. The Japanese don’t have the ability to innovate, but are great borrowers. That’s true not only in the past fifty years or a hundred years, but it is historic for several millennia. They have always borrowed the best of what the world has had to offer and then implemented it into Japanese society. Their written language was borrowed from the Chinese, and silk was taken from the Chinese. The same is true in technology. It hasn’t changed.  
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
This is funny, but absolutely true. As a Bell Labs director it was my practice to give “State of the Laboratory Addresses” once a year, and I would range it broadly over many topics. We’d have monthly meetings, but once a year I would hold forth for several hours and talk about technology, where it was going, and so on. In 1970 I said, “This is the decade in which the Japanese are going to fall flat on their faces, because they just can’t sustain this kind of thing.” And I was wrong. In 1980 when I gave my message, I said, “Remember the talk I gave ten years ago? I can’t see how they are going to get through the decade of the eighties with the strength they have been enjoying.” I was wrong again. Had I been at Bell Laboratories in 1990, I would have given the same speech again. And I would have been right.<br>
+
  
<br>
+
This is funny, but absolutely true. As a [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] director it was my practice to give “State of the Laboratory Addresses” once a year, and I would range it broadly over many topics. We’d have monthly meetings, but once a year I would hold forth for several hours and talk about technology, where it was going, and so on. In 1970 I said, “This is the decade in which the Japanese are going to fall flat on their faces, because they just can’t sustain this kind of thing.” And I was wrong. In 1980 when I gave my message, I said, “Remember the talk I gave ten years ago? I can’t see how they are going to get through the decade of the eighties with the strength they have been enjoying.” I was wrong again. Had I been at [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]] in 1990, I would have given the same speech again. And I would have been right.
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
That’s right.<br>
+
That’s right.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
They were greedy and they drained the United States dry. They did not allow American companies to profit from technology development, so the well just dried up. Now we don’t see much research in the United States anymore. We don’t see the new technologies being developed much anymore. Finally there was nothing new for the Japanese to take, so they died. They killed the golden goose. <br>
+
They were greedy and they drained the United States dry. They did not allow American companies to profit from technology development, so the well just dried up. Now we don’t see much research in the United States anymore. We don’t see the new technologies being developed much anymore. Finally there was nothing new for the Japanese to take, so they died. They killed the golden goose.  
  
<br>
+
=== New directions in electron devices and electronics technology  ===
  
Today I look around at electron devices in the United States and wonder what’s happening. With the fiber optics, we saw the necessary articulation to bind the whole society. I won’t be like Gore saying he invented the Internet, but we knew that the fiber optic backbone was going to be absolutely critical. I started Lytel because I saw that the backbone was going to be critical. I was a little early, as usual, but it came to be. Now the Internet and everything that surrounds it is built on that fiber optic backbone. <br>
+
'''Gordon:'''
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Where is all the excitement? Where is the new device technology to drive this? Not very much is happening in electron devices. Nothing really exciting is coming. The only predictions are dire predictions that Gordon Moore’s Law is going to run out of steam in a few years because of fundamental limits of too few electrons to do the switching and so on. Blue lasers are not a big deal. Very nice argon lasers can be made today when blue lasers are needed. <br>
+
  
<br>
+
Today I look around at electron devices in the United States and wonder what’s happening. With the fiber optics, we saw the necessary articulation to bind the whole society. I won’t be like Gore saying he invented the Internet, but we knew that the fiber optic backbone was going to be absolutely critical. I started Lytel because I saw that the backbone was going to be critical. I was a little early, as usual, but it came to be. Now the Internet and everything that surrounds it is built on that fiber optic backbone.
  
Twenty years ago I saw that my interest was to get into something important. Ultimately medicine was that area. I could go back to the year 1900 and live comfortably if I could take my air conditioner, but I don’t see anything of great value in our society today other than the incredible advances in medical technology. These would have been impossible without the advances in electronics, so electronics was absolutely essential. Having said that, the real excitement is in medicine – genetics, cloning and all the things that are going to come out of that. These days, electronics is really a commodity. <br>
+
Where is all the excitement? Where is the new device technology to drive this? Not very much is happening in electron devices. Nothing really exciting is coming. The only predictions are dire predictions that [[Gordon E. Moore|Gordon Moore’s]] Law is going to run out of steam in a few years because of fundamental limits of too few electrons to do the switching and so on. Blue lasers are not a big deal. Very nice argon lasers can be made today when blue lasers are needed.  
  
<br>
+
Twenty years ago I saw that my interest was to get into something important. Ultimately medicine was that area. I could go back to the year 1900 and live comfortably if I could take my air conditioner, but I don’t see anything of great value in our society today other than the incredible advances in medical technology. These would have been impossible without the advances in electronics, so electronics was absolutely essential. Having said that, the real excitement is in medicine – genetics, cloning and all the things that are going to come out of that. These days, electronics is really a commodity.
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Do you think the real action in electronics technology is that as applied to medical purposes such as the devices that are made like integrated circuits but perform medical tasks?<br>
+
Do you think the real action in electronics technology is that as applied to medical purposes such as the devices that are made like integrated circuits but perform medical tasks?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Yes, absolutely.<br>
+
Yes, absolutely.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
It might shift. It might be the electronics industry you knew.<br>
+
It might shift. It might be the electronics industry you knew.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
The system application will shift. What I’m saying is that the driving device technology need not do a great deal more. I don’t see a great deal more coming along to drive it. It takes twenty years before some small research idea becomes implemented. In one of the 1970 IEEE journals is a paper, Larry Anderson and I were authors, on display technology. Read that. It’s right on target. Everything that has happened in displays was predicted in that paper. It was just rational understanding of where the technology could go, what was needed and so on. We predicted cathode ray tubes (CRTs) would last much longer than anyone imagined. We predicted that liquid crystal displays would evolve but would not supplant CRTs. It’s finally beginning to happen thirty years later, but it’s taken a tremendous amount of investment and effort. The technology evolves.<br>
+
The system application will shift. What I’m saying is that the driving device technology need not do a great deal more. I don’t see a great deal more coming along to drive it. It takes twenty years before some small research idea becomes implemented. In one of the 1970 IEEE journals is a paper, Larry Anderson and I were authors, on display technology. Read that. It’s right on target. Everything that has happened in displays was predicted in that paper. It was just rational understanding of where the technology could go, what was needed and so on. We predicted cathode ray tubes (CRTs) would last much longer than anyone imagined. We predicted that liquid crystal displays would evolve but would not supplant CRTs. It’s finally beginning to happen thirty years later, but it’s taken a tremendous amount of investment and effort. The technology evolves.  
  
<br>
+
In looking at what is really different in the world because of the advances in the display technology, I think flat panel displays make laptops viable. However, laptops don’t make life better. My wife won’t let me have one. I have a computer at home and here in my office. One day we’ll put a computer in our home in Vermont, but so far she won’t let me do that. I am not convinced that technology per se is making our lives better, except in medicine. I see what goes on. At my age, I’m very dependent on medical technology. Medical technology could potentially allow me to live ten or more years longer, or at least enjoy my life a lot more.
  
In looking at what is really different in the world because of the advances in the display technology, I think flat panel displays make laptops viable.. However, laptops don’t make life better. My wife won’t let me have one. I have a computer at home and here in my office. One day we’ll put a computer in our home in Vermont, but so far she won’t let me do that. I am not convinced that technology per se is making our lives better, except in medicine. I see what goes on. At my age, I’m very dependent on medical technology. Medical technology could potentially allow me to live ten or more years longer, or at least enjoy my life a lot more. <br>
+
=== Russian participation in the IEEE during the Cold War  ===
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
A lot of the developments you have covered – not only the things you worked on, but the whole field of electronics from the fifties to the eighties – was in the context of the Cold War and military research and development and competition with the Soviet Union and China. Was there a way for Soviet engineers to participate in the IEEE during those years? There was obviously a rivalry, and the membership was very much American. On the other hand, occasionally some scientific collaborations could be seen as a political move. Did the IEEE or Electron Devices Society do something along those lines?<br>
+
A lot of the developments you have covered – not only the things you worked on, but the whole field of electronics from the fifties to the eighties – was in the context of the Cold War and military research and development and competition with the Soviet Union and China. Was there a way for Soviet engineers to participate in the IEEE during those years? There was obviously a rivalry, and the membership was very much American. On the other hand, occasionally some scientific collaborations could be seen as a political move. Did the IEEE or [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|Electron Devices Society]] do something along those lines?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
They would send people to meetings of the Popov Society. I attended it once as a delegate. Following that I invited Soviet scientists to the United States and I made it possible for them to visit Bell Laboratories. I had friends in the Soviet Union and my father is Russian, but I never got to see family there because I was never allowed to travel beyond Moscow or Leningrad. We tried. Delegations from the Soviet Union visited Bell Laboratories. There was an opportunity for collaboration. When I went to the Popov Society meeting, the State Department gave me a job also – which was to evaluate Russian imaging technology. The Cold War was always there. However Russia did produce great scientists. There is no doubt about it.<br>
+
They would send people to meetings of the Popov Society. I attended it once as a delegate. Following that I invited Soviet scientists to the United States and I made it possible for them to visit [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]]. I had friends in the Soviet Union and my father is Russian, but I never got to see family there because I was never allowed to travel beyond Moscow or Leningrad. We tried. Delegations from the Soviet Union visited [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]]. There was an opportunity for collaboration. When I went to the Popov Society meeting, the State Department gave me a job also – which was to evaluate Russian imaging technology. The Cold War was always there. However Russia did produce great scientists. There is no doubt about it.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Were there any Russian IEEE members in those years?<br>
+
Were there any Russian IEEE members in those years?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Sure. Yes. They were always publishing in the Journal of Quantum Electronics. <br>
+
Sure. Yes. They were always publishing in the ''Journal of Quantum Electronics''.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Really?<br>
+
Really?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
It was interesting, because the Russians would not publish until a year after they had actually done the work, because then they could put that work in their budget for the coming year and succeed.<br>
+
It was interesting, because the Russians would not publish until a year after they had actually done the work, because then they could put that work in their budget for the coming year and succeed.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
That makes sense.<br>
+
That makes sense.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
They were really earlier than anyone credited them. They were always a year late in articulating their work. That’s why I know the Russians made the room temperature semiconductor laser before Bell Labs. I once gave an historical talk at an IEEE meeting and told that story. Unbeknownst to me, the guy who did that work in the Soviet Union was in attendance at that very meeting.<br>
+
They were really earlier than anyone credited them. They were always a year late in articulating their work. That’s why I know the Russians made the room temperature semiconductor laser before [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]]. I once gave an historical talk at an IEEE meeting and told that story. Unbeknownst to me, the guy who did that work in the Soviet Union was in attendance at that very meeting.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
That’s great.<br>
+
That’s great.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
He came up afterwards and said, “Thank you. Thank you.”<br>
+
He came up afterwards and said, “Thank you. Thank you.”  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
That’s a great story. I wish I could track that fellow down. I wonder if he is still around.<br>
+
That’s a great story. I wish I could track that fellow down. I wonder if he is still around.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
His name is Z. I. Alferov .<br>
+
His name is Z. I. Alferov.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Good.<br>
+
Good.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
Mort Panish was the department head in the research area. Z. I. Alferov came and gave a seminar at Bell Labs and basically gave them the prescription for how to grow the material and so on. Then they grew the material, but they would never give him credit. It’s a shame. <br>
+
[[Morton B. Panish|Mort Panish]] was the department head in the research area. Z. I. Alferov came and gave a seminar at [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] and basically gave them the prescription for how to grow the material and so on. Then they grew the material, but they would never give him credit. It’s a shame.  
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Russia has a strange and tragic society. They have great scientists, but also the potential for doing much evil. My experiences there were incredible. I drove them crazy because I would not do what they wanted me to do. They almost made it impossible for me to leave. My wife was with me, and they made it so hard for us that they had her crying. We were followed, and our room was bugged. I even found a bug.<br>
+
  
<br>
+
Russia has a strange and tragic society. They have great scientists, but also the potential for doing much evil. My experiences there were incredible. I drove them crazy because I would not do what they wanted me to do. They almost made it impossible for me to leave. My wife was with me, and they made it so hard for us that they had her crying. We were followed, and our room was bugged. I even found a bug.
  
 
'''Morton:'''  
 
'''Morton:'''  
  
Really? What does a Russian bug look like?<br>
+
Really? What does a Russian bug look like?  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
 
'''Gordon:'''  
  
It was a little thing. They drilled a hole in the wall and stuck it into the wall behind a piece of furniture. I was going to give a talk at the Popov Society, and at the last instant I was asked to write out the talk so the translator could have a copy. That was not my usual practice. Therefore I had to get up early in the morning to write it down. I was up at 4:30 in the morning writing when I heard a funny noise behind the furniture. I went to look where I heard the noise and could see the thing being pushed through the wall. Apparently the one that had been there was no longer working and was being replaced.<br>
+
It was a little thing. They drilled a hole in the wall and stuck it into the wall behind a piece of furniture. I was going to give a talk at the Popov Society, and at the last instant I was asked to write out the talk so the translator could have a copy. That was not my usual practice. Therefore I had to get up early in the morning to write it down. I was up at 4:30 in the morning writing when I heard a funny noise behind the furniture. I went to look where I heard the noise and could see the thing being pushed through the wall. Apparently the one that had been there was no longer working and was being replaced.  
  
<br>
+
Two guys that were traveling with us played a game with the Russians every night. They would talk about the various people at the meeting and also about the ones they didn’t see. One night they talked about a particular guy and said, “Oh, I haven’t heard anything from him for several years. I wonder what they did to him.” That guy showed up the next morning in the lobby of the hotel. It was a funny society.
  
Two guys that were traveling with us played a game with the Russians every night. They would talk about the various people at the meeting and also about the ones they didn’t see. One night they talked about a particular guy and said, “Oh, I haven’t heard anything from him for several years. I wonder what they did to him.” That guy showed up the next morning in the lobby of the hotel. It was a funny society. <br>
+
I was lucky to live through an incredible four decades. I’ve had tremendous satisfaction from my profession. I love coming to work every day. It’s really a blessing. And I’ve been involved in some exciting things.  
  
<br>
+
'''Morton:'''
  
I was lucky to live through an incredible four decades. I’ve had tremendous satisfaction from my profession. I love coming to work every day. It’s really a blessing. And I’ve been involved in some exciting things.<br>
+
Thank you very much.  
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Morton:'''
+
  
Thank you very much.<br><br>
+
[[Category:People and organizations]] [[Category:Research and development labs]] [[Category:Corporations]] [[Category:Inventors]] [[Category:Communications]] [[Category:Lasers, lighting & electrooptics]] [[Category:Lasers]] [[Category:Semiconductor lasers]] [[Category:Components, circuits, devices & systems]] [[Category:Integrated circuits]] [[Category:Solid state circuits]] [[Category:Electron devices]] [[Category:IEEE]] [[Category:Fields, waves & electromagnetics]] [[Category:Microwave technology]] [[Category:Transistors]] [[Category:Electron tubes]] [[Category:Engineered materials & dielectrics]] [[Category:Conductivity & superconductivity]] [[Category:Semiconductor materials]] [[Category:Gas lasers]] [[Category:Telephony]] [[Category:Optical fields]] [[Category:Fiber optics]] [[Category:Culture and society]] [[Category:Defense & security]] [[Category:Cold War]] [[Category:News]] [[Category:International affairs & development]]
  
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{{DEFAULTSORT:Gordon}}

Latest revision as of 14:51, 27 January 2014

Contents

About Eugene Gordon

Gordon received his BS from the City College of New York in physics and his PhD from MIT in 1957 in plasma physics. He went to work for Bell Laboratories, where his first research involved inventing a microwave tube called a cyclotron wave amplifier, for use in submarine cables. He switched over to the new field of lasers, developing gas lasers. He was early concerned with the lifetime and reliability of lasers, and did the practical work of making single frequency oscillators, frequency stabilizers, etc, which turned laser technology into a practical communication system. He co-developed the first CW argon ion laser—which eventually had medical applications, such as saving from blindness people with diabetic retinopathy. He then helped develop the display and imaging devices for AT&T’s picturephone system (through 1970). In the 1970s he worked to develop solid-state versions of these devices—co-inventing CCD, the basis for color cameras, fax machines, etc., though internal A&T politics denied him credit. He also worked to improve the reliability of semiconductor lasers, and on photolithography for integrated circuits, manufacturing electron beam system, systems applications for integrated circuits. In 1979 he returned to lasers, in charge of the laser lab, and developed lasers for AT&T’s new fiber optic local trunking applications and undersea fiber-optic communication, able to last 25 years. He finished the necessary research in 1983 (the cables were installed in 1988, with no failures since), and retired. He then started a laser company called Litell, purchased by Amp Inc., whose products put AT&T’s semiconductor laser business out of business. He is now involved with a new company, supplanting laser technology with water-jet.

Gordon got involved with the Electron Device Society (EDS) in 1959, after giving a talk on microwave tubes. He got more involved in its committees and conferences thereafter. He became associate editor for Transactions of Electron Device Society (EDS) and put together a special issue on lasers. With Glen Wade he dreamt up idea of Journal of Quantum Electronics, to bring together electrical engineers and physicists—though it turned out to have a more exclusively engineering focus and audience. He helped found the Laser Electro-Optic Society (LEOS). He was associate editor of Journal of Quantum Electronics ca. 1970, in charge of Russian and Japanese papers. Often asking for better English, he would do the translation from broken English into real English himself as often as not.

Gordon perceived a long-running backbiting from what he saw as the arrogant research side of Bell Labs towards the development side, self-defeating in its pettiness, which eventually prompted him to retire from Bell Labs. He admired Jack Morton for his technological insight and managerial ability, while noting that Morton was perceived by many as being a difficult person. His admiration for Morton got in the way of Gordon’s own promotions at Bell Labs, since he was identified too much with Morton. He also believed the Japanese to be devoid of innovative research, and to have reduced global innovation by not investing in new research once they had copied American techniques. He had been predicting Japan’s economic troubles of the 1990s for a long time.

For further discussion of the picturephone project and charge-coupled device development at Bell Labs, see George E. Smith Oral History.

About the Interview

EUGENE GORDON: An Interview Conducted by David Morton, IEEE History Center, 23 March 2000

Interview #390 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 recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

Eugene Gordon, an oral history conducted in 2000 by David Morton, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

Interview: Eugene Gordon

Interviewer: David Morton

Date: 23 March 2000

Place: Edison, New Jersey

Childhood, family, and educational background

Morton:

Where and when you were born?

Gordon:

I was born in New York City in 1930 to immigrant parents.

Morton:

Where were they from?

Gordon:

One was from Russia and the other from England. Both were uneducated, but my mother was very intent on my getting a good education. As a child I was pushed very hard to do well in school, which seemed to come easily for me.

Morton:

Was your father a tradesman?

Gordon:

Yes, he was a printer – a typesetter. I did well in school. I did very well in high school and so was able to get into City College. At that time City College was a very high level school that required good grades and good scores on Regents’ exams. I wanted to study physics, but my father could not understand why anyone would want to go to school and study physics or anything like that. He thought I would be much better off if I went into the printing trade and do art. At the time, I was a good artist. We had some battles over that and I finally compromised by entering the engineering program. I did this mainly because I knew that the course requirements for the first year were the same as for physics. I switched over to physics in the middle of the year without making a big deal about it.

I graduated from City College in the physics program. I was very, very fortunate to be associated at that time with M. W. Zamansky, a well-known teacher, physics text writer, and a good researcher. He really sparked my interest in physics. I did very well at City College, graduated magna cum laude, and was able to get into MIT – which was Zamansky’s recommendation.

Graduate studies and fusion postdoc at MIT

Gordon:

I went to graduate school at MIT and ultimately worked for Professor Sanborn C. Brown in plasma physics, particularly measurement of plasmas with microwave radiation. That is how I got my real introduction to electrical engineering, microwave tubes and so on. Incidentally, most of the instrumentation that we used at the Radiation Laboratory was left over from wartime. We were using magnetrons and other things that were used during the war. Much of it had been hidden away after the war so the Navy could not get it back. Then it slowly began to emerge into the research labs.

Morton:

I never heard that story before.

Gordon:

Yes. It was an interesting time, because there were no companies that made devices. We had to build everything ourselves. By the time I graduated in 1957 the first companies making microwave hardware began to appear. Then we could buy equipment. When I graduated I was asked to stay and do a postdoc while working in plasma fusion. It was the beginnings of the attempt to generate power from hydrogen fusion, called Project Sherwood.

Morton:

Was that still focused on building a bomb?

Gordon:

No, it was focused on generating energy. The bomb had already been built.

Morton:

Right. That would have been a few years earlier.

Gordon:

This was the beginning of hydrogen fusion for energy generation. I worked generating high-density plasmas with magnetic fields and so on with the idea of ultimately understanding how to get them to high density and hot enough to produce energy.

Morton:

Was that still at MIT?

Gordon:

That was at MIT as a post doc.

Morton:

MIT did not really become a big force in fusion research, did they?

Gordon:

That fizzled out. They never got beyond medium density plasma work at that time. I think the reason was that two students of Professor Brown’s – myself and Saul Buchsbaum -- were recruited to work at Bell Laboratories in 1957. Buchsbaum and I worked together and were good friends. When we left, no one remained to do experimental work. A little later George Bekefi joined MIT and the program continued, but it never amounted to much as far as I could tell. I had a personal revelation during that period. I said to myself, “Hydrogen fusion is not going to happen for a very long time, and I don’t want to spend my entire career working on something that will not come to fruition in my lifetime.” As I pondered that I began to realize that my interest was not as much in research as in doing practical things. Therefore, when I went to Bell Laboratories I chose to go into development rather than research, though I had the option of going into the research area.

Bell Labs employment

Microwave tubes development

Morton:

In your biography there is mention of important developments in microwave tubes later used in commercial devices. Would you talk a little bit about that development?

Gordon:

When I joined Bell Laboratories I was supposed to use my background in plasma physics so I joined a group working on submarine cables. Tubes are used for amplification in submarine cables, but because of the way the cable is configured there is a high voltage supply on one shore and a high voltage supply of the opposite polarity on the other shore.

The d.c. current is run through the whole cable. As the current goes through a relay the current is used to power the amplifiers and so on. However if ever that current is interrupted, the whole cable goes. Thus there was a shorting device in every relay that would bypass that repeater if it ever failed. That was a gas tube. If there were an open circuit in the electronics, the gas tube would bridge the gap. That repeater would be out, but all the other repeaters would be whistling their particular frequency so that it could be determined which one had died. Then presumably a ship would be sent out to replace the repeater. Gas tubes were therefore a very important part of it, and that was enough rationalization for me to join that particular group. After about a year of working on that I began to realize it was going nowhere and got interested in microwave tubes.

I was fortunate enough to invent a particular microwave tube called a cyclotron wave amplifier. It was a very interesting device and it worked, so I was allowed to present a paper on it at the Electron Device Society’s meeting in Mexico City in 1959. That was my introduction to the Electron Device Society. That year I was also promoted to supervisor. I ran a microwave tube group. We were developing a particular traveling wave tube amplifier for radio relay numbered 416-B. At that same time people were really getting excited about lasers and their possibilities. They were called optical masers at Bell Labs, but the rest of the world knew them as lasers.

Laser development

Gordon:

There was a group in Bell Labs under Ali Javan trying to make a helium neon gas laser system. He didn’t have any background in plasma physics, so I became a sort of consultant to Javan on the plasma physics side of the gas tube they needed for their laser. Ultimately they made the first helium neon laser operating at an infrared wavelength of 1.15 microns. I learned a little bit about lasers and it excited my interest, so I asked my boss if I could be involved in laser work. I was then put in charge of a small group of guys – including most notably Alan White and J. Dane Rigden – to begin to develop gas lasers. They were already onto the idea of making a helium neon laser that would operate at a visible red wavelength, so I came in at a good time.

This was very crucial to what happened later. They had the idea that they could make the helium neon laser work at 6328 Å. However, we were in a development area at Bell Laboratories, and the research people condescended upon the development people as if they were second class citizens. We were saying we were going to make a laser at 6328 Å. We had done all the measurements and there was gain and so on. We didn’t have any mirrors to make the laser work at that wavelength, but the people in research did have a pair of mirrors that were appropriate. However they would not give them to us, so we had to order a pair from Bausch and Lomb and wait for several months. When we finally got the mirrors we had the laser working in a day.

We told everyone at Bell Laboratories about this laser and everyone ran over to see it. It was incredible to see the beam of red light coming out of this thing. It was beautiful. Of course by that time the pulsed ruby had been demonstrated at Hughes Research Laboratories by Ted Maiman. Shortly thereafter at Bell Laboratories it was discovered that a mistake had been made in photoluminescence efficiency measurements and that in fact that laser could work. It had previously been rejected by the Bell Labs research people.

Laser theory, publication, and applications

Gordon:

In any case, we had this laser. There were five other lines that could potentially go or laser in that particular system, but they were weaker lines. At the very beginning we did not have any success in getting them to work. The research people came over and saw it. The next day, the research people announced that they had gotten the other lines working – including the green line, which was especially elusive. We asked if we could go over and see their result, and our request was denied. After weeks of asking them I finally went to the upper management in the research area and asked if we could be allowed to see this thing.

We went over there and watched as they turned on the laser. There was a little, dim green spot on the wall. By that time we had recognized that lasers produced spots on walls that were granulated and sparkling and so on. I had already done the work to explain the granularity of the laser light. I was already getting ready to submit a letter to the Transactions regarding this, which eventually was published. That’s interesting too, because after it was published people began to tell me that there were papers before lasers in which this phenomenon was predicted. There was a paper in 1916 by Von Laue in German, and in that paper referenced a paper in 1871 by Exner. In fact these guys had done the same math and had reached this conclusion that you could get this granularity if the light were narrow band enough or collimated enough or whatever. Therefore we were seeing a phenomenon that had been predicted long before but had never really been seen except under very special circumstances.

However I did not see this granularity in this spot on the wall. I asked, “Is that really lasing?” Their answer was, “Oh yes.” I asked, “Why is it so dim?” They said, “This is a very low gain transition.” Then I asked if I could put my hand in the cavity and put my hand in front of the back mirror of the laser. That should have stopped it. The spot did not change at all, so I asked for an explanation and was told that single pass gain was adequate. Suddenly I realized that these brilliant physicists in the research area didn’t know anything about lasers. They really didn’t understand how oscillators worked. I thought to myself that I should sit down and do the whole theory of lasers from an electrical engineering point of view. That way I would show them that electrical engineers could predict from basic principles all the laser equations they had worked so hard to produce in a sort of ad hoc manner.

I wrote a paper on “Optical Maser Oscillators and Noise” published in the Bell System Technical Journal, which did exactly that. I devised the whole theory of lasers from electrical engineering scattering matrices with all the key equations and so on for its principles of operation. That got me to thinking that while physicists know a lot about atomic physics and radiating systems, electrical engineers were the ones who were going to make the practical lasers.

Morton:

I don’t know a lot about the early development of lasers, but when you read about these things going on at Bell Labs, it seems abstracted from practical application. It seems like it was a very long time before anyone ever mentioned practical applications for lasers. What applications did they foresee for these things? Or was it just a kind of sweet technical problem on which everyone was dying to work?

Gordon:

No. By that time I guess people at Bell Labs were beginning to accept these things being called lasers rather than optical masers. Laser is an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” We joked about our own translation of the acronym, which was “lucrative acquisition scheme for expensive research.” For a lot of people it was just fun and games, but for people who thought about it – and I counted myself among those – the laser was going to be a very important communication tool.

Morton:

In terms of the technology of those times, how was that going to work?

Gordon:

It was going to be atmospheric transmission.

Morton:

A sort of microwave type point-to-point technique.

Gordon:

Yes. A microwave radio relay type of transmission through the atmosphere. The red wavelength was very important.

Morton:

Why was that important?

Gordon:

Blue is absorbed in transmission more than red. That is why the sky is blue for example, because the blue light is scattered more than the red light. I immediately focused on what had to be done to achieve practical systems. Therefore we immediately began putting these lasers on life, testing their lifetime and discovering what made them fail, and trying to improve the lifetime of the lasers. The second thing we did was to do a marketing study within Bell Laboratories. We discovered that there were about twenty-five research groups that could make profitable use of a laser. Then we stopped everything else we were doing and made twenty-five systems for people. We gave the systems to them with a set of instructions on how to use it and so on. I could go into great detail about how silly some of the things were that people were doing with those lasers.

However the point is, we made the lasers, did the reliability studies, did the basic physics studies showing the mechanism for population inversion and scaling laws and published papers in Applied Physics Letters and the Journal of Applied Physics. The point is, I made single frequency oscillators, frequency stabilizers and built all of the components and developed all of the pieces that would make this into a real communication system. I did that by sort of thinking about an analog system being transmitted through the atmosphere and so on. As it turned out, all of those ideas were wrong in the sense that the atmosphere was not a favorable medium for transmission due to turbulence and so on.

Experimentation; competition between research and development

Gordon:

We did experiments between Murray Hill and Holmdel or Crawford Hill. None of that work turned out to be useful for communications through the atmosphere, but it certainly provided a basis for a lot of exciting work. I think we established the way of thinking about gas lasers and what techniques to use for studying them and so on. I think we did some very groundbreaking work. None of this endeared me to my friends in the research area.

Morton:

Was it because this was too close to their turf?

Gordon:

The research people at Bell Laboratories were very haughty and could not accept the idea that there was a group of people in the development area who were smart and well educated and could compete with them.

Journal of Quantum Electronics

Gordon:

After getting involved in the Electron Devices Society, Glen Wade, who was then the editor of the Transactions, asked me to be an associate editor. I put together a special issue on lasers. Then the idea began to percolate that the physicists really needed to be brought into this thing because of their basic knowledge of materials and atomic physics, and the physicists needed to be taught some things about lasers as devices. To that purpose, we dreamt up the idea of the Journal of Quantum Electronics. It was to be the meeting ground of the physicists and electrical engineers in this area. We thought it would be a very fertile area to bring them together. We were competing against the Journal of Applied Physics and Applied Physics Letters, however.

Morton:

Was that an IEEE publication? Is it still around?

Gordon:

TheJournal of Quantum Electronics was going to be hosted by the Electron Devices Society. There was to be a split from the Transactions. Glen Wade and myself had done all of the preliminary work and put together the first issue. Then the Microwave Theory and Techniques Society decided they would also like to be involved. At the time I did not fully appreciate the fact that their involvement would put such a practical bent on this thing that the physicists would not be attracted to it. In my opinion, they killed the possibility of this being a common meeting ground for electrical engineers and physicists. We could not thwart their involvement, and it was thanks to the Electron Devices Society that their involvement was welcomed. This meant that this would not be strictly an Electron Devices Society initiative and would have to have an advisory committee by IEEE rules to oversee the publication. The advisory group would of course have people from both the Microwave Theory and Techniques Society and the Electron Devices Society.

That advisory group was the genesis of what is now known as LEOS, the Laser Electro-Optic Society. Our first meeting of the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optic Applications (CLEA) was in 1967. That was a very successful meeting. I was the chairman. Now we had a journal and a good meeting. It was obvious that all of the elements were there for another society, and that’s what happened.

Electron devices conferences

Morton:

What year did you begin to get involved with the electron devices group?

Gordon:

I got involved after I gave the talk on microwave tubes in 1959. I was on paper committees and so on. I don’t remember whether I was ever chairman of the meeting, but I was chairman of the program committee on different occasions. I got very involved in the research conference. Looking back at it, it was a really great conference. We met every June, usually at a university. We would stay in dormitories, eat in university dining halls, and we used the classrooms for meetings. In larger sessions we sometimes used an auditorium.

These were spectacular meetings. Maybe a couple hundred people would show up, people of many different disciplines attended, and we would spend a great week together. Many people brought their families. The papers were great. The discussion intense and would continue on into the night. We would fight over all kinds of things. It was a great, exciting time for electron devices. There were not only lasers, but parametric amplifiers and electron tubes. I guess the research conference started out from a group working on electron tubes.

Morton:

There was a tube conference every year in the fifties, and probably in the forties.

Gordon:

Right. That was the genesis of the research conference. I guess it then split off into the Solid State Device Conference and so on.

Electron devices, 1960s

Professional organization

Morton:

It sounds like you got involved shortly before the IRE and the AIEE merged.

Gordon:

Right.

Morton:

Did that merger have any noticeable effect on the Electron Devices Group?

Gordon:

No. Things just went on. I don’t know how to express it, but the sixties were spectacular times. I used to hang around on Saturday afternoons waiting for the mail to arrive so I could get my copy ofApplied Physics Letters. Every day something was happening – a new laser transition, or whatever. It was just an amazing time.

Transistors, tubes, and semiconductors

Morton:

By the time you had gotten started, transistors had already appeared and were starting to be used.

Gordon:

Right.

Morton:

Was there any rivalry within the group? Of course by the sixties the tube people were in the minority.

Gordon:

Right.

Morton:

Did you get the sense that there was or had been a rivalry between these two groups? Did people care about that issue?

Gordon:

No. Tube people moved on to high-power tubes and traveling wave amplifiers, which were needed for microwaves and military systems. The semiconductor people moved toward logic and analog devices.

Integrated circuits

Gordon:

Debates went on at Bell Labs in the late fifties when people were still having trouble making individual transistors, wondering whether an integrated circuit could ever even be imagined. At Bell Labs they pretty much decided the answer was no, because they were so involved in reliability issues and so on. I remember when Dawon Kahng invented the MOS transistor device around 1960. The Bell Labs people didn’t think it was worth very much.

Morton:

That was a big mistake.

Gordon:

Yes. They did not move aggressively into integrated circuits, but for good reasons. The telephone system was an analog system. It still needed capacitors, inductors and big resistors, so that the idea was to make transistor circuits maybe at some low level of integration and develop technology for putting them all on a common substrate. Bell Labs, through Marty Lepselter developed the beam lead concept, which was really a great technology that worked very well in the analog, and later in the mixed analog, digital world. They moved in that direction. Of course Jack Morton headed our area.

Morton:

No relation.

Jack Morton

Gordon:

In the early days of the transistor, Jack Morton was very instrumental in developing transistor technology and moving it away from germanium and toward silicon. And as a tube guy he had also been instrumental in developing the microwave triode that made the relay systems practical. The relay systems were great for the telephone system, but additionally they were so good that it was possible to transmit television cross country using the NTSC system. NTSC was a terrible system, but it worked and it was good enough because AT&T systems were so great. The European telephone systems could not support NTSC, so they developed the PAL system which was a very sophisticated solution appropriate to a lousy telephone system. I saw Morton emerge from that. He had incredible wisdom and insight, and he was my mentor. A lot of what I did and learned came from Jack Morton.

Morton:

I’ve heard conflicting things about Jack Morton. What was it like to work with him?

Gordon:

He was absolutely a tough guy.

He was a very bigoted and very tough guy, but had tremendous insight and instincts about the way things should be done, including how to get innovation out of people. I tried to learn from him what was needed to be a good manager, but I was also determined not to be as tough as he had been. He generated so much hatred that it limited his effectiveness.

Electron Devices Society

Morton:

I’m trying to get a handle on where the Electron Devices Society was at various points in time. The Electron Devices Society’s name covers a huge range of things. During the early years when you first got involved with the Society was there a set of things with which the Society concerned itself and another set of things that were the concern of other societies? You hinted that the computer people were more interested in the digital devices. Would you talk about what interested the Electron Devices Society most during the sixties?

Gordon:

Yes. They did not get involved in integrated circuits. That was the Solid State Circuits Conference and I don’t remember which society was responsible for that. However that was a split that took place, and probably at about that time. We didn’t get involved in integrated circuits. It was tubes, lasers, displays and ultimately imaging devices. Of course there was the Display Society, so displays tended to go that way. However there were always enough new things coming along that there was plenty to keep us interested. There were the lasers, electro-optics and semiconductor lasers. Then I got started in imaging devices in 1965-66.

I guess was in mostly what you would call electron devices, where free electrons were somehow involved.

CW argon ion laser

Gordon:

Let me tell you another thing that happened in the interim period, beginning in December of 1963. There was a paper by Arnold Bell. I have forgotten the names of the other authors on the paper, but it was “Pulsed Mercury Ion Laser.” It was probably published in Applied Physics Letters. It was the first of the ion lasers. Bill Bridges, a friend of mine from Hughes Aircraft Company, and I attended an Electron Devices Society meeting at the engineering society building on 47th Street in New York in preparation for one of the Device Research Conferences in early 1964. We talked about this device on the way back to the PATH subway station. I said, “I’m not interested in that at all. That’s a pulse device that’s not useful for communication purposes. I’m strictly a CW guy.”

Then he said, “What do you think is the mechanism that is causing it to happen?” I suggested that instead of helium he should put argon in the tube with the mercury. I went through what would happen with argon versus what would happen with helium and what the implications would be for the mechanism. He did that experiment and discovered that the argon itself would lase [inaudible phrase]. At the next meeting in the series we met again in New York, and I asked him what had happened with that experiment. He said, “There is an argon ion laser.” He told me all about it, and I looked at the data and said, “You know what? That’s going to go CW.” He said, “I kind of think so myself.” I said, “I’ll tell you what. I’m going to go back to Murray Hill and you go back to Malibu and we’ll keep in touch and see what happens.” I had concluded that the key to making that happen was a very small diameter discharge tube, whereas the pulse devices are long tubes with a big diameter that carry a tremendous amount of current for very short periods of time. I had experience making a miniature helium neon laser for a single frequency, so that was easy for me. Bell Labs, because I had built all these lasers and started the reliability program, gave me an incredible amount of support. I had glass shops, quartz shops, mirror shops, and I could do anything I wanted. I had it all under my thumb. The next day Ed Labuda and I designed a tube and gave it to the quartz people, and two or three days later they had the tube. We coated the mirrors we needed. I figured out I needed a high current. I got an old magnet supply, and it worked as soon as we turned it on. It went CW. There were problems with gas pumping and so on, so we went back to the German literature from fifty or a hundred years earlier and found out how to deal with that. We solved the gas pumping problems and all the other problems associated with that laser. I called Bill and asked him how he was doing, and he still hadn’t gotten it to go CW. We told him what to do, and he also tried some of the other noble gases. In May of 1964 we jointly published a paper in Applied Physics Letters on the first CW argon ion laser. That was very exhilarating.

The point is that with the helium neon laser, the red beam, it was very clear that the body did not absorb the radiation. If the beam were put into the back of your hand the light would come out the front from your palm. It was scattered, but there was no attenuation. It was not being absorbed by the blood or by anything. It was clear that with the argon, which is blue and green, there were medical implications. I didn’t know what to do about it. Neither was it a Bell Labs kind of thing. However as soon as we published a paper there were many people descending on me to help them do medical experiments with the laser. That was a whole other part of my life, which was in the evenings. We’ll come back to that.

AT&T Picturephone

High bandwidth system

Gordon:

The World’s Fair was in Flushing in 1964, and at that time AT&T had developed a video telephone system called Picturephone. It was a system in which a sequence of photographs of a person were displayed at either end of the phone connection for a few seconds each. The photographs would jump, but one could see the face of the person to whom one was talking. AT&T demonstrated a real time system system at the World’s Fair. It got a lot of positive response, so in 1965 AT&T made a very interesting business decision. They decided to develop a video telephone system to be introduced in 1970, and they started working on it.

What was going on with that is very interesting, and at this late date it is okay to tell the story. AT&T wanted to introduce a high bandwidth system into the network for providing services other than voice. Business services. The voice network was referred to as Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS). The new system was going to be network services. They figured that if they went to the FCC and talked about video telephone or Picturephone they could convince the FCC to allow them to put in a broad bandwidth line. They argued for this on the basis that it was for a video telephone rather than for their hidden agenda of network services because the FCC had already told them they could not put in network services.

Morton:

What exactly do you mean by “network services”?

Gordon:

Basically computer interconnects and others kinds of data services for business. They were not allowed to put in data services. They were refused. They basically saw the Picturephone as a way of convincing the FCC to let them put in a large bandwidth capability. Then they were going to increment them to death with a little bit of this and a little bit of that and gradually develop network services. We called that system Picturephone And Network Services (PANS). Therefore we had POTS and PANS.

Morton:

Right.

Gordon:

The reason they chose 1970 was because of the fear that by that time the Japanese would start introducing a system for internal PBS type services just within the company. However then the Japanese would have the technical basis for doing it, and the fear was that then the FCC would never allow AT&T to do it. Therefore, 1970 was a critical year. We had to do it, get it into production and introduce the service.

Picturephone display and imaging devices development

Gordon:

I was asked to be responsible for the display and imaging devices for the Picturephone system.

At that instant in time when I was asked to do that they talked about a vidicon. I had never even heard of a vidicon and didn’t know what it was. I had to start from scratch. The display was basically a trivial problem. They wanted a flat CRT so we had to develop a flat CRT. That was kind of straightforward stuff. Later on we got into other kinds of displays to make them smaller and flatter. It was the Picturephone system that got me into the display business.

The imaging part was tougher. The problem at the time was that the telephone set was going to sit on a person’s office desk and there would be bright light coming in the window. Bright light would kill a vidicon. It had an antimony trisulfide photoconductor, an amorphous semiconductor, target. It necessarily had traps. That’s why it worked as a photoconductor. These traps would shift around when bright light shone on the device. Then bright spots (burn-in) would occur wherever the light hit. There would be a white spot associated with high dark current. Antimony trisulfide was an anathema, yet no one knew how to do it any other way. Philips Philips had a plumbicon device that was lead-based, but it was essentially the same kind of material.

Morton:

Wasn’t a vidicon used in television for the one purpose of film transmission?

Gordon:

It was used for reading film and converting it into video.

Morton:

There was another technology that was used for filming people live.

Gordon:

That was the antimony trisulfide vidicon. That was an RCA device. The plumbicon, which I believe was lead selenide, was a  Philips device. Those were the two technologies that were then current. Filters and so on could be used and three-tube or four-tube color cameras could be made. That was the technology at that time.

Inventing the silicon target vidicon

Gordon:

Knowing very little about photoconductors and the like, my first instinct was to go to the research people and ask for help. I asked them, “How can we develop a photoconductor or fix the antimony trisulfide so that it won’t burn in?” The research people said, “Sorry, but since it’s not a crystal we won’t work on it. Good physics cannot be done unless it’s a crystal.” There was a lot of truth in what they said, but that just reinforced my view of the research people. I used to say to them, “You guys are like the National Guard. You play around. We’re the Marines. If someone has to land and fix the problem, they call us in.” That’s the way it was, and that’s the way it is.

In any case, I thought about the problem and I decided that the way to solve this problem was to use a silicon crystal and the integrated circuit technology to somehow build a sensing target from a high-density array of photo detectors and do the imaging that way. I had only five years to get this thing into production, and I knew I could never develop a solid state imaging device and get it into production within that time frame. Therefore I decided to develop a silicon-based tube device that could trade on the integrated circuit technology. It would not take it that far, but it would make it possible for us to avoid all the trapping problems associated with photoconductors. My plan was to put a silicon-based tube device into production and then think about how to do an all-solid-state device. I had from late 1965 to early 1970 to accomplish that.

In a few months I invented the silicon target vidicon, which was a way of arraying diodes on a silicon target. A version of that tube is sitting out in the lobby.

Morton:

I would like to see that.

Gordon:

At any rate, a number of semiconductor people pooh-poohed the idea and said it would never work. My view was that I had done the calculations and maybe the dark current was going to be too high, but maybe not. I did not think the theory was good enough to tell us. I had used silicon photo detectors for my laser work and they had very low dark current. I felt that we had to try, because to succeed was a must. People could make all the negative statements they wanted, but we had to try it. That’s the only way to get there. I was not able to get any help from any of the integrated circuit people, so we started another group to do the technology for making this tube. We built it, and it worked. Then we improved it, and by 1970 we went into production with a beautiful tube. Along the way, the Apollo people ran into the same problem. The sunlight was killing the devices they were using for their TV cameras. They turned to our device.

Morton:

How was this constructed?

Gordon:

In a vidicon there is a tube with a low energy electron beam scanning a target surface. The surface has a distributed charge, and when the beam lands at low energy it tends because of low secondary emission to charge it negatively causing the potential to go back to zero until the beam can no longer land. The charge that it puts on the surface flows out through a lead so that there’s a capacitive readout of the status of the surface charge on the surface. The amount of surface charge is influenced by the light falling on each part of the target. The local variations in light produce local variations in surface charge, and the beam discharges everything to zero. Then it integrates for a thirtieth of a second and then comes back and reads it again. The result is a continuing, capacitively coupled signal, out of the output lead.

In the silicon device, instead of a photoconductor there is an array of maybe half a million to a million photodiodes. Each one, when the light is shown on the backside of the array, collected minority carriers and discharged. That raised the surface potential. Then when the beam hit it, it would recharge the diodes to the target voltage. Then the recharging current was read out was the signal.

Morton:

The actual array is made with integrated circuit construction techniques.

Gordon:

Yes. We just made little holes in the oxide and then diffused the opposite donor in there and made a P-N photodiode. The fact that the silicon had a very long lifetime for the minority carriers meant that they could diffuse from anywhere in the target and then were collected in the nearby photodiodes. It was a great idea, and it worked very well. It took a lot of work to get rid of the defects such as the diodes that leaked. We published in the Electron Devices journals and talked about all the problems with the photodiodes and so on. People used to say, “Gene, you’re the only guy that publishes truthful papers in this subject. You talk about the problems.”

Morton:

Yes.

The Charge-coupled Device (CCD)

Gordon:

We started sort of a new attitude toward these kinds of devices, and made devices that were X ray-sensitive and particle-sensitive. We detected all kinds of things. It was a lot of fun. In late 1969 we transferred the manufacturing responsibility to Western Electric in Reading, Pennsylvania. Then I came back and said to the group, “I promised you that after we did this we could start thinking about all-solid-state versions of the device, so let’s start thinking about it.” I started thinking about it and came up with the idea of using a clocking mechanism for shifting charge, minority carriers, along the silicon-silicon dioxide interface. I was thinking along the lines of a display device and injecting and then shifting charge in and then collapsing the depletion layers and getting light out. I went to George Smith, one of my department heads at that time, and said, “Here’s this three-phase clock. You can move charge along. Think about it and put in the numbers. You’re a solid-state physicist and I’m not.” He thought about it, and it occurred to him that it would be better used for imaging. In effect that was the invention of the CCD.

Morton:

Did you know about the things that were going on at RCA about the same time? I happened to come across something in my files about George Heilmeier.

Gordon:

George Heilmeier and CCD devices or liquid crystals?

Morton:

CCD devices.

Gordon:

Yes I knew George. That wasn’t the CCD, however. That was a different thing.

Morton:

Was someone else at RCA also doing CCDs?

Gordon:

Yes, Ralph Simon.

Morton:

Okay. I guess he just didn’t get mentioned in the sources I checked.

Gordon:

At that time my boss was Bill Boyle. He was executive director, I was director and George Smith was a department head. Boyle was the same guy that totally pooh-poohed the idea of the silicon target vidicon and wouldn’t help me. At that time he had been the director of the laboratory and George Smith worked for him. Bill Boyle’s claim to fame up until that time was that he had come out of the research area and had done something on the ruby laser. It was nothing very significant. As far as I know that’s all he ever did from a research point of view. In any case, he brought George Smith from the research area and they were buddies. Smith told Boyle about the idea of the CCD and a patent application was prepared which listed all three of our names: George Smith, Bill Boyle and myself.

I never could understand why Bill Boyle was listed. The story I heard was that Boyle had gone to Smith and said, “Jack Morton wants an electron version of the bubble device,” which was a shift register type of device. That was his total contribution to CCDs. And I’m not sure that he even contributed that much. At any rate, Bill Boyle was listed as a co-inventor and the specification was submitted to the patent attorneys. Several months later I called up the patent people and said, “What’s happening with that application? There has been no follow-up.” They said it had been filed, so I said, “How could it have been filed? I never signed any papers to make the assignment to Bell Labs.” They told me that my name is not on the application. I said, “What do you mean my name isn’t on it?” They said, “Bill Boyle didn’t want your name on it.”

At that point I had some decisions to make. If the proper co-inventors are not listed, the patent could be lost. On the other hand, I didn’t want to make a big fuss about it. After all, he was my boss, and I already had plenty of patents. I didn’t really need that particular patent. My career was going fine. I decided to just let it go. In fact, I wrote the nomination for Bill Boyle and George Smith to become Fellows and get an IEEE award for the invention of the CCD and so forth. I was the good soldier, and I say that unblushingly because it is true. However I did expect that some day the truth would come out. It’s coming out now for the first time. Later, one of my department heads, Hugh Watson, submitted an application for me to receive an award for the invention of the silicon target vidicon, but Bill Boyle was my boss and he nixed it. He wouldn’t let the application be submitted.

By that time I had become friends with Ralph Simon at RCA. I told him about the CCD and helped RCA get into the CCD business because RCA had helped me with the vidicon. In 1974 or 1975 when I received a letter from RCA asking me if I would support the nomination of Ralph Simon for an award for his work on the silicon target device, I was amazed. It turned out that Ralph had a similar idea at an earlier time but had never actually tried it because he was not confident that it would work. The targets that he made were still in his desk drawer. We decided to do it the right way, so I supported his nomination and he supported my nomination. By that time Boyle was out of the way, so we won the award for the silicon target device together. There is no doubt in my mind who did it first and who helped RCA get into that business. Ralph and I were good friends. It didn’t really make any difference. There was no competition between the two of us.

I led the group that developed the CCD. We understood its importance for color cameras and understood its importance for facsimile machines. I asked Hugh Watson to make the first fax machine that utilized a CCD device. It was a flatbed scanner very similar to devices seen today. I tried to convince AT&T to get into the fax machine business, but they wouldn’t do it. We also understood that camcorders were possible and the whole gamut of other uses. Mike Tompsett invented and made the first color CCD camera even though I told him to let the system people do it. It was a great success.

The thing that got Boyle into it, the CCD shift register, never happened. Maybe they make some CCD devices for handling video signals and delay devices, but if so it’s not very important. I have some bitterness about the circumstances.

Morton:

The whole business sounds very political.

Gordon:

Yes. It was one of the few political things I ran into at AT&T. Most people there are very apolitical – or so I thought. I was naïve. There is an old Chinese proverb that says. “The smaller the bone, the more the dogs fight over it.” At universities the bones are very small. That’s why universities are so political. However at Bell Labs the bones were very big so that people didn’t need to fight very much.

Morton:

Moving on, I want to be sure to hear about your later work with lasers and their medical applications.

Translating articles for Journal of Quantum Electronics

Gordon:

There is another interesting story I would like to share that picks up on another theme. By 1970 I was no longer really involved with the Electron Devices Society. I had become much more involved in the Journal of Quantum Electronics and had become an associate editor of that publication. I asked Bob Kingston from Lincoln Labs to be the editor because I didn’t have the time to do it myself. However I did work very hard as an associate editor and handled most of the papers from Russia and Japan.

A high percentage of the papers at that time came from Russia and Japan, and most of them were written in terrible English. When I wrote back to them saying, “The paper is fine, but can you get somebody to help you write it in better English?” they would write back and say that there was no one with better English. That was an interesting time. In order to publish good papers, I edited the papers myself. I worked four mornings a week from 4:30 until 7:30 translating for the Journal of Quantum Electronics. I became expert at translating Ringlish and Jinglish into English. I knew enough of the physics to do it. That was a labor of love.

Medical projects

Photo coagulators for the ear

Gordon:

In 1965 I had built a photo coagulator with the argon laser for doing microscopic work on the ear.

Morton:

What would it do?

Gordon:

In the ear there are tiny bones that carry the sound. When those bones become diseased then the sound isn’t transmitted and one becomes deaf or hearing impaired. The idea was to fold the ear forward and cut a flap behind the ear, expose the bones, drill little holes in the bones and attach a wire to bypass the diseased bone. The wire would become the sound conduction path. I worked with Dr. Felix Shiffman at Manhattan.Eye and Ear Hospital. I had a microscope with a argon ion laser coupled to it that could do all that.

Dr. Francis L’Esperance, Jr. from Columbia University Medical School approached me. He told me he wanted to try it on diabetic retinopathy. I said, “Sure. Bring your rabbits here, we’ll work in the lab and you can do the experiments.” He worked for two years in my lab and developed the power levels and everything else. Then I made and gave him a system that he used at Columbia University. In 1967 or ’68 he did the first surgery to cure diabetic retinopathy on a twelve-year-old girl. Diabetic retinopathy is a disease in which the blood vessels in the retina have gone out of control and vision has been lost. It’s a diabetic problem. By basically burning out those blood vessels – the blue light would cauterize them – vision could be saved. That turned out to be a very successful procedure and it’s still done today. By ten years ago some 20 million people had had the procedure.

Morton:

At some point you translated this into a business venture.

Gordon:

Yes. At the time everyone was saying, “Gene, why don’t you go into business and make photo coagulators?” But I was having too much fun at Bell Labs. That was at the time when we were trying very hard to get into fiber optic communications. I had a group making semiconductor lasers in the development area, and the research people were trying in their area. I couldn’t imagine leaving Bell Labs at that time. A company called Coherent Radiation built those devices. It turned out to be a good business for them and a good thing to do for humanity. I never made a penny out of it, but that’s all right. I got a lot of personal satisfaction.

Laser vision correction

Gordon:

Fran L’Esperance came back to me in 1984 after I had left AT&T and asked me if I would help him start a company to do laser vision correction. That company, Taunton Technology, got started, and I was on their board of directors and did some consulting for them. Eventually Taunton Technology, bought a company called VISX and kept the VISX name. It is now the biggest company in that particular business. I got my payback late, but it was okay. And of course that’s what got me started in this business, which has the goal to supplant the laser technology with the water-jet.

Morton:

That’s an interesting shift. Now you have gone—

Gordon:

Backwards.

Morton:

It seems like you have gone out of electron devices altogether. You kept the medical focus of it but dropped the rest. How did that happen?

Gordon:

That’s a fair question. I can give you a good philosophical answer to that. The most satisfying things I have done in my career are in medicine. This is because in medicine I am helping people, and that gives me a lot of satisfaction. Looking back, saying 20 million people can see that would otherwise have been blind, is pretty heady stuff. It’s a lot more exciting than saying there are 20 million camcorders out there. To me, the medical side is much more exciting.

Conflicts of Bell research and development

Room temperature continuously operating semiconductor laser

Gordon:

There is another aspect to it that really gets back to the laser story. In 1970 there were two momentous events. The first was the demonstration by Corning Glass that a fiber could be made that had less than 20 decibels of loss per kilometer. Today that sounds like an enormous amount because now losses are in the few tenths of a decibel. However at that point with 20 decibels a practical system coming along could be imagined. The other thing was that Bell Labs developed the first room temperature continuously operating semiconductor laser. Bell Labs didn’t develop the first room temperature continuously operating semiconductor laser. It was done in Russia a few months earlier, but Bell Labs would never admit that.

The group that did the room temperature continuously operating semiconductor laser at Bell Labs was in the research area. My group in the development area led by Art D’Asaro, had developed the so-called narrow stripe geometry laser that allowed a narrow cavity. It was a much better laser. The research people had a wide stripe laser. There was competition between the research area and the development area to get the first room temperature CW device. I thought it was much more important for Bell Labs to get the first one. It didn’t matter which area within Bell Laboratories got it first. Therefore I instructed my people to help the research people. I told them, “As much as we hate their guts, you’re going to help them.” And I also told them, “If you do the first one, I’m not going to let you publish it.” They understood I was serious and they helped the research people.

My group was given a wafer in which we were going to make stripe geometry lasers. The research people suddenly got very afraid about sharing this with the development people, so they came and took back the wafer. Several months later they made another wafer that did demonstrate room temperature, continuous operation and held a big press conference to tell the world about it. However, when it came time for the press conference the few lasers they had made had already died. None were left with which to demonstrate. At that point they came back to us with the first wafer and asked us if we would make some stripe geometry devices for them. We did, and they worked fine. They would have worked six months earlier if the development area had been allowed to do it and we would have beat out the Russians fair and square. Anyway, ours worked and lasted a little bit longer, so they had their devices for the press conference.

When the research people published their papers, they refused to give any credits to my people. It is a consistent story of terrible arrogance. They published in Physics Today or whatever journal, and did their thing. We published in the Journal of Quantum Electronics. That’s the way it was and that’s the way it is, and it’s never going to change. It’s really very sad. It’s like the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Morton:

Irascible.

Gordon:

Yes. Each side has totally different but valid perspectives and points of view.

Semiconductor lasers by liquid epitaxy

Morton:

This must have eventually driven you away from Bell Labs.

Gordon:

Yes, it did. A point came where I’d had enough of it. Another example was when we were making semiconductor lasers by liquid epitaxy. That was a very complex and uncertain process for growing the layers. We thought this new technology chemical vapor deposition, CVD, that was being developed by a guy out on the West Coast would be a better way to do it. I had done all the analysis, production rates and so on, and we were convinced CVD was the way to go. The guy came to interview at Bell Labs and wanted to work for us, but was stolen away by the research people. Therefore the CVD work was being done in the research area. Our group said, “The hell with that. We’re going to collaborate with this guy. Everything he builds, we’re going to duplicate. When he’s got it working we’ll be close behind him.” And that’s what we did.

We got a very nice CVD system working, and my plan was to put that into production. Then the research people said, “No, you can’t put that into production. You have to put molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) into production.” When I asked why, they said, “Because we want you to.” They didn’t say it, but what they were really saying was that they had put so much into developing molecular beam epitaxy and made such a hoopla over it that they would be embarrassed if it did not go into production. That was a very complex device. It was a great research tool, but very difficult for production. It was certainly not within the capability of the Western Electric people. Yet I had to hire a guy and build a molecular beam epitaxy system and to have a shoot-out between CVD and MBE just to satisfy the research people. CVD won. It illustrates that they have tremendous power there. The development people had to face West properly and bow to the research people. I couldn’t even start a talk without giving some credits to the research people. It was a really outrageous situation. That’s all right. It made me stronger.

After that I said, “The semiconductor laser is really the solution to the communication problem, and it’s never going to get anywhere unless it’s reliable.” I started a reliability program on semiconductor lasers that went through the entire decade of the seventies with everybody pooh-poohing it and AT&T saying fiber optics would never get anywhere. If we hadn’t done that reliability work the implementation of fiber optic systems would have been delayed by half a decade. I went off to do other things. I worked on photolithography for integrated circuits and developed the manufacturing electron beam system EBES, now known as MEBES. It is the basis for making all the reticles for semiconductor device photolithography and so on. Then I got into systems applications for integrated circuits.

Fiber optic communications at AT&T

Gordon:

By 1979 I had had it with Bell Labs. I needed to last until 1982 to retire, so I asked if I could go back and work on lasers. I was put in charge of the laser lab to develop lasers for fiber optic communications. At that point of course all my interest had gone from the Electron Devices Society and to the Laser Electro-Optic Society (LEOS). However I have to say that if it were not for the Electron Devices Society and the Electron Device Research Conference in the early sixties, things would not have gone that way. The Electron Devices Society was a very distinguished, very good group of people – the finest I have ever dealt with in this business. And they had the foresight to make things happen. LEOS is a very successful society, and that is something for which Electron Devices Society deserves credit. NTT just rode the coattails of the thing.

Morton:

That’s an interesting perspective.

Gordon:

By 1980 AT&T was seeing the light and beginning to believe in fiber optics. AT&T had begun to implement systems connecting local offices. This was not being done to the home of course, but it was trunking. And now they wanted to begin to put in undersea fiber optics. This is why I got back into the cable business. I started in the cable business and I ended in the cable business.

Morton:

Right.

Gordon:

My job – aside from making the lasers for the local trunking applications – was developing a laser for undersea fiber optic communications. That was a very difficult problem, because the laser had to last for twenty-five years. I had about three years to prove the laser could last twenty-five years. It was really an impossible deadline, and we had major battles over it.

Here is another insider story than can now be told. Telstar was the first communication satellite and it was developed by AT&T. I was in the Telstar lab also but had nothing to do with it. AT&T had been preempted from the satellite communication business by government decree back in the early 1960s. AT&T could only rent lines on the satellites. They could not provide the basic service, and submarine cable was the most profitable part of the telephone business. There was an annual return of forty cents on every dollar invested.

The next system, scheduled for implementation in 1988, was scheduled to be a satellite system. That would have preempted AT&T and would have marked the end of their dominance of undersea telecommunications. Therefore AT&T desperately wanted a submarine cable system. That would have been cheaper than the satellite system. Another special advantage with submarine cables is that the transmission time is a tiny fraction of a second, whereas for a satellite system it’s three-tenths of a second up and down and then three-tenths of a second up and down again, making a six-tenths of a second roundtrip delay. We see that delay when we watch television from Europe – the broadcasters sitting awkwardly and waiting for a voice prompt as a result of the time delays.

The satellite up-and-down and up-and-down communication is no good for holding a telephone conversation, so it has to be only one leg satellite and one leg submarine cable. It would be much better if it were all submarine cable. AT&T would have been able to own the system or at least would have been able to provide the system. There were twenty-three companies that owned pieces of it. They desperately wanted a fiber optic system. It was the only one that would compete. I was told to develop a reliable semiconductor laser for that system, and I said, “It cannot be done. It’s not possible.” There was a major battle within Bell Laboratories over that. I almost got fired for taking that position. My boss, Klaus Bowers, saved my job.

AT&T insisted that we had to find the solution. We had big committees at Bell Labs to think about how we would do it, and we worked on it for a year before we gave up. It just wasn’t possible. Then I invented the solution, and we implemented it. I worked with the Japanese company Hitachi to develop the reliability techniques, and they worked. The cable was installed on schedule in 1988, and there has not been a single failure since. The reliability objectives for the system were more than met.

Morton:

Would you tell me more about that invention?

Gordon:

It was a burn-in strategy I call purging. It was a very rigorous purging procedure that would eliminate failure modes that were not temperature-dependent and leave only temperature-dependent failure modes so we could do temperature aging. It was a relatively simple idea, but involved some sophisticated understanding of the way the reliability modes in the laser behaved. It worked, and we got a patent on it and published a very fine paper on it. That was the basis for the submarine cable business. I was finished with that in 1983 and said, “This is a good time to retire.” I retired in 1983 on a real high.

Morton:

It sounds like it.

Gordon:

Back again in the electron device theme.

Morton:

Was it at that point you went on to the Visx?

Starting Litell Lytel laser company in retirement

Gordon:

No. At that point I started a laser company in Somerville called Litell Lytel, Lytel which was ultimately purchased by Amp Incorporated. It became perhaps the largest division at that company, and eventually put AT&T’s semiconductor lasers out of business. I have not kept track of Litell Lytel in recent times, but I understand that Amp was purchased by Tyco and that Tyco has sold or is selling Litell Lytel to Lucent.

Morton:

It’s coming back around.

Gordon:

It’s amazing. At one time we had 250 employees. Later it was generating several hundred million dollars worth of laser business. That was a great first shot at starting a company. When we got into the manufacturing end of things, I got an offer from Hughes Aircraft Company to come out there and run their research labs. That was exciting for me. This is going to sound awful, but Jack Morton was an incredible inspiration to me. I understood that he had a bad personality that turned a lot of people off and so on. However I thought that it would be possible to learn from him the positive things without taking on the negative things.

My ambition throughout my career at Bell Labs was to become vice president of the electron device area. The problem was that I was Morton’s protégé and everyone saw in me the qualities they saw in Morton, so my promotions got blocked. My promotion got blocked by Arno Penzias, the vice president of the research area. When that happened, that was the last straw. I left. When I express things about my problems with the research people, these feelings run very deep and long. They really made life very difficult for me in Bell Laboratories. I think it was unnecessary as well as to their detriment. I think it was caused by the fact that the bones in the research area were smaller than the bones in the development area. It’s a much more political place. When things got going in the development area, they could spend a lot of money and do really great things. Overall, however, no one could imagine what a great place it was. It was really fantastic.

Influence of Japanese manufacturing, 1970s-1980s

Morton:

Looking back at the period in the seventies and eighties, did Japan’s rise in the manufacturing of technology have much impact? They were in some of the fields in which you were involved. I am wondering if there is an international side to this story.

Gordon:

There is definitely an international side to the story. The Japanese loved Jack Morton for example. They thought he had the key to innovation, and the Japanese are almost devoid of innovative capability. That’s a terrible thing to say, but if you look at what the Japanese have done, they have basically become great at manufacturing technology developed in the United States and Europe. Their best people went into manufacturing, not research. Culturally the Japanese way of thinking and learning makes it difficult to think in the unrestrained manner needed for innovation.

The Japanese constantly came to Bell Laboratories asking about innovation, “How do you do that?” When we went to Japan we were welcomed with open arms, because they thought we had the secret. I developed a lot of good friendships in Japan, but I never had a high opinion for Japanese research capability. However I hasten to add that there have been important exceptions.

Morton:

Does that mean that the Japanese were not a very important presence in the Electron Devices Society? Was that society for people doing research?

Gordon:

It was an American society. Miki Uenohara worked at Bell Laboratories and did a tremendous job on parametric amplifiers. He went back to Japan and became executive vice president of NEC. Kani Kurakawa also worked at Bell Labs and went back to Japan to become a vice president of research for Fujitsu. They got their training at Bell Labs and went back, but a few people couldn’t make the difference. The Japanese don’t have the ability to innovate, but are great borrowers. That’s true not only in the past fifty years or a hundred years, but it is historic for several millennia. They have always borrowed the best of what the world has had to offer and then implemented it into Japanese society. Their written language was borrowed from the Chinese, and silk was taken from the Chinese. The same is true in technology. It hasn’t changed.

This is funny, but absolutely true. As a Bell Labs director it was my practice to give “State of the Laboratory Addresses” once a year, and I would range it broadly over many topics. We’d have monthly meetings, but once a year I would hold forth for several hours and talk about technology, where it was going, and so on. In 1970 I said, “This is the decade in which the Japanese are going to fall flat on their faces, because they just can’t sustain this kind of thing.” And I was wrong. In 1980 when I gave my message, I said, “Remember the talk I gave ten years ago? I can’t see how they are going to get through the decade of the eighties with the strength they have been enjoying.” I was wrong again. Had I been at Bell Laboratories in 1990, I would have given the same speech again. And I would have been right.

Morton:

That’s right.

Gordon:

They were greedy and they drained the United States dry. They did not allow American companies to profit from technology development, so the well just dried up. Now we don’t see much research in the United States anymore. We don’t see the new technologies being developed much anymore. Finally there was nothing new for the Japanese to take, so they died. They killed the golden goose.

New directions in electron devices and electronics technology

Gordon:

Today I look around at electron devices in the United States and wonder what’s happening. With the fiber optics, we saw the necessary articulation to bind the whole society. I won’t be like Gore saying he invented the Internet, but we knew that the fiber optic backbone was going to be absolutely critical. I started Lytel because I saw that the backbone was going to be critical. I was a little early, as usual, but it came to be. Now the Internet and everything that surrounds it is built on that fiber optic backbone.

Where is all the excitement? Where is the new device technology to drive this? Not very much is happening in electron devices. Nothing really exciting is coming. The only predictions are dire predictions that Gordon Moore’s Law is going to run out of steam in a few years because of fundamental limits of too few electrons to do the switching and so on. Blue lasers are not a big deal. Very nice argon lasers can be made today when blue lasers are needed.

Twenty years ago I saw that my interest was to get into something important. Ultimately medicine was that area. I could go back to the year 1900 and live comfortably if I could take my air conditioner, but I don’t see anything of great value in our society today other than the incredible advances in medical technology. These would have been impossible without the advances in electronics, so electronics was absolutely essential. Having said that, the real excitement is in medicine – genetics, cloning and all the things that are going to come out of that. These days, electronics is really a commodity.

Morton:

Do you think the real action in electronics technology is that as applied to medical purposes such as the devices that are made like integrated circuits but perform medical tasks?

Gordon:

Yes, absolutely.

Morton:

It might shift. It might be the electronics industry you knew.

Gordon:

The system application will shift. What I’m saying is that the driving device technology need not do a great deal more. I don’t see a great deal more coming along to drive it. It takes twenty years before some small research idea becomes implemented. In one of the 1970 IEEE journals is a paper, Larry Anderson and I were authors, on display technology. Read that. It’s right on target. Everything that has happened in displays was predicted in that paper. It was just rational understanding of where the technology could go, what was needed and so on. We predicted cathode ray tubes (CRTs) would last much longer than anyone imagined. We predicted that liquid crystal displays would evolve but would not supplant CRTs. It’s finally beginning to happen thirty years later, but it’s taken a tremendous amount of investment and effort. The technology evolves.

In looking at what is really different in the world because of the advances in the display technology, I think flat panel displays make laptops viable. However, laptops don’t make life better. My wife won’t let me have one. I have a computer at home and here in my office. One day we’ll put a computer in our home in Vermont, but so far she won’t let me do that. I am not convinced that technology per se is making our lives better, except in medicine. I see what goes on. At my age, I’m very dependent on medical technology. Medical technology could potentially allow me to live ten or more years longer, or at least enjoy my life a lot more.

Russian participation in the IEEE during the Cold War

Morton:

A lot of the developments you have covered – not only the things you worked on, but the whole field of electronics from the fifties to the eighties – was in the context of the Cold War and military research and development and competition with the Soviet Union and China. Was there a way for Soviet engineers to participate in the IEEE during those years? There was obviously a rivalry, and the membership was very much American. On the other hand, occasionally some scientific collaborations could be seen as a political move. Did the IEEE or Electron Devices Society do something along those lines?

Gordon:

They would send people to meetings of the Popov Society. I attended it once as a delegate. Following that I invited Soviet scientists to the United States and I made it possible for them to visit Bell Laboratories. I had friends in the Soviet Union and my father is Russian, but I never got to see family there because I was never allowed to travel beyond Moscow or Leningrad. We tried. Delegations from the Soviet Union visited Bell Laboratories. There was an opportunity for collaboration. When I went to the Popov Society meeting, the State Department gave me a job also – which was to evaluate Russian imaging technology. The Cold War was always there. However Russia did produce great scientists. There is no doubt about it.

Morton:

Were there any Russian IEEE members in those years?

Gordon:

Sure. Yes. They were always publishing in the Journal of Quantum Electronics.

Morton:

Really?

Gordon:

It was interesting, because the Russians would not publish until a year after they had actually done the work, because then they could put that work in their budget for the coming year and succeed.

Morton:

That makes sense.

Gordon:

They were really earlier than anyone credited them. They were always a year late in articulating their work. That’s why I know the Russians made the room temperature semiconductor laser before Bell Labs. I once gave an historical talk at an IEEE meeting and told that story. Unbeknownst to me, the guy who did that work in the Soviet Union was in attendance at that very meeting.

Morton:

That’s great.

Gordon:

He came up afterwards and said, “Thank you. Thank you.”

Morton:

That’s a great story. I wish I could track that fellow down. I wonder if he is still around.

Gordon:

His name is Z. I. Alferov.

Morton:

Good.

Gordon:

Mort Panish was the department head in the research area. Z. I. Alferov came and gave a seminar at Bell Labs and basically gave them the prescription for how to grow the material and so on. Then they grew the material, but they would never give him credit. It’s a shame.

Russia has a strange and tragic society. They have great scientists, but also the potential for doing much evil. My experiences there were incredible. I drove them crazy because I would not do what they wanted me to do. They almost made it impossible for me to leave. My wife was with me, and they made it so hard for us that they had her crying. We were followed, and our room was bugged. I even found a bug.

Morton:

Really? What does a Russian bug look like?

Gordon:

It was a little thing. They drilled a hole in the wall and stuck it into the wall behind a piece of furniture. I was going to give a talk at the Popov Society, and at the last instant I was asked to write out the talk so the translator could have a copy. That was not my usual practice. Therefore I had to get up early in the morning to write it down. I was up at 4:30 in the morning writing when I heard a funny noise behind the furniture. I went to look where I heard the noise and could see the thing being pushed through the wall. Apparently the one that had been there was no longer working and was being replaced.

Two guys that were traveling with us played a game with the Russians every night. They would talk about the various people at the meeting and also about the ones they didn’t see. One night they talked about a particular guy and said, “Oh, I haven’t heard anything from him for several years. I wonder what they did to him.” That guy showed up the next morning in the lobby of the hotel. It was a funny society.

I was lucky to live through an incredible four decades. I’ve had tremendous satisfaction from my profession. I love coming to work every day. It’s really a blessing. And I’ve been involved in some exciting things.

Morton:

Thank you very much.