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

Oral-History:H. Robert Hofmann

From GHN

(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
m (moved Oral-History:H. Robert Hofman to Oral-History:H. Robert Hofmann: Correct spelling of his name)
Line 1: Line 1:
==About H. Robert (Bob) Hofman==
+
==About H. Robert (Bob) Hofmann==
  
Bob Hofman retired in 2001 after 44 years of service at Bell Laboratories / Lucent Technologies in Naperville, Illinois, where he was a Supervisor and Distinguished Member of Technical Staff. When he joined Bell Laboratories in 1957, he worked initially on circuit / hardware design of the world’s first electronic telephone central office switching system. He has been concerned with electromagnetic compatibility issues since 1968, and served as chairman of Lucent Corporate EMC committee starting in 1982. In that role, he acted to coordinate all Bell Labs / Lucent EMC design and measurement efforts across the many Bell Labs / Lucent locations throughout the world.  
+
Bob Hofmann retired in 2001 after 44 years of service at Bell Laboratories / Lucent Technologies in Naperville, Illinois, where he was a Supervisor and Distinguished Member of Technical Staff. When he joined Bell Laboratories in 1957, he worked initially on circuit / hardware design of the world’s first electronic telephone central office switching system. He has been concerned with electromagnetic compatibility issues since 1968, and served as chairman of Lucent Corporate EMC committee starting in 1982. In that role, he acted to coordinate all Bell Labs / Lucent EMC design and measurement efforts across the many Bell Labs / Lucent locations throughout the world.  
  
 
Bob is a past President (1992-1993) and past Member of the Board of Directors of the IEEE EMC Society. The EMC Society Review by IEEE TAB / HQ was conducted during his presidency. As President of the EMC Society, he concentrated on facilitating projects that had already been started within the society. Bob stressed the need for Chapter and member involvement and chapter growth during his presidency increased at a much higher level than IEEE overall growth during the same time period.  
 
Bob is a past President (1992-1993) and past Member of the Board of Directors of the IEEE EMC Society. The EMC Society Review by IEEE TAB / HQ was conducted during his presidency. As President of the EMC Society, he concentrated on facilitating projects that had already been started within the society. Bob stressed the need for Chapter and member involvement and chapter growth during his presidency increased at a much higher level than IEEE overall growth during the same time period.  
Line 11: Line 11:
 
==About the Interview==
 
==About the Interview==
  
H.ROBERT. (BOB) HOFMAN: An interview conducted by Sheldon Hochheiser for the IEEE History Center, August 7, 2012.
+
H.ROBERT. (BOB) Hofmann: An interview conducted by Sheldon Hochheiser for the IEEE History Center, August 7, 2012.
  
 
Interview #620 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc.
 
Interview #620 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc.
Line 23: Line 23:
 
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
 
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
  
H.Robert. (Bob) Hofman, an oral history conducted in 2001 by IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.
+
H.Robert. (Bob) Hofmann, an oral history conducted in 2001 by IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.
  
 
==Interview==
 
==Interview==
  
INTERVIEWEE: Bob Hofmann<br>INTERVIEWER: Sheldon Hochheiser<br>DATE:7 August 2012<br>PLACE: EMC Symposium at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
+
INTERVIEWEE: Bob Hofmannn<br>INTERVIEWER: Sheldon Hochheiser<br>DATE:7 August 2012<br>PLACE: EMC Symposium at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  
 
===Background before Bell Labs===  
 
===Background before Bell Labs===  
Line 33: Line 33:
 
'''Hochheiser:'''
 
'''Hochheiser:'''
  
This is Sheldon Hochheiser of the IEEE History Center. It is the 7th of August, 2012. I'm here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the EMC Symposium with EMC Past President Bob Hofmann. Good afternoon.
+
This is Sheldon Hochheiser of the IEEE History Center. It is the 7th of August, 2012. I'm here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the EMC Symposium with EMC Past President Bob Hofmannn. Good afternoon.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Good afternoon.
 
Good afternoon.
Line 43: Line 43:
 
If we could start perhaps with some background; where were you born and raised?
 
If we could start perhaps with some background; where were you born and raised?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
I was born in New Jersey, lived in northern New Jersey through junior high school. Went to high school and college in Fort Pierce, Florida and Gainesville, Florida, and then moved to New Jersey. I had a job with Bell Laboratories in Whippany, New Jersey.
 
I was born in New Jersey, lived in northern New Jersey through junior high school. Went to high school and college in Fort Pierce, Florida and Gainesville, Florida, and then moved to New Jersey. I had a job with Bell Laboratories in Whippany, New Jersey.
Line 51: Line 51:
 
If I can ask a little more detail, what did your parents do?
 
If I can ask a little more detail, what did your parents do?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
My mother was a secretary; my father was an insurance salesman and an insurance adjuster.
 
My mother was a secretary; my father was an insurance salesman and an insurance adjuster.
Line 59: Line 59:
 
Were you interested in science and technology, gadgets and things like that as a youth?
 
Were you interested in science and technology, gadgets and things like that as a youth?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
I was interested in electricity, anything electrical probably from age five or six on. When I was about 8-years old my grandmother took me to New York City to Macys to buy me a Christmas present, and she wanted to go the toy department and I wanted to go to the electrical appliance department. I wanted to buy several strings of Christmas lights so I could play with the bulbs and the wires. I knew, I guess, back even then I wanted to be an electrical engineer.
 
I was interested in electricity, anything electrical probably from age five or six on. When I was about 8-years old my grandmother took me to New York City to Macys to buy me a Christmas present, and she wanted to go the toy department and I wanted to go to the electrical appliance department. I wanted to buy several strings of Christmas lights so I could play with the bulbs and the wires. I knew, I guess, back even then I wanted to be an electrical engineer.
Line 67: Line 67:
 
I take it then that you entered the University of Florida planning to go into engineering?
 
I take it then that you entered the University of Florida planning to go into engineering?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Absolutely electrical engineering. There was never any question.
 
Absolutely electrical engineering. There was never any question.
Line 75: Line 75:
 
What was the EE curriculum like at Florida in those days?
 
What was the EE curriculum like at Florida in those days?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Probably 50% of the students were power electronics, just plain old 60-cycle.
 
Probably 50% of the students were power electronics, just plain old 60-cycle.
Line 83: Line 83:
 
Right.
 
Right.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
The other half were in electronics which was just in the mid-fifties building up rapidly. When I graduated I had seen one transistor in my life. Little did we know what was coming.
 
The other half were in electronics which was just in the mid-fifties building up rapidly. When I graduated I had seen one transistor in my life. Little did we know what was coming.
Line 101: Line 101:
 
Okay. How did you come to go from your engineering degree in Florida to Bell Labs?
 
Okay. How did you come to go from your engineering degree in Florida to Bell Labs?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Bell Labs had a reputation back then that was superb.
 
Bell Labs had a reputation back then that was superb.
Line 109: Line 109:
 
Yes.
 
Yes.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
If you could get a job with Bell Labs it was the best you could do. I had very good grades and I had been active in student organizations, and I applied for the job. I almost didn't end up at Bell Labs. I had an offer from RCA Labs and a couple of other offers that I was considering, and I was waiting for an offer from Bell Labs and I waited, and I waited, and I waited. I finally had written a letter of acceptance to RCA and I was on my way to the post office to mail it. I checked my post office box one more time and the offer from Bell Labs was there, so the RCA letter was gone, and I ended up at Bell Labs.
 
If you could get a job with Bell Labs it was the best you could do. I had very good grades and I had been active in student organizations, and I applied for the job. I almost didn't end up at Bell Labs. I had an offer from RCA Labs and a couple of other offers that I was considering, and I was waiting for an offer from Bell Labs and I waited, and I waited, and I waited. I finally had written a letter of acceptance to RCA and I was on my way to the post office to mail it. I checked my post office box one more time and the offer from Bell Labs was there, so the RCA letter was gone, and I ended up at Bell Labs.
Line 117: Line 117:
 
You mentioned you were active in student organizations. Was there a student branch of IRE or AIEE there?
 
You mentioned you were active in student organizations. Was there a student branch of IRE or AIEE there?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
No there wasn't. IRE was just building up at that point.
 
No there wasn't. IRE was just building up at that point.
Line 125: Line 125:
 
Right.
 
Right.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
This was '53 to '57 so it was still ascending at that point in time. I knew what the IRE was but that was the only involvement.
 
This was '53 to '57 so it was still ascending at that point in time. I knew what the IRE was but that was the only involvement.
Line 133: Line 133:
 
You mentioned that the first location you were at Bell Labs was at Whippany.
 
You mentioned that the first location you were at Bell Labs was at Whippany.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes.
 
Yes.
Line 141: Line 141:
 
What did they put you working on?
 
What did they put you working on?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Design of the switching network portion of Number 1 and Number 2 ESS. I had control circuitry. It was almost all analog; there was very little digital circuitry at that point.
 
Design of the switching network portion of Number 1 and Number 2 ESS. I had control circuitry. It was almost all analog; there was very little digital circuitry at that point.
Line 149: Line 149:
 
Right.
 
Right.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Almost everything was analog.
 
Almost everything was analog.
Line 157: Line 157:
 
Right and the 1 ESS is an analog switch.
 
Right and the 1 ESS is an analog switch.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes. This is the control of the switching elements primarily. That's how I got into EMC.
 
Yes. This is the control of the switching elements primarily. That's how I got into EMC.
Line 171: Line 171:
 
Then that leads to a whole career.
 
Then that leads to a whole career.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
A whole career off of one mistake that some other engineer made.
 
A whole career off of one mistake that some other engineer made.
Line 179: Line 179:
 
I found it interesting because that you were doing this work at Whippany because I always associate Whippany with the work Bell Labs was doing for the military.
 
I found it interesting because that you were doing this work at Whippany because I always associate Whippany with the work Bell Labs was doing for the military.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
It was primarily military. Electronic switching was 20% maybe of the total employees at Whippany.
 
It was primarily military. Electronic switching was 20% maybe of the total employees at Whippany.
Line 187: Line 187:
 
I guess I've mainly spoken to some people from the other 80%.
 
I guess I've mainly spoken to some people from the other 80%.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
We had one advantage though. We were in the main building and we had the basement laboratories which, without air conditioning, meant that that's where we spent the summers, in the basement. It was good. I met my wife at Bell Labs. She was a secretary at Bell Labs in the military area and she was dating one of my roommates. That was 55 years ago. I can blame Bell Labs for my career and my wife.
 
We had one advantage though. We were in the main building and we had the basement laboratories which, without air conditioning, meant that that's where we spent the summers, in the basement. It was good. I met my wife at Bell Labs. She was a secretary at Bell Labs in the military area and she was dating one of my roommates. That was 55 years ago. I can blame Bell Labs for my career and my wife.
Line 195: Line 195:
 
Bell Labs I gather, paid for you to go on and get your Master's degree?
 
Bell Labs I gather, paid for you to go on and get your Master's degree?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes. I was part of the first year of full Master's degree sponsorship. Up to that time they had had a partial Master's program, but it was sort of discombobulated frankly. It wasn't too well organized. They developed something they call the Kelly College after Mervin Kelly who was the President [of Bell Labs].
 
Yes. I was part of the first year of full Master's degree sponsorship. Up to that time they had had a partial Master's program, but it was sort of discombobulated frankly. It wasn't too well organized. They developed something they call the Kelly College after Mervin Kelly who was the President [of Bell Labs].
Line 203: Line 203:
 
Right.
 
Right.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
You were to work 40% of the time; go to school 60% of the time. You got a nominally full salary, so you could live reasonably well. The only problem was that work ended up being 75% and school was 60%, and you didn't have much spare time, but that was okay because to be able to earn a decent living, get your Master's degree, and have it essentially be fully paid for, that was rare.
 
You were to work 40% of the time; go to school 60% of the time. You got a nominally full salary, so you could live reasonably well. The only problem was that work ended up being 75% and school was 60%, and you didn't have much spare time, but that was okay because to be able to earn a decent living, get your Master's degree, and have it essentially be fully paid for, that was rare.
Line 211: Line 211:
 
Did you study particular areas within EE?
 
Did you study particular areas within EE?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
No, not really. We didn't have much of a choice of courses as I remember it. It was a prescribed curriculum and you took that. You might have had maybe 1 out of 15 courses or something was optional. I don't remember anything being optional though. You just took first semester, second semester, first semester, second semester, and I did take one extra course at Brooklyn Poly. Well, my Master's is from NYU but in my transcript it shows one Brooklyn Poly course so.
 
No, not really. We didn't have much of a choice of courses as I remember it. It was a prescribed curriculum and you took that. You might have had maybe 1 out of 15 courses or something was optional. I don't remember anything being optional though. You just took first semester, second semester, first semester, second semester, and I did take one extra course at Brooklyn Poly. Well, my Master's is from NYU but in my transcript it shows one Brooklyn Poly course so.
Line 219: Line 219:
 
How long were you at Whippany?  
 
How long were you at Whippany?  
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
We were at Whippany from 1957 to 1962. In '62 electronic switching opened the Holmdel Laboratories. I rotated through Murray Hill a few times, a month here, a month there on various assignments, but essentially it was Whippany and then Holmdel.
 
We were at Whippany from 1957 to 1962. In '62 electronic switching opened the Holmdel Laboratories. I rotated through Murray Hill a few times, a month here, a month there on various assignments, but essentially it was Whippany and then Holmdel.
Line 227: Line 227:
 
Holmdel. By this point are you pretty much dealing with EMC problems related to these switches?
 
Holmdel. By this point are you pretty much dealing with EMC problems related to these switches?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
No. The EMC didn't really start until after Holmdel. They moved us to Holmdel just about the time that the first Number 1ESS was going in in Succasunna [New Jersey].
 
No. The EMC didn't really start until after Holmdel. They moved us to Holmdel just about the time that the first Number 1ESS was going in in Succasunna [New Jersey].
Line 235: Line 235:
 
Right.
 
Right.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Unfortunately, instead of commuting ten minutes to Succasunna we now had to commute an hour and ten minutes from Holmdel back up to Succasunna. I think the EMC stuff started in '67. A year after we moved to Holmdel.
 
Unfortunately, instead of commuting ten minutes to Succasunna we now had to commute an hour and ten minutes from Holmdel back up to Succasunna. I think the EMC stuff started in '67. A year after we moved to Holmdel.
Line 245: Line 245:
 
You moved to Holmdel. The first Number 1 ESS goes into service in '65 in Succasunna, New Jersey. And then in '67 you really moved into EMC.  
 
You moved to Holmdel. The first Number 1 ESS goes into service in '65 in Succasunna, New Jersey. And then in '67 you really moved into EMC.  
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
That's when I got into it more or less fulltime. About that time the federal government started getting involved a little bit more in the control of EMC, and the company got religion and decided they needed to make sure that they didn't have any problems. That's when I got into it. It still wasn't fulltime but a greater percentage of my time.
 
That's when I got into it more or less fulltime. About that time the federal government started getting involved a little bit more in the control of EMC, and the company got religion and decided they needed to make sure that they didn't have any problems. That's when I got into it. It still wasn't fulltime but a greater percentage of my time.
Line 253: Line 253:
 
Were these EMC questions still related to the electronic switching?
 
Were these EMC questions still related to the electronic switching?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Primarily Yes. It was ESS and Holmdel did not worry about military at all. It was all electronic switching and either central office or PBX, or all the different flavors that they could get their hands on. That's a long time ago.
 
Primarily Yes. It was ESS and Holmdel did not worry about military at all. It was all electronic switching and either central office or PBX, or all the different flavors that they could get their hands on. That's a long time ago.
Line 261: Line 261:
 
Yes. Yes that certainly is a long time ago. Then from Holmdel did you move out to Naperville?
 
Yes. Yes that certainly is a long time ago. Then from Holmdel did you move out to Naperville?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes. From '62 to '66 was Holmdel.
 
Yes. From '62 to '66 was Holmdel.
Line 269: Line 269:
 
Right
 
Right
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Sixty-six we moved to Naperville.
 
Sixty-six we moved to Naperville.
Line 277: Line 277:
 
Okay.
 
Okay.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
The Original location there.
 
The Original location there.
Line 285: Line 285:
 
Right. So is that about when Naperville opened?
 
Right. So is that about when Naperville opened?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes. We were the first. We opened it with paper plates in the cafeteria, and all the temporary stuff. We figured four or five, six years they'd move us again somewhere and I retired from Indian Hill from Naperville. There's a few people left in Naperville now, not many. We were 15,000 at one point and I think it's under 4,000 now.
 
Yes. We were the first. We opened it with paper plates in the cafeteria, and all the temporary stuff. We figured four or five, six years they'd move us again somewhere and I retired from Indian Hill from Naperville. There's a few people left in Naperville now, not many. We were 15,000 at one point and I think it's under 4,000 now.
Line 293: Line 293:
 
Yes.
 
Yes.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
It's bad.
 
It's bad.
Line 301: Line 301:
 
As you may know, the Holmdel building is completely empty.
 
As you may know, the Holmdel building is completely empty.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes. I know. They're trying to figure out some way to put it into a hotel or god knows what.
 
Yes. I know. They're trying to figure out some way to put it into a hotel or god knows what.
Line 309: Line 309:
 
No one's come up with a plan for reusing the building.
 
No one's come up with a plan for reusing the building.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
It's just too big.
 
It's just too big.
Line 317: Line 317:
 
Yes. You moved to Naperville where you're continuing to work on electronic switching problems.
 
Yes. You moved to Naperville where you're continuing to work on electronic switching problems.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes, and more and more EMC because the government regulations kept building up. As we were designing new faster electronics the problems increased.
 
Yes, and more and more EMC because the government regulations kept building up. As we were designing new faster electronics the problems increased.
Line 325: Line 325:
 
Right.
 
Right.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
When a transistor turns on at the speed of a vacuum tube it doesn't generate much noise. When it starts going at a reasonable speed then the problems increase and we had to work on that.
 
When a transistor turns on at the speed of a vacuum tube it doesn't generate much noise. When it starts going at a reasonable speed then the problems increase and we had to work on that.
Line 333: Line 333:
 
There are always new ones I assume.
 
There are always new ones I assume.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes. That's probably one of the best things about working in EMC. There are never two days in a row that are the same. There is always a new problem to be solved or something new to be investigated and vetted as to whether somebody else did their job right. It was a thoroughly enjoyable career. I really enjoyed it.
 
Yes. That's probably one of the best things about working in EMC. There are never two days in a row that are the same. There is always a new problem to be solved or something new to be investigated and vetted as to whether somebody else did their job right. It was a thoroughly enjoyable career. I really enjoyed it.
Line 341: Line 341:
 
Any other particular problems that stick in your mind after these years?
 
Any other particular problems that stick in your mind after these years?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
There's the always present problem of getting enough money to build good test facilities. They don't come cheap if you really want a high quality test facility, and I learned how to scrounge pretty well. It's not a big problem, but it's certainly a persistent problem, and that is getting management to not to try to fudge the results a little bit. This is politically sensitive obviously, but management always wants to put the best possible light on anything and when you see a problem it's your duty as a responsible engineer to tell it like you see it and those two viewpoints sometimes clash. You have to have a certain hardheadedness and level of ethics to work in that environment. I'm giving a talk Friday on office politics. That's a lot of fun 'cause there is a lot of office politics
 
There's the always present problem of getting enough money to build good test facilities. They don't come cheap if you really want a high quality test facility, and I learned how to scrounge pretty well. It's not a big problem, but it's certainly a persistent problem, and that is getting management to not to try to fudge the results a little bit. This is politically sensitive obviously, but management always wants to put the best possible light on anything and when you see a problem it's your duty as a responsible engineer to tell it like you see it and those two viewpoints sometimes clash. You have to have a certain hardheadedness and level of ethics to work in that environment. I'm giving a talk Friday on office politics. That's a lot of fun 'cause there is a lot of office politics
Line 353: Line 353:
 
Yes. Now did you have much contact with manufacturing side, with Western Electric?
 
Yes. Now did you have much contact with manufacturing side, with Western Electric?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Some. It was our job to get the product fixed so that it would pass any final testing and was easy to manufacture. We couldn't have some convoluted solution to a problem that the factory couldn't possibly implement. It had to be manufacturable and that was sometimes a problem; usually not too much because I'm a very practical hands-on person. I would know if I thought something could be done at the factory easily or not and we only had one case where we had a problem. Should I relate that or not?
 
Some. It was our job to get the product fixed so that it would pass any final testing and was easy to manufacture. We couldn't have some convoluted solution to a problem that the factory couldn't possibly implement. It had to be manufacturable and that was sometimes a problem; usually not too much because I'm a very practical hands-on person. I would know if I thought something could be done at the factory easily or not and we only had one case where we had a problem. Should I relate that or not?
Line 361: Line 361:
 
Please.
 
Please.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Okay. We had designed some cables to go from one equipment unit to another equipment unit, and it was a shielded cable. It had a pigtail lead at the end of the cable to the frame ground, and it had to be under about 2 inches long to keep the noise down because the pigtail is a source of noise. The factory duly made up the cables and I checked them out one time and everything looked fine. Several months later I was called to the World Trade Center, this was back in I'm going to guess '85 or so. They were putting a new telephone office in the World Trade Center. There was an adjunct building to the two towers and they were putting a telephone office in there. They were noticing some interference so I got called in to investigate and I discovered finally after several hours of looking, that the nice little 2-inch pigtails that the factory had put on had been cut off by the installers, and they'd installed a 12-inch pigtail and very neatly heat shrink-tubed it and everything so it looked beautiful. Unfortunately the 12-inch pigtail radiated like a banshee and I really hated to do it, but I had to tell the installer that they had to cut all of their 12-inch pigtails back to 2 inches and re-terminate them on the frames. I could see that the 12 inches made it much easier for them and we might have gotten away with a 4-inch pigtail, but the original factory was 2 inches for a reason and I said you got to go back. It solved the problem.
 
Okay. We had designed some cables to go from one equipment unit to another equipment unit, and it was a shielded cable. It had a pigtail lead at the end of the cable to the frame ground, and it had to be under about 2 inches long to keep the noise down because the pigtail is a source of noise. The factory duly made up the cables and I checked them out one time and everything looked fine. Several months later I was called to the World Trade Center, this was back in I'm going to guess '85 or so. They were putting a new telephone office in the World Trade Center. There was an adjunct building to the two towers and they were putting a telephone office in there. They were noticing some interference so I got called in to investigate and I discovered finally after several hours of looking, that the nice little 2-inch pigtails that the factory had put on had been cut off by the installers, and they'd installed a 12-inch pigtail and very neatly heat shrink-tubed it and everything so it looked beautiful. Unfortunately the 12-inch pigtail radiated like a banshee and I really hated to do it, but I had to tell the installer that they had to cut all of their 12-inch pigtails back to 2 inches and re-terminate them on the frames. I could see that the 12 inches made it much easier for them and we might have gotten away with a 4-inch pigtail, but the original factory was 2 inches for a reason and I said you got to go back. It solved the problem.
Line 369: Line 369:
 
I guess what happened is between the factory and the installers the reason why it was 2 inches got lost.
 
I guess what happened is between the factory and the installers the reason why it was 2 inches got lost.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
The installers, most of them, are not trained to think.
 
The installers, most of them, are not trained to think.
Line 377: Line 377:
 
Right.
 
Right.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
If you're screwing down 35 screws an hour in different parts of a frame and you have to make sure that a certain connector goes at a certain location, I couldn't blame the guys.
 
If you're screwing down 35 screws an hour in different parts of a frame and you have to make sure that a certain connector goes at a certain location, I couldn't blame the guys.
Line 391: Line 391:
 
Yes.
 
Yes.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
There's a few things like that that happened.
 
There's a few things like that that happened.
Line 407: Line 407:
 
I'll tell you what's in the records. It was '82.
 
I'll tell you what's in the records. It was '82.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Okay, that's within my window; that's good.
 
Okay, that's within my window; that's good.
Line 415: Line 415:
 
Yes, I always ask because I have unfortunately found some cases where the old records are not correct. The records agree with you.
 
Yes, I always ask because I have unfortunately found some cases where the old records are not correct. The records agree with you.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Good. Knowing IEEE headquarters that's something to be thankful for.
 
Good. Knowing IEEE headquarters that's something to be thankful for.
Line 423: Line 423:
 
Usually they do but I have occasionally found —  
 
Usually they do but I have occasionally found —  
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes. I'm familiar with headquarters and their recordkeeping.
 
Yes. I'm familiar with headquarters and their recordkeeping.
Line 437: Line 437:
 
Did you soon start attending the symposium?
 
Did you soon start attending the symposium?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
I honestly don't know what year it was but I would say definitely in the eighties already because I was getting into EMC more heavily and the EMC Society was the only place you could get continuing education of that nature. In fact I restarted the Chicago chapter. It had been active many years earlier and just sort of wasted away. I have no idea what year it was though.
 
I honestly don't know what year it was but I would say definitely in the eighties already because I was getting into EMC more heavily and the EMC Society was the only place you could get continuing education of that nature. In fact I restarted the Chicago chapter. It had been active many years earlier and just sort of wasted away. I have no idea what year it was though.
Line 445: Line 445:
 
Would you guess it was probably somewhere back in the eighties as well?
 
Would you guess it was probably somewhere back in the eighties as well?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes, I would say it was before 1990.
 
Yes, I would say it was before 1990.
Line 453: Line 453:
 
Exact years are not something that anyone tends to remember. But what is interesting is what led you to restart the Chicago chapter.
 
Exact years are not something that anyone tends to remember. But what is interesting is what led you to restart the Chicago chapter.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes. I had, at that point, five people that worked for me that had less EMC background and knowledge than I did and I was looking for ways for training and what have you. I thought that if we had an active chapter… There were other people around that were in the business, we had a couple of test houses in the area that were very good and misery loves company I guess. It was a good way to see other engineers, hear their problems, learn what they were doing, and to socialize and commiserate over common objects.
 
Yes. I had, at that point, five people that worked for me that had less EMC background and knowledge than I did and I was looking for ways for training and what have you. I thought that if we had an active chapter… There were other people around that were in the business, we had a couple of test houses in the area that were very good and misery loves company I guess. It was a good way to see other engineers, hear their problems, learn what they were doing, and to socialize and commiserate over common objects.
Line 461: Line 461:
 
Were you also active in the section at large or mainly in, in the specific chapter.
 
Were you also active in the section at large or mainly in, in the specific chapter.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
It was specifically in the EMC chapter. That and raising a family with two kids and my job pretty much took up most of my time. I really didn't get active in the Chicago section until about three or four years ago.
 
It was specifically in the EMC chapter. That and raising a family with two kids and my job pretty much took up most of my time. I really didn't get active in the Chicago section until about three or four years ago.
Line 469: Line 469:
 
Oh.
 
Oh.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Now I'm probably as active in the section as I am in Chicago chapter, but before that I just didn't have the time.
 
Now I'm probably as active in the section as I am in Chicago chapter, but before that I just didn't have the time.
Line 479: Line 479:
 
At some time point in this period you became the head of the Bell Labs EMC Committee?
 
At some time point in this period you became the head of the Bell Labs EMC Committee?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes. Yes we had a committee, Have you interviewed Don Heirman?
 
Yes. Yes we had a committee, Have you interviewed Don Heirman?
Line 495: Line 495:
 
I do know Don.
 
I do know Don.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
I ran the Indian Hill Laboratory plus I ran the Corporate Committee. Don was a member of that committee but I basically chaired it and set the agendas and all that sort of stuff. We really worked hand in glove. His laboratory at Holmdel was the largest within Bell Labs and I didn't do an awful lot without checking with Don, that it made sense to him, because he had even more experience in EMC than I did. We got along fine. It was good. It was a good collaboration. We still get along fine
 
I ran the Indian Hill Laboratory plus I ran the Corporate Committee. Don was a member of that committee but I basically chaired it and set the agendas and all that sort of stuff. We really worked hand in glove. His laboratory at Holmdel was the largest within Bell Labs and I didn't do an awful lot without checking with Don, that it made sense to him, because he had even more experience in EMC than I did. We got along fine. It was good. It was a good collaboration. We still get along fine
Line 509: Line 509:
 
What is the ANSI C63 Committee?  
 
What is the ANSI C63 Committee?  
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
That's their EMC standards. They have written tens of EMC standards on how to make measurements, how to operate the equipment that makes the measurements, nuclear power plant, how you control them; it’s a huge organization and I think we have 30-some odd companies that are represented on ANSI; Dell and Apple and Hewlett Packard and Agilent, Tektronix. If it's a big electronics company they pretty much want to be on ANSI C63 just because we develop standards. We don't develop standards for the government. But the FCC for instance references ANSI C63.4-2009 as the standard you will use to make the measurements to meet FCC emissions standards from equipment. The government sets the limits and they tell you what procedure to use. Industry, as a consensus, develops the procedures and it’s a good collaboration because you don't have any one company dominating.
 
That's their EMC standards. They have written tens of EMC standards on how to make measurements, how to operate the equipment that makes the measurements, nuclear power plant, how you control them; it’s a huge organization and I think we have 30-some odd companies that are represented on ANSI; Dell and Apple and Hewlett Packard and Agilent, Tektronix. If it's a big electronics company they pretty much want to be on ANSI C63 just because we develop standards. We don't develop standards for the government. But the FCC for instance references ANSI C63.4-2009 as the standard you will use to make the measurements to meet FCC emissions standards from equipment. The government sets the limits and they tell you what procedure to use. Industry, as a consensus, develops the procedures and it’s a good collaboration because you don't have any one company dominating.
Line 517: Line 517:
 
What's the relationship between the ASNI committees and EMCS and the IEEE Standards operations?
 
What's the relationship between the ASNI committees and EMCS and the IEEE Standards operations?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
I would say a 40 to 50% personnel overlap for starters. They rotate the hats 90 degrees and go off to a different meeting. Most part it's collaborative and I don't know of any adversarial relationships. It's more collaborative because the IEEE has a certain international renown in certain areas that ANSI doesn't have and vice versa, so each one builds on the other and 90, 95% of the time it works very smoothly. It's good.
 
I would say a 40 to 50% personnel overlap for starters. They rotate the hats 90 degrees and go off to a different meeting. Most part it's collaborative and I don't know of any adversarial relationships. It's more collaborative because the IEEE has a certain international renown in certain areas that ANSI doesn't have and vice versa, so each one builds on the other and 90, 95% of the time it works very smoothly. It's good.
Line 525: Line 525:
 
Yes.
 
Yes.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
It’s a fun group of people to work with, which is the most important thing. Everybody has their own soapbox and they will gladly get on the soapbox and espouse a point of view, but at the end of the day we can all go off and have a drink together and everybody's friends. It was sometimes called the university model and it's a lot of fun.
 
It’s a fun group of people to work with, which is the most important thing. Everybody has their own soapbox and they will gladly get on the soapbox and espouse a point of view, but at the end of the day we can all go off and have a drink together and everybody's friends. It was sometimes called the university model and it's a lot of fun.
Line 535: Line 535:
 
About when and in what ways did you first become active in the EMCS?
 
About when and in what ways did you first become active in the EMCS?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Probably toward the late eighties I was vice president of one of the member committees. We had member services and different technical committees and standards committees and I started getting active probably in the '88 to '90 time frame. Back then we didn’t have a president-elect like we do now. Now it's a more smooth transition. Back then it was two years and throw it over the wall to the next person, whoever that unlucky person might be. I ran for president in 1991 and I got elected and then served in '92 and '93 as President of the society.
 
Probably toward the late eighties I was vice president of one of the member committees. We had member services and different technical committees and standards committees and I started getting active probably in the '88 to '90 time frame. Back then we didn’t have a president-elect like we do now. Now it's a more smooth transition. Back then it was two years and throw it over the wall to the next person, whoever that unlucky person might be. I ran for president in 1991 and I got elected and then served in '92 and '93 as President of the society.
Line 543: Line 543:
 
What led you to want to be president of the society?
 
What led you to want to be president of the society?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
I suppose my ego. I honestly don't remember if there was anything especially happening at that time that made me want to run. I guess I just felt it was the right time. I was in my mid-fifties and I still had unbounded energy at that point in time, and I felt I could do a good job of bringing people together in accomplishing things. I don't remember any burning issues.
 
I suppose my ego. I honestly don't remember if there was anything especially happening at that time that made me want to run. I guess I just felt it was the right time. I was in my mid-fifties and I still had unbounded energy at that point in time, and I felt I could do a good job of bringing people together in accomplishing things. I don't remember any burning issues.
Line 551: Line 551:
 
You don't remember any particular things that gee, if I were president I would like to work on this area or that area?
 
You don't remember any particular things that gee, if I were president I would like to work on this area or that area?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
No, I really don't and I've been thinking about that since our initial contact. While I was president we really got the President's Memorial Award going full speed. I'm very proud of that because it was a good way to remember some of the founders of this society. It was a time of rapid growth. We were trying to improve the services to our members and I was very lucky. I had a great team of people to work with and that meant that I could count on them to do something. I won't name the individual, although if he sees this he will probably know who I'm talking about, but this person caused me more headaches than probably the rest of the executive committee combined. But, I could also count on him to get more accomplished than I could count on anybody else and maybe the entire executive committee combined. I was willing to put up with the headaches for the fact that this was a wonderful individual to work with. I think that's true in almost every organization. Somebody that accomplishes things also ruffles a few feathers along the way because to get things done sometimes you have to ruffle feathers. We're still good friends. So that's the thing I probably remember most. There just weren't any breakthrough events or anything like that.
 
No, I really don't and I've been thinking about that since our initial contact. While I was president we really got the President's Memorial Award going full speed. I'm very proud of that because it was a good way to remember some of the founders of this society. It was a time of rapid growth. We were trying to improve the services to our members and I was very lucky. I had a great team of people to work with and that meant that I could count on them to do something. I won't name the individual, although if he sees this he will probably know who I'm talking about, but this person caused me more headaches than probably the rest of the executive committee combined. But, I could also count on him to get more accomplished than I could count on anybody else and maybe the entire executive committee combined. I was willing to put up with the headaches for the fact that this was a wonderful individual to work with. I think that's true in almost every organization. Somebody that accomplishes things also ruffles a few feathers along the way because to get things done sometimes you have to ruffle feathers. We're still good friends. So that's the thing I probably remember most. There just weren't any breakthrough events or anything like that.
Line 559: Line 559:
 
The symposium was running smoothly?
 
The symposium was running smoothly?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes, everything progressed. There were no faux pas that I'm aware of at least.
 
Yes, everything progressed. There were no faux pas that I'm aware of at least.
Line 567: Line 567:
 
Transactions and newsletter…
 
Transactions and newsletter…
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Everything was growing by leaps and bounds and fortunately we had volunteers that were able to step up to the plate and accomplish all of these changes. The one constant in all these years has been Janet Nichols O'Neil. Not Janet Nichols, but Janet Nichols O'Neil. Her father was very active in this society. Janet has been our secretary probably since 1990, maybe even earlier than that, so those of us who've been around that long have seen Janet grow from essentially a 20-year-old kid to now a nice, I hate to say it, but middle-aged lady who is a gem. She worked and still works for ETS Lindgren. I don't know if you've heard of them or not.
 
Everything was growing by leaps and bounds and fortunately we had volunteers that were able to step up to the plate and accomplish all of these changes. The one constant in all these years has been Janet Nichols O'Neil. Not Janet Nichols, but Janet Nichols O'Neil. Her father was very active in this society. Janet has been our secretary probably since 1990, maybe even earlier than that, so those of us who've been around that long have seen Janet grow from essentially a 20-year-old kid to now a nice, I hate to say it, but middle-aged lady who is a gem. She worked and still works for ETS Lindgren. I don't know if you've heard of them or not.
Line 575: Line 575:
 
No.
 
No.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
They make shielded rooms and absorbers and Janet is the best public relations that company could ever, ever have. She is a gem, and when Janet says something will happen, it happens. She does it without ruffling feathers. I don’t know how she always does that but she does. I remember when I was on the board the most memorable thing was working with Janet. It's still a pleasure 20 years later still, working with her. Now that's the only person I'm going to name by name.
 
They make shielded rooms and absorbers and Janet is the best public relations that company could ever, ever have. She is a gem, and when Janet says something will happen, it happens. She does it without ruffling feathers. I don’t know how she always does that but she does. I remember when I was on the board the most memorable thing was working with Janet. It's still a pleasure 20 years later still, working with her. Now that's the only person I'm going to name by name.
Line 583: Line 583:
 
That’s fine.
 
That’s fine.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes.
 
Yes.
Line 591: Line 591:
 
Membership was growing during this period?
 
Membership was growing during this period?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
By leaps and bounds.
 
By leaps and bounds.
Line 599: Line 599:
 
Did that cause problems, with an increasing number of papers or suddenly needing bigger locations for your symposium?
 
Did that cause problems, with an increasing number of papers or suddenly needing bigger locations for your symposium?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
The biggest problem was because we tend to contract our symposia at least three or four, sometimes five years ahead. When I was president in '92-'93, the symposium was in Chicago in '94. I was the chair of that and it turns out we basically took over the entire Palmer House Hotel and then some. The only problem was that we ended up with exhibits in the basement and the people that had the antenna towers did not have a full 12 to 16 foot ceiling height where they could demonstrate that their towers went up to the top and down. That was the only problem we really had. We were able to accommodate everything else because we had spare space, but we have grown so much through the nineties. If you were to look at the number of attendees, and we've flattened off quite a bit since then, but the growth was phenomenal and I was very happy to be part of it.
 
The biggest problem was because we tend to contract our symposia at least three or four, sometimes five years ahead. When I was president in '92-'93, the symposium was in Chicago in '94. I was the chair of that and it turns out we basically took over the entire Palmer House Hotel and then some. The only problem was that we ended up with exhibits in the basement and the people that had the antenna towers did not have a full 12 to 16 foot ceiling height where they could demonstrate that their towers went up to the top and down. That was the only problem we really had. We were able to accommodate everything else because we had spare space, but we have grown so much through the nineties. If you were to look at the number of attendees, and we've flattened off quite a bit since then, but the growth was phenomenal and I was very happy to be part of it.
Line 607: Line 607:
 
Yes. Well I noticed the robustness of not just the technical program but the number of exhibitors.
 
Yes. Well I noticed the robustness of not just the technical program but the number of exhibitors.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes. We've held on to our exhibitors very well through the recession. I think it's partially fear that if they don't show up and their competitor does, the competitor is going to get the business, which is probably true to a certain extent. If you go around and you tour the booths and you see certain names and you recognize them, when you're then going out for a bid or you're going to buy a piece of equipment and you see that they had knowledgeable personnel at their booth that makes you feel more confident about the company and more inclined to buy from them.
 
Yes. We've held on to our exhibitors very well through the recession. I think it's partially fear that if they don't show up and their competitor does, the competitor is going to get the business, which is probably true to a certain extent. If you go around and you tour the booths and you see certain names and you recognize them, when you're then going out for a bid or you're going to buy a piece of equipment and you see that they had knowledgeable personnel at their booth that makes you feel more confident about the company and more inclined to buy from them.
Line 615: Line 615:
 
Is EMCS the only IEEE society you've been involved with?
 
Is EMCS the only IEEE society you've been involved with?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes. That took so much time and there wasn't time to even consider something else.
 
Yes. That took so much time and there wasn't time to even consider something else.
Line 623: Line 623:
 
No reason that there necessarily should be.
 
No reason that there necessarily should be.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
No. There are people that will be members of four or five societies. But I have a private life too.
 
No. There are people that will be members of four or five societies. But I have a private life too.
Line 631: Line 631:
 
Well, of course.
 
Well, of course.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Well some people don't. There are some engineers that I think—again I will mention Don Heirman's name again. Even when his wife was alive it was EMC day, night, and sometimes in the middle of the night, and since Lois died a couple years back he's even more into EMC. But he doesn’t have anything and I've got kids and grandkids and I ski and mountain climb and everything, and that's a lot of interest outside of just the technical stuff.
 
Well some people don't. There are some engineers that I think—again I will mention Don Heirman's name again. Even when his wife was alive it was EMC day, night, and sometimes in the middle of the night, and since Lois died a couple years back he's even more into EMC. But he doesn’t have anything and I've got kids and grandkids and I ski and mountain climb and everything, and that's a lot of interest outside of just the technical stuff.
Line 639: Line 639:
 
How was the EMC president selected in the nineties? Was this done by the board or was there an election or?
 
How was the EMC president selected in the nineties? Was this done by the board or was there an election or?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
As I remember it was selected from among the board members. I'm pretty sure that's what it was. There were certain term limitations I think but that's about all I can remember.
 
As I remember it was selected from among the board members. I'm pretty sure that's what it was. There were certain term limitations I think but that's about all I can remember.
Line 647: Line 647:
 
Yes. I find it interesting that the different IEEE societies have different ways of selecting their presidents, which is why I ask because it's not clear to me how any given society does it.
 
Yes. I find it interesting that the different IEEE societies have different ways of selecting their presidents, which is why I ask because it's not clear to me how any given society does it.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
  
Line 656: Line 656:
 
Right, because they don’t do it the same way.  
 
Right, because they don’t do it the same way.  
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Headquarters reviews the constitution and bylaws and they make recommendations. I wouldn't say they're mandatory, but so close to mandatory that they become mandatory changes. The only problem is that as many times as they reviewed them and we make changes, and they review them again, and they find another change its asymptotically reaching a final goal but there's constants — what is a quorum, what is a majority. We just voted bylaws changes again at the meeting on last Sunday. I'm sure that headquarters will find another couple of words somewhere.
 
Headquarters reviews the constitution and bylaws and they make recommendations. I wouldn't say they're mandatory, but so close to mandatory that they become mandatory changes. The only problem is that as many times as they reviewed them and we make changes, and they review them again, and they find another change its asymptotically reaching a final goal but there's constants — what is a quorum, what is a majority. We just voted bylaws changes again at the meeting on last Sunday. I'm sure that headquarters will find another couple of words somewhere.
Line 666: Line 666:
 
As president of EMCS you were a member of the overall IEEE TAB, the Technical Activities Board.
 
As president of EMCS you were a member of the overall IEEE TAB, the Technical Activities Board.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes.
 
Yes.
Line 674: Line 674:
 
Did you attend the meetings? Do you have any recollection?
 
Did you attend the meetings? Do you have any recollection?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
I have virtually no recollection of those meetings. I'm sure they were memorable but I don't remember them. The presidents of all the societies got together. I do remember being at a couple of meetings. But I have no recollection of what went on. I just I remember some of the names and I've seen them since but that was about all.
 
I have virtually no recollection of those meetings. I'm sure they were memorable but I don't remember them. The presidents of all the societies got together. I do remember being at a couple of meetings. But I have no recollection of what went on. I just I remember some of the names and I've seen them since but that was about all.
Line 682: Line 682:
 
That in itself says something because the follow-up question would been of what value was attending these meetings to you as the president of this society. In that you have no recollection suggests —  
 
That in itself says something because the follow-up question would been of what value was attending these meetings to you as the president of this society. In that you have no recollection suggests —  
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
It was of limited value, yes.
 
It was of limited value, yes.
Line 690: Line 690:
 
Exactly.  
 
Exactly.  
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
On the other hand because the EMC Society was running smoothly I probably didn't have any problems that I needed to share with my fellow presidents. If we had been struggling for membership, if we had been concerned about membership development, then I would think the TAB would be useful because you could get fertilization of ideas from societies that were still growing better. We weren't suffering from any problems at that point in time so that was a good problem not to have.
 
On the other hand because the EMC Society was running smoothly I probably didn't have any problems that I needed to share with my fellow presidents. If we had been struggling for membership, if we had been concerned about membership development, then I would think the TAB would be useful because you could get fertilization of ideas from societies that were still growing better. We weren't suffering from any problems at that point in time so that was a good problem not to have.
Line 700: Line 700:
 
Yes. Of course one of the things you did as president was run the board meetings.
 
Yes. Of course one of the things you did as president was run the board meetings.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes.
 
Yes.
Line 708: Line 708:
 
What did that involve?
 
What did that involve?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
First it involved knowing the personalities of all the people. You have some board members that were practically asleep, and you had some who seem to have had a shot of vinegar that morning with their orange juice. You had to learn to keep a paper list of who wanted to speak next because if you called somebody out of sequence they would get offended or the other people would get offended. You had to keep things running smoothly and you had to defuse situations. I wish I had been president at our board meeting on last Sunday because we almost came to fisticuffs it seemed like. The president and one of the attendees were the two that were involved so the president couldn't call a halt to discussion because he was one of the people. If I had been president at that meeting I would have said okay, each of you has two minutes to summarize your viewpoint and when you say this is my final word, it is your final word. You can't keep jumping back in with another one.
 
First it involved knowing the personalities of all the people. You have some board members that were practically asleep, and you had some who seem to have had a shot of vinegar that morning with their orange juice. You had to learn to keep a paper list of who wanted to speak next because if you called somebody out of sequence they would get offended or the other people would get offended. You had to keep things running smoothly and you had to defuse situations. I wish I had been president at our board meeting on last Sunday because we almost came to fisticuffs it seemed like. The president and one of the attendees were the two that were involved so the president couldn't call a halt to discussion because he was one of the people. If I had been president at that meeting I would have said okay, each of you has two minutes to summarize your viewpoint and when you say this is my final word, it is your final word. You can't keep jumping back in with another one.
Line 716: Line 716:
 
Yes, but you don't recall having had anything like that.  
 
Yes, but you don't recall having had anything like that.  
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
I don't remember anything like that.  
 
I don't remember anything like that.  
Line 724: Line 724:
 
The board probably ran smoothly.
 
The board probably ran smoothly.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
It did. It ran very smoothly and because we were growing, the goal that everybody had was to make things run smoothly and not throw any monkey wrenches into anything.
 
It did. It ran very smoothly and because we were growing, the goal that everybody had was to make things run smoothly and not throw any monkey wrenches into anything.
Line 732: Line 732:
 
In the bio you sent me you noted that one thing you had done as president was facilitated projects that had already been started.
 
In the bio you sent me you noted that one thing you had done as president was facilitated projects that had already been started.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes I don't have anything specific in mind because I didn't have anything new and exciting. The President's Memorial Award is about the biggest thing that I can think of. There were a lot of projects underway and it was just a matter of making sure that A spoke to B and that two of them went to speak to C, and then I got some feedback to report at the next meeting. The one complaint I keep hearing is that the different vice presidents don't have their subcommittee members, or the the people that report to them giving them enough information and their reports back at the board meeting are one or two sentences because that's all they've gotten from the people that serve under them. It used to be phone calls and now its emails and emails are very easy to ignore. You read it and file it and forget about it. Phone calls are harder to ignore. People have to get back to turning the screws a little bit. Saying I need something by the end of next week just doesn't work. If you don't say I need it by Thursday April the 23rd at 3 p.m. 'cause that's my deadline, that way you get a response. You need a hard, hard time. That I learned the hard way.
 
Yes I don't have anything specific in mind because I didn't have anything new and exciting. The President's Memorial Award is about the biggest thing that I can think of. There were a lot of projects underway and it was just a matter of making sure that A spoke to B and that two of them went to speak to C, and then I got some feedback to report at the next meeting. The one complaint I keep hearing is that the different vice presidents don't have their subcommittee members, or the the people that report to them giving them enough information and their reports back at the board meeting are one or two sentences because that's all they've gotten from the people that serve under them. It used to be phone calls and now its emails and emails are very easy to ignore. You read it and file it and forget about it. Phone calls are harder to ignore. People have to get back to turning the screws a little bit. Saying I need something by the end of next week just doesn't work. If you don't say I need it by Thursday April the 23rd at 3 p.m. 'cause that's my deadline, that way you get a response. You need a hard, hard time. That I learned the hard way.
Line 740: Line 740:
 
Did you have any staff support?
 
Did you have any staff support?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
From headquarters?
 
From headquarters?
Line 748: Line 748:
 
Or elsewhere.
 
Or elsewhere.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
The support was Janet O'Neil because she was the secretary and she did the minutes and she kept track of the membership. That's why I say ETS Lindgren has no idea, hopefully, of how much time Janet really spends on IEEE functions. She is the best advertisement for that company they could ever have.
 
The support was Janet O'Neil because she was the secretary and she did the minutes and she kept track of the membership. That's why I say ETS Lindgren has no idea, hopefully, of how much time Janet really spends on IEEE functions. She is the best advertisement for that company they could ever have.
Line 756: Line 756:
 
What's was the relationship between the EMCS and the local chapters?
 
What's was the relationship between the EMCS and the local chapters?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
It was relatively distant. We did set up the Angel program back then. I don't remember if it was in existence before my time or not, but we had an Angel and still have an Angel program where different board members are responsible for overseeing the chapter or chapters in their geographic area. That was in an effort to try and make sure that the chapters had somebody they could go to if they needed help and the chapter Angel was also supposed to give a kick in the seat of the pants to the chapter chair if they needed a little bit of stimulation to get things going. That, I think, has worked fairly well. It comes and goes depending on the president of the society. If the society wants to emphasize it he will apply some pressure to the Angels to work with the chapters. If everything seems to be running smoothly like it is now the Angels have sort of faded into the background because the chapters don't need help and we've been growing chapters. Even with the recession, chapters have been growing around the world and here in the U.S. at, I would say, a surprisingly good rate. I don't remember how many chapters we had when I started. I know we added, I think, six or so chapters in the two years I was president but that was more due to the weeds springing up than being cultivated from the top. They just sort of sprang up.
 
It was relatively distant. We did set up the Angel program back then. I don't remember if it was in existence before my time or not, but we had an Angel and still have an Angel program where different board members are responsible for overseeing the chapter or chapters in their geographic area. That was in an effort to try and make sure that the chapters had somebody they could go to if they needed help and the chapter Angel was also supposed to give a kick in the seat of the pants to the chapter chair if they needed a little bit of stimulation to get things going. That, I think, has worked fairly well. It comes and goes depending on the president of the society. If the society wants to emphasize it he will apply some pressure to the Angels to work with the chapters. If everything seems to be running smoothly like it is now the Angels have sort of faded into the background because the chapters don't need help and we've been growing chapters. Even with the recession, chapters have been growing around the world and here in the U.S. at, I would say, a surprisingly good rate. I don't remember how many chapters we had when I started. I know we added, I think, six or so chapters in the two years I was president but that was more due to the weeds springing up than being cultivated from the top. They just sort of sprang up.
Line 764: Line 764:
 
How time-consuming was being the society's president?
 
How time-consuming was being the society's president?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Oh boy. At that point I was supervisor of the EMC group at Bell Labs and so it just got worked into my other supervisory hours. It wasn't the third hour of every day that I was president and did presidential things. I just worked it into my schedule and I would say it was at least an hour a day, but certainly I would say less than two hours a day, five days a week and on the weekends it was just come and go. I don't remember it being a burden, but I know that it was a substantial amount of time.
 
Oh boy. At that point I was supervisor of the EMC group at Bell Labs and so it just got worked into my other supervisory hours. It wasn't the third hour of every day that I was president and did presidential things. I just worked it into my schedule and I would say it was at least an hour a day, but certainly I would say less than two hours a day, five days a week and on the weekends it was just come and go. I don't remember it being a burden, but I know that it was a substantial amount of time.
Line 772: Line 772:
 
Was the management at Bell Labs supportive of your doing this?
 
Was the management at Bell Labs supportive of your doing this?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes they were. That was still back in the day when Bell Labs wanted to be well-known as the repository of all the knowledge in the world and so I had my management's support. They knew that I was spending time on it and they paid for me to go to the ECMA meetings in Switzerland, and to the symposia each year, and to the CBEMA meetings which were usually in Washington, D.C Some people have to take vacation time and their own money but the company picked up everything fortunately.
 
Yes they were. That was still back in the day when Bell Labs wanted to be well-known as the repository of all the knowledge in the world and so I had my management's support. They knew that I was spending time on it and they paid for me to go to the ECMA meetings in Switzerland, and to the symposia each year, and to the CBEMA meetings which were usually in Washington, D.C Some people have to take vacation time and their own money but the company picked up everything fortunately.
Line 780: Line 780:
 
At one point after being president you were the chair of the symposium?
 
At one point after being president you were the chair of the symposium?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
The next year.
 
The next year.
Line 790: Line 790:
 
I was going to ask. That must have been quite a task with some interesting challenges.
 
I was going to ask. That must have been quite a task with some interesting challenges.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
It turned out to be much more time-consuming than the president's job obviously. I was not a Chicago person. We were 30 miles west of Chicago in Naperville. Everything that was happening was happening in Chicago, so I learned how to find my way around the Palmer House Hotel quite well. We had a good committee, we had a fantastic group of volunteers, and everybody was enthusiastic because it hadn't been in Chicago in 20 or 30 years. We were all young and wet behind the years and didn't know any better, and we had a really good time doing it. My wife and I had a suite up on the top floor of the Palmer House and we would get there by 11:30 at night and have to get up at 6, 6:30 the next morning. It had a dining room with a piano and all these fancy amenities. We never got to enjoy them. We could have had the regular hotel room for the advantages we had. It was very good to chair something and see it come off successfully. You pat yourself on the back but nobody died of a heart attack, nobody fell off the cruise boat, and there were no disasters.
 
It turned out to be much more time-consuming than the president's job obviously. I was not a Chicago person. We were 30 miles west of Chicago in Naperville. Everything that was happening was happening in Chicago, so I learned how to find my way around the Palmer House Hotel quite well. We had a good committee, we had a fantastic group of volunteers, and everybody was enthusiastic because it hadn't been in Chicago in 20 or 30 years. We were all young and wet behind the years and didn't know any better, and we had a really good time doing it. My wife and I had a suite up on the top floor of the Palmer House and we would get there by 11:30 at night and have to get up at 6, 6:30 the next morning. It had a dining room with a piano and all these fancy amenities. We never got to enjoy them. We could have had the regular hotel room for the advantages we had. It was very good to chair something and see it come off successfully. You pat yourself on the back but nobody died of a heart attack, nobody fell off the cruise boat, and there were no disasters.
Line 798: Line 798:
 
Right.
 
Right.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
We had a disaster in Minneapolis the year we were up there. Dan Hoolihan can tell you about that, but basically some security guard found an unguarded tote back sitting on the exhibit hall floor next to a column or something and nobody could identify whose bag it was. This was after 9/11 and so of course, the immediate thought was oh my god, somebody's trying to blow up the column that holds the building up or something. We all had to evacuate and that was our excitement for the Minneapolis symposium. We had nothing like that fortunately. Ours was totally uneventful and I think we worked out quite well and we made a ton of money to support the other activities of the society, so that was good.
 
We had a disaster in Minneapolis the year we were up there. Dan Hoolihan can tell you about that, but basically some security guard found an unguarded tote back sitting on the exhibit hall floor next to a column or something and nobody could identify whose bag it was. This was after 9/11 and so of course, the immediate thought was oh my god, somebody's trying to blow up the column that holds the building up or something. We all had to evacuate and that was our excitement for the Minneapolis symposium. We had nothing like that fortunately. Ours was totally uneventful and I think we worked out quite well and we made a ton of money to support the other activities of the society, so that was good.
Line 806: Line 806:
 
Yes. I gathered you were president of the Chicago chapter for a number of years.
 
Yes. I gathered you were president of the Chicago chapter for a number of years.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Oh, for quite a while. I was president and then we got a new local guy from DLS Electronic Systems, his name is Jack Black, and he has been the chair ever since I have not been the chair. He's been chair now for at least ten years, maybe more. I don't even remember when the transition was. I've been serving as treasurer because I'm tight with the money and I can count pretty good, and I can balance a checkbook.
 
Oh, for quite a while. I was president and then we got a new local guy from DLS Electronic Systems, his name is Jack Black, and he has been the chair ever since I have not been the chair. He's been chair now for at least ten years, maybe more. I don't even remember when the transition was. I've been serving as treasurer because I'm tight with the money and I can count pretty good, and I can balance a checkbook.
Line 814: Line 814:
 
Did you also stay on the overall EMC Society Board for a while after your term?
 
Did you also stay on the overall EMC Society Board for a while after your term?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
No.
 
No.
Line 822: Line 822:
 
After your term you rotated off.
 
After your term you rotated off.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
I had had it at that point. I needed a vacation.
 
I had had it at that point. I needed a vacation.
Line 830: Line 830:
 
Yes. One of the things that I asked you in the early emails is whether you had any photos or documents or other things from your term as president.
 
Yes. One of the things that I asked you in the early emails is whether you had any photos or documents or other things from your term as president.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes. I saved nothing.
 
Yes. I saved nothing.
Line 838: Line 838:
 
That's a perfectly reasonable answer.
 
That's a perfectly reasonable answer.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Once the term of office was over I had a file folder in my library for a while. I'm not a squirrel.
 
Once the term of office was over I had a file folder in my library for a while. I'm not a squirrel.
Line 846: Line 846:
 
Some people are.
 
Some people are.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
I'm definitely not a Don Heirman or an Ed Bronaugh or some of the other squirrels of the society. Once a year I usually go through a stack of file folders about three feet long, and they've shrunk down now to about yea, two feet because technically a lot of the stuff has become obsolete in 20 years. Others items, while not obsolete I have absolutely no further interest in.
 
I'm definitely not a Don Heirman or an Ed Bronaugh or some of the other squirrels of the society. Once a year I usually go through a stack of file folders about three feet long, and they've shrunk down now to about yea, two feet because technically a lot of the stuff has become obsolete in 20 years. Others items, while not obsolete I have absolutely no further interest in.
Line 856: Line 856:
 
Obviously you continue to attend the symposia.
 
Obviously you continue to attend the symposia.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes. Faithfully every year.
 
Yes. Faithfully every year.
Line 864: Line 864:
 
Yes. Beyond that are there any ways you've remained active or have volunteered for the society?
 
Yes. Beyond that are there any ways you've remained active or have volunteered for the society?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Not specifically for the society. I do paper reviews of the papers that are presented. I'm on one of the technical committees on measurements and I do probably somewhere between 10 and 20 paper reviews each year, which helps keep me technically active. I visit all the booths pretty faithfully and try to learn what's new and upcoming. I do a lot for the ANSI EMC Committee in terms of writing standards and that involves doing a lot of reading and keeping current on what's going on. I try to stay as current as I can. I can't quote Bessel functions for you anymore or some of the earlier physics-type stuff that at one point I might have been able to do. A lot of EMC is common sense, an awful lot of it. We have some purely theoretical types and we have the purely practical. I definitely lean toward the practical side of things. The theoreticians are nice and we go to them when we have a problem we can't solve, but when push comes to shove you have to be able to look at a product and see that the ground trace doesn't go to the shortest possible distance between two points. Gee, that’s a nice piece of plastic but you've got a crack in the plastic here that's been metalized, and you have a slotted antenna and that's where your trouble's coming from. I'm definitely on the practical side if things. That's just my nature.
 
Not specifically for the society. I do paper reviews of the papers that are presented. I'm on one of the technical committees on measurements and I do probably somewhere between 10 and 20 paper reviews each year, which helps keep me technically active. I visit all the booths pretty faithfully and try to learn what's new and upcoming. I do a lot for the ANSI EMC Committee in terms of writing standards and that involves doing a lot of reading and keeping current on what's going on. I try to stay as current as I can. I can't quote Bessel functions for you anymore or some of the earlier physics-type stuff that at one point I might have been able to do. A lot of EMC is common sense, an awful lot of it. We have some purely theoretical types and we have the purely practical. I definitely lean toward the practical side of things. The theoreticians are nice and we go to them when we have a problem we can't solve, but when push comes to shove you have to be able to look at a product and see that the ground trace doesn't go to the shortest possible distance between two points. Gee, that’s a nice piece of plastic but you've got a crack in the plastic here that's been metalized, and you have a slotted antenna and that's where your trouble's coming from. I'm definitely on the practical side if things. That's just my nature.
Line 872: Line 872:
 
In what ways has the overall field of EMC evolved over your many decades in it?
 
In what ways has the overall field of EMC evolved over your many decades in it?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
It's definitely more widely recognized as a division, a subject in engineering. People don't necessarily know what EMC means. When I'm trying to explain to somebody I'm an EMC engineer I'll tell them okay, I'm one of the engineers that did the study where we told the airlines to tell people to turn off their cell phones and laptops so that the plane can land without the signals from your laptop causing the plane to go off course. As soon as they hear that then they have the concept of radio waves coming out of electronic equipment and getting into navigational instruments. I'll say the reason we have to say that is the following: if you turn your laptop or your tablet over you'll see an FCC ID on the bottom and that says when it left the factory it met all the requirements, it would not emit signals and shouldn't cause problems. I said, but what happens if you've dropped that thing on the corner. You now have a hairline crack in the plastic; you have a hairline crack in the metalized film that’s on the inside of that plastic, and you have now formed a slot antenna. I say, now you're in a long airplane tube, which is aluminum with lots of little holes in it, and you're launching a signal from your laptop that's going down that tube and in a manner in which we cannot predict how it's going to propagate, and it just could get into the navigational equipment. That's why we say, turn it off. It probably doesn't make a difference but you know what? If I'm flying with you I'm not taking a chance.
 
It's definitely more widely recognized as a division, a subject in engineering. People don't necessarily know what EMC means. When I'm trying to explain to somebody I'm an EMC engineer I'll tell them okay, I'm one of the engineers that did the study where we told the airlines to tell people to turn off their cell phones and laptops so that the plane can land without the signals from your laptop causing the plane to go off course. As soon as they hear that then they have the concept of radio waves coming out of electronic equipment and getting into navigational instruments. I'll say the reason we have to say that is the following: if you turn your laptop or your tablet over you'll see an FCC ID on the bottom and that says when it left the factory it met all the requirements, it would not emit signals and shouldn't cause problems. I said, but what happens if you've dropped that thing on the corner. You now have a hairline crack in the plastic; you have a hairline crack in the metalized film that’s on the inside of that plastic, and you have now formed a slot antenna. I say, now you're in a long airplane tube, which is aluminum with lots of little holes in it, and you're launching a signal from your laptop that's going down that tube and in a manner in which we cannot predict how it's going to propagate, and it just could get into the navigational equipment. That's why we say, turn it off. It probably doesn't make a difference but you know what? If I'm flying with you I'm not taking a chance.
Line 880: Line 880:
 
Yes.
 
Yes.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
That pretty well summarizes it for people and they get the field. Now, 20 years ago people wouldn't have made that assumption. The Toyota running wild thing sensitized a lot of people to the fact that it could be some electronics that was malfunctioning, and now we've had these recalls lately of other things that they've been mechanical problems but they could have been electronic problems, and so people are much more aware now. I think that's nothing but good. The biggest thing I see is just the awareness. Oh, and one other thing; the fact that the signals are going higher and higher in frequency. When I started out gigahertz was a word nobody even knew what it meant and if you had something above a couple hundred megahertz that was cutting edge technology. Now that's old technology. There's been that change.
 
That pretty well summarizes it for people and they get the field. Now, 20 years ago people wouldn't have made that assumption. The Toyota running wild thing sensitized a lot of people to the fact that it could be some electronics that was malfunctioning, and now we've had these recalls lately of other things that they've been mechanical problems but they could have been electronic problems, and so people are much more aware now. I think that's nothing but good. The biggest thing I see is just the awareness. Oh, and one other thing; the fact that the signals are going higher and higher in frequency. When I started out gigahertz was a word nobody even knew what it meant and if you had something above a couple hundred megahertz that was cutting edge technology. Now that's old technology. There's been that change.
Line 888: Line 888:
 
In what ways has the EMCS evolved over your many years of activity?
 
In what ways has the EMCS evolved over your many years of activity?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Hmm. Well the structure of the board of directors at least is about the same. We have many, many more chapters which is good because we're getting definitely more representation outside the United States and that is nothing but good. The United States, as a whole, 20 years ago if we said jump the rest of the world jumped, whether they should or not is another matter, but if we said jump the rest of the world jumped. Nowadays the rest of the world says jump and the United States looks around and says you mean me, and then we jump. There's been a mindset difference which I think is good because I've traveled overseas enough to know that we are not the only repository of knowledge in this universe. We used to act like we were and the IEEE was definitely not an international organization. Now it definitely is an international organization and that, I think, is only for the good. It's good.
 
Hmm. Well the structure of the board of directors at least is about the same. We have many, many more chapters which is good because we're getting definitely more representation outside the United States and that is nothing but good. The United States, as a whole, 20 years ago if we said jump the rest of the world jumped, whether they should or not is another matter, but if we said jump the rest of the world jumped. Nowadays the rest of the world says jump and the United States looks around and says you mean me, and then we jump. There's been a mindset difference which I think is good because I've traveled overseas enough to know that we are not the only repository of knowledge in this universe. We used to act like we were and the IEEE was definitely not an international organization. Now it definitely is an international organization and that, I think, is only for the good. It's good.
Line 898: Line 898:
 
In your professional career Bell Labs certainly went through many changes over your years there.
 
In your professional career Bell Labs certainly went through many changes over your years there.
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes. Unfortunately since about the time I left, which was in 2001, it has been a rapid downhill decline.
 
Yes. Unfortunately since about the time I left, which was in 2001, it has been a rapid downhill decline.
Line 906: Line 906:
 
In what ways did it change in the period before then over the years? What changes did you see over the years while you were still there?
 
In what ways did it change in the period before then over the years? What changes did you see over the years while you were still there?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Once people figured out that they could game the system, people started trying to play the game. Telecom equipment technically falls under the industrial, scientific, and medical exemption from the FCC rules that says if nobody complains, you really can be above the limits. When I was there the approach was we will meet the limits so that we don't get any bad publicity, we don't cause any problems, we don't get into any unfortunate circumstances, and over the years, even before I left, people began pushing that philosophy to the point that okay, well we're only over a few dB, let's not worry about it. That, to me, was disheartening because the Labs, up to that point in time, had always been this ivory tower of ethics and knowledge and really on a pedestal almost in the industrial and scientific world and we were falling rapidly. It was disheartening to see that. Fortunately I had reached retirement age and was going to be retiring anyway before 9/11. But since 9/11 things have gone downhill because the company doesn't have as much money to work with and funding nowadays is almost nonexistent. We've closed probably three-quarters of our EMC facilities now and for those that are left has that not helped their morale, unfortunately. They've just announced another 5,000 layoffs which we think is going to be in Europe but we don't know how. It's a sea change. It's monumental.
 
Once people figured out that they could game the system, people started trying to play the game. Telecom equipment technically falls under the industrial, scientific, and medical exemption from the FCC rules that says if nobody complains, you really can be above the limits. When I was there the approach was we will meet the limits so that we don't get any bad publicity, we don't cause any problems, we don't get into any unfortunate circumstances, and over the years, even before I left, people began pushing that philosophy to the point that okay, well we're only over a few dB, let's not worry about it. That, to me, was disheartening because the Labs, up to that point in time, had always been this ivory tower of ethics and knowledge and really on a pedestal almost in the industrial and scientific world and we were falling rapidly. It was disheartening to see that. Fortunately I had reached retirement age and was going to be retiring anyway before 9/11. But since 9/11 things have gone downhill because the company doesn't have as much money to work with and funding nowadays is almost nonexistent. We've closed probably three-quarters of our EMC facilities now and for those that are left has that not helped their morale, unfortunately. They've just announced another 5,000 layoffs which we think is going to be in Europe but we don't know how. It's a sea change. It's monumental.
Line 914: Line 914:
 
Yes. As you can see I started with a stack of card face up but now they are face down
 
Yes. As you can see I started with a stack of card face up but now they are face down
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
Yes. That's good. We've been going for an hour.
 
Yes. That's good. We've been going for an hour.
Line 922: Line 922:
 
I've asked you everything that I had thought of. Is there anything that you'd like to add that I hadn't thought to ask?
 
I've asked you everything that I had thought of. Is there anything that you'd like to add that I hadn't thought to ask?
  
'''Hofman:'''
+
'''Hofmann:'''
  
 
I guess I would have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed being president and I look back upon that as a time when I was able to get a lot accomplished; nothing major, just a lot of things. I kept things moving smoothly and that was my goal when I went in. I didn't have any lofty ideals of getting headlines in a newspaper or even in the IEEE press or anything. I just wanted to continue to move the society along. We'd had a string of very good presidents and I just wanted to continue doing what they had done and just keep building it up, and that's all that I can think of at the moment.
 
I guess I would have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed being president and I look back upon that as a time when I was able to get a lot accomplished; nothing major, just a lot of things. I kept things moving smoothly and that was my goal when I went in. I didn't have any lofty ideals of getting headlines in a newspaper or even in the IEEE press or anything. I just wanted to continue to move the society along. We'd had a string of very good presidents and I just wanted to continue doing what they had done and just keep building it up, and that's all that I can think of at the moment.

Revision as of 14:15, 11 September 2012

Contents

About H. Robert (Bob) Hofmann

Bob Hofmann retired in 2001 after 44 years of service at Bell Laboratories / Lucent Technologies in Naperville, Illinois, where he was a Supervisor and Distinguished Member of Technical Staff. When he joined Bell Laboratories in 1957, he worked initially on circuit / hardware design of the world’s first electronic telephone central office switching system. He has been concerned with electromagnetic compatibility issues since 1968, and served as chairman of Lucent Corporate EMC committee starting in 1982. In that role, he acted to coordinate all Bell Labs / Lucent EMC design and measurement efforts across the many Bell Labs / Lucent locations throughout the world.

Bob is a past President (1992-1993) and past Member of the Board of Directors of the IEEE EMC Society. The EMC Society Review by IEEE TAB / HQ was conducted during his presidency. As President of the EMC Society, he concentrated on facilitating projects that had already been started within the society. Bob stressed the need for Chapter and member involvement and chapter growth during his presidency increased at a much higher level than IEEE overall growth during the same time period.

Bob represented Lucent on the American National Standards Institute Accredited (ANSI) EMC Committee C63 for more than 20 years. He continues to serve as a member of several ANSI C63 subcommittees and working groups. He led the 1987 and 1999 revisions of ANSI / IEEE C63.12 on Electromagnetic Compatibility Limits, and was an active member of the editing committee for the 1991, 1992, and 2000/1/2/3 revisions of ANSI / IEEE C63.4 on Methods of Measurement of Emissions. He has authored and presented a number of papers on EMC testing and standards in the United States, Europe, and Japan, and has chaired several sessions on EMC testing and International EMC standards at various EMC symposia.

In this interview, Bob details his early career at Bell Labs and how he got involved in EMC. He continues by describing the various safety and regulation committees he served on throughout his careers. Furthermore, he talks about his time in IEEE and his role as President of the Chicago chapter and EMC subcommittees.

About the Interview

H.ROBERT. (BOB) Hofmann: An interview conducted by Sheldon Hochheiser for the IEEE History Center, August 7, 2012.

Interview #620 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronic 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:

H.Robert. (Bob) Hofmann, an oral history conducted in 2001 by IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

INTERVIEWEE: Bob Hofmannn
INTERVIEWER: Sheldon Hochheiser
DATE:7 August 2012
PLACE: EMC Symposium at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Background before Bell Labs

Hochheiser:

This is Sheldon Hochheiser of the IEEE History Center. It is the 7th of August, 2012. I'm here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the EMC Symposium with EMC Past President Bob Hofmannn. Good afternoon.

Hofmann:

Good afternoon.

Hochheiser:

If we could start perhaps with some background; where were you born and raised?

Hofmann:

I was born in New Jersey, lived in northern New Jersey through junior high school. Went to high school and college in Fort Pierce, Florida and Gainesville, Florida, and then moved to New Jersey. I had a job with Bell Laboratories in Whippany, New Jersey.

Hochheiser:

If I can ask a little more detail, what did your parents do?

Hofmann:

My mother was a secretary; my father was an insurance salesman and an insurance adjuster.

Hochheiser:

Were you interested in science and technology, gadgets and things like that as a youth?

Hofmann:

I was interested in electricity, anything electrical probably from age five or six on. When I was about 8-years old my grandmother took me to New York City to Macys to buy me a Christmas present, and she wanted to go the toy department and I wanted to go to the electrical appliance department. I wanted to buy several strings of Christmas lights so I could play with the bulbs and the wires. I knew, I guess, back even then I wanted to be an electrical engineer.

Hochheiser:

I take it then that you entered the University of Florida planning to go into engineering?

Hofmann:

Absolutely electrical engineering. There was never any question.

Hochheiser:

What was the EE curriculum like at Florida in those days?

Hofmann:

Probably 50% of the students were power electronics, just plain old 60-cycle.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Hofmann:

The other half were in electronics which was just in the mid-fifties building up rapidly. When I graduated I had seen one transistor in my life. Little did we know what was coming.

Hochheiser:

Was there any work at all in EMC in the curriculum?

Hochheiser:

Nothing. Anything relating to EMC was probably radio waves and propagation as part of the physics course, but not an electrical engineering course.

Early Career at Bell Labs

Hochheiser:

Okay. How did you come to go from your engineering degree in Florida to Bell Labs?

Hofmann:

Bell Labs had a reputation back then that was superb.

Hochheiser:

Yes.

Hofmann:

If you could get a job with Bell Labs it was the best you could do. I had very good grades and I had been active in student organizations, and I applied for the job. I almost didn't end up at Bell Labs. I had an offer from RCA Labs and a couple of other offers that I was considering, and I was waiting for an offer from Bell Labs and I waited, and I waited, and I waited. I finally had written a letter of acceptance to RCA and I was on my way to the post office to mail it. I checked my post office box one more time and the offer from Bell Labs was there, so the RCA letter was gone, and I ended up at Bell Labs.

Hochheiser:

You mentioned you were active in student organizations. Was there a student branch of IRE or AIEE there?

Hofmann:

No there wasn't. IRE was just building up at that point.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Hofmann:

This was '53 to '57 so it was still ascending at that point in time. I knew what the IRE was but that was the only involvement.

Hochheiser:

You mentioned that the first location you were at Bell Labs was at Whippany.

Hofmann:

Yes.

Hochheiser:

What did they put you working on?

Hofmann:

Design of the switching network portion of Number 1 and Number 2 ESS. I had control circuitry. It was almost all analog; there was very little digital circuitry at that point.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Hofmann:

Almost everything was analog.

Hochheiser:

Right and the 1 ESS is an analog switch.

Hofmann:

Yes. This is the control of the switching elements primarily. That's how I got into EMC.

Hochheiser:

I know people have various routes by which they got into EMC.

People started complaining that when they were pulling into the parking lot outside our first real installation that their car radios were picking up static; they couldn't hear their car radios. Finally somebody figured out it was our equipment that was causing the interference to the car radios in the parking lot, and since my network design job was finished and I knew a little bit about radio waves, even though I wasn’t a ham radio operator, I was given the job of figuring out what to do. I did figure it out. It wasn't anything terribly complicated and I figured out a cheap way to do it so immediately I was the EMC engineer. I was a half a page ahead of everybody else but that was all that it took. Just like when you're a teacher.

Hochheiser:

Then that leads to a whole career.

Hofmann:

A whole career off of one mistake that some other engineer made.

Hochheiser:

I found it interesting because that you were doing this work at Whippany because I always associate Whippany with the work Bell Labs was doing for the military.

Hofmann:

It was primarily military. Electronic switching was 20% maybe of the total employees at Whippany.

Hochheiser:

I guess I've mainly spoken to some people from the other 80%.

Hofmann:

We had one advantage though. We were in the main building and we had the basement laboratories which, without air conditioning, meant that that's where we spent the summers, in the basement. It was good. I met my wife at Bell Labs. She was a secretary at Bell Labs in the military area and she was dating one of my roommates. That was 55 years ago. I can blame Bell Labs for my career and my wife.

Hochheiser:

Bell Labs I gather, paid for you to go on and get your Master's degree?

Hofmann:

Yes. I was part of the first year of full Master's degree sponsorship. Up to that time they had had a partial Master's program, but it was sort of discombobulated frankly. It wasn't too well organized. They developed something they call the Kelly College after Mervin Kelly who was the President [of Bell Labs].

Hochheiser:

Right.

Hofmann:

You were to work 40% of the time; go to school 60% of the time. You got a nominally full salary, so you could live reasonably well. The only problem was that work ended up being 75% and school was 60%, and you didn't have much spare time, but that was okay because to be able to earn a decent living, get your Master's degree, and have it essentially be fully paid for, that was rare.

Hochheiser:

Did you study particular areas within EE?

Hofmann:

No, not really. We didn't have much of a choice of courses as I remember it. It was a prescribed curriculum and you took that. You might have had maybe 1 out of 15 courses or something was optional. I don't remember anything being optional though. You just took first semester, second semester, first semester, second semester, and I did take one extra course at Brooklyn Poly. Well, my Master's is from NYU but in my transcript it shows one Brooklyn Poly course so.

Hochheiser:

How long were you at Whippany?

Hofmann:

We were at Whippany from 1957 to 1962. In '62 electronic switching opened the Holmdel Laboratories. I rotated through Murray Hill a few times, a month here, a month there on various assignments, but essentially it was Whippany and then Holmdel.

Hochheiser:

Holmdel. By this point are you pretty much dealing with EMC problems related to these switches?

Hofmann:

No. The EMC didn't really start until after Holmdel. They moved us to Holmdel just about the time that the first Number 1ESS was going in in Succasunna [New Jersey].

Hochheiser:

Right.

Hofmann:

Unfortunately, instead of commuting ten minutes to Succasunna we now had to commute an hour and ten minutes from Holmdel back up to Succasunna. I think the EMC stuff started in '67. A year after we moved to Holmdel.

Development of EMC as a Career

Hochheiser:

You moved to Holmdel. The first Number 1 ESS goes into service in '65 in Succasunna, New Jersey. And then in '67 you really moved into EMC.

Hofmann:

That's when I got into it more or less fulltime. About that time the federal government started getting involved a little bit more in the control of EMC, and the company got religion and decided they needed to make sure that they didn't have any problems. That's when I got into it. It still wasn't fulltime but a greater percentage of my time.

Hochheiser:

Were these EMC questions still related to the electronic switching?

Hofmann:

Primarily Yes. It was ESS and Holmdel did not worry about military at all. It was all electronic switching and either central office or PBX, or all the different flavors that they could get their hands on. That's a long time ago.

Hochheiser:

Yes. Yes that certainly is a long time ago. Then from Holmdel did you move out to Naperville?

Hofmann:

Yes. From '62 to '66 was Holmdel.

Hochheiser:

Right

Hofmann:

Sixty-six we moved to Naperville.

Hochheiser:

Okay.

Hofmann:

The Original location there.

Hochheiser:

Right. So is that about when Naperville opened?

Hofmann:

Yes. We were the first. We opened it with paper plates in the cafeteria, and all the temporary stuff. We figured four or five, six years they'd move us again somewhere and I retired from Indian Hill from Naperville. There's a few people left in Naperville now, not many. We were 15,000 at one point and I think it's under 4,000 now.

Hochheiser:

Yes.

Hofmann:

It's bad.

Hochheiser:

As you may know, the Holmdel building is completely empty.

Hofmann:

Yes. I know. They're trying to figure out some way to put it into a hotel or god knows what.

Hochheiser:

No one's come up with a plan for reusing the building.

Hofmann:

It's just too big.

Hochheiser:

Yes. You moved to Naperville where you're continuing to work on electronic switching problems.

Hofmann:

Yes, and more and more EMC because the government regulations kept building up. As we were designing new faster electronics the problems increased.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Hofmann:

When a transistor turns on at the speed of a vacuum tube it doesn't generate much noise. When it starts going at a reasonable speed then the problems increase and we had to work on that.

Hochheiser:

There are always new ones I assume.

Hofmann:

Yes. That's probably one of the best things about working in EMC. There are never two days in a row that are the same. There is always a new problem to be solved or something new to be investigated and vetted as to whether somebody else did their job right. It was a thoroughly enjoyable career. I really enjoyed it.

Hochheiser:

Any other particular problems that stick in your mind after these years?

Hofmann:

There's the always present problem of getting enough money to build good test facilities. They don't come cheap if you really want a high quality test facility, and I learned how to scrounge pretty well. It's not a big problem, but it's certainly a persistent problem, and that is getting management to not to try to fudge the results a little bit. This is politically sensitive obviously, but management always wants to put the best possible light on anything and when you see a problem it's your duty as a responsible engineer to tell it like you see it and those two viewpoints sometimes clash. You have to have a certain hardheadedness and level of ethics to work in that environment. I'm giving a talk Friday on office politics. That's a lot of fun 'cause there is a lot of office politics

Any organization big enough to have an office, has office politics.

Fortunately I was able to most of the time, maintain my sense of humor and that helped immeasurably. I did have to, one time, tell a department head that she could go to jail if she interpreted the results the way she wanted to interpret them and not the way that was the honest way to interpret them, and we're still good friends. She understood that I was giving her as bold a warning as I could.

Hochheiser:

Yes. Now did you have much contact with manufacturing side, with Western Electric?

Hofmann:

Some. It was our job to get the product fixed so that it would pass any final testing and was easy to manufacture. We couldn't have some convoluted solution to a problem that the factory couldn't possibly implement. It had to be manufacturable and that was sometimes a problem; usually not too much because I'm a very practical hands-on person. I would know if I thought something could be done at the factory easily or not and we only had one case where we had a problem. Should I relate that or not?

Hochheiser:

Please.

Hofmann:

Okay. We had designed some cables to go from one equipment unit to another equipment unit, and it was a shielded cable. It had a pigtail lead at the end of the cable to the frame ground, and it had to be under about 2 inches long to keep the noise down because the pigtail is a source of noise. The factory duly made up the cables and I checked them out one time and everything looked fine. Several months later I was called to the World Trade Center, this was back in I'm going to guess '85 or so. They were putting a new telephone office in the World Trade Center. There was an adjunct building to the two towers and they were putting a telephone office in there. They were noticing some interference so I got called in to investigate and I discovered finally after several hours of looking, that the nice little 2-inch pigtails that the factory had put on had been cut off by the installers, and they'd installed a 12-inch pigtail and very neatly heat shrink-tubed it and everything so it looked beautiful. Unfortunately the 12-inch pigtail radiated like a banshee and I really hated to do it, but I had to tell the installer that they had to cut all of their 12-inch pigtails back to 2 inches and re-terminate them on the frames. I could see that the 12 inches made it much easier for them and we might have gotten away with a 4-inch pigtail, but the original factory was 2 inches for a reason and I said you got to go back. It solved the problem.

Hochheiser:

I guess what happened is between the factory and the installers the reason why it was 2 inches got lost.

Hofmann:

The installers, most of them, are not trained to think.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Hofmann:

If you're screwing down 35 screws an hour in different parts of a frame and you have to make sure that a certain connector goes at a certain location, I couldn't blame the guys.

Hochheiser:

Right.

I understood it fully; it's just that it didn't work.

Hochheiser:

Yes.

Hofmann:

There's a few things like that that happened.

Joining IEEE

Hochheiser:

Yes. About when did you join IEEE?

Oh lord. I'm going to guess around 1980. Maybe a little, give or take three.

Hochheiser:

I'll tell you what's in the records. It was '82.

Hofmann:

Okay, that's within my window; that's good.

Hochheiser:

Yes, I always ask because I have unfortunately found some cases where the old records are not correct. The records agree with you.

Hofmann:

Good. Knowing IEEE headquarters that's something to be thankful for.

Hochheiser:

Usually they do but I have occasionally found —

Hofmann:

Yes. I'm familiar with headquarters and their recordkeeping.

Hochheiser:

Do you recall what led you to join at this point?

I think primarily it was the fact that I thought it was professionally advantageous. Technically I was hoping to learn as well as, you know, the professional development.

Hochheiser:

Did you soon start attending the symposium?

Hofmann:

I honestly don't know what year it was but I would say definitely in the eighties already because I was getting into EMC more heavily and the EMC Society was the only place you could get continuing education of that nature. In fact I restarted the Chicago chapter. It had been active many years earlier and just sort of wasted away. I have no idea what year it was though.

Hochheiser:

Would you guess it was probably somewhere back in the eighties as well?

Hofmann:

Yes, I would say it was before 1990.

Hochheiser:

Exact years are not something that anyone tends to remember. But what is interesting is what led you to restart the Chicago chapter.

Hofmann:

Yes. I had, at that point, five people that worked for me that had less EMC background and knowledge than I did and I was looking for ways for training and what have you. I thought that if we had an active chapter… There were other people around that were in the business, we had a couple of test houses in the area that were very good and misery loves company I guess. It was a good way to see other engineers, hear their problems, learn what they were doing, and to socialize and commiserate over common objects.

Hochheiser:

Were you also active in the section at large or mainly in, in the specific chapter.

Hofmann:

It was specifically in the EMC chapter. That and raising a family with two kids and my job pretty much took up most of my time. I really didn't get active in the Chicago section until about three or four years ago.

Hochheiser:

Oh.

Hofmann:

Now I'm probably as active in the section as I am in Chicago chapter, but before that I just didn't have the time.

Safety Regulations and EMC

Hochheiser:

At some time point in this period you became the head of the Bell Labs EMC Committee?

Hofmann:

Yes. Yes we had a committee, Have you interviewed Don Heirman?

Hochheiser:

Not yet.

Hochheiser:

He ran one laboratory at Holmdel.

Hochheiser:

I do know Don.

Hofmann:

I ran the Indian Hill Laboratory plus I ran the Corporate Committee. Don was a member of that committee but I basically chaired it and set the agendas and all that sort of stuff. We really worked hand in glove. His laboratory at Holmdel was the largest within Bell Labs and I didn't do an awful lot without checking with Don, that it made sense to him, because he had even more experience in EMC than I did. We got along fine. It was good. It was a good collaboration. We still get along fine

Hochheiser:

I gather this exposed you to a broader range of EMC problems, all sorts of other equipment within AT&T.

Oh, yes. AT&T was represented on the ANSI C63 Committee, and I was our representative there for a number of years and participated just as an ordinary committee member, writing a lot of standards. I was also the AT&T representative to the Information Technology Industries Council, ITIC. It used to be called CBEMA, the Computer and Business Equipment Manufacturers Association. They changed their name midway and I was head of their EMC Committee for about nine years, from 1990 to '99. I was also the AT&T representative to ECMA, the European Computer Manufacturers Association. I got a lot of exposure nationally and internationally through those organizations and it was interesting. It was more problem solving on a global scale rather than on a particular piece of equipment. It was coming up with strategies to convince other people that they had to meet EMC requirements and telling them why it was in their best interest to do this. I'm pretty good at getting people to compromise I guess. A lot of what I did was more facilitation of projects or standards rather than any pure original great thinking. I just took other ideas and tried to fertilize them, spread them around. That is very rewarding too, to see an idea come to fruition even if it isn't your idea, to have helped it along.

Hochheiser:

What is the ANSI C63 Committee?

Hofmann:

That's their EMC standards. They have written tens of EMC standards on how to make measurements, how to operate the equipment that makes the measurements, nuclear power plant, how you control them; it’s a huge organization and I think we have 30-some odd companies that are represented on ANSI; Dell and Apple and Hewlett Packard and Agilent, Tektronix. If it's a big electronics company they pretty much want to be on ANSI C63 just because we develop standards. We don't develop standards for the government. But the FCC for instance references ANSI C63.4-2009 as the standard you will use to make the measurements to meet FCC emissions standards from equipment. The government sets the limits and they tell you what procedure to use. Industry, as a consensus, develops the procedures and it’s a good collaboration because you don't have any one company dominating.

Hochheiser:

What's the relationship between the ASNI committees and EMCS and the IEEE Standards operations?

Hofmann:

I would say a 40 to 50% personnel overlap for starters. They rotate the hats 90 degrees and go off to a different meeting. Most part it's collaborative and I don't know of any adversarial relationships. It's more collaborative because the IEEE has a certain international renown in certain areas that ANSI doesn't have and vice versa, so each one builds on the other and 90, 95% of the time it works very smoothly. It's good.

Hochheiser:

Yes.

Hofmann:

It’s a fun group of people to work with, which is the most important thing. Everybody has their own soapbox and they will gladly get on the soapbox and espouse a point of view, but at the end of the day we can all go off and have a drink together and everybody's friends. It was sometimes called the university model and it's a lot of fun.

President of EMC

Hochheiser:

About when and in what ways did you first become active in the EMCS?

Hofmann:

Probably toward the late eighties I was vice president of one of the member committees. We had member services and different technical committees and standards committees and I started getting active probably in the '88 to '90 time frame. Back then we didn’t have a president-elect like we do now. Now it's a more smooth transition. Back then it was two years and throw it over the wall to the next person, whoever that unlucky person might be. I ran for president in 1991 and I got elected and then served in '92 and '93 as President of the society.

Hochheiser:

What led you to want to be president of the society?

Hofmann:

I suppose my ego. I honestly don't remember if there was anything especially happening at that time that made me want to run. I guess I just felt it was the right time. I was in my mid-fifties and I still had unbounded energy at that point in time, and I felt I could do a good job of bringing people together in accomplishing things. I don't remember any burning issues.

Hochheiser:

You don't remember any particular things that gee, if I were president I would like to work on this area or that area?

Hofmann:

No, I really don't and I've been thinking about that since our initial contact. While I was president we really got the President's Memorial Award going full speed. I'm very proud of that because it was a good way to remember some of the founders of this society. It was a time of rapid growth. We were trying to improve the services to our members and I was very lucky. I had a great team of people to work with and that meant that I could count on them to do something. I won't name the individual, although if he sees this he will probably know who I'm talking about, but this person caused me more headaches than probably the rest of the executive committee combined. But, I could also count on him to get more accomplished than I could count on anybody else and maybe the entire executive committee combined. I was willing to put up with the headaches for the fact that this was a wonderful individual to work with. I think that's true in almost every organization. Somebody that accomplishes things also ruffles a few feathers along the way because to get things done sometimes you have to ruffle feathers. We're still good friends. So that's the thing I probably remember most. There just weren't any breakthrough events or anything like that.

Hochheiser:

The symposium was running smoothly?

Hofmann:

Yes, everything progressed. There were no faux pas that I'm aware of at least.

Hochheiser:

Transactions and newsletter…

Hofmann:

Everything was growing by leaps and bounds and fortunately we had volunteers that were able to step up to the plate and accomplish all of these changes. The one constant in all these years has been Janet Nichols O'Neil. Not Janet Nichols, but Janet Nichols O'Neil. Her father was very active in this society. Janet has been our secretary probably since 1990, maybe even earlier than that, so those of us who've been around that long have seen Janet grow from essentially a 20-year-old kid to now a nice, I hate to say it, but middle-aged lady who is a gem. She worked and still works for ETS Lindgren. I don't know if you've heard of them or not.

Hochheiser:

No.

Hofmann:

They make shielded rooms and absorbers and Janet is the best public relations that company could ever, ever have. She is a gem, and when Janet says something will happen, it happens. She does it without ruffling feathers. I don’t know how she always does that but she does. I remember when I was on the board the most memorable thing was working with Janet. It's still a pleasure 20 years later still, working with her. Now that's the only person I'm going to name by name.

Hochheiser:

That’s fine.

Hofmann:

Yes.

Hochheiser:

Membership was growing during this period?

Hofmann:

By leaps and bounds.

Hochheiser:

Did that cause problems, with an increasing number of papers or suddenly needing bigger locations for your symposium?

Hofmann:

The biggest problem was because we tend to contract our symposia at least three or four, sometimes five years ahead. When I was president in '92-'93, the symposium was in Chicago in '94. I was the chair of that and it turns out we basically took over the entire Palmer House Hotel and then some. The only problem was that we ended up with exhibits in the basement and the people that had the antenna towers did not have a full 12 to 16 foot ceiling height where they could demonstrate that their towers went up to the top and down. That was the only problem we really had. We were able to accommodate everything else because we had spare space, but we have grown so much through the nineties. If you were to look at the number of attendees, and we've flattened off quite a bit since then, but the growth was phenomenal and I was very happy to be part of it.

Hochheiser:

Yes. Well I noticed the robustness of not just the technical program but the number of exhibitors.

Hofmann:

Yes. We've held on to our exhibitors very well through the recession. I think it's partially fear that if they don't show up and their competitor does, the competitor is going to get the business, which is probably true to a certain extent. If you go around and you tour the booths and you see certain names and you recognize them, when you're then going out for a bid or you're going to buy a piece of equipment and you see that they had knowledgeable personnel at their booth that makes you feel more confident about the company and more inclined to buy from them.

Hochheiser:

Is EMCS the only IEEE society you've been involved with?

Hofmann:

Yes. That took so much time and there wasn't time to even consider something else.

Hochheiser:

No reason that there necessarily should be.

Hofmann:

No. There are people that will be members of four or five societies. But I have a private life too.

Hochheiser:

Well, of course.

Hofmann:

Well some people don't. There are some engineers that I think—again I will mention Don Heirman's name again. Even when his wife was alive it was EMC day, night, and sometimes in the middle of the night, and since Lois died a couple years back he's even more into EMC. But he doesn’t have anything and I've got kids and grandkids and I ski and mountain climb and everything, and that's a lot of interest outside of just the technical stuff.

Hochheiser:

How was the EMC president selected in the nineties? Was this done by the board or was there an election or?

Hofmann:

As I remember it was selected from among the board members. I'm pretty sure that's what it was. There were certain term limitations I think but that's about all I can remember.

Hochheiser:

Yes. I find it interesting that the different IEEE societies have different ways of selecting their presidents, which is why I ask because it's not clear to me how any given society does it.

Hofmann:


The constitution and bylaws does spell it out but you'd have to get one for each society.

Hochheiser:

Right, because they don’t do it the same way.

Hofmann:

Headquarters reviews the constitution and bylaws and they make recommendations. I wouldn't say they're mandatory, but so close to mandatory that they become mandatory changes. The only problem is that as many times as they reviewed them and we make changes, and they review them again, and they find another change its asymptotically reaching a final goal but there's constants — what is a quorum, what is a majority. We just voted bylaws changes again at the meeting on last Sunday. I'm sure that headquarters will find another couple of words somewhere.

IEEE and the Technical Activities Board

Hochheiser:

As president of EMCS you were a member of the overall IEEE TAB, the Technical Activities Board.

Hofmann:

Yes.

Hochheiser:

Did you attend the meetings? Do you have any recollection?

Hofmann:

I have virtually no recollection of those meetings. I'm sure they were memorable but I don't remember them. The presidents of all the societies got together. I do remember being at a couple of meetings. But I have no recollection of what went on. I just I remember some of the names and I've seen them since but that was about all.

Hochheiser:

That in itself says something because the follow-up question would been of what value was attending these meetings to you as the president of this society. In that you have no recollection suggests —

Hofmann:

It was of limited value, yes.

Hochheiser:

Exactly.

Hofmann:

On the other hand because the EMC Society was running smoothly I probably didn't have any problems that I needed to share with my fellow presidents. If we had been struggling for membership, if we had been concerned about membership development, then I would think the TAB would be useful because you could get fertilization of ideas from societies that were still growing better. We weren't suffering from any problems at that point in time so that was a good problem not to have.

Activities as President

Hochheiser:

Yes. Of course one of the things you did as president was run the board meetings.

Hofmann:

Yes.

Hochheiser:

What did that involve?

Hofmann:

First it involved knowing the personalities of all the people. You have some board members that were practically asleep, and you had some who seem to have had a shot of vinegar that morning with their orange juice. You had to learn to keep a paper list of who wanted to speak next because if you called somebody out of sequence they would get offended or the other people would get offended. You had to keep things running smoothly and you had to defuse situations. I wish I had been president at our board meeting on last Sunday because we almost came to fisticuffs it seemed like. The president and one of the attendees were the two that were involved so the president couldn't call a halt to discussion because he was one of the people. If I had been president at that meeting I would have said okay, each of you has two minutes to summarize your viewpoint and when you say this is my final word, it is your final word. You can't keep jumping back in with another one.

Hochheiser:

Yes, but you don't recall having had anything like that.

Hofmann:

I don't remember anything like that.

Hochheiser:

The board probably ran smoothly.

Hofmann:

It did. It ran very smoothly and because we were growing, the goal that everybody had was to make things run smoothly and not throw any monkey wrenches into anything.

Hochheiser:

In the bio you sent me you noted that one thing you had done as president was facilitated projects that had already been started.

Hofmann:

Yes I don't have anything specific in mind because I didn't have anything new and exciting. The President's Memorial Award is about the biggest thing that I can think of. There were a lot of projects underway and it was just a matter of making sure that A spoke to B and that two of them went to speak to C, and then I got some feedback to report at the next meeting. The one complaint I keep hearing is that the different vice presidents don't have their subcommittee members, or the the people that report to them giving them enough information and their reports back at the board meeting are one or two sentences because that's all they've gotten from the people that serve under them. It used to be phone calls and now its emails and emails are very easy to ignore. You read it and file it and forget about it. Phone calls are harder to ignore. People have to get back to turning the screws a little bit. Saying I need something by the end of next week just doesn't work. If you don't say I need it by Thursday April the 23rd at 3 p.m. 'cause that's my deadline, that way you get a response. You need a hard, hard time. That I learned the hard way.

Hochheiser:

Did you have any staff support?

Hofmann:

From headquarters?

Hochheiser:

Or elsewhere.

Hofmann:

The support was Janet O'Neil because she was the secretary and she did the minutes and she kept track of the membership. That's why I say ETS Lindgren has no idea, hopefully, of how much time Janet really spends on IEEE functions. She is the best advertisement for that company they could ever have.

Hochheiser:

What's was the relationship between the EMCS and the local chapters?

Hofmann:

It was relatively distant. We did set up the Angel program back then. I don't remember if it was in existence before my time or not, but we had an Angel and still have an Angel program where different board members are responsible for overseeing the chapter or chapters in their geographic area. That was in an effort to try and make sure that the chapters had somebody they could go to if they needed help and the chapter Angel was also supposed to give a kick in the seat of the pants to the chapter chair if they needed a little bit of stimulation to get things going. That, I think, has worked fairly well. It comes and goes depending on the president of the society. If the society wants to emphasize it he will apply some pressure to the Angels to work with the chapters. If everything seems to be running smoothly like it is now the Angels have sort of faded into the background because the chapters don't need help and we've been growing chapters. Even with the recession, chapters have been growing around the world and here in the U.S. at, I would say, a surprisingly good rate. I don't remember how many chapters we had when I started. I know we added, I think, six or so chapters in the two years I was president but that was more due to the weeds springing up than being cultivated from the top. They just sort of sprang up.

Hochheiser:

How time-consuming was being the society's president?

Hofmann:

Oh boy. At that point I was supervisor of the EMC group at Bell Labs and so it just got worked into my other supervisory hours. It wasn't the third hour of every day that I was president and did presidential things. I just worked it into my schedule and I would say it was at least an hour a day, but certainly I would say less than two hours a day, five days a week and on the weekends it was just come and go. I don't remember it being a burden, but I know that it was a substantial amount of time.

Hochheiser:

Was the management at Bell Labs supportive of your doing this?

Hofmann:

Yes they were. That was still back in the day when Bell Labs wanted to be well-known as the repository of all the knowledge in the world and so I had my management's support. They knew that I was spending time on it and they paid for me to go to the ECMA meetings in Switzerland, and to the symposia each year, and to the CBEMA meetings which were usually in Washington, D.C Some people have to take vacation time and their own money but the company picked up everything fortunately.

Hochheiser:

At one point after being president you were the chair of the symposium?

Hofmann:

The next year.

That was an adventure.

Hochheiser:

I was going to ask. That must have been quite a task with some interesting challenges.

Hofmann:

It turned out to be much more time-consuming than the president's job obviously. I was not a Chicago person. We were 30 miles west of Chicago in Naperville. Everything that was happening was happening in Chicago, so I learned how to find my way around the Palmer House Hotel quite well. We had a good committee, we had a fantastic group of volunteers, and everybody was enthusiastic because it hadn't been in Chicago in 20 or 30 years. We were all young and wet behind the years and didn't know any better, and we had a really good time doing it. My wife and I had a suite up on the top floor of the Palmer House and we would get there by 11:30 at night and have to get up at 6, 6:30 the next morning. It had a dining room with a piano and all these fancy amenities. We never got to enjoy them. We could have had the regular hotel room for the advantages we had. It was very good to chair something and see it come off successfully. You pat yourself on the back but nobody died of a heart attack, nobody fell off the cruise boat, and there were no disasters.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Hofmann:

We had a disaster in Minneapolis the year we were up there. Dan Hoolihan can tell you about that, but basically some security guard found an unguarded tote back sitting on the exhibit hall floor next to a column or something and nobody could identify whose bag it was. This was after 9/11 and so of course, the immediate thought was oh my god, somebody's trying to blow up the column that holds the building up or something. We all had to evacuate and that was our excitement for the Minneapolis symposium. We had nothing like that fortunately. Ours was totally uneventful and I think we worked out quite well and we made a ton of money to support the other activities of the society, so that was good.

Hochheiser:

Yes. I gathered you were president of the Chicago chapter for a number of years.

Hofmann:

Oh, for quite a while. I was president and then we got a new local guy from DLS Electronic Systems, his name is Jack Black, and he has been the chair ever since I have not been the chair. He's been chair now for at least ten years, maybe more. I don't even remember when the transition was. I've been serving as treasurer because I'm tight with the money and I can count pretty good, and I can balance a checkbook.

Hochheiser:

Did you also stay on the overall EMC Society Board for a while after your term?

Hofmann:

No.

Hochheiser:

After your term you rotated off.

Hofmann:

I had had it at that point. I needed a vacation.

Hochheiser:

Yes. One of the things that I asked you in the early emails is whether you had any photos or documents or other things from your term as president.

Hofmann:

Yes. I saved nothing.

Hochheiser:

That's a perfectly reasonable answer.

Hofmann:

Once the term of office was over I had a file folder in my library for a while. I'm not a squirrel.

Hochheiser:

Some people are.

Hofmann:

I'm definitely not a Don Heirman or an Ed Bronaugh or some of the other squirrels of the society. Once a year I usually go through a stack of file folders about three feet long, and they've shrunk down now to about yea, two feet because technically a lot of the stuff has become obsolete in 20 years. Others items, while not obsolete I have absolutely no further interest in.

===Continued activities with IEEE

Hochheiser:

Obviously you continue to attend the symposia.

Hofmann:

Yes. Faithfully every year.

Hochheiser:

Yes. Beyond that are there any ways you've remained active or have volunteered for the society?

Hofmann:

Not specifically for the society. I do paper reviews of the papers that are presented. I'm on one of the technical committees on measurements and I do probably somewhere between 10 and 20 paper reviews each year, which helps keep me technically active. I visit all the booths pretty faithfully and try to learn what's new and upcoming. I do a lot for the ANSI EMC Committee in terms of writing standards and that involves doing a lot of reading and keeping current on what's going on. I try to stay as current as I can. I can't quote Bessel functions for you anymore or some of the earlier physics-type stuff that at one point I might have been able to do. A lot of EMC is common sense, an awful lot of it. We have some purely theoretical types and we have the purely practical. I definitely lean toward the practical side of things. The theoreticians are nice and we go to them when we have a problem we can't solve, but when push comes to shove you have to be able to look at a product and see that the ground trace doesn't go to the shortest possible distance between two points. Gee, that’s a nice piece of plastic but you've got a crack in the plastic here that's been metalized, and you have a slotted antenna and that's where your trouble's coming from. I'm definitely on the practical side if things. That's just my nature.

Hochheiser:

In what ways has the overall field of EMC evolved over your many decades in it?

Hofmann:

It's definitely more widely recognized as a division, a subject in engineering. People don't necessarily know what EMC means. When I'm trying to explain to somebody I'm an EMC engineer I'll tell them okay, I'm one of the engineers that did the study where we told the airlines to tell people to turn off their cell phones and laptops so that the plane can land without the signals from your laptop causing the plane to go off course. As soon as they hear that then they have the concept of radio waves coming out of electronic equipment and getting into navigational instruments. I'll say the reason we have to say that is the following: if you turn your laptop or your tablet over you'll see an FCC ID on the bottom and that says when it left the factory it met all the requirements, it would not emit signals and shouldn't cause problems. I said, but what happens if you've dropped that thing on the corner. You now have a hairline crack in the plastic; you have a hairline crack in the metalized film that’s on the inside of that plastic, and you have now formed a slot antenna. I say, now you're in a long airplane tube, which is aluminum with lots of little holes in it, and you're launching a signal from your laptop that's going down that tube and in a manner in which we cannot predict how it's going to propagate, and it just could get into the navigational equipment. That's why we say, turn it off. It probably doesn't make a difference but you know what? If I'm flying with you I'm not taking a chance.

Hochheiser:

Yes.

Hofmann:

That pretty well summarizes it for people and they get the field. Now, 20 years ago people wouldn't have made that assumption. The Toyota running wild thing sensitized a lot of people to the fact that it could be some electronics that was malfunctioning, and now we've had these recalls lately of other things that they've been mechanical problems but they could have been electronic problems, and so people are much more aware now. I think that's nothing but good. The biggest thing I see is just the awareness. Oh, and one other thing; the fact that the signals are going higher and higher in frequency. When I started out gigahertz was a word nobody even knew what it meant and if you had something above a couple hundred megahertz that was cutting edge technology. Now that's old technology. There's been that change.

Hochheiser:

In what ways has the EMCS evolved over your many years of activity?

Hofmann:

Hmm. Well the structure of the board of directors at least is about the same. We have many, many more chapters which is good because we're getting definitely more representation outside the United States and that is nothing but good. The United States, as a whole, 20 years ago if we said jump the rest of the world jumped, whether they should or not is another matter, but if we said jump the rest of the world jumped. Nowadays the rest of the world says jump and the United States looks around and says you mean me, and then we jump. There's been a mindset difference which I think is good because I've traveled overseas enough to know that we are not the only repository of knowledge in this universe. We used to act like we were and the IEEE was definitely not an international organization. Now it definitely is an international organization and that, I think, is only for the good. It's good.

End of Career at Bell Labs

Hochheiser:

In your professional career Bell Labs certainly went through many changes over your years there.

Hofmann:

Yes. Unfortunately since about the time I left, which was in 2001, it has been a rapid downhill decline.

Hochheiser:

In what ways did it change in the period before then over the years? What changes did you see over the years while you were still there?

Hofmann:

Once people figured out that they could game the system, people started trying to play the game. Telecom equipment technically falls under the industrial, scientific, and medical exemption from the FCC rules that says if nobody complains, you really can be above the limits. When I was there the approach was we will meet the limits so that we don't get any bad publicity, we don't cause any problems, we don't get into any unfortunate circumstances, and over the years, even before I left, people began pushing that philosophy to the point that okay, well we're only over a few dB, let's not worry about it. That, to me, was disheartening because the Labs, up to that point in time, had always been this ivory tower of ethics and knowledge and really on a pedestal almost in the industrial and scientific world and we were falling rapidly. It was disheartening to see that. Fortunately I had reached retirement age and was going to be retiring anyway before 9/11. But since 9/11 things have gone downhill because the company doesn't have as much money to work with and funding nowadays is almost nonexistent. We've closed probably three-quarters of our EMC facilities now and for those that are left has that not helped their morale, unfortunately. They've just announced another 5,000 layoffs which we think is going to be in Europe but we don't know how. It's a sea change. It's monumental.

Hochheiser:

Yes. As you can see I started with a stack of card face up but now they are face down

Hofmann:

Yes. That's good. We've been going for an hour.

Hochheiser:

I've asked you everything that I had thought of. Is there anything that you'd like to add that I hadn't thought to ask?

Hofmann:

I guess I would have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed being president and I look back upon that as a time when I was able to get a lot accomplished; nothing major, just a lot of things. I kept things moving smoothly and that was my goal when I went in. I didn't have any lofty ideals of getting headlines in a newspaper or even in the IEEE press or anything. I just wanted to continue to move the society along. We'd had a string of very good presidents and I just wanted to continue doing what they had done and just keep building it up, and that's all that I can think of at the moment.

Hochheiser:

Well in that case I thank you very much for your time and your recollections.