# Oral-History:John Whinnery

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On the coaxial line there is a principal wave and an infinite series on higher-order coaxial modes. The monopole, following Schelkunoff’s model, is first looked at as a conical conductor and then later modified to cylindrical shape by peturbation theory. In this region there is again a principal wave and an infinite series of higher-order modes expressed in spherical coordinates. In the space beyond the monopole, there is an infinite series of spherical waves. At the surfaces between these regions tangential components of electric and magnetic fields must match. This gives an infinite set of equations, relating all the modes, and the matrix of these must be inverted. Hahn’s functions, worked out at that time on mechanical computers, were useful in this inversion, but the infinite matrix is approximated by a finite matrix. The interesting mathematical question is the validity of this approximation. I got help from the mathematical department on this question.

+

On the coaxial line there is a principal wave and an infinite series on higher-order coaxial modes. The monopole, following [[S. A. Schelkunoff|Schelkunoff’s]] model, is first looked at as a conical conductor and then later modified to cylindrical shape by peturbation theory. In this region there is again a principal wave and an infinite series of higher-order modes expressed in spherical coordinates. In the space beyond the monopole, there is an infinite series of spherical waves. At the surfaces between these regions tangential components of electric and magnetic fields must match. This gives an infinite set of equations, relating all the modes, and the matrix of these must be inverted. Hahn’s functions, worked out at that time on mechanical computers, were useful in this inversion, but the infinite matrix is approximated by a finite matrix. The interesting mathematical question is the validity of this approximation. I got help from the mathematical department on this question.

=== Early Computing and Network Analyzer  === === Early Computing and Network Analyzer  ===

## Contents

John R. Whinnery (left), recipient of 1967 IEEE Education Medal

Dr. John Roy Whinnery was born in Read, Colorado, in 1916. He received the B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1937, and the Ph.D. from Berkeley in 1948. From 1937 to 1946 he worked with the General Electric Company, focusing on waveguide discontinuities, microwave tubes, and radar applications. During that time he was active in war training classes, and in 1945-6 he lectured part-time at Union College in Schenectady, New York. In 1946 he returned to U.C. Berkeley, where he has been an instructor ever since, serving as Lecturer, Assistant Professor, and Professor. In 1952 Whinnery began directing Berkeley's Electronics Research Laboratory, and four years later he became the Chairman of the EE department. From 1959 to 1963 he was Dean of the College of Engineering at Berkeley. During leaves from the department, he served as head of the Microwave Tube Research Section of the Hughes Aircraft Company in 1951-52, did research in quantum electronics at Bell Labs from 1963-64, and held visiting professorships at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Stanford University. In 1959 he held a Guggenheim Fellowship at the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland. Whinnery was a Fellow of the IEEE and of the Optical Society of America, as well as a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received the IEEE Education Medal (1967) and Microwave Career Award (1976), as well as the IEEE Medal of Honor (1985). He served on various governmental advisory committees and in 1980 was appointed University Professor at the University of California. He was a poet and a writer, and has wrote children's stories as well as scientific and technical materials. John Whinnery died on 1 February 2009 at his home in Walnut Creek, California, USA, at the age of 92.

The interview spans Dr. Whinnery's career, focusing especially on his years at the University of California, Berkeley. Whinnery describes his training in General Electric's advanced engineering program as well as his hands-on research at Hughes Aircraft and Bell Labs, and credits these experiences in EE industries as essential to his academic research. Whinnery discusses his work in microwaves, antennas, waveguides, magnetrons, and lasers. He positively evaluates his work with graduate students while at U.C. Berkeley and warmly recalls his colleague and mentor Simon Ramo. The interview briefly covers Whinnery's approach to problem solving and his days in Berkeley's Electronics Research Laboratory. The interview concludes with Whinnery's evaluations of Berkeley's EE and computer science programs.

JOHN WHINNERY: An Interview Conducted by Andrew Goldstein, IEEE History Center, May 21, 1993

Interview # 158 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

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:

John Whinnery, an oral history conducted in 1993 by Andrew Goldstein, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

## Interview

Interview: John Whinnery

Interviewer: Andrew Goldstein

Date: May 21, 1993

Place: Berkeley, California

### Education

Goldstein:

Okay, I am sitting with Professor John Whinnery in Berkeley, California on May 21, 1993. Dr. Whinnery, thank you for talking to us.

Whinnery:

You are welcome.

Goldstein:

As I was explaining before, we would like to go through your career, more or less in chronological order, so a good place to start is with the beginning with your background in education.

Whinnery:

I went to a junior college (Modasto) before coming to the university. It had very good instruction then, during the Depression. I think maybe because of that they had unusually good faculty members that couldn't get jobs elsewhere. I came to Berkeley for the last two years for my bachelor's degree and then took a job at General Electric in Schenectady and worked there through the war period, mostly on radar and radar-related components. But I didn't have a doctorate's degree, so after that I returned to Berkeley to get my doctorate's degree. I didn't necessarily intend to stay, but I was married by that time and we had a child on the way, so in order to support the family I had to teach for a time. But in the end I did stay in teaching except for various leaves with Hughes and Bell Labs.

### Early Years at GE and Simon Ramo

Goldstein:

Let's talk about GE. I have been talking to a lot of people at Bell Labs and have some sense on how they mobilized for the war and I don't know what was going on at General Electric.

Whinnery:

Well, I went there in 1937 before the war, and was fortunate enough to get into their advanced engineering program. It's either a one year or a three year program. They make the selection for one year, and after that, further selection with the possibility of two more years. There were four hours of lectures a week and some rather horrendous problems. The problems were designed to make you go back to fundamentals and also to make approximations. They were all supposed to be from real problems in GE, although I found later when I was supervisor that some of them were tailored quite a bit. But nevertheless they were very challenging. But the most important part of the program was a rotating assignment program. And I had some marvelous assignments with persons who had a tremendous effect on my career, Simon Ramo, W.C. Hahn, Bernie Bedford, and others. In the end I concentrated on microwaves, but had an extremely interesting assignment on DC power transmission and one on an idea for color television. This was before there was commercial color television.

Goldstein:

What was GE's interest in DC power transmission?

Whinnery:

Power was, and I guess still is a very large part of their business. GE had an operating DC link between Schenectady and Mechanicville thirty miles away. We had in the laboratory a model of this which was the same voltage, thirty kV, but of course of lower power. The big problems were the inverters. At the receiving end, to convert the DC back to AC, they used thyratron tubes but these had a lot of failures at high voltages. So we were testing the system, always trying to figure out how to make it more stable, more durable. And this was where I worked for Bernie Bedford. I think he had the record for patents in the company and was a marvelous person to work with.

Goldstein:

What sort of work were you doing? Was it fabrication of tubes?

Whinnery:

No. We were putting power circuits together, and often had to go to the other part of the GE plant for selsyns or transformers to add to the system. Bedford might suggest how to hook them up and we would do this and make measurements as to whether the system was better or worse. But he also expected us to get some ideas on our own. It was an exciting systems experiment.

Goldstein:

What kind of results did you achieve? How did you improve the stability or reliability?

Whinnery:

I believe some of our results were incorporated into the Mechanicville system, but in the few months of this assignment I suppose there were no dramatic improvements.

Goldstein:

And microwaves you mentioned.

Whinnery:

Yes. I got started on that with W.C. Hahn, who was building what he called velocity modulation tubes. This was before the klystron, but is the same principle, first published by the Heils in Germany in 1935. The Varians discovered this independently and developed the very successful klystron class of tubes. But Han had many variations, with some marvelous results. I don't think he got the credit that he deserved. Part of the problem was that he didn't publish enough but his paper with Metcalf shows that he had some remarkable results at an early date. I helped with calculations part of the time and with measurements the rest of the time.

Goldstein:

Was that a challenge in itself, you having to develop your test instruments?

Whinnery:

I think the measurements were challenging, in the sense that microwave measurements were new at that stage. There weren't Hewlett Packard instruments available and General Radio, the instrument manufacturer, had nothing on microwaves that I remember. Hahn had built up simple detectors and power meters and these were the main instruments we used. I actually had two assignments with Hahn, and between those two I had an assignment with Simon Ramo also on microwaves. Ramo had more effect on my career than any other person. I want to make that clear as we go along.

Goldstein:

I am not familiar with Ramo's connection with GE. Is that where he worked?

Whinnery:

Yes. He was there, I think he went in about 1935 and he actually didn't leave GE when he moved to California. He was on assignment with GE at the Jet Propulsion Labs. He moved because of his wife's health, around 1945, but it was when he was in Southern California that the opportunity to build up electronics at Hughes evolved. His book The Business of Science details a lot of his career and how he got to GE. According to that he got to GE in part because they needed a violinist for the Schenectady symphony.

Goldstein:

How did you come to GE, what was the draw?

Whinnery:

Well, at the end of the Depression, you were lucky to get any job. You see Bell Labs would not hire without at least a master's degree, preferably a Ph.D. even then, so there wasn't any chance of going in there with only a bachelor's degree. GE and Westinghouse programs were probably the two top ones, partly because they had an educational aspect along with them.

Goldstein:

Did the lab have a reputation for being particularly strong in any particular area?

Whinnery:

Oh yes. Of course at that time I was not in the research lab. Later I was. The research lab with Langmuir, Coolidge, and Hull was probably one of the top industrial research labs in the country.

Goldstein:

Langmuir and Coolidge were still both there in the 1930s?

Whinnery:

Yes, that's right.

Goldstein:

I didn't realize that you weren't in the research division.

Whinnery:

Well, I was eventually.

Goldstein:

In the beginning, where did you start?

Whinnery:

I started in the educational program, the advanced engineering program, for three years. And then I supervised it for one year. Then I was in the electronics lab, which was under W.R.G. Baker, where I worked with Ramo. He set it up so that I was in parallel with him rather than working for him. This was after my earlier assignment with him. And that was one of the most important parts of my career, being able to work with Ramo. I don't know whether you know the book, Fields and Waves in Modern Radio. He asked me to do this because he liked my poetry. He says he got his job at GE by playing the violin and I say I got my opportunity to work with him because of the poetry.

Goldstein:

So when you say that he was the most important person in your career, there clearly is a friendship there. Was it because of the closeness of the friendship?

Whinnery:

Goldstein:

I have heard your book described as very influential and it had a wide circulation. You have seen its influence, reflected back over the years?

Whinnery:

Oh, yes. It's hard to know what would have happened if I hadn't been an author of that book; certainly many of the doors that have opened would not have opened without it. It's still being used in its fourth version and we're revising for a fifth. It comes out next year, which will be the fiftieth anniversary of the first edition.

### Early Scheme for Color Television

Goldstein:

You mentioned that there was also a scheme for color television that you were working on?

Whinnery:

That was with Vic Frankel, Sieg Hansen, and Millard Smith. The idea was one which took advantage of the fact that certain phosphors or mixtures of phosphors change color, depending on the voltage. So the idea was to strike the phosphor with an electron beam of voltage appropriate to the desired color. I guess that there were probably a couple of limitations. To get the range of hues needed was probably difficult. But also the brightness would change with voltage, so you’d have to change the current along with voltage for each picture element. This was a three-month or six-month assignment, but I learned multi-vibrators, and the circuitry that went into control of a television set.

Goldstein:

Do you know, after you moved on from that project, its fate; how it resolved?

Whinnery:

Well, it obviously ended without that being the system for color television. That group had other projects related to television, but I’m not sure when work on that particular idea stopped.

Goldstein:

While you were doing this tour of assignments, were there any areas that you were interested in that you didn't get to sample?

Whinnery:

Well, I am sure that there were other very interesting assignments. If I had had different ones I might have gone in different directions, but for what I have been doing, these were almost ideal assignments.

### World War II and Disk-Seal Triodes

Goldstein:

Are we up to War Con and these mobilizations in the war?

Whinnery:

By the beginning of the war, I had finished the advanced course, and was assigned to the electronics laboratory, which was only later moved into the research lab. At that time it was separate and was a relatively small laboratory, twenty engineers, something like that. Although there was work on magnetrons and pulse circuits, the main achievement it had for the war was with respect to disk-seal triodes 2C 39s, 2C 40s, 2C 43s. They were quite important for receivers and transmitters in a class of relatively low power radar. Jim Beggs and E.D. McArthur were the tube designers and others of us were building the circuits that went into these systems, analyzing these and the transit time effects on tube performance at high frequencies.

Goldstein:

What is a disk-seal triode?

Whinnery:

It's a planar triode with very close spacing between the cathode and the grid, about four mils, so it would go to much higher frequencies; the close spacing meant small transit times. So it would work in the microwave range, which the earlier triodes wouldn't. The fact that it was in a disk arrangement meant that it would fit naturally into cavity resonators. The theory of cavity resonators and waveguide junctions was still being worked out and much of my work was on the analysis of discontinuities in waveguides and cavity resonators of the type useful with these tubes.

Goldstein:

When you say it was in a disk configuration, you mean that the cathode and the anode were disks?

Whinnery:

Yes, so essentially parallel planes, circular in area.

Goldstein:

Were there any alternatives to these tubes? You say it fit in a cavity resonator. If you didn't have this...

Whinnery:

The klystron was an alternative for some applications but operated at higher voltages and was the dominant tube at still higher frequencies. The magnetron was the main tube for radar transmitters and our lab made some contributions to these. But our main contribution was to disk-seal triodes. And for the size of the laboratory, it was really quite an accomplishment.

Goldstein:

What was the Electronics Laboratory’s relation to the Research Laboratory? You said it was later absorbed into the Research Lab?

Whinnery:

Well, it was in the same building, but there was no direct tie when we reported to Baker, the vice president for electronics. The Research Lab was at that time under Guy Suits until he went to Harvard for the countermeasures program. Then Coolidge, who had been director before he came back and directed it during the wartime period. When Baker decided to put all of his development effort into Syracuse, then our laboratory was moved into the Research Lab.

### Work with MIT Rad Lab

Goldstein:

When you were working on radar during the war, did you interact with the Rad Lab or anything?

Whinnery:

Yes, quite a bit. Of course there was direct interaction on any systems using the disk-seal tubes. In my case much of my interaction came on the analysis of waveguide discontinuities. I was using a method originated by W.C. Hahn and for some time didn’t know about the group at MIT which was doing innovative work on that subject, until I presented a paper at the IRE convention in New York. It turned out that the Rad Lab group couldn't publish because they were not allowed to publish anything, even though the theory was not in itself classified. So Marcuvitz came up to me afterward, a little put out, but told me of their work using powerful methods developed by Julian Schwinger. I visited soon after. Their techniques were really elegant, but not entirely duplicative. Schwinger is an outstanding theorist. I also interacted with Knipp on transit-time analysis of planar triodes.

Goldstein:

What was GE's policy about publication, even before the war? Did they encourage it?

Whinnery:

I think that it depended on the unit, but they certainly did it in the Research Lab. In our Electronics Lab, much of the encouragement came from Ramo, maybe because of the tradition at Cal Tech.

### Berkeley

Goldstein:

So what came next?

Whinnery:

Well, after the war, as I mentioned, I realized that if I wanted to work at that level and in the Research Laboratory, I needed a doctor’s degree. The advanced program at GE was marvelous in itself, but wasn't quite the same as a doctorate. So I decided to go back to school and finish the doctorate. Although I had not particularly planned to return to Berkeley, I found that they were recruiting and soon had an offer for part-time teaching while I finished my Ph.D. Thinking back on it, I should probably have done more investigation of other offers that sounded pretty good. And I haven’t been sorry that It turned out that way.

### Presentation at IRE Annual Meeting

Goldstein:

I am going to jump back. You said that you presented a paper at this IRE conference in New York. I don't know how this conference worked and what their role was in terms of communication.

Whinnery:

They didn't have parallel sessions at that time; hundreds of people were in one huge room full of people and I was scared to death.

Goldstein:

This is the electronic tube conference you are talking about?

Whinnery:

No. The IRE (Institute of Radio Engineers) annual meeting. The tube conference was smaller and more important. My first one of these was not until about 1945.

Goldstein:

Sorry to interrupt. So it's a big crowd. How did the interaction work with the others?

Whinnery:

Well, there were papers on varieties of different subjects. If you look at the IRE Proceedings of that date, it wasn't a thick magazine, but a whole lot of classic papers were in it. But it's typical that there would be a variety of subjects in one issue from microwaves to audio — everything.

Goldstein:

I have heard it said that there was some dissatisfaction in the IRE in the late 1940s, concern that the Proceedings had become almost unreadable. They were very abstruse papers, and this was Goldsmith's influence, he favored that sort of thing. Is that your impression?

Whinnery:

Well, I don't know that it's any more so than with current IEEE journals — maybe less so. If you go back to the classic papers by Shelkunoff, Pierce, and others it seems to me that there was more of an attempt to be pedagogically clear than in most of our current journals which are directed to specialists. But I’m sure that the average IRE member had difficulty with the papers and complained. But there has to be a place for new, archival, material.

### Berkeley Cont'd. & Antenna Discontinuities

Goldstein:

So you had gone back to school, and gotten the professorship. What did you work on for your dissertation?

Whinnery:

I worked on antennas, using some of the techniques for discontinuities I’d worked on at G.E. The technique I followed was one that Hahn had developed, so the importance of Hahn as well as Ramo was very great for me. Anyway I applied these to antenna discontinuities, and made some measurements to check the theory.

Goldstein:

Can you tell me something about that antenna discontinuities? What's the problem?

Whinnery:

For the simplest example, consider a coaxial line connected to an antenna monopole. There is a discontinuity in wave type at the end of the coaxial and another at the end of the monopole. These discontinuities enter into the impedance matching problem — the efficiency with which waves are launched into space, and especially the bandwidth of this matching.

Goldstein:

So what is your approach to this problem?

Whinnery:

How much detail do you want?

Goldstein:

I don't know; it is just a useful topic.

Whinnery:

On the coaxial line there is a principal wave and an infinite series on higher-order coaxial modes. The monopole, following Schelkunoff’s model, is first looked at as a conical conductor and then later modified to cylindrical shape by peturbation theory. In this region there is again a principal wave and an infinite series of higher-order modes expressed in spherical coordinates. In the space beyond the monopole, there is an infinite series of spherical waves. At the surfaces between these regions tangential components of electric and magnetic fields must match. This gives an infinite set of equations, relating all the modes, and the matrix of these must be inverted. Hahn’s functions, worked out at that time on mechanical computers, were useful in this inversion, but the infinite matrix is approximated by a finite matrix. The interesting mathematical question is the validity of this approximation. I got help from the mathematical department on this question.

### Early Computing and Network Analyzer

Goldstein:

You just mentioned that you only had mechanical in computing. I saw in one of your papers that you were working on the differential analyzer?

Whinnery:

That was an extremely interesting project concerned with transit-time effects in disk-seal tubes. We first made plots of the fields inside of the tube and then the differential analyzer would follow the electron paths from cathode to anode. That was pretty straightforward. But then the interesting part was having it find the induced currents to all of the electrodes and also take the Fourier components of these. So it was doing a whole lot of different things: following the electron paths, getting the induced currents to the electrodes and taking the Fourier analysis of these to get the transfer characteristics of the tube for a particular microwave frequency; it took a room full of equipment with five operators and all this could be done in minutes on a modern computer.

Goldstein:

How did you get involved with Bush's machine?

Whinnery:

There was one at GE and...

Goldstein:

Oh really!

Whinnery:

Yes. I don't remember who suggested we use it, but though impractical now, it was then an elegant way of solving certain problems. It was also a lot of fun to see the results developing.

Goldstein:

Did anyone become a particular expert in its use?

Whinnery:

Yes. There was a group in charge of it, and of course, they were the ones that guided us in using the machine. There was another interesting time in which we used the network analyzers which GE had primarily for power systems. We used these to solve cavity resonator problems, and the discontinuity problems we discussed.

Goldstein:

How would you do that? Would that take a lot of reconfiguring of the machine?

Whinnery:

No, it was Ramo's suggestion, based upon work of Gabriel Kron’s, that certain networks could represent electromagnetic field problems. And once you had these, it was fairly straightforward to set them up on the analyzer.

Goldstein:

That sounds hard. Was it straightforward, how to do that, to create these networks, to represent the field problem?

Whinnery:

It was pretty straightforward for two-dimensional problems in closed regions, but complicated for the most general three-dimensional problems. And the boundaries were a problem for regions open to space. We also used the network analyzer to understand mode control in magnetrons by what is called “strapping.” We didn’t use Kron’s circuits for these but ones worked out from the physics of the configuration. These problems also would now be done on a computer, but the networks could still be useful in setting up the model.

Goldstein:

Did the network analyzer or the differential analyzer — these mechanical tools — did they function as aids to calculation or did they open up a whole new class of problems that you could solve?

Whinnery:

We thought we were opening up a whole new way of attacking big problems, but I don't think it had that much following. Some of the people who work on numerical analysis of field problems with digital computers recently have cited these early papers and credited us with ideas on modeling.

### Work on Antennas

Goldstein:

How did you become involved with antennas? You were talking about working on radar but it sounded like that you worked on the antenna?

Whinnery:

Hahn, who analyzed everything he worked with, did some innovative work on antennas, but I didn’t do much at GE beyond trying to understand the published analyses. When I came to Berkeley, the major project was an antenna project. Well, hopefully you don't get so narrow you can't move from one thing to another, and of course they’re all related electromagnetic problems.

Goldstein:

I was just talking a few hours ago to Chapin Cutler, I told you, and he also worked on antennas. I am really surprised that there is that much generality, that one person would work in these two units clearly related, in separate fields. Maybe it wasn't so rare?

Whinnery:

No, I think it wasn't at that time, and not even now. If you look at our faculty here you find that nearly everyone has changed fields. Some say that about every five years, they are in a different field.

Goldstein:

Do you find that progression in a person's career comes from a chain of problems: you get involved with one thing, it raises a new problem, you pursue that, which opens up with another problem? Or are there more deliberate decisions?

Whinnery:

I think there are a variety of ways in which change happens. Some feel that they have worked out a field and are looking for something else. Others may have a tool, go to conference and say, "Hey. I can do that problem because of that particular tool," even though it is in a different area. Sometimes a new invention, like the laser, can cause whole laboratories to change direction.

### Traveling Wave Tubes

Goldstein:

So you wrote your dissertation, and?

Whinnery:

Then I decided to stay here. That was in 1948, but after three or four years, I began to realize that there wasn't really much time to think about research with the heavy teaching load at that time. I was trying to think if I really wanted to stay or not and Simon Ramo, who by that time had built up the group at Hughes, invited me to come down there, either permanently or on a visit. I decided to go on a visit — a year and a half it turned out to be. Andrew Haeff was starting an Electron Tube Laboratory at that time and I was put in charge of the microwave part of it. We worked with traveling wave tubes primarily. I had a marvelous group to work with: Dean Watkins and Dick Johnson who would later form Watkins-Johnson; Ned Birdsall, who is on the staff here; Tony Siegman, now at Stanford; George Brewer, later with the Hughes Research Lab, and Orrin Hoch, later CEO of Litton Industries. So it was a marvelous group.

Goldstein:

What problems with the tubes were you trying to solve? I understand there were actually a host of problems?

Whinnery:

A host of problems. One of them was to find an oscillator that would tune over a wider range, amplifiers that would give higher power and higher efficiency, or possibly greater bandwidth and lower noise.

Goldstein:

Were you trying to use the tube in circuits of improved characteristics, or improve the tube itself?

Whinnery:

Both. The idea in the large was to do things that would be important to radar systems. Of course that was before satellites, but traveling wave tubes turned out to be very important for satellites. But we had a lot of freedom to follow up new ideas. Like one of the things that we worked with was an idea that came out of a talk by Chu of MIT. He pointed out that you can get amplification by having a resistance wall interacting with the electron stream, doesn't sound right; you’d expect only attenuation. It turns out that the complementary wave is an amplifying wave. So Birdsall and Brewer made some of those. It turns out not to be a terribly good amplifier, but the principle has been important in plasma work. We were able to follow up interesting ideas like this and see where they would lead. The part which had the greatest effect in the end was the work on low noise and on new circuits for higher power. We also made some oscillators which were more broadly tunable, but were superseded by the backward-wave oscillator, which tunes over decades.

### Comparison of GE to Hughes Aircraft

Goldstein:

I am going to ask you to do some comparisons: the research environment in Hughes as compared to GE?

Whinnery:

Well, it depends a lot on groups. When I was working with Ramo at GE, it was pretty comparable, but after he left I didn't find anyone else to interact with that gave the same excitement. Of course the obvious difference was that Hughes was a new, dynamic, rapidly growing organization, whereas GE was large with a well-established bureaucracy.

Goldstein:

The other thing that I wanted to ask about was the West Coast environment in the late 1940s. It seems like it was just on the threshold of the boom that you see in the 1950s. Did you have any reaction to that environment?

Whinnery:

Yes. When Ramo first decided to come West it was because of his wife's health. She had severe migraine headaches, and after all sorts of tests her doctor said that she should try a milder climate. So Ramo told GE that he would still work with them if they had an assignment in either Florida or California, and they mentioned a position as liaison with the Jet Propulsion Labs. And he did that for couple of years but realized that was not a useful permanent position. And there was hardly anything interesting in the local electronics industry. He considered some universities and could certainly have got a faculty position — he would have been a superb teacher. But at that time, Bill Jamieson, who had been in our group at GE and had at Hughes, called him. Hughes had one contract concurring IFF, “identification friend or foe.” The rest of the electronics at Hughes was just putting radios in the surplus planes that Hughes was buying. Jamieson thought there was an opportunity for somebody to do more. After careful thought Ramo was convinced and later convinced Dean Wooldridge to join him. The amazing thing is how rapidly the organization took off. Now there were parallel things happening in other companies. Many people after the war wanted to come to the West Coast and several organizations started laboratories on the West Coast because they knew it was an attractive place to get people. But I think the Hughes story is one of the most spectacular. If you haven't read Business of Science by Ramo, I think you would find it an extremely interesting book.

Goldstein:

That's a good recommendation. So let's see, where are we? You were on leave at Hughes?

Whinnery:

I was on leave at Hughes and almost didn't leave since I was having a lot of fun there. The problem there at Berkeley was to find time to think very deeply about anything other than the course work, with the four courses that I was teaching. But Sam Silver, who was one of the great persons of our faculty, talked me into coming back. He argued that there was a need here, and an opportunity.

Goldstein:

I have seen that you have written on electrical engineering education. I assume that you were interested in that?

Whinnery:

Sure.

Goldstein:

So did the teaching of classes, did that become its own kind of challenge?

Whinnery:

Yes certainly. I am not sorry, incidentally, that I did come back but if it had remained the way it was in those first two years, I don't know that I would have been able to stay. But as the department developed there were more reasonable teaching loads and the opportunity to work with outstanding graduate students. That has really been the highlight of my career — the graduate students I’ve been able to work with, just tremendous people.

Goldstein:

I have heard that, in particular, someone named Currie.

Whinnery:

Malcolm Currie who just retired as CEO of Hughes. My first doctoral student was Weigan Lin, who returned to China and was called the “father of microwaves” there. He became a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Former students who later became members of both the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences include Amnon Yariv of Cal Tech, Erich Ippen of MIT, and Dave Auston, now Dean at Columbia.

Goldstein:

How was your relationship with your students worked? Did they come to you with pretty well-developed ideas or did you have an agenda of things that you thought needed doing?

Whinnery:

I think generally they ask for suggestions of a problem or at least an area to work in. I would never give them an absolute assignment, but would suggest an area and a way to get started. After a time they would begin to suggest changes, often improvements or extensions of the original problem, but sometimes a new direction. I often think that I learned more from the graduate students then they learned from me. By the end of the second year they would be usually teaching me, uncovering new literature or moving into new fields that I didn't know about.

Goldstein:

When you came back here to Berkeley, where did your research go?

Whinnery:

Because of the work on microwave tubes at Hughes that was the concentration for the next ten years.

### Problem-solving Approach

Goldstein:

Really! I have noticed that you have done a lot of work on lasers.

Whinnery:

Well, that comes from the Bell Labs period. I don't know if you want to jump to that now.

Goldstein:

No, we can talk about that.

Whinnery:

We begin to see a pattern. You were asking where my direction comes from. The three important directions probably came from the three companies that I worked with: first, GE and what grew out of that; then Hughes and the microwave tube work; and then we come to Bell Labs and the optics work.

Goldstein:

After these various experiences, did your approach to solving some of these problems change? It's a hard question to ask because it's difficult not to be vague. I am wondering, when you needed to roll up your sleeves and solve a problem, if your approaches stayed the same over time?

Whinnery:

As you say it, it is hard to answer because the problems are different, and in that sense require different techniques. In terms of philosophy of approach, I don't know that it has changed that much. I always try to do some reading and thinking and preliminary analysis to see if there is an approach for which we can contribute something. One thing which unfortunately hasn't changed as much as it should have, is in being able to take advantage of the power of computers. Considering that so much of my early work required computation, and my graduate students use computers all the time, it’s puzzling that I haven’t learned to use them well.

Goldstein:

You said since the problems are different, the techniques are necessarily different. I was wondering if you can come up with any examples?

Whinnery:

Well, let's see. One of the areas we have worked on recently is short pulse lasers. the measurement to techniques for picosecond and fenkosecond pulses are unique to this subject, and the microfabrication of the semiconductor lasers is quite different from the fabrication techniques of microwave tubes.

### Studying Microwave Tubes

Goldstein:

So you say that you were working on microwave tubes when you came back here to Berkeley. Had the establishment of the Varian brothers or some of the other developments on the West Coast affected this sort of work that you did?

Whinnery:

Actually, I consulted for Varian in the very early stages when Dorothy Varian was cooking lunch for everybody at noon. The Varians were marvelous people, but after that I don’t think their work affected me too much. The Bell Labs group was the leader at that time and Stanford, with Les Field, one of the outstanding university programs. The work at Hughes had the greatest influence on me. You mentioned tube conferences and I think those were the places where we exchanged ideas. But Bell Labs was always the leader.

Goldstein:

I wonder if your work on tubes, when you were working on microwave components, if your projects were driven by any particular application that you had in mind? For instance, at Bell, AT&T had its communication network to worry about?

Whinnery:

We were aware of the needs in applying these tubes to communications or radar systems — low noise, higher power, tunability — but in a university tried to look at the fundamentals of these rather than building tubes for different systems. In one example, working with Mal Currie when he was a graduate student, we developed certain backward-wave amplifiers to get a voltage tunable amplifier. This seemed very promising until tunable YIG filters were developed. Use of a broad band amplifier and a tunable filter was simpler than the devices we had. But the motivation to obtain a tunable amplifier was there.

Goldstein:

Well, how did you stand with regard to patents while you worked there?

Whinnery:

We took out a patent on that, which didn’t make any money for anybody. We probably don't patent enough in the university, but until recently the university was not very good at marketing electronic patents. It is very time-consuming, working with the patent attorneys, so the idea has to pretty obviously be commercial before we recommend patenting it.

### Academic Leave at Bell Labs

Goldstein:

I see. How did you become involved with Bell Labs and when did it happen?

Whinnery:

Well, after I came back to the university from Hughes, I was made director of the Electronics Research Lab for about three years. And then I became chairman of the department from 1956 to 1959 and then dean of the college from 1959 to 1963. Fortunately, when appointed dean I was told that if I'd stay two or three years that would be sufficient, so I stayed four. It was fairly obvious that that's not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Goldstein:

Was that a lot of administration?

Whinnery:

Yes. And I am not sorry I did it. I met some wonderful people in other departments that I wouldn't have known and obtained a lot of prestige from being dean of a school as good as this. Someone has to do it, but our university has a tradition of rotating administrative positions and ten years seemed enough. It was fairly obvious that if I stayed very much longer in administration, I could not go back and do much technically. And I probably wouldn't have even recovered from that if I hadn't taken a leave at some place like Bell Labs. Chapin Cutler had been on a visit here and once made the comment that anytime I wanted to come there I could. So I worked for him at Bell Labs. That's when a group of persons who had been in microwaves had shifted to lasers, three years after the operation of the first laser.

Goldstein:

I don't know too much about that shift. Who was involved?

Whinnery:

Well, of course, Jim Gordon who had done work masers, Art Ashkin, P.K. Tien, Bill Louisell, and Kumar Patel. Many people don't realize that Patel’s thesis work at Stanford was on microwaves. And in related groups, Gardner Fox, Stu Miller, Tingye Li, and at the administrative level, Cutler, John Pierce and Rudy Kompfner. It was an ideal tome for me, since this group had just changed over. They knew all the problems they had had and were very helpful to me.

Goldstein:

They shared the same language. When this happened what became of the microwave effort at Bell Labs? Did that disintegrate?

Whinnery:

Well, they had systems that used microwaves and they had some very competent microwave designers, but I think the research aspects were cut way back.

Goldstein:

That's very interesting. What prompted that? Was it the personal interests of the people involved?

Whinnery:

Yes. Trying to find something more exciting, I guess. The microwave field was certainly exciting during the period of its building up, but, as most fields, reached a stage where there was not the same degree of innovation. I think it was partly a management decision in Bell Labs, and partly a choice of individuals who had quite a lot of freedom in their choice of research subjects. From the point of view of Bell Labs, the promise of optical communication was obvious. But what is interesting, is the degree of difference between the first systems and the present ones. Semiconductor lasers were not usable, so they chose helium-neon lasers. Fibers were too lossy, so they used periodic lens systems. There was even a period when they considered gas lenses. These were of course experimental systems.

### Optical Communications and Lasers

Goldstein:

So what did you have to learn to get involved with lasers?

Whinnery:

Well, I had to learn more quantum mechanics. I had had a course in it, but it was a fairly elementary course. The electromagnetics part was somewhat different but a fairly straightforward extension. And a lot of specialized language.

Goldstein:

What problems did you work on when you were at Bell?

Whinnery:

When I came there, John Pierce, who was Cutler's boss, told me that of the two big problems one was the transmission medium. It was quite obvious that the periodic lens system then used was expensive. If put across the country you wouldn’t see optical communications as it is today. The other problem was modulation, since the helium-neon laser had to have an external modulator. There were electro-optic devices that would modulate but they weren't very good. So I worked with Art Ashkin on the modulator. Nothing revolutionary came of it but there were some fairly interesting things.

Goldstein:

What sort of things were you trying?

Whinnery:

Using the p-n junction of a semiconductor. As you change the voltage on the junction you change the carriers in the region, and that changes the dielectric constant and therefore the phase. But it was a fairly small effect. Work on the transmission system included analysis of periodic focusing systems with Tien and Gordon. One crazy aspect of this was an idea for using acoustic waves in a gas-filled pipe to produce a strong-focusing system. This was obviously searching for straws. Fortunately, the people who worked on fibers continued their work in reducing losses, even though most people thought then that fibers would never be practical. Probably the most important work I did was on a photo-thermal effect. Leite and Porto had observed some very funny transient effects when they put cells of organic liquids inside the laser cavity. The first thought was that this was a thermal effect, but the first rough calculations seemed to rule out that explanation. It took us several months of experimenting and looking for other explanations. Finally Jim Gordon said, "We just have to make a careful analysis of this because it looks so much like a thermal effect." So I carried out the analysis and the so-called thermal lensing effects or thermal blooming came out of this. That's a paper that has been referred to a great deal. So those were the three main projects I worked with: the modulator, the gas transmission medium, and the thermal lensing. Of those the thermal lensing was the one that had lasting importance.

Goldstein:

Did you keep working on that?

Whinnery:

When I returned to Berkeley a couple of graduate students worked with it.

Goldstein:

And where did it go?

Whinnery:

First of all, it is now a well-known undesirable effect in many circumstances. If you put a high power laser through a liquid or even in the atmosphere, it spreads because of the thermal defocusing effect. There is now a lot of literature on this thermal blooming including convection effects. But what is probably most surprising is that it has been a very useful and sensitive spectroscopic tool. An absorption of 10^-7 or 10^-8 per centimeter can be detected through this effect. So for a number of years I was asked to be a reviewer on papers in spectroscopy using this effect.

Goldstein:

What comes next? You come back into Berkeley?

Whinnery:

Then I had another marvelous group of graduate students. Jay Singer, who had started the quantum electronics work at Berkeley, was moving to medical electronics work, and became very successful in this. Shyh Wang, who would later become a leader in semiconductor lasers, was then concentrating on magnetic effects. Steve Schwarz had just come from Cal Tech. Both of us found some outstanding students anxious to work with lasers. We worked on a variety of problems.

Goldstein:

Was this trying to develop new laser devices or make refinements in the existing ones?

Whinnery:

Both, but the first step was to obtain a better understanding of the complicated processes going on. Marvin Klein, for example, did a marvelous job of trying to isolate some of the processes in pulsed ion lasers.

Goldstein:

Was this getting the device to function as a laser, or was it more about the phenomena that's associated with this operation?

Whinnery:

In that case we were trying to understand the physics, especially the role of radiation trapping. The end goal would be to design a better ion laser.

Goldstein:

I was going to ask what your perception of this work is in terms of engineering as opposed to physics? Do you have an instant where you find frequently in engineers about a certain pragmatic value?

Whinnery:

First of all, in the extreme, physics is about the understanding of nature and engineering about the application to new or improved devices or systems. But there is a great deal of overlap, especially in new fields. Physicists are certainly interested in seeing their ideas applied and engineers are concerned with understanding the fundamentals of whatever they’re working on. Many schools have Applied Physics departments to recognize this overlap more directly.

Goldstein:

I am trying to crystallize something in my mind. Maybe we should just keep going on.

Whinnery:

Of course, I should point out that in addition to the industrial leaves, I have had also sabbaticals at universities, Stanford, U.C. San Diego, and at E.T.H Switzerland. That was my first one, with Tank on microwave tubes.

Goldstein:

One thing I was curious about just you were mentioning with the lasers, using a p-n junction; even before the lasers as you were working on microwaves, did solid state have any impact on your work?

Whinnery:

Not really. At GE, Harper North was an expert on germanium and silicon for microwave detectors. And when he moved to Hughes he started transistor work. I wish I had had more contact with this.

Goldstein:

Moving backwards, what was the organization of the research effort at Hughes? You were describing a research lab a lot.

Whinnery:

Well, they had built up the laboratory so fast, that it was changing all the time. At the time I went there, Ramo and Wooldridge had just started the electron tube laboratory, with one part on microwaves and another on storage tubes. But there was a very strong antenna group, a computer group and large systems efforts on radar and missiles. It was expanding rapidly, with many bright people and many new ideas — a very exciting place to work.

### Hughes Research Lab

Goldstein:

I imagine a lot of this is discussed in the business of science book that you mentioned before, I wonder if you can tell me something from your perspective that might not be there? If Ramo had a particular ambition, how he accomplished it or how it might have fallen short?

Whinnery:

Well, it is very hard to say that anything fell short. What is amazing is the short time scale on which it was built up. What is really interesting and I don't know how much he says about this in the book, Ramo and Wooldridge for several years were co-leaders of the laboratory with equal status. Although they’re entirely different personalities, as far as I know they never had any arguments as to their goals and how to get them. You could see either of them on any issue, and their questions and decisions would be essentially the same. But their main strategy was to get the very best people they could — that was a time when a lot of people wanted to come to California — and to pay them a good salary. There was a statement going around, "Come to Hughes, they will double your salary." That wasn't true, but they did think the best people generally underpaid at that time.

Goldstein:

I remember you said that Ramo was told that there was the opportunity to build something out there at Hughes. Did the top management make all these funds available of their own free will or did Ramo wrangle it out?

Whinnery:

Certainly Howard Hughes didn't pay much attention to the organization for a while. In fact, when he did start paying attention, Ramo and Wooldridge found they couldn't work with him. The most interesting part of the book we discussed is Si’s telling of the relations with Howard Hughes. I don't know exactly how the original funding was arranged, but they very quickly had some large contract for radar and missile systems. It seemed to have been one of those cases where a number of the things came together at the right time and at the right place.

### GE and Miniaturization

Goldstein:

One other thing that I wanted to come back to was GE. GE is well known for their miniature tubes, Chaven was showing me these lighthouse tubes, very small. My question is, did your experience at GE influence you later on with regard to tolerance and size? I mean it seems like there is a tradition of miniaturization at GE. That's one of the things that is noticeable about that lab. Is that a fair characterization now?

Whinnery:

No. It may be now but I don't think the lighthouse and oil can tubes that we worked with were small for their time. In any event our goal was not just to miniaturize. It was to make them compatible with the microwave circuits they had to work with

### Berkeley Electronics Research Lab

Goldstein:

We'll jump forward. I guess we are in the 1960s now? The years that you were at Bell Labs?

Whinnery:

1963 to 1964. So when I came back and we were talking about starting the program here.

Goldstein:

That's right, you said when you came back from Hughes it was to start an electronics laboratory.

Whinnery:

To start the Electronics Research Laboratory. But now we're back to 1953.

Goldstein:

Was it to start it, this laboratory didn't exist?

Whinnery:

Well, there were these projects, at that time separate. One was on very large high power tubes called "resonatrons", with Dave Sloan. Another was on antennas, directed by Leonard Black. The third was on digital computers, directed by Paul Morton. Other projects were then added including the one on traveling wave tubes, which we have discussed.

Goldstein:

How did the funding for this laboratory work, was it the university?

Whinnery:

When we started it was mostly grants from ONR and the Air Force. It was pretty easy to get money at that stage, if you had a reasonable program.

Goldstein:

Did the university contribute to the funding of the lab?

Whinnery:

Yes, through faculty salaries and some equipment.

Goldstein:

Do you have any recollection of what the annual budget was? I am just trying to get the sense of the size of it. Ball park figures. How many full-time researchers?

Whinnery:

For the traveling-wave tube project, I would say \$100,000 a year but that may even be high. In 1950 dollars that would support four or five research assistants and a marvelous engineer who helped to build these tubes, the cost in the machine shop, and a part-time secretary. Research was done with faculty and graduate students. Other faculty who worked on microwave tubes included Charles Susskind, Tom Everhart and Ted Van Duzer. The engineer I referred to was George Becker. Some thought of him as a technician, but he had an engineering degree and could design and make anything. He worked very closely with the graduate students and they learned a lot from him.

Goldstein:

Did your work take any interesting turns after that in the late 1960s?

Whinnery:

We are getting back up to the return from Bell Labs?

Goldstein:

Yes.

Whinnery:

Well, we worked on a lot of interesting problems. I can't think of any that you would call major breakthroughs. The main product, and one that I am proud of that, were the graduate students. They have accomplished a lot after graduation.

Goldstein:

I’m not even thinking as dramatically as major breakthroughs, it's interesting just to know what the day-to-day routine work was like. What sort of projects were in the agenda?

Whinnery:

We had a lot of freedom to choose. In the beginning we looked at fundamental mechanisms in lasers. There was follow-up on the Bell Labs work on photothermal effects, acousto-optic effects and transverse mode locking. When Andrew Dienes came from Bell Laboratories for a year's visit, he got us started on dye lasers and short pulse phenomena. He accepted a faculty position at Davis and has continued to work with us since.

### Applications of Lasers

Goldstein:

I am curious about how applications of lasers and realization of their wider range applications influenced interest in the field or your own work?

Whinnery:

Another example is concerned with the continuing attempt to find better modulaters. Chenming Hu, in his doctoral work, had learned about liquid crystals from Professor Ron Shen in Physics, and proposed using these because of their large electro-optic effects. Their limitation is in their relatively slow reaction times. Chenming is on our faculty and now and expert on MOSFET devices. for the work on picosecond and fenkosecond pules, done cooperatively with Andrew Dienes, the motivation was for higher-data-rate communication systems, but there was a long way to go from the first ultra-short pulses to a practical communication system.

I've mentioned working with Steve Schwarz at the beginning of our laser work. He had some excellent students who have also accomplished a lot — Chuck Shank, Obert Wood, Pat Gordon, Arto Nurmikko and others. We shared the laboratory, equipment, and seminars; likewise with Ken Gustafson when he arrived. We have had a number of jointly-supervised theses.

### Key Developments in Laser History

Goldstein:

As a participant, what would you say are some of the important developments in laser history in the last thirty years?

Whinnery:

There are a tremendous number of them. Patels CO2 laser work of Bill Bridges are major. For communications the most important thing has been the development of practical semiconductor lasers. They had been ruled out as practical sources when optical communications work was first started. They would only last a few hours, had to be operated at liquid nitrogen temperature and had very poor spectra. They are marvelous sources now.

Goldstein:

Whinnery:

The basic idea that made the first major improvement was the so-called double heterostructure version. A material with higher work function is used on the two sides of the active region so that charge carriers are confined to that region. Also, for most materials, it is a lower index material so that the light is guided by the active region. That idea was by Herb Kroemer in this country, and Alferov of Russia and was perfected by Pannish and Hayashi at Bell Labs to give room temperature semiconductor lasers. Many persons were involved in improving the first lasers so that they now have long lifetimes, very good spectra, and can operate to quite high powers. So, from the point of view of communications, that is the most important development.

A recent exciting development is the doped fiber lasers. Erbium doped fiber can give an optical amplifier an oscillator that can just fit into a fiber system.

### Retirement & Semiconductor Lasers

Goldstein:

Just looking over your paper, I got the impression that you are still working in lasers or you have over this long period of time?

Whinnery:

I have been retired now for about six years. Since retirement I haven't taken any new graduate students but have worked with ones who started with me, and also with some of my colleagues. The last student I will be a co-supervisor of is getting his degree tomorrow. The recent work has been pretty much on semiconductor lasers, especially surface emitting lasers. There was some very interesting work on doping superlattice (nipi) devices, suggested by Gottfried Dohler when he was at Hewlett-Packard. This was carried out by Connie Chang-Hasnain (now at Stanford) and Ghulam Hasnain (now at HP). The two met and married when graduate students here. Nipis produce electrically tunable semiconductor devices.

Goldstein:

It seems like you had a fairly diverse career for the decades of the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s. Have the lasers provided enough challenges within that area?

Whinnery:

Challenging, yes. To be critical I would have probably made more progress if I had concentrated more. In part the changes resulted from a philosophy of allowing the graduate students quite a lot at freedom in choosing their problems.

Goldstein:

I was wondering why you have stayed in lasers for these many years?

Whinnery:

Why I had not moved to superconductivity or something like that?

Goldstein:

I don't want to predict where you had gone. Had you found something that really cuts to the heart of your interest.

Whinnery:

There are certainly many other interesting things that have happened. I mentioned superconductivity because my colleague Ted Van Duzer did switch to superconductivity and has become one of the top experts in the world on this. But the laser and optical communication field has remained exciting with plenty of new ideas.

### Value of Industrial Experience

Goldstein:

I may be done with questions. I want to be sure that you feel that we have covered the major themes in your career, and all the highlights. Do you think there is anything that we should revisit?

Whinnery:

Maybe to summarize a point I have made before. For me the three industrial experiences were vital. I can trace back after each one, and find the next ten years of activity growing out of that. I had two or three valuable sabbaticals in universities, but they probably didn't have the same breadth of influence as these industrial experiences.

Goldstein:

Does the industrial experience charge you with a vision of what is important to work on?

Whinnery:

I think so. A second issue I want to stress is the role of the graduate students. Literally they have been my teachers. Of course, colleagues too; we have nice working relationships with colleagues, but I think the graduate student interactions have been special.

Goldstein:

Do you like to see your students go to work for industry or get positions at universities? Or do you not have a preference?

Whinnery:

I guess I would feel badly if they all did one of these. It isn't quite half and half, but is fairly even. Even ones like Dave Auston and Erich Ippen who are now at universities, started at Bell Labs. But if all went directly into universities after getting their Ph.D.'s I would begin to worry.

Goldstein:

That maybe the experience with you wasn't practical enough?

Whinnery:

There is a feeling that Ph.D.’s are only interested in doing what their mentor did: teaching. And there is some truth to it. So that's why if it happened all the time why I would worry about it. But industrial experience before an academic position makes a good combination.

Goldstein:

How has the program here evolved over time? If one of your greatest sources of pride is the quality of the grad students who come through these doors, I just wanted to know how you feel about that evolution. Let me just leave the question at that. How is the program here?

Whinnery:

Well it certainly has changed, with a lot more visibility. When I came there weren't national rankings of departments, but we would certainly not have ranked in the top ten and possibly not in the top twenty-five departments. Yet in recent rankings we have consistently been in a top group with MIT, Stanford and Illinois. Certainly that affects the quality of students you get, and the faculty you can hire.

Goldstein:

With the visibility, has it changed the relationship between the faculty and the students or the division of the department, if such a thing exists?

Whinnery:

Well, I am not sure exactly what you mean. This is a very student-oriented place. The faculty on the whole tries very hard to be sure that we aren't exploiting students, but are giving them a good education and some sound values along the way. I don't know of any serious divisions. There's great respect and admiration for one's colleagues.

We didn't talk too much about my period of administration, but it was exciting to be chairman of the department during its period of most rapid build-up. People like to say that I hired so and so, but of course the chairman only coordinates this; it's a group of faculty that selects the people. We did get some very exciting people at that stage, Pedersen, Desoer, Kuh and others.

Goldstein:

I meant to ask you that. You said Desoer and that reminds me that Zadeh came here.

Whinnery:

Right, Zadeh was one. Rumsey, and Everhart who is now president of Cal Tech, and still others.

Goldstein:

Was the plan to get strong in a breadth of areas?

Whinnery:

We had a plan. At that time we were strongest in microwaves but solid state, computers, and information theory were the targeted areas. Control theory, which could be considered a subset of information theory, had been built up under Paul Morton, the previous chairman, with Eli Jury, Henry Bourne, and ties to the modernized energy conversion program with Bob Saunders, Mac Hopkin and Art Bergen. Paul Morton had built the computer program, but it was quite clear that we needed more people and that proved to be tough for awhile.

### Electrical Engineering Programs

Goldstein:

With the growth of the EE department in conjunction with its related sciences, say computer, did it work cooperatively in that way?

Whinnery:

It is working smoothly now, but there were some rough times. Progress was like that of the drunken beggar on horseback. Following Morton, several promising computer groups were built up but then lost to industry. Then a computer science department was set up in the College of Letters and Science with several of our strong faculty joining that. Lotfi Zadeh, when chairman, recognized that EE could not be divorced from computer science, effected a name change of the department and continued to recruit in that area. Eventually the CS department was put back as a point because there had been some hard feelings in some of the earlier dealings, but it has worked beautifully. Thanks are due to Tom Everhart and Dick Karp who worked out the original operating procedures, and to all excellent department chairs and division chairs who have maintained the cooperation. CS is now one of the most distinguished parts of our department, innovative both technically and in its operating procedures.

Goldstein:

Often when a department improves the way it did at Berkeley it’s because the faculty of arts and sciences decided deliberately that they want to improve the school in that area and they accomplish it through funds. Is that what happened here?

Whinnery:

No, I think it was more of a push for persons in the department.

Goldstein:

How is it that you were able to recruit good people?

Whinnery:

Well, we had the support of our dean and the chancellor, but only after a strong letter from Paul Morton, my predecessor as a chairman. Dean O'Brien was a very forceful person who had built up the college, but did not play any direct role in the hiring we're discussing. But it was certainly important that he made the faculty positions available as I became chairman. Many persons helped in the recruiting, with Sam Silver, Don Pedersen and Bob Saunders playing especially key roles. Of course the stature of the university as a whole, and the attraction of the Bay area as a place to live, were very important in the recruiting.

Goldstein:

Have you seen other faculty members benefit from stints in industry the way you have?

Whinnery:

Yes. Since I experienced mine personally, I can't really say whether it was as important to them as it was to me. But certainly I have seen others take a year in Bell Labs, IBM or Hughes and come back with fresh ideas.

Goldstein:

I wonder if the fresh ideas come more from the fact that they are simply in another location watching people do other work, or if it's a set of values that they are exposed to values that are important in industry?

Whinnery:

Probably a little of both.

Goldstein:

Is there anything that you wanted to add?

Whinnery:

No, I guess not.

Goldstein:

Thank you.