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Oral-History:Reginald Russell

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About Reginald Russell

The focus of this interview is Russell's tenure as IEEE Region 8 Director. Russell held the office in 1973 and 1974. He starts by telling how he came to be Director, explaining that he became involved in Region 8 affairs as a representative of the UKRI Section. In the remainder of this interview, he talks about his experiences as Director. Russell concentrated on membership east of the Iron Curtain during his term, and he discusses his efforts to expand IEEE activity in the Communist countries at length. Here he shares memories of his trips to the Soviet Union and Poland in these years. He also speaks about chairing the Region 8 Committee and serving on the IEEE Board of Directors.


About the Interview

REGINALD RUSSELL: An Interview Conducted by Tony Davies for the IEEE History Center, 19 January 2012.

Interview #571 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:

Reginald Russell, an oral history conducted in 2012 by Tony Davies, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.


Interview

INTERVIEW: Reginald Russell
INTERVIEWER: Tony Davies
DATE: 19 January 2012
PLACE: Imperial College in London, United Kingdom

Note: Roland Saam, acting as an assistant, was also present at this interview.

Introductions

Russell:

So I’m Reginald Russell and I am a past Director of Region 8, I believe for the years 1973 and 1974.

Davies:

Thank you. I’m Tony Davies, a retired Professor from Kings College in London and I was more recently also Region 8 Director, so I will be acting as the interviewer in this morning’s activities. Roland?

Saam:

I’m Roland, Roland Saam. My role here today is as sort of facilitator and helper. I’m Editor of Region 8 News since 2000, and in IEEE I’ve been active all my life and been mainly associated with the UKRI Section.

Joining IEEE

Davies:

Just to kick things off, why did you join IEEE?

Russell:

I joined IEEE and it was the first professional society which I joined because I was a post-grad Research Assistant at MIT, and everyone around me was in the IEEE so I joined.

In fact I only joined the IEE, the British equivalent, several years later when I returned to London.

Davies:

So the reason you joined was because you happened to be in the USA?

Russell:

...and everybody else was a member.

Davies:

Some time after this obviously you became what we now call an active volunteer.

Russell:

Yes.

Participating in the UKRI Section

Davies:

What led you to become an active volunteer rather than just a passive member?

Russell:

Active participation in the IEEE started, I hope interestingly, with the very first meeting called by Professor Robert Williams, which was the inauguration of the UKRI Section.

I attended that meeting which was held in the Headquarters of the IEE, and a group of us, IEEE members together under his leadership formed the UKRI section.

There was some discussion which perhaps has some historical interest about the name since it was important to deal with the fact that the United Kingdom incorporates Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland does not, hence this UKRI Section which, solved that problem ….to the benefit of all, not least the Irish. That’s how I began.

Davies:

Had you had any sort of involvement in other parts of IEEE - like Societies or, say, the Region in the USA that you were living in, as a volunteer or were you just a member before that?

Russell:

I was just a member really. I was a lifelong friend, member of the MTT Group which has been my own background. But I went on from this beginning with the UKRI Section to hold offices within the UKRI Section and then finally I was nominated and elected as Regional Director.

Davies:

Were you Chair of the UKRI section at any time?

Russell:

Yes, I was.

Saam:

Who was the first Chair of the UKRI section? Would that have been Robert Williams?

Russell:

Robert Williams. In fact he is the originator...

Davies:

...he started it all, didn’t he?

Russell:

Yes, he did...

Davies:

I suppose he also started Region 8, didn’t he?

Russell:

That I don’t know. I don’t know where Region 8 came from. I think it existed before all this.

Davies:

I think that’s all pretty well documented.

Russell:

And I have a few things to say about that further on.

Becoming Director of Region 8

Davies:

Well as time went on, obviously, you got to a more influential senior position within the Section and therefore at some time got a link with Region 8...

Russell:

Yes. That’s right.

Davies:

Did you jump straight into being elected as Director?

Russell:

[I started by] going to Region 8 meetings as representative of the UKRI... This is how I became involved with the larger entity of the Region itself.

Davies:

So you went there perhaps as a Section Chair?

Russell:

Yes.

Davies:

Then you would have met all of these people...

Russell:

Yes, I met all them there.

Davies:

Then at some time I think you were Treasurer/Secretary for a while?

Russell:

Yes, I was, of the Section.

Davies:

Oh, just the Section?

Russell:

Yes.

Davies:

Not Region?

Russell:

No, I don’t think so.

And then I was elected.

Davies:

And did the election work the same way for Region 8 Director as it does now? I mean, they appear as a Director Elect...

Russell:

...oh no, that was a little later I think, it was just a straight election.

Davies:

In principle the whole membership of Region 8 would have been given the option to vote for you or against you.

Russell:

That is correct. Yes.

Davies:

Did you feel you were well prepared for being Director?

Russell:

Yes, I did actually. All the UKRI experience was an excellent preparation.

Davies:

And you kept your link with the MTT Society, obviously, through all of this?

Russell:

I did. Because that was my specialization.

Davies:

You had a real job at this time...if I may call it that?

Russell:

I had indeed.

Davies:

Did these two things conflict in any way...

Russell:

No....they did not. As a matter of fact I would say one of the greatest benefits of volunteering in the IEEE were the other members that you met. And when it came to the Regional level, that meant throughout Europe, and that was a very great bonus and benefit.

Working to Expand IEEE Activity in the Communist Countries

Davies:

So looking back on those days when you were Region 8 Director and perhaps as Region 8 Director Elect and then later on as immediate past Director, what do you think you brought to IEEE as opposed to what IEEE brought to you? What legacy is there from that...?

Russell:

Well this brings me to the heart of what I have to say, because the years 1973 and 1974 were the height of the Cold War. IEEE has always, and still does, prided itself on its transnational stance, namely that we’re all engineers and our nationality was irrelevant.

More particularly in these years I concentrated on that body of the membership which lies in what are now ... what now is euphemistically called … the former socialist countries.

Actually in my day they were the Communist countries, and I have a few remarks to make about some of those, and I think since it’s at the heart of what I have to say perhaps you would bear with me.

The first thing to realize is that throughout this period until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, all these countries had non-convertible currencies. It’s difficult nowadays to realize that such a thing was possible.

This meant, in IEEE terms, that all our members throughout that region were state sponsored or state affiliated in order to get the necessary transfer of dues from their local currencies into US dollars.

However, in an initiative, I approached the Board of Directors and suggested a change and an experiment, namely in the case of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was, by far, the most liberal of all the Communist countries, and not only that, but of the Republics of which it was made... it was a Federation, and of the Republics which made it up, Slovenia, which is between Austria and Italy, was by far, and still is in my opinion, the most westward looking.

I therefore suggested to the Board of Directors that we set up a Section in Slovenia, in Ljubljana, and members throughout Yugoslavia, be invited to pay in dinars and deposit the money in a bank in Ljubljana.

They agreed to this experiment and it went ahead, as, you may know, one of the Region 8 meetings was held in Dubrovnik, a delightful town on the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic. And the reason for that was to use up these dinars in the bank in Ljubljana so that the Region committee expenses were carried by that and not by Headquarters. This is the reason for the Dubrovnik choice.

Later on I attempted to extend the idea of a Section to Belgrade, the Federal capital, but my Directorship came to an end, and as far as I’m aware this ran into the sand.

Visit to the Soviet Union

Russell:

I have a couple of other remarks to make. Next is the USSR. There was, (maybe still …... no, there can’t be still since the USSR has disappeared) …. there was a cultural agreement between the USA and the USSR at government level of which the IEEE was a subsidiary ... beneficial subsidiary. And these agreements were for cooperation and meetings and so on.

As part of this agreement, a delegation including the [IEEE] President at the time, and I, myself as Regional Director, went to Moscow to the AGM of the Popov Society, the main engineering society of the USSR.

I should add, just in passing, that the meeting was held in the extraordinary plush surroundings of the Officers’ Club of the Red Army in the middle of Moscow. Normally one doesn’t think of it being plush, but believe me, the Red Army Officers got it right.

The meetings had an interesting anecdote. It took place in a fairly large conference room with a raised dais at one end. And on this dais there were six or seven or eight Soviet engineers, presumably senior engineers, who sat there in front of an audience of international engineers.

Although I have mentioned the IEEE, we were not the only international engineers present, for instance I know there were Czechs sitting next to me.

The idea of this meeting was that these Soviet engineers were open to answer questions from the audience. It would be better to describe it as that they were there to field questions rather than to answer them, as the following example will show.

It was the time when active work was being carried out on charged coupled devices. And a character with the delightful name of Tom Collins from Texas Instruments stood up and said ‘What work is being carried on in the USSR in the field of charged coupled devices?’ and sat down.

Before an international audience, this threw all the Soviet engineers into confusion. We all sat and watched them writhe and wriggle until finally one of them got up and said ‘There is no work being carried out on this field in the USSR at this point.’, whereupon the irrepressible Tom Collins stood up again and said ‘I find it quite astonishing that in a country of the size and importance of the USSR, work is not being carried out on manifestly so important field.’, and sat down.

The following morning a large black limousine arrived at his hotel and took him to all the research institutes in Moscow working on charged level device.

The second thing I have to say about this visit is not quite technical, but bears on it. As part of the agreement we were all invited to submit requests to visit establishments in the USSR. As far as I’m aware, no reply was ever received. I know that I, myself, was working in the field of microwavelengths at the time and asked to see what I thought was fairly innocuous - the outside broadcast links of Moscow television. All this was ignored.

What was offered was a plane trip to Leningrad, as it was, where we had the most extraordinary visit and visited the apartment which Anton Chekhov lived in when he was in the then St. Petersburg. Not only that, but we were received by two very old ladies, they were either his granddaughters or his great-granddaughters, and I shall never forget them.

The point to this remark is Chekhov’s granddaughters were offered but not visits to industrial establishments.

One last thing, at this time, this just shows how far we have gone, there was some scare about drinking water in Leningrad, a city of several million, let’s say, such that we were all warned by our various foreign officers not to drink the water in Leningrad.

And the President’s wife, who’ve name I have forgotten, gave a demonstration over breakfast at how to do your teeth in whisky. I have never forgotten her.

Visit to Poland

Russell:

One last remark, and this is Poland. I went, with some others, to a meeting of the Polish Engineering Society which was held in Gdańsk. Bear in mind that it was in Gdańsk that the revolution started which led to the downfall of Communism throughout the whole area. In fact Lech Wałęsa set up the heretical idea of a workers’ union in the shipyards of Gdańsk.

The point I would like to make is this, the train for Gdańsk left Warsaw Central Station mid-afternoon. The journey is about three or four hours. And this train had a rather ample rather than smart dining car and all the engineers assembled in the dining car. The long and short of it was that we read our papers, discussed them, talked to each other, and the whole thing was over before we’d arrived in Gdańsk.

When we were in Gdańsk we were received, and the Mayor gave a reception for us, and they sought all sorts of pretty speeches and during the course of it I said ‘What about the neighbours?’, the neighbours being the USSR, and I received the unforgettable answer ‘The neighbours are otherwise occupied.’ They were, indeed, with the invasion of Afghanistan.

So those are some of the things from the Cold War...

Davies:

Can I just interrupt? What was the actual date you went to Gdańsk in relation to other world events?

Russell:

I can’t remember, but the seventies.

Davies:

So it was at the beginning of Solidarity?

Russell:

Oh yes, didn’t I mention? Of course, Solidarity is very, very important.

Davies:

But that was already underway?

Russell:

Which reminds me of another thing, the one thing which I have of commendation about Communism was the quality of women in the professions, above all in engineering. I’ve been to many meetings in Moscow as a businessman and half the engineers would be women. And I shall never forget that, for instance, the Chief Engineer of Polish Television, Madam Grabowska, a nice old thing, looked like everybody’s grandmother.

Davies:

So looking back on those times, obviously you had quite an involvement in seeing what was going on?

Russell:

Yes.

Business Interests: Microwave Communications

Davies:

Do you feel you’ve personally made any contribution to that from the IEEE? If someone else had been Director, would it have been different?

Russell:

Well I had a particular interest in the area because of my business activities.

Saam:

What were your business activities?

Russell:

Microwave communications.

Saam:

Broadcast telephonics?

Russell:

Not broadcast, transmission of signals from place to place. Terrestrial...

Saam:

Point-to-point?

Russell:

In those days.

Davies:

So this would be high frequency parabolas sending messages from point-to-point.

Russell:

That’s right. Yes. In fact there is a business thing, which might be of some interest. During this period there was a famous link-up in space between the Soyuz missile and the Apollo missile of the USA. Now whatever else one might say of NASA, the fact is that it’s a publicly funded body, and all its blast-offs and activities were available on American television. Absolutely the reverse was true of the USSR; nobody saw anything. However since this was a joint effort and the California end would be on public television they were obliged to do the same for Kazakhstan. And I was called to Moscow to provide the microwave communication links to convey the signals of the blast-off in Kazakhstan onto the networks.

At that meeting in Moscow, as I’ve said, half the engineers were women. And before I went I had read in Solzhenitsyn’s book, I think it’s Cancer Ward, the story of a penal colony of scientists in Siberia where brutal and illiterate guards every night removed scientific journals freely available, according to Solzhenitsyn, on any bookstall in New York city. So I thought, right, and I started the discussion by saying ‘Now, before we go any further I have to know what are the publicly available channels for microwave in the USSR’, and they all looked at me blankly.

But, prepared, I said, ‘You may like to know what the publicly available channels in the USA are’ and handed them round the table, and guess what they chose.

Saam:

Tell us.

Russell:

They chose the USA channels.

There was actually also in Moscow an exhibition called the Exhibition of the Achievements of the USSR which is ludicrous ... however the Americans at one stage presented the Apollo missile to this museum, and one could see the story was an Apollo standing side-by-side in this park which was quite interesting.

Reflecting on his Efforts

Davies:

So do you think, looking back, you would have done anything really differently if you know what you know now, or you did...?

Russell:

No, I think it... I think it went as well as it could. I think we respected their difficulties, and I like to think that we prepared the way in our small way for the greater liberalization which followed, and of course the multiplicity of societies which we now have in Region 8 throughout this region.

This is perhaps a little contribution to the background of those societies.

Davies:

You’ve mentioned these blocked currency accounts...

Russell:

Yes.

Circumstances in Poland

Davies:

...and how there was this initiative in Yugoslavia. I believe that in Poland, even in the Communist times, it was different because Polish citizens seemed to be allowed to have dollars if they could get any. And there was a Region 8 committee meeting I believe at some time, maybe it was in Warsaw.

Russell:

Oh right.

Davies:

Were you at all involved in that?

Russell:

No, that was not Russia.

Davies:

It was before the end of Communism, but there was definitely a meeting there. And I remember meeting a few Polish people in my connections with Region 8 who were able to come to Region 8 committee meetings in, let’s call it, the West, and they did seem to be in a position to be able to transfer money. Particularly I remember sitting next to someone who was, I suppose, a Section Chair from Poland in a bus in the Benelux countries and we went to some sort of evening dinner or something and he happened to be sitting next to me, and he was looking around and he couldn’t understand the huge prosperity of the agricultural land around him which was obviously a big contrast to what he’d seen in his home country.

Russell:

...I’d... just....make a comment, you can always take this out. My comment to that is that the Poles have always been ingenious ... to put it kindly. And it’s no surprise to me that in fact the whole thing started.in Poland.

They’ve barely, barely carried on the lie which was at the heart of Communism, and I’m referring to Madam Grabowska again, I remember standing in the foyer of Polish Television surrounded by posters of Solidarity and I said ‘Tell me, are the engineers here members of the Communist Party.’ And at the top of her voice she said ‘Certainly not, but they have to have us.’

Davies:

But I guess that if you wanted to go up through the system even there to a very high level...

Russell:

They didn’t even seem to pay lip service to it in Poland.

On IEEE's Transnational Stance

Davies:

Region 8 isn’t just the West and the Communist East...

Russell:

No, I have concentrated on this because......it was unusual.

Davies:

Well it’s probably very important. I just wondered if you have any comments from your Region 8 Director period about IEEE’s relationships with the IEE in this country?

Russell:

Yes.

Davies:

And also VDE in Germany, or the French SEE..

Russell:

And there was Eurel which is not mentioned here, as well..

Davies:

Well Eurel was meant to be a cooperative thing of societies, wasn’t it?

Russell:

Yes.

Davies:

But didn’t perhaps become very noticeable.

Russell:

No. I’m left really with the impression of a rather fuzzy, woolly friendliness amongst them all without anything specific happening. And certainly the IEEE’s transnational stance does mark it out in my view from all the others, not least, I regret to say, from the IEE which did not have this.

Davies:

Indeed, although they had some ambitions in that direction.

Russell:

They do now, too late.

Davies:

Well I think probably at least among ourselves we’re all very much in favor of the transnational aims of IEEE...

Russell:

Of course...it’s absolutely wonderful.

Davies:

...and that’s very important?

Russell:

Yes.

Davies:

Sometimes there’s a feeling that, the USA members and the staff are too USA-centric in their vision because they’re not very much aware of certain things...

Russell:

No. That has not been my experience .. and I would say, as I’ve just said, this transnational idea has been pursued from the very beginning.

Chairing the Region 8 Committee

Davies:

What about your Chairing of the Region 8 committee itself? While you were Director you had to Chair, I suppose four meetings, two per year...

Russell:

Yes. There were four meetings, I mentioned Dubrovnik, there was also one in London and I’ve forgotten where the other two were, but the others were in Western Europe, and of course I’ve given you the reason for the outing to Dubrovnik was to use up those costs.

Davies:

Yes. I wondered how you found Chairing those meetings and general recollections...

Russell:

Oh, very good...

Davies:

...and experiences.

Russell:

...very good, I have to say, very good. Everybody behaved and of course amongst them I now count many of them as personal friends.

Davies:

Indeed. Yes. And now the Region 8 Committee is, relatively speaking, very big compared to what it was in your time because the number of Sections is enormous.

Russell:

Yes.

Davies:

Forty-five to fifty Sections...

Russell:

I know. It just keeps growing.

Davies:

At the time you were Director it was very, very few.

Russell:

Very, indeed.

Davies:

Did you imagine in your mind, looking forward into the future, that it would grow in that way or has that been sort of something unexpected?

Russell:

Well I haven’t really speculated on it since the in depths of the Cold War one couldn’t see beyond that and certainly the collapse of Communism, I think, was an astonishing historical fact of the twentieth century. So, no, and as to how they manage such large numbers nowadays I really don’t know.

Contact with Africa

Davies:

Well perhaps they don’t know either. But what about other parts of the Region? Africa is a big continent...

Russell:

Yes.

In my day there was little contact.

Davies:

The South Africa Section was there, was it?

Russell:

There was a South Africa Section, that is quite true, and their people did come occasionally.

Davies:

It was still under apartheid then was it?

Russell:

Of course, yes.

Davies:

So that... did that have any impact?

Russell:

No, not really.

Davies:

Nobody noticed anything.

Russell:

No, we were all engineers together.

Davies:

So was there any other part of the African continent that was in the IEEE fold in those days?

Russell:

No, I think all that has been developed and come after my time....quite successfully...

Davies:

I’m trying to think, would there have been any other Sections that were different, of course there was Israel, Israel has a very long history in IEEE...

Russell:

Well yes...

Davies:

...predating Region 8 in fact.

Russell:

Israel has always been there of course, and their people always came.

Davies:

And Egypt as well, perhaps?

Russell:

No, I can’t remember Egypt.

Saam:

Kenya, Nigeria?

Russell:

No...

Saam:

Morocco?

Russell:

No, that’s about it.

Davies:

What is very much in the public mind now is Israel versus the surrounding countries, whether as well as having the Israel person representing Israel’s Section share at the Region 8 committee, were there people from these Arab countries in anyway?

Russell:

Well of course with this transnational idea we have managed to achieve blurring all these boundaries. We were at the end of the day all engineers.

Davies:

But I wondered if physically there were any people from those Arab countries on the Committee at that time...

Russell:

No, I had no contact with them.

Davies:

But this must be in the records.

Russell:

That’s right, yes.

Davies:

Because we know the starting date of each Section, we can look that up.

The Importance of the English Language

Russell:

I’ve thought of one last thing that one might say for the IEEE and indeed for the others, and that is to reiterate the importance of English. All the meetings were held throughout in English. In fact in my whole career I have only ever known one senior engineer without a command of English, that’s to say at least able to read it. And that was actually a senior engineer in Serbia. Serbian is not a very well-known language......so quite how he managed to get there, I really don’t know. But I have one other small anecdote of New York City, and that is that... and this is from my business life …. Czechs came in to witness equipment tests of equipment which they had bought, and to my horror, of the four not one spoke English. You might think that Serbian is a difficult language but Czech is further down the road. These meetings took place in Massachusetts, and in a moment of genius I thought ah, there must be a Czech at Harvard who can speak Czech and English, and indeed there was. They produced a Post Graduate Czech reading American Literature at Harvard.

Davies:

So he might not have been very good at technical things.

Russell:

...that should have rung bells, because although he could speak English and Czech, the Czechs couldn’t understand each other, and it ended up without language, by simply looking at the instruments and the readings on the instruments, which did work.

Saam:

And they understood enough about the technologies to make the visit beneficial?

Russell:

Yes. That’s right.

He’d no clue what they were talking about.

Saam:

Come all that way.

Davies:

There were connections obviously with these countries within the Iron Curtain countries, Poland, USSR, sometimes these cultural agreements that you mentioned.

Russell:

Yes.

Circumstances in East Germany

Davies:

The one area where there seemed to be no connection with IEEE as far as I’m aware was East Germany.

Russell:

Ah. Yes.

Davies:

I mean there were occasional IEEE members, if you like, state sponsored in many of the other countries...

Russell:

Yes.

Davies:

...but I don’t know that there were any in East Germany. Do you have any perception about that?

Russell:

It’s a good remark, the short answer is no I don’t. I don’t know what was going on in East Germany. Except, of course, that it really was a nonsense, because at least along the whole border between East and West Germany, West German TV programmes and the European TV programmes were widely available.

Davies:

Yes, they spent their time watching them of course and even though they weren’t supposed to...

Russell:

Exactly. I remember once arriving in East Berlin and the border guard removed all the London papers from me which I hadn’t read on the plane, and I went into the Metropole Hotel in East Berlin and turned on the TV and there was all the news, and this is just an example of the absurdity... which was at the heart of Communism.

Davies:

Yes, well an exception to this was in the Dresden area….because you’re in a hollow and the signals couldn’t get through.

Russell:

...yes.

Davies:

So they were all building microwave receivers and having hidden satellites. They weren’t allowed to have satellites so they had them in their back gardens where they couldn’t be seen, and the people I knew in the technical university were building the micro-electronics to be able to pick up the satellite broadcasts because they couldn’t get the direct signal.....and so they were still watching West German television but by a different route.

On the Election Process in Region 8

Davies:

As you came towards the end of your time as Region 8 Director, obviously the process has to go on with electing new Directors and new Secretaries and new other kind of people. I know in the early days, Region 8 was very much, one might say, managed and run from the UK.

Russell:

Yes.

Davies:

There were mainly British people in charge.

Russell:

Well not entirely, there were these Belgians...

Davies:

...but, there was a predominant management from Britain I believe...

Russell:

It was.....to an extent.

Davies:

... Bob Williams...

Russell:

That’s right.

Davies:

...Bob Winton, all these kind of people, at that level..

Russell:

Well, yes..but don’t forget Jespers, Bolinder, and all those ...

Davies:

What I was just wondering is, as you came towards the end of your time as Director, obviously there were election processes to bring new people up into this level.

Russell:

That’s right.

Davies:

I don’t know who immediately came after you, perhaps you can tell us.

Russell:

I can’t remember.

Davies:

...I wondered how that overall election process went, because some people say, oh well it’s just these people, they arrange the nominations so that it’s their friends get in and so on, and it’s a closed shop, which I think perhaps it isn’t, but people do say that even now. I wonder how it seemed in those days for you.

Russell:

Yes, there is some truth in that, but of course the UKRI then was by far the largest of the Sections, and maybe that is no longer the case, that with all the others combined it has, can we say, diminished in proportion. At least in numbers.

Davies:

I don’t know whether it was in the time you were Director, but some way back there was a kind of unwritten agreement that in the election only in alternate elections did they field a UKRI a candidate..

Russell:

Yes, you are quite right.

Davies:

To give the other Sections a fair chance.

Russell:

That’s quite right.

Davies:

Because they believed if there was a UKRI Section candidate that person will win.

Russell:

It was unwritten and unspoken.

Davies:

Indeed.

Russell:

Until now.

Davies:

Well I heard about it so it must have been spoken at least quietly.

On Being from Industry

Davies:

I think we’ve covered quite a bit of ground.

Russell:

So do I.

Davies:

Have we left out anything important?

Russell:

No, not that I can think of. It’s been wonderful.

Davies:

Roland, do you want to ask anything more?

Saam:

...tell us a little bit about the industry. You’re in business...very few of the Region 8 Directors are non-academics.

Russell:

Yes, that’s right.

Saam:

They’re all academics practically.

Davies:

Mostly.

Saam:

How did you find this in relation to business, and was the IEEE helpful, was being Director in some way opening doors, closing doors?

Russell:

Well it was helpful in the sense that I’ve already mentioned. To me it was a great... one of the greatest bonuses was actually the other people one met through the IEEE. And this is still the case. Yes, I met other microwave people, as one does, at conferences and exhibitions and so on and so forth.

Serving on the IEEE Board of Directors

Davies:

Perhaps one thing we haven’t mentioned that you might have something to say about, as Region 8 Director you were a member of the IEEE Board of Directors...

Russell:

Yes.

Davies:

...so you would have gone to the Board of Directors’ meetings...

Russell:

Yes.

Davies:

...which I suppose were mostly in the USA.

Russell:

That’s right.

Davies:

And what were your memories and experience of the Board of Directors?

Russell:

That’s quite a big question actually. But as a cast of characters I think they take the peak ... of some extraordinary people one met in that. But generally they were all very sympathetic to the transnational management which was my particular take on the whole thing...all of them.

Davies:

Nowadays there’s this thing called the IEEE USA which looks after the interests of the IEEE engineers, separately.

Russell:

That’s right. Yes.

Davies:

Did that exist?

Russell:

No, it did not.

Davies:

...it didn’t exist in your time?

Russell:

No....it did not. And I suppose that does seem like a good idea. USA members may be from a different [unintelligible], you know, a national body looking up at [unintelligible].

Davies:

Well I think that has come up from time-to-time, you know, that there’s a group of people there who want someone to look after the interests of the USA engineer, and the more transnational IEEE becomes the less they perhaps feel that it fills that role directly because it’s got so many non-USA people in it.

Russell:

That’s right.

Saam:

But didn’t the Board of Directors have a committee for transnationalism or something like this?

Davies:

Later on there was a Transnational Committee.

Russell:

I told you some of the initiatives I was looking for which I introduced at the time and which they supported. Perhaps the most spectacular was the non-convertible currency.

Davies:

There was a Transnational Office, do you remember?

Russell:

It was an attempt...

Davies:

There was Barbara ... do you remember Barbara Ettinger? Is that a name that rings any bells?

Russell:

Yes.

There was an attempt to open a Region 8 Office in Brussels.

Davies:

Oh they did open that, but that was a Computer Society initiative originally.

Russell:

It was, that’s right. I don’t know what’s happened to that.

Davies:

They closed it down then.

Russell:

That’s what I thought. ...

Russell:

It wasn’t necessary.

Davies:

It ceased to serve its original purpose.

But I think separately from the Brussels office......which was paid mainly by the Computer Society and was supposed to be there to help to distribute their magazines, conference proceedings and so on, there was something, and I don’t remember when it started, but it was staffed by Barbara Ettinger in the USA to deal with transnational affairs on the staff side. So perhaps that came later.

Russell:

That came later. Yes. I have no criticism to make, in fact quite the contrary, I think the support and everything and interest was superb.

Saam:

As a Regional Director you visited the United States for the Board series?

Russell:

Oh yes, you mean different places in the USA?

Saam:

Yes, sure.

Russell:

Yes, of course.

Davies:

And they were scattered around in different places were they?

Russell:

I’ll never forget the Everglades. We seemed to be forever meeting in the Everglades, which was wonderful.

Davies:

Well it’s... it’s probably better for the winter part of the year, isn’t it, because it’s warm there.

Saam:

But were there any issues at the Board level that you found interesting from the Region 8 point of view...

Russell:

I can’t recall.

Saam:

...for instance, controversy...

Russell:

I can’t recall, not at such a distance...

Saam:

Did you meet Region 10 Directors?

Russell:

Well you met, of course, everyone...

Davies:

Everybody?

Russell:

...everybody.

Davies:

As well as going to the Board meetings which, as you say, they were in Florida and other places, you visited Piscataway from time to time?...

Russell:

No, I’ve never been to Piscataway.

Davies:

Really? Oh!

It was... it was a small single-story building the first time I went there, and of the people concerned with Region 8, that was called Field Services...

Russell:

Yes...

...indeed it was...

Davies:

...the name, Field Services and which was a rather comical name...from our point of view.

Russell:

And they dealt with...memberships and so on. Yes.

Davies:

Now, of course, it’s a huge, huge big operation.

Well I think we’ve covered everything...

Russell:

I think so too, yes.

Davies:

...in the material, and perhaps we need to take stock...we might think of some more questions later, but perhaps this is a time to switch everything off, would you agree?

Russell:

Yes. ...I do agree.