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Oral-History:Richard Rollman

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== About Richard Rollman<br> ==
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== About Richard Rollman  ==
  
Rollman went to Iowa State for his Bachelors in Electrical Engineering and Masters in Spectral Radiometric Response. He worked at the Radiation Laboratory during World War II, the moved to Dumont Laboratories after World War II. There he worked on TV, TV cameras, and the development of quality control for TV mechanical parts and electronics. With Scott Hill and Jerry Steen, he was a leading figure in getting the IRE Group on Reliability formed. He later consulted for the Pentagon, and ended his career working for Bell Labs in the field of transmission engineering. At Bell he also dealt with quality control issues, particularly in the switching system.  
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<p>Richard Rollman went to Iowa State for his Bachelors in Electrical Engineering and Masters in Spectral Radiometric Response. He worked at the Radiation Laboratory during World War II, the moved to Dumont Laboratories after World War II. There he worked on [[Television|TV]], TV cameras, and the development of quality control for TV mechanical parts and electronics. With Scott Hill and Jerry Steen, he was a leading figure in getting the [[IEEE Reliability Society History|IRE Group on Reliability]] formed. He later consulted for the Pentagon, and ended his career working for [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]] in the field of transmission engineering. At Bell he also dealt with quality control issues, particularly in the switching system. </p>
  
<br>
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== About the Interview  ==
  
== About the Interview<br> ==
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<p>RICHARD ROLLMAN: An Interview Conducted by David Morton, IEEE History Center, 17 January 1999 </p>
  
RICHARD ROLLMAN: An Interview Conducted by David Morton, IEEE History Center, 17 January 1999
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<p>Interview #350 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. </p>
  
<br>Interview #350 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
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== Copyright Statement  ==
  
== <br>Copyright Statement<br> ==
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<p>This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center. </p>
  
This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.<br><br>  
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<p>Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: </p>
  
Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, Rutgers - the State University, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. <br><br>  
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<p>Richard Rollman, an oral history conducted in 1999 by David Morton, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA. </p>
  
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:<br>Richard Rollman, an oral history conducted in 1999 by David Morton, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.<br> <br>
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== Interview  ==
  
== Interview<br> ==
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<p>Interview: Richard Rollman </p>
  
Interview: Richard Rollman<br>Interviewer: David Morton<br>Date: 17 January 1999<br>Place: Washington, D.C.
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<p>Interviewer: David Morton </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Date: 17 January 1999 </p>
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<p>Place: Washington, D.C. </p>
  
 
=== Childhood and education  ===
 
=== Childhood and education  ===
  
'''Morton:'''  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
Tell me where and when you were born, a little bit about your early education, and how you got into engineering.<br>  
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<p>Tell me where and when you were born, a little bit about your early education, and how you got into engineering. </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''
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<p>I arrived in St. Louis, Missouri on August 18th, 1919. I was in St. Louis because my mother’s brother was a doctor there, and her father was a doctor there, and she thought she had to have me arrive there. From St. Louis I moved directly to Des Moines, Iowa and grew up in the public school system there. Which was nothing really exciting. After high school I went to Iowa State, in Ames, Iowa. </p>
  
I arrived in St. Louis, Missouri on August 18th, 1919. I was in St. Louis because my mother’s brother was a doctor there, and her father was a doctor there, and she thought she had to have me arrive there. From St. Louis I moved directly to Des Moines, Iowa and grew up in the public school system there. Which was nothing really exciting. After high school I went to Iowa State, in Ames, Iowa. <br>  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Did you already have an interest in electrical engineering at that time? </p>
  
'''Morton:'''  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
Did you already have an interest in electrical engineering at that time?<br>
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<p>Oh, yes. Yes. I was born with it really. I mean, it’s a strange way of expressing it, but it was a gift I was born with. I was involved in, I was not really active in it . But I studied electrical engineering there and earned my master’s degree. Note that 1941 was getting to be a critical bench mark in time. I finished my master’s degree in Spectral Radiometric Response. I went into Spectral Radiometric Response because I was interested in the [[Iconoscope|Iconoscope]], which is a tube that [inaudible passage] and the tube of television. </p>
 
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<br>  
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'''Rollman:'''
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Oh, yes. Yes. I was born with it really. I mean, it’s a strange way of expressing it, but it was a gift I was born with. I was involved in, I was not really active in it . But I studied electrical engineering there and earned my master’s degree. Note that 1941 was getting to be a critical bench mark in time. I finished my master’s degree in Spectral Radiometric Response. I went into Spectral Radiometric Response because I was interested in the Iconoscope, which is a tube that [inaudible passage] and the tube of&nbsp; television.  
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<br>  
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=== Military service, Radiation Lab  ===
 
=== Military service, Radiation Lab  ===
  
'''Rollman:'''  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
 
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And just as I was getting my master’s degree I [inaudible passage] and the [inaudible passage] I played around with that and thinking maybe I should consider serving my country, and I got no quarrel with them about that. <br>
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<br>
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However, I had a tremendously high ego at that time and I was not inhibited about speaking up, particularly about myself. So I told them that as far as I may, I was perfectly willing to serve in the service, but I would like to make an effort to get in a place where I could make the best contribution to my country. And they asked what I had in mind and I&nbsp; told them I’d written to the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, I corresponded with them. I’d written to MIT, I’d written to the Army, I’d written to the Navy, and whether there were more I had written to I don’t know, but they all responded favorably that they would receive me in their ranks [inaudible passage] correspondent and I indicated I did. [inaudible passage] letter writing [inaudible passage]. And I remember very little [inaudible passage] a building in the middle of the business district. They said if you go in that Western Union office and send a telegram to Mount Pete, we will give you an additional week to become productive in the war effort [inaudible passage]. <br>  
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<br>  
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<p>And just as I was getting my master’s degree I [inaudible passage] and the [inaudible passage] I played around with that and thinking maybe I should consider serving my country, and I got no quarrel with them about that. </p>
  
Life has been good to me, every step of the way. Really, it has. If it ended now I’d be [inaudible passage]. And then I joined the Radiation Laboratory. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with that at all. But I was a neophyte. . So I had good experience there.  
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<p>However, I had a tremendously high ego at that time and I was not inhibited about speaking up, particularly about myself. So I told them that as far as I may, I was perfectly willing to serve in the service, but I would like to make an effort to get in a place where I could make the best contribution to my country. And they asked what I had in mind and I told them I’d written to the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, I corresponded with them. I’d written to MIT, I’d written to the Army, I’d written to the Navy, and whether there were more I had written to I don’t know, but they all responded favorably that they would receive me in their ranks [inaudible passage] correspondent and I indicated I did. [inaudible passage] letter writing [inaudible passage]. And I remember very little [inaudible passage] a building in the middle of the business district. They said if you go in that [[Western Union|Western Union]] office and send a telegram to Mount Pete, we will give you an additional week to become productive in the war effort [inaudible passage]. </p>
  
<br>
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<p>Life has been good to me, every step of the way. Really, it has. If it ended now I’d be [inaudible passage]. And then I joined the Radiation Laboratory. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with that at all. But I was a neophyte. . So I had good experience there. </p>
  
 
=== Dumont Laboratories  ===
 
=== Dumont Laboratories  ===
  
'''Rollman:'''  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
That takes me up to 1945. The war ended. My interest in the television industry blossomed out again. The Dumont Laboratories indicated an interest in me. So they took me aboard roughly--<br>  
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<p>That takes me up to 1945. The war ended. My interest in the television industry blossomed out again. The Dumont Laboratories indicated an interest in me. So they took me aboard roughly-- </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
'''Morton:'''
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<p>And where were their laboratories at that time? </p>
  
And where were their laboratories at that time?<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>They were in Passaic. </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
They were in Passaic.<br>  
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<p>Okay. </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
'''Morton:'''
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<p>And from that standpoint, Dumont was the driving force in the ‘40s for the [[Iconoscope|Iconoscope]]. Not the scope, the cathode ray tube and the applications of the cathode ray tube, and that was where he had been placing much of his emphasis. And from there he wanted to expand the market for his tubes. So he decided to build television sets. By that time I think he had four stations built, one in New York City, Washington, Pittsburgh and -- was there a fourth one? I don’t know. That’s not important. So I went with him a short time when it was found that I was a little bit ahead of him on getting into such subtle details of the work I had done on the tube. So they put me into production of their television cameras. My time was going pretty fast there, maybe that lasted a year. I’m not sure of that. And they moved me over into engineering and their transmitters. I think he was operating his stations to a degree. </p>
  
Okay.<br>  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>So this was still before 1950 sometime? </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
And from that standpoint, Dumont was the driving force in the ‘40s for the Iconoscope. Not the scope, the cathode ray tube and the applications of the cathode ray tube, and that was where he had been placing much of his emphasis. And from there he wanted to expand the market for his tubes. So he decided to build television sets. By that time I think he had four stations built, one in New York City, Washington, Pittsburgh and -- was there a fourth one? I don’t know. That’s not important. So I went with him a short time when it was found that I was a little bit ahead of him on getting into such subtle details of the work I had done on the tube. So they put me into production of their television cameras. My time was going pretty fast there, maybe that lasted a year. I’m not sure of that. And they moved me over into engineering and their transmitters. I think he was operating his stations to a degree.<br>  
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<p>Yes. Yes, this is. But I’m saying the intervals between steps were getting very close. Over there the stations were not coming up very rapidly, but his production was coming up. And I got a call from him and asked if I would come over and see him and we chatted and he was concerned about his production on television sets and inquired would I be interested in taking over the task of developing his quality control there. Hindsight says that was a chance of a lifetime because never again would you step into an assignment that you really knew nothing about. So yes, I did that. Now, that takes me up pretty much to my professional career. </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
'''Morton:'''
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<p>I’d like to ask you a few questions. </p>
  
So this was still before 1950 sometime?<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Oh, fine. </p>
 
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'''Rollman:'''
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Yes. Yes, this is. But I’m saying the intervals between steps were getting very close. Over there the stations were not coming up very rapidly, but his production was coming up. And I got a call from him and asked if I would come over and see him and we chatted and he was concerned about his production on television sets and inquired would I be interested in taking over the task of developing his quality control there. Hindsight says that was a chance of a lifetime because never again would you step into an assignment that you really knew nothing about. So yes, I did that. Now, that takes me up pretty much to my professional career. <br>
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<br>
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'''Morton:'''
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I’d like to ask you a few questions. <br>
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<br>
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'''Rollman:'''
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Oh, fine. <br>
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<br>  
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=== Quality control in television set production  ===
 
=== Quality control in television set production  ===
  
'''Morton:'''  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
When you came into that job what kind of quality control was Dumont using? There are obviously different production lines using totally different components for example. What kinds of things was Dumont using?<br>  
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<p>When you came into that job what kind of quality control was Dumont using? There are obviously different production lines using totally different components for example. What kinds of things was Dumont using? </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''
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<p>Very good. That was a time when, particularly in electronics, quality control was not really recognized as quality control. I mean, either you were flying high or you weren’t. One classic example was with the Magnetron. [[RCA (Radio Corporation of America)|RCA]] and Raytheon were the two principle suppliers of Magnetrons for the government, and the government was lost without them. They had it that when RCA was in production Raytheon was not, and when Raytheon was in production RCA was not. There was a sort of a constant exchange of technical skills between the two companies to keep, to get each other up on line. What I’m saying is they were trying to the equipment to work and stay working. And in terms of a control on that, it didn’t really amount to anything. </p>
  
Very good. That was a time when, particularly in electronics, quality control was not really recognized as quality control. I mean, either you were flying high or you weren’t. One classic example was with the Magnetron. RCA and Raytheon were the two principle suppliers of Magnetrons for the government, and the government was lost without them. They had it that when RCA was in production Raytheon was not, and when Raytheon was in production RCA was not. There was a sort of a constant exchange of technical skills between the two companies to keep, to get each other up on line. What I’m saying is they were trying to the equipment to work and stay working. And in terms of a control on that, it didn’t really amount to anything.<br>  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Do you remember any of the specific problems Dumont was having? Were there consistent, long-term problems with any of the particular components? I’m thinking the critical component was probably the picture tube itself. </p>
  
'''Morton:'''  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
Do you remember any of the specific problems Dumont was having? Were there consistent, long-term problems with any of the particular components? I’m thinking the critical component was probably the picture tube itself. <br>  
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<p>No. The tube was the most stable of our products at that time. It was not a really troublesome spot, as we grew to know what trouble spots were. We were still in production of some electronic instruments using the capital rate for the government contracts. We did have trouble there. We did not have control. There was no control over the quality. Quality control in electronics just really didn’t exist. </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''
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<p>Right. </p>
  
No. The tube was the most stable of our products at that time. It was not a really troublesome spot, as we grew to know what trouble spots were. We were still in production of some electronic instruments using the capital rate for the government contracts. We did have trouble there. We did not have control. There was no control over the quality. Quality control in electronics just really didn’t exist.<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>And our trouble there was very heavy along the lines of mechanical structure. Soldered joints were a good challenge to see if you could keep the failure rates on soldering joints to a minimum. Really, if you just didn’t have the joints in the first place-- </p>
  
'''Morton:'''  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
Right.<br>  
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<p>Right. Were these in machine made tubes or were these hand built? </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''
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<p>No. No. He was in production. He was in production. He was in on cathode ray tubes. I don’t know how far. I would guess he was in production since the early ‘40s. </p>
  
And our trouble there was very heavy along the lines of mechanical structure. Soldered joints were a good challenge to see if you could keep the failure rates on soldering joints to a minimum. Really, if you just didn’t have the joints in the first place--<br>  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Okay. So all the tubes, guts and so forth were made on some machine… </p>
  
'''Morton:'''  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
Right. Were these in machine made tubes or were these hand built?<br>  
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<p>Oh, yes. </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''
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<p>The problems were getting solder joints, machine made solder joints. </p>
  
No. No. He was in production. He was in production. He was in on cathode ray tubes. I don’t know how far. I would guess he was in production since the early ‘40s.<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Those were on test equipment. On using the cathode ray tubes in the circuitry that the cathode would-- </p>
  
'''Morton:'''  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
Okay. So all the tubes, guts and so forth were made on some machine…<br>  
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<p>Oh, I see. I see. Okay. You’re not talking about the weld that fits inside of -- putting the components and the tube together, making them stick together, you’re talking about the rest of it. </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''
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<p>No. It was beyond that. </p>
  
Oh, yes.<br>  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>I see. </p>
  
'''Morton:'''  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
The problems were getting solder joints, machine made solder joints.<br>  
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<p>The tube was all right. </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''
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<p>Okay. I understand. </p>
  
Those were on test equipment. On using the cathode ray tubes in the circuitry that the cathode would--<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>We had normal shrinkage on it. We had long life on it. The tube itself was not troublesome. </p>
  
'''Morton:'''  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
Oh, I see. I see. Okay. You’re not talking about the weld that fits inside of -- putting the components and the tube together, making them stick together, you’re talking about the rest of it.<br>  
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<p>So at the time had Dumont put in place automatic soldering machines or was it still all point to point and hand assembled? </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''
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<p>No. No. That was later. So it was hand soldered. </p>
  
No. It was beyond that. <br>  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Right. </p>
  
'''Morton:'''  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
I see.<br>  
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<p>The only thing good about that was that it was easy to spot the troubles. I mean, we’d have a high shrinkage rate. And it was like a yard of a railroad, the production line was going and then something got stuck on it somewhere and it was just diverted off to another track. But the product could be moved back to the main line very rapidly. But no, it wasn’t a high state art at all. It was down to earth at that time. </p>
  
<br>
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=== Inspection and testing procedures  ===
  
'''Rollman:'''  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
The tube was all right.<br>  
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<p>Were the products tested along the way? </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
'''Morton:'''
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<p>Oh, yes. We were running into -- on figures, on television sets, we could be running up to 100 inspection lines. </p>
  
Okay. I understand.<br>  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>And the practice was to test them after they’d been built and give them a go, or a no go? </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
We had normal shrinkage on it. We had long life on it. The tube itself was not troublesome.<br>  
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<p>Generally, generally. There was not intermediate testing there at all. Now, we had other activities there. And I’m leading you a little bit to be sure you get a broad… I didn’t know it was going to be heavy on Dumont, but that’s all right. </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
'''Morton:'''
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<p>I’m just interested in the early TV production, so I’m just asking-- </p>
  
So at the time had Dumont put in place automatic soldering machines or was it still all point to point and hand assembled?<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Oh, just TV production? </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
No. No. That was later. So it was hand soldered.<br>  
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<p>Well, it’s something that I’ve read a little bit about, so that’s why I’m asking you so many questions about it, but we should move on. </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
'''Morton:'''
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<p>But I didn’t want you to move on! </p>
  
Right.<br>  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Well, we can stay where we are. </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
The only thing good about that was that it was easy to spot the troubles. I mean, we’d have a high shrinkage rate. And it was like a yard of a railroad, the production line was going and then something got stuck on it somewhere and it was just diverted off to another track. But the product could be moved back to the main line very rapidly. But no, it wasn’t a high state art at all. It was down to earth at that time.<br>  
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<flashmp3>350 - rollman - clip 1.mp3</flashmp3>
  
<br>  
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<p>Remember, I came in there not knowing practically anything about TV. I didn’t know anything about production at all. But Dumont was in it. He had his military already employed in it. And we were burdened with that responsibility too, or I was because I started out alone. We were burdened with a good bit of detailed testing, which we didn’t do on the television sets. I’m serious when I say this, we did it partly for publicity, but apart from that we on occasion would even drop them, we would literally throw them in the river. When you don’t have very much, I mean, you resort to some pretty crude techniques. </p>
  
=== Inspection and testing procedures<br> ===
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<p>But, from that we started to build a fairly fine testing laboratory. This is why I was interested in it. I knew nothing, absolutely nothing, about refrigeration other than what I learned in my physics class. We built testing chambers. They were about six-foot, by six-foot, by six-foot, and they would go down to sub-zero temperatures in there. It was interesting because we ran cascade and we had to run them. We didn’t know that much about low temperature equipment. I mean, creating the temperature in the first place. We learned fast about running compressors and cascade to get the temperature down! We had vibration tables. We had those built for us. They were not directly available. But that was interesting. The tables were electromagnetically driven and we could put their frequency into that machinery and we could scan the capability of the product to withstand different frequencies. </p>
  
'''Morton:'''  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
Were the products tested along the way?<br>  
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<p>I’m probably restating the obvious but there’s two kinds of testing going on, there’s testing reliability in the field, versus testing along the production line to see if the product coming off the line is going to function. </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''
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<p>There was indeed testing in the field. </p>
  
Oh, yes. We were running into -- on figures, on television sets, we could be running up to 100 inspection lines.<br>  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Right. Right. And this is what you’re talking about, particularly I guess for the military projects. </p>
  
'''Morton:'''  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
And the practice was to test them after they’d been built and give them a go, or a no go?<br>  
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<p>For the military, we weren’t doing it in the field. We were doing it on subassemblies and that sort of thing right in the laboratory. </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''
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<p>But sort of simulating? </p>
  
Generally, generally. There was not intermediate testing there at all. Now, we had other activities there. And I’m leading you a little bit to be sure you get a broad… I didn’t know it was going to be heavy on Dumont, but that’s all right.<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Simulating, yes indeed, simulating. So, we had that. We also were developing on a pretty nice scale a good-sized component evaluation. And this is where we would study the individual components to determine what the risk was with using them. </p>
  
'''Morton:'''  
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<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
I’m just interested in the early TV production, so I’m just asking--<br>  
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<p>Would the results from that feed back into the production process, or were they simply to estimate the chance of failure? </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''
+
<p>They would feed back through, generally, purchasing to the manufacturer and then the first move was to select the manufacturers. On capacitors, resistors, and that sort of thing you could be at that time state-of-the-art and advanced for the manufacturers. So if they were sincere and conscientious they could get a good product out, but they could unload their inferior product too. So it was testing and then screening too. We did not screen the product that went on the line, we screened on a bulk basis. And not by statistical methods there then. The only people doing statistical work then was the Bell Laboratories with -- the famous name is Walter A. Shewhart. But the industry had not gone too far with that. </p>
 
+
Oh, just TV production?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Morton:'''
+
 
+
Well, it’s something that I’ve read a little bit about, so that’s why I’m asking you so many questions about it, but we should move on.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Rollman:'''
+
 
+
But I didn’t want you to move on!<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Morton:'''
+
 
+
Well, we can stay where we are. <br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Rollman:'''
+
 
+
Remember, I came in there not knowing practically anything about TV. I didn’t know anything about production at all. But Dumont was in it. He had his military already employed in it. And we were burdened with that responsibility too, or I was because I started out alone. We were burdened with a good bit of detailed testing, which we didn’t do on the television sets. I’m serious when I say this, we did it partly for publicity, but apart from that we on occasion would even drop them, we would literally throw them in the river. When you don’t have very much, I mean, you resort to some pretty crude techniques. <br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
But, from that we started to build a fairly fine testing laboratory. This is why I was interested in it. I knew nothing, absolutely nothing, about refrigeration other than what I learned in my physics class. We built testing chambers. They were about six-foot, by six-foot, by six-foot, and they would go down to sub-zero temperatures in there. It was interesting because we ran cascade and we had to run them. We didn’t know that much about low temperature equipment. I mean, creating the temperature in the first place. We learned fast about running compressors and cascade to get the temperature down! We had vibration tables. We had those built for us. They were not directly available. But that was interesting. The tables were electromagnetically driven and we could put their frequency into that machinery and we could scan the capability of the product to withstand different frequencies. <br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Morton:'''
+
 
+
I’m probably restating the obvious but there’s two kinds of testing going on, there’s testing reliability in the field, versus testing along the production line to see if the product coming off the line is going to function.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Rollman:'''
+
 
+
There was indeed testing in the field.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Morton:'''
+
 
+
Right. Right. And this is what you’re talking about, particularly I guess for the military projects.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Rollman:'''
+
 
+
For the military, we weren’t doing it in the field. We were doing it on subassemblies and that sort of thing right in the laboratory. <br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Morton:'''
+
 
+
But sort of simulating?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Rollman:'''
+
 
+
Simulating, yes indeed, simulating. So, we had that. We also were developing on a pretty nice scale a good-sized component evaluation. And this is where we would study the individual components to determine what the risk was with using them.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Morton:'''
+
 
+
Would the results from that feed back into the production process, or were they simply to estimate the chance of failure?<br>
+
 
+
<br>  
+
 
+
'''Rollman:'''
+
 
+
They would feed back through, generally, purchasing to the manufacturer and then the first move was to select the manufacturers. On capacitors, resistors, and that sort of thing you could be at that time state-of-the-art and advanced for the manufacturers. So if they were sincere and conscientious they could get a good product out, but they could unload their inferior product too. So it was testing and then screening too. We did not screen the product that went on the line, we screened on a bulk basis. And not by statistical methods there then. The only people doing statistical work then was the Bell Laboratories with -- the famous name is Walter A. Shewhart. But the industry had not gone too far with that.<br>
+
 
+
<br>  
+
  
 
=== Reliability, IRE  ===
 
=== Reliability, IRE  ===
  
'''Morton:'''  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
I see. That’s a nice lead-in to the formation of the group on reliability, in ‘49.<br>  
+
<p>I see. That’s a nice lead-in to the formation of the group on reliability, in ‘49. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''
+
<p>Oh, yes. </p>
  
Oh, yes.<br>  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>How did that come about? </p>
  
'''Morton:'''  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
How did that come about? <br>  
+
<flashmp3>350 - rollman - clip 2.mp3</flashmp3>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Again, you see, you didn’t have very experienced people anywhere to tell you how to deal with these problems. And Dr. Dumont was shall I say pretty savvy on the science and the technical parts of it and though I don’t know where he was getting his input but he knew that the word was beginning to migrate around the country about quality control. The word did not originate with us by any means. And just to cite one of the colorful instances, he hired a retiring admiral to carry out some of his commands or orders. The admiral was skilled in giving orders and seeing to it that they were executed, and Dumont had the technical sense. One of the first things he did about this quality control… he thought Rollman had better find out what’s going on in the field a little bit more, and what other companies are doing. And the command from the admiral came to me. </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''
+
<p>What I did was…, there was another person involved in Dumont, his name was Scott Hill and he was really a floating ambassador in the industry. He knew a little bit about everything but not much of any one item. I say that with respect. And he knew people. And the first time I really became aware of his activities was when he came to me and told me that he thought it was time that we think about organizing a group in the [[IRE History 1912-1963|IRE]] at that time. There was a committee headed by I think [[Walter Baker|Dr. William R.G. Baker]], and he was in charge of administering the IRE activities, informing groups within the IRE. You probably know more about that than I do. And Scott suggested that he thought he could get me into one of Dr. Baker’s meetings, and I could at least go and mention the words and sound them out as to how receptive they would be, I mean, how quality control would fit in with the IRE’s activities, which I did. </p>
  
Again, you see, you didn’t have very experienced people anywhere to tell you how to deal with these problems. And Dr. Dumont was shall I say pretty savvy on the science and the technical parts of it and though I don’t know where he was getting his input but he knew that the word was beginning to migrate around the country about quality control. The word did not originate with us by any means. And just to cite one of the colorful instances, he hired a retiring admiral to carry out some of his commands or orders. The admiral was skilled in giving orders and seeing to it that they were executed, and Dumont had the technical sense. One of the first things he did about this quality control… he thought Rollman had better find out what’s going on in the field a little bit more, and what other companies are doing. And the command from the admiral came to me. <br>  
+
<p>And from that it was proposed that I document the thoughts I passed on to them. And they had another meeting. That meeting was up in Syracuse in [[Walter Baker|Dr. Baker’s]] office and there I made a formal presentation. They indicated more interest up there. I mean, they were not discouraging me. They weren’t telling everybody else to stop what they’re doing and listen to what '''Rollman''' is doing. They didn’t do that. But they were rationing off minutes to me so to speak so I did put together a graph. At this time another chap in the television industry heard about this and said that he was very interested and would like to follow it, and like to be a part of it. That was Jerry Steen. So Jerry Steen, and myself, and Scott were now moving ahead in an attempt to put together a proposal for a new group. And we did that. It was suggested that we assemble the signatures of people across the country who would sign a petition that they thought this was a worthy cause. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
What I did was…, there was another person involved in Dumont, his name was Scott Hill and he was really a floating ambassador in the industry. He knew a little bit about everything but not much of any one item. I say that with respect. And he knew people. And the first time I really became aware of his activities was when he came to me and told me that he thought it was time that we think about organizing a group in the IRE at that time. There was a committee headed by I think Dr. William R.G. Baker, and he was in charge of administering the IRE activities, informing groups within the IRE. You probably know more about that than I do. And Scott suggested that he thought he could get me into one of Dr. Baker’s meetings, and I could at least go and mention the words and sound them out as to how receptive they would be, I mean, how quality control would fit in with the IRE’s activities, which I did. <br>  
+
<p>Sorry to interrupt, but were there any formal requirements about the number of signatures or anything like that? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
And from that it was proposed that I document the thoughts I passed on to them. And they had another meeting. That meeting was up in Syracuse in Dr. Baker’s office and there I made a formal presentation. They indicated more interest up there. I mean, they were not discouraging me. They weren’t telling everybody else to stop what they’re doing and listen to what Rollman is doing. They didn’t do that. But they were rationing off minutes to me so to speak so I did put together a graph. At this time another chap in the television industry heard about this and said that he was very interested and would like to follow it, and like to be a part of it. That was Jerry Steen. So Jerry Steen, and myself, and Scott were now moving ahead in an attempt to put together a proposal for a new group. And we did that. It was suggested that we assemble the signatures of people across the country who would sign a petition that they thought this was a worthy cause.<br>  
+
<p>I suspect there were. There was a significant number that we had to get. I have, up in my room, all my original files documenting this. I wonder sometimes how well they were documented. But if you really want to research this you might look into those files a little more. We got the signatures. We presented them to the committee. And shortly thereafter we got a letter from the technical secretary telling us that our group had been approved. This is a little, interesting tidbit, because a few days letter I got second letter. No, I got that letter from Covings. Do you know Covings? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
'''Morton:'''
+
<p>No, who’s that? </p>
  
Sorry to interrupt, but were there any formal requirements about the number of signatures or anything like that? <br>  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>He was a technical secretary on the [[IRE History 1912-1963|IRE’s]] staff. You notice I always revert back to IRE. </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
I suspect there were. There was a significant number that we had to get. I have, up in my room, all my original files documenting this. I wonder sometimes how well they were documented. But if you really want to research this you might look into those files a little more. We got the signatures. We presented them to the committee. And shortly thereafter we got a letter from the technical secretary telling us that our group had been approved. This is a little, interesting tidbit, because a few days letter I got second letter. No, I got that letter from Covings. Do you know Covings?<br>  
+
<p>That’s appropriate. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
'''Morton:'''
+
<p>He wrote me the letter and told me that the group was approved. And you would think that a letter from the technical secretary had the authority. But in a matter of days later I got another that you can sense was written in sort of a panic, where that first letter didn’t. That is definitely, certainly, in the file. I wouldn’t throw that one away. But shortly thereafter the committee, the Baker committee did approve it. We got another letter, that it was approved. That gave us a charter. </p>
  
No, who’s that?<br>  
+
<p>At the time we were submitting the documents for this we had to even name a temporary president and a temporary group of officers for it. So from that point, as soon as we got the second letter from Covings, we were able to move ahead. So I called a committee -- this is not ego -- I was the only one who was gifted. That’s because Dumont wanted it. And therefore, the admiral wanted it, and I had widely monitored this. I had a full-time secretary working on it. And I’m not boasting of that, I’m just saying that’s what Dumont wanted. So that was the power behind us. And he asked that they reflect it into his own production lines because we were gaining status through Dumont because he wanted it. And it was not wisdom to ever challenge any of our activities as long as there was merit to them. I mean, it wasn’t a blind indulgence, because he was skilled himself. So we had to get the minutes, we met over in New York. We did not meet at the IRE. I couldn’t tell you how we got the rooms each time, but we had rooms in New York. We sat around and we started to discuss how to build up a group. I mean, how do you assemble a group of people like that? We were all young, all of us. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''
+
<p>One question about the original membership. From what you described to me it sounds like a multidisciplinary field in some ways. Was there ever any consideration of making this field include people who weren’t necessarily electrical engineers but were somehow related to this set of problems, or was it pretty much going to be electrical engineers who had taken an interest in these wider problems? </p>
  
He was a technical secretary on the IRE’s staff. You notice I always revert back to IRE.<br>  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<flashmp3>350 - rollman - clip 3.mp3</flashmp3>
  
'''Morton:'''
+
<p>There is a straightforward answer to it. I was turning over in my mind just how to explain it. Number one, there was another small organization that was another group like ours. Independent Electronics, which had been formed and which called themselves the Quality Control Society, or something like that. I don’t recall. I think they may be in my documents. We talked to them, and we brought up some of the same questions you were asking. “Wouldn’t there be wisdom in broadening this out?” Though we were primarily electronic, and we seemed to think there would be wisdom in knowing what each other is doing. And so we brought them into our ranks as sort of an affiliate, and I think it’s a common practice in our organization there. </p>
  
That’s appropriate.<br>  
+
<p>And from there we started to draw some people. And then by word-of-mouth, we heard of people in different places and we would start drawing them in. But we drew on our own from there on, by word-of-mouth efforts. We did that. And we were fortunate, very fortunate. But the way we selected our people initially gave us a prop, or they became the pillars of the operation. They, themselves, had influence back from where they came. So we were beginning to influence, say the Bell Laboratories, and Western Electric, we had a fellow by the name of Tarkelson and this was almost his field alone, almost as a liaison or interface between Western Electric’s [[Electron (or Vacuum) Tubes|vacuum tube]] manufacturing that was big then, and our activities. And he was always meeting with us, and we were getting to the point where he would go back to his office get commitments from his people on certain aspects, and we were trying to build up the concept of quality control. And we were doing that by people like Tarkelson. Leon Bass was working on jet engines, in [[General Electric (GE)|GE]], and in the Midwest, in Cincinnati. It was in the same place Proctor and Gamble was. Incidentally it wasn’t the same building, don’t get me wrong, it was the same city that GE had their jet plant running up there. Leon Bass was an interface between us. He was a member of our group. I mean, he was one of the members of the military committee. So were all these fellows I mentioned. MacIroy was from General Radio, which was a very fine radio -- not radio as you know about it, but a kind of electronic equipment. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''
+
<p>Right. Communications and aeronautics in the field. </p>
  
He wrote me the letter and told me that the group was approved. And you would think that a letter from the technical secretary had the authority. But in a matter of days later I got another that you can sense was written in sort of a panic, where that first letter didn’t. That is definitely, certainly, in the file. I wouldn’t throw that one away. But shortly thereafter the committee, the Baker committee did approve it. We got another letter, that it was approved. That gave us a charter. <br>  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. Right. So Tarkelson was not only good for us he was highly respected by the professional community. How did we do it? Don’t ask me. I mean we were just extremely fortunate in running across these people one way or another, and bringing them into our fold. </p>
 
+
At the time we were submitting the documents for this we had to even name a temporary president and a temporary group of officers for it. So from that point, as soon as we got the second letter from Covings, we were able to move ahead. So I called a committee -- this is not ego -- I was the only one who was gifted. That’s because Dumont wanted it. And therefore, the admiral wanted it, and I had widely monitored this. I had a full-time secretary working on it. And I’m not boasting of that, I’m just saying that’s what Dumont wanted. So that was the power behind us. And he asked that they reflect it into his own production lines because we were gaining status through Dumont because he wanted it. And it was not wisdom to ever challenge any of our activities as long as there was merit to them. I mean, it wasn’t a blind indulgence, because he was skilled himself. So we had to get the minutes, we met over in New York. We did not meet at the IRE. I couldn’t tell you how we got the rooms each time, but we had rooms in New York. We sat around and we started to discuss how to build up a group. I mean, how do you assemble a group of people like that? We were all young, all of us.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Morton:'''
+
 
+
One question about the original membership. From what you described to me it sounds like a multidisciplinary field in some ways. Was there ever any consideration of making this field include people who weren’t necessarily electrical engineers but were somehow related to this set of problems, or was it pretty much going to be electrical engineers who had taken an interest in these wider problems?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Rollman:'''
+
 
+
There is a straightforward answer to it. I was turning over in my mind just how to explain it. Number one, there was another small organization that was another group like ours. Independent Electronics, which had been formed and which called themselves the Quality Control Society, or something like that. I don’t recall. I think they may be in my documents. We talked to them, and we brought up some of the same questions you were asking. “Wouldn’t there be wisdom in broadening this out?” Though we were primarily electronic, and we seemed to think there would be wisdom in knowing what each other is doing. And so we brought them into our ranks as sort of an affiliate, and I think it’s a common practice in our organization there. <br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
And from there we started to draw some people. And then by word-of-mouth, we heard of people in different places and we would start drawing them in. But we drew on our own from there on, by word-of-mouth efforts. We did that. And we were fortunate, very fortunate. But the way we selected our people initially gave us a prop, or they became the pillars of the operation. They, themselves, had influence back from where they came. So we were beginning to influence, say the Bell Laboratories, and Western Electric, we had a fellow by the name of Tarkelson and this was almost his field alone, almost as a liaison or interface between Western Electric’s vacuum tube manufacturing that was big then, and our activities. And he was always meeting with us, and we were getting to the point where he would go back to his office get commitments from his people on certain aspects, and we were trying to build up the concept of quality control. And we were doing that by people like Tarkelson. Leon Bass was working on jet engines, in GE, and in the Midwest, in Cincinnati. It was in the same place Proctor and Gamble was. Incidentally it wasn’t the same building, don’t get me wrong, it was the same city that GE had their jet plant running up there. Leon Bass was an interface between us. He was a member of our group. I mean, he was one of the members of the military committee. So were all these fellows I mentioned. MacIroy&nbsp; was from General Radio, which was a very fine radio -- not radio as you know about it, but a kind of electronic equipment.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Morton:'''
+
 
+
Right. Communications and aeronautics in the field.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Rollman:'''
+
 
+
Yes. Right. So Tarkelson was not only good for us he was highly respected by the professional community. How did we do it? Don’t ask me. I mean we were just extremely fortunate in running across these people one way or another, and bringing them into our fold.<br>
+
 
+
<br>  
+
  
 
=== Japanese manufacturing and quality control  ===
 
=== Japanese manufacturing and quality control  ===
  
'''Morton:'''  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
 
+
It’s really a fascinating story. We can’t do the whole thing but I thought I might ask you a question and give you a chance to say if I’ve cut you off or if there’s something else you want to say. Of course, the famous story is that Japanese manufacturers have become really famous in terms of quality control. Was there any hint that was going to happen at the time of the formation of this society?<br>  
+
  
<br>  
+
<p>It’s really a fascinating story. We can’t do the whole thing but I thought I might ask you a question and give you a chance to say if I’ve cut you off or if there’s something else you want to say. Of course, the famous story is that Japanese manufacturers have become really famous in terms of quality control. Was there any hint that was going to happen at the time of the formation of this society? </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
To the best of my knowledge, no. They weren’t really in it. I mean, that’s my recollection. They just weren’t into building this kind of equipment. Remember, during the war, we would think twice before we would even say good morning to a Japanese. So, no, there’s no inkling that I have. I’m not saying there wasn’t one, but I didn’t know about it. Remember I was a neophyte here too so there could have been an awful lot going on that we didn’t know about. <br>  
+
<p>To the best of my knowledge, no. They weren’t really in it. I mean, that’s my recollection. They just weren’t into building this kind of equipment. Remember, during the war, we would think twice before we would even say good morning to a Japanese. So, no, there’s no inkling that I have. I’m not saying there wasn’t one, but I didn’t know about it. Remember I was a neophyte here too so there could have been an awful lot going on that we didn’t know about. </p>
  
 
=== Bell Labs; transmission engineering  ===
 
=== Bell Labs; transmission engineering  ===
  
'''Morton:'''  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
That’s the question I had. We’ve gotten to about 1950 or so in your career and there’s obviously quite a lot after that.<br>  
+
<p>That’s the question I had. We’ve gotten to about 1950 or so in your career and there’s obviously quite a lot after that. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''
+
<p>Okay. I’ll cover some of that. Later on at the Pastures we’d become pretty well established, I mentioned some of the names we had there. The opportunity came for me to -- I’ll have to tell you how it happened. At the first I consulted with the Pentagon for a while in that period, not full time, you know. And there was a chap there who was a consultant also, and I was going home after the meetings we had together there, and I sat down to have a cup of coffee, waiting for a plane to take me back to Jersey and this other chap came up and I knew him. And I made some comment to him to the effect that he’s got a wonderful assignment. Really how could anybody have more than he has. He was working at [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]] and I highly respected and I still respect [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]]. And he very quietly asked, “Would you be interested in moving over?” </p>
  
Okay. I’ll cover some of that. Later on at the Pastures we’d become pretty well established, I mentioned some of the names we had there. The opportunity came for me to -- I’ll have to tell you how it happened. At the first I consulted with the Pentagon for a while in that period, not full time, you know. And there was a chap there who was a consultant also, and I was going home after the meetings we had together there, and I sat down to have a cup of coffee, waiting for a plane to take me back to Jersey and this other chap came up and I knew him. And I made some comment to him to the effect that he’s got a wonderful assignment. Really how could anybody have more than he has. He was working at Bell Laboratories and I highly respected and I still respect Bell Laboratories. And he very quietly asked, “Would you be interested in moving over?”<br>  
+
<p>[End of tape one, side a] </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
[End of tape one, side a]<br>  
+
<p>So you got the offer to go to [[Bell Labs|Bell Labs]]. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
'''Morton:'''
+
<p>No, I didn’t get the offer. That was just a conversation we had over coffee. That he was very fortunate to be working with such a fine organization. He was, incidentally, a vice president and that had an influence. But the next morning I got a telephone call from a member of the staff of another vice president from [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]]. He was not a vice president or anything like that, but he was a good man, and doing the job he was supposed to do. And he called and he said that they had heard over at his office that I might be receptive to talking to them about moving. And I said yes. And I got a date with him and that’s how I got to Bell Laboratories. And what I did at [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]] was on transmission engineering. And needless to say that transmission I thought that was the greatest thing in the world. And so I got involved in the engineering field in [[Bell Labs|Bell Laboratories]]. </p>
  
So you got the offer to go to Bell Labs.<br>  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Does that have any connection to the earlier reliability stuff or not? That sounds like a different direction for you. </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
No, I didn’t get the offer. That was just a conversation we had over coffee. That he was very fortunate to be working with such a fine organization. He was, incidentally, a vice president and that had an influence. But the next morning I got a telephone call from a member of the staff of another vice president from Bell Laboratories. He was not a vice president or anything like that, but he was a good man, and doing the job he was supposed to do. And he called and he said that they had heard over at his office that I might be receptive to talking to them about moving. And I said yes. And I got a date with him and that’s how I got to Bell Laboratories. And what I did at Bell Laboratories was on transmission engineering. And needless to say that transmission I thought that was the greatest thing in the world. And so I got involved in the engineering field in Bell Laboratories.<br>  
+
<p>It was a far more sophisticated move. They were taking advantage of my background, but the things that we had were, “How do you deal with service interruptions?” or “How do you deal with sudden changes in performance?” and this sort of thing. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
'''Morton:'''
+
<p>I see. </p>
  
Does that have any connection to the earlier reliability stuff or not? That sounds like a different direction for you.<br>  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And they were drawing on my past experience to deal with and to identify issues. I was not in production there. </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
It was a far more sophisticated move. They were taking advantage of my background, but the things that we had were, “How do you deal with service interruptions?” or “How do you deal with sudden changes in performance?” and this sort of thing.<br>
+
<p>Right. </p>
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Morton:'''
+
 
+
I see.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Rollman:'''
+
 
+
And they were drawing on my past experience to deal with and to identify issues. I was not in production there.<br>
+
 
+
<br>  
+
 
+
'''Morton:'''
+
 
+
Right.<br>  
+
  
 
=== Quality control at Bell Labs; silver migration and switching systems  ===
 
=== Quality control at Bell Labs; silver migration and switching systems  ===
  
'''Rollman:'''  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
A product would go out in the field with AT&amp;T, if there was trouble in the field, then Western Electric came in and diagnosed it. If they said it wasn’t a real defect, well then how could they be liable for that. If it got an “A” classification that meant it had to be corrected. Every unit on the field had to be corrected at no charge to the operating company. <br>  
+
<p>A product would go out in the field with AT&amp;T, if there was trouble in the field, then Western Electric came in and diagnosed it. If they said it wasn’t a real defect, well then how could they be liable for that. If it got an “A” classification that meant it had to be corrected. Every unit on the field had to be corrected at no charge to the operating company. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
'''Morton:'''
+
<p>So you didn’t want to find too many of those. </p>
  
So you didn’t want to find too many of those.<br>  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>The company didn’t wish it. No, let’s make that straight. The company did want to find those. They didn’t want them. They wanted performance. And they took a dim view when one showed up. But get rid of them. Don’t let them linger out there. </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
The company didn’t wish it. No, let’s make that straight. The company did want to find those. They didn’t want them. They wanted performance. And they took a dim view when one showed up. But get rid of them. Don’t let them linger out there.<br>  
+
<p>Are there any good examples of that, that you remember? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
'''Morton:'''
+
<p>Well, of course along these lines, silver migration. If you’re familiar with that. You see, the switching system they worked with there was all mechanical and the contacts, all the connections were mechanical connections. And to be sure they had a good product, they were conscientious, they silver-plated all the contacts. But then they became acquainted with what they call silver migration. There was a voltage across those contacts and the electrons would migrate over there, and when they did there was a flash and a disturbance on the system. And what they had to do was to go to another plating process that didn’t do that. </p>
  
Are there any good examples of that, that you remember?<br>  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So every contact in every switching system in the country had to be changed or-- </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
Well, of course along these lines, silver migration. If you’re familiar with that. You see, the switching system they worked with there was all mechanical and the contacts, all the connections were mechanical connections. And to be sure they had a good product, they were conscientious, they silver-plated all the contacts. But then they became acquainted with what they call silver migration. There was a voltage across those contacts and the electrons would migrate over there, and when they did there was a flash and a disturbance on the system. And what they had to do was to go to another plating process that didn’t do that.<br>
+
<p>Indeed. Indeed. But it was a good system. It was a mighty good system and you’ll never see it again.. </p>
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Morton:'''
+
 
+
So every contact in every switching system in the country had to be changed or--<br>
+
 
+
<br>  
+
 
+
'''Rollman:'''
+
 
+
Indeed. Indeed. But it was a good system. It was a mighty good system and you’ll never see it again..<br>
+
 
+
<br>  
+
  
 
=== Significance of IEEE  ===
 
=== Significance of IEEE  ===
  
'''Morton:'''
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
 
+
Have you got any final words for this interview?<br>  
+
 
+
<br>
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+
'''Rollman:'''  
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Not for the interview, for the organization. <br>
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+
<br>  
+
  
'''Morton:'''
+
<p>Have you got any final words for this interview? </p>
  
Okay.<br>  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Not for the interview, for the organization. </p>
  
'''Rollman:'''  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
I say, more power to you. I say, that the need for it’s greater than it’s ever been before, partly because the work has getting so much more sophisticated, complex, and intricate. And the best men in the country need to be directed towards this group with enthusiasm.<br>  
+
<p>Okay. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Rollman:''' </p>
  
'''Morton:'''
+
<p>I say, more power to you. I say, that the need for it’s greater than it’s ever been before, partly because the work has getting so much more sophisticated, complex, and intricate. And the best men in the country need to be directed towards this group with enthusiasm. </p>
  
Well, thank you very much.<br><br>  
+
<p>'''Morton:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Well, thank you very much. </p>
  
[[Category:People_and_organizations]] [[Category:Engineers]] [[Category:Corporations]] [[Category:Research_and_development_labs]] [[Category:IEEE]] [[Category:Communications]] [[Category:Communication_equipment]] [[Category:TV_equipment]] [[Category:Telephony]] [[Category:Telephone_switching_systems]] [[Category:TV]] [[Category:Power,_energy_&_industry_application|Category:Power,_energy_&amp;_industry_application]] [[Category:Consumer_electronics]] [[Category:General_topics_for_engineers]] [[Category:Reliability]] [[Category:Culture_and_society]] [[Category:Defense_&_security|Category:Defense_&amp;_security]] [[Category:World_War_II]]
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[[Category:Power, energy & industry applications|Rollman]] [[Category:Defense & security|Rollman]] [[Category:People and organizations|Rollman]] [[Category:Engineers|Rollman]] [[Category:Corporations|Rollman]] [[Category:Research and development labs|Rollman]] [[Category:IEEE|Rollman]] [[Category:Communications|Rollman]] [[Category:Communication equipment|Rollman]] [[Category:TV equipment|Rollman]] [[Category:Telephony|Rollman]] [[Category:Telephone switching systems|Rollman]] [[Category:TV|Rollman]] [[Category:Consumer electronics|Rollman]] [[Category:Scientific tools and discoveries|Rollman]] [[Category:Reliability|Rollman]] [[Category:Culture and society|Rollman]] [[Category:World War II|Rollman]] [[Category:Components, circuits, devices & systems|Rollman]] [[Category:Electron devices|Rollman]] [[Category:Cathode ray tubes|Rollman]] [[Category:News|Rollman]]

Revision as of 13:52, 13 November 2013

Contents

About Richard Rollman

Richard Rollman went to Iowa State for his Bachelors in Electrical Engineering and Masters in Spectral Radiometric Response. He worked at the Radiation Laboratory during World War II, the moved to Dumont Laboratories after World War II. There he worked on TV, TV cameras, and the development of quality control for TV mechanical parts and electronics. With Scott Hill and Jerry Steen, he was a leading figure in getting the IRE Group on Reliability formed. He later consulted for the Pentagon, and ended his career working for Bell Labs in the field of transmission engineering. At Bell he also dealt with quality control issues, particularly in the switching system.

About the Interview

RICHARD ROLLMAN: An Interview Conducted by David Morton, IEEE History Center, 17 January 1999

Interview #350 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

Richard Rollman, an oral history conducted in 1999 by David Morton, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

Interview: Richard Rollman

Interviewer: David Morton

Date: 17 January 1999

Place: Washington, D.C.

Childhood and education

Morton:

Tell me where and when you were born, a little bit about your early education, and how you got into engineering.

Rollman:

I arrived in St. Louis, Missouri on August 18th, 1919. I was in St. Louis because my mother’s brother was a doctor there, and her father was a doctor there, and she thought she had to have me arrive there. From St. Louis I moved directly to Des Moines, Iowa and grew up in the public school system there. Which was nothing really exciting. After high school I went to Iowa State, in Ames, Iowa.

Morton:

Did you already have an interest in electrical engineering at that time?

Rollman:

Oh, yes. Yes. I was born with it really. I mean, it’s a strange way of expressing it, but it was a gift I was born with. I was involved in, I was not really active in it . But I studied electrical engineering there and earned my master’s degree. Note that 1941 was getting to be a critical bench mark in time. I finished my master’s degree in Spectral Radiometric Response. I went into Spectral Radiometric Response because I was interested in the Iconoscope, which is a tube that [inaudible passage] and the tube of television.

Military service, Radiation Lab

Rollman:

And just as I was getting my master’s degree I [inaudible passage] and the [inaudible passage] I played around with that and thinking maybe I should consider serving my country, and I got no quarrel with them about that.

However, I had a tremendously high ego at that time and I was not inhibited about speaking up, particularly about myself. So I told them that as far as I may, I was perfectly willing to serve in the service, but I would like to make an effort to get in a place where I could make the best contribution to my country. And they asked what I had in mind and I told them I’d written to the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, I corresponded with them. I’d written to MIT, I’d written to the Army, I’d written to the Navy, and whether there were more I had written to I don’t know, but they all responded favorably that they would receive me in their ranks [inaudible passage] correspondent and I indicated I did. [inaudible passage] letter writing [inaudible passage]. And I remember very little [inaudible passage] a building in the middle of the business district. They said if you go in that Western Union office and send a telegram to Mount Pete, we will give you an additional week to become productive in the war effort [inaudible passage].

Life has been good to me, every step of the way. Really, it has. If it ended now I’d be [inaudible passage]. And then I joined the Radiation Laboratory. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with that at all. But I was a neophyte. . So I had good experience there.

Dumont Laboratories

Rollman:

That takes me up to 1945. The war ended. My interest in the television industry blossomed out again. The Dumont Laboratories indicated an interest in me. So they took me aboard roughly--

Morton:

And where were their laboratories at that time?

Rollman:

They were in Passaic.

Morton:

Okay.

Rollman:

And from that standpoint, Dumont was the driving force in the ‘40s for the Iconoscope. Not the scope, the cathode ray tube and the applications of the cathode ray tube, and that was where he had been placing much of his emphasis. And from there he wanted to expand the market for his tubes. So he decided to build television sets. By that time I think he had four stations built, one in New York City, Washington, Pittsburgh and -- was there a fourth one? I don’t know. That’s not important. So I went with him a short time when it was found that I was a little bit ahead of him on getting into such subtle details of the work I had done on the tube. So they put me into production of their television cameras. My time was going pretty fast there, maybe that lasted a year. I’m not sure of that. And they moved me over into engineering and their transmitters. I think he was operating his stations to a degree.

Morton:

So this was still before 1950 sometime?

Rollman:

Yes. Yes, this is. But I’m saying the intervals between steps were getting very close. Over there the stations were not coming up very rapidly, but his production was coming up. And I got a call from him and asked if I would come over and see him and we chatted and he was concerned about his production on television sets and inquired would I be interested in taking over the task of developing his quality control there. Hindsight says that was a chance of a lifetime because never again would you step into an assignment that you really knew nothing about. So yes, I did that. Now, that takes me up pretty much to my professional career.

Morton:

I’d like to ask you a few questions.

Rollman:

Oh, fine.

Quality control in television set production

Morton:

When you came into that job what kind of quality control was Dumont using? There are obviously different production lines using totally different components for example. What kinds of things was Dumont using?

Rollman:

Very good. That was a time when, particularly in electronics, quality control was not really recognized as quality control. I mean, either you were flying high or you weren’t. One classic example was with the Magnetron. RCA and Raytheon were the two principle suppliers of Magnetrons for the government, and the government was lost without them. They had it that when RCA was in production Raytheon was not, and when Raytheon was in production RCA was not. There was a sort of a constant exchange of technical skills between the two companies to keep, to get each other up on line. What I’m saying is they were trying to the equipment to work and stay working. And in terms of a control on that, it didn’t really amount to anything.

Morton:

Do you remember any of the specific problems Dumont was having? Were there consistent, long-term problems with any of the particular components? I’m thinking the critical component was probably the picture tube itself.

Rollman:

No. The tube was the most stable of our products at that time. It was not a really troublesome spot, as we grew to know what trouble spots were. We were still in production of some electronic instruments using the capital rate for the government contracts. We did have trouble there. We did not have control. There was no control over the quality. Quality control in electronics just really didn’t exist.

Morton:

Right.

Rollman:

And our trouble there was very heavy along the lines of mechanical structure. Soldered joints were a good challenge to see if you could keep the failure rates on soldering joints to a minimum. Really, if you just didn’t have the joints in the first place--

Morton:

Right. Were these in machine made tubes or were these hand built?

Rollman:

No. No. He was in production. He was in production. He was in on cathode ray tubes. I don’t know how far. I would guess he was in production since the early ‘40s.

Morton:

Okay. So all the tubes, guts and so forth were made on some machine…

Rollman:

Oh, yes.

Morton:

The problems were getting solder joints, machine made solder joints.

Rollman:

Those were on test equipment. On using the cathode ray tubes in the circuitry that the cathode would--

Morton:

Oh, I see. I see. Okay. You’re not talking about the weld that fits inside of -- putting the components and the tube together, making them stick together, you’re talking about the rest of it.

Rollman:

No. It was beyond that.

Morton:

I see.

Rollman:

The tube was all right.

Morton:

Okay. I understand.

Rollman:

We had normal shrinkage on it. We had long life on it. The tube itself was not troublesome.

Morton:

So at the time had Dumont put in place automatic soldering machines or was it still all point to point and hand assembled?

Rollman:

No. No. That was later. So it was hand soldered.

Morton:

Right.

Rollman:

The only thing good about that was that it was easy to spot the troubles. I mean, we’d have a high shrinkage rate. And it was like a yard of a railroad, the production line was going and then something got stuck on it somewhere and it was just diverted off to another track. But the product could be moved back to the main line very rapidly. But no, it wasn’t a high state art at all. It was down to earth at that time.

Inspection and testing procedures

Morton:

Were the products tested along the way?

Rollman:

Oh, yes. We were running into -- on figures, on television sets, we could be running up to 100 inspection lines.

Morton:

And the practice was to test them after they’d been built and give them a go, or a no go?

Rollman:

Generally, generally. There was not intermediate testing there at all. Now, we had other activities there. And I’m leading you a little bit to be sure you get a broad… I didn’t know it was going to be heavy on Dumont, but that’s all right.

Morton:

I’m just interested in the early TV production, so I’m just asking--

Rollman:

Oh, just TV production?

Morton:

Well, it’s something that I’ve read a little bit about, so that’s why I’m asking you so many questions about it, but we should move on.

Rollman:

But I didn’t want you to move on!

Morton:

Well, we can stay where we are.

Rollman:

Remember, I came in there not knowing practically anything about TV. I didn’t know anything about production at all. But Dumont was in it. He had his military already employed in it. And we were burdened with that responsibility too, or I was because I started out alone. We were burdened with a good bit of detailed testing, which we didn’t do on the television sets. I’m serious when I say this, we did it partly for publicity, but apart from that we on occasion would even drop them, we would literally throw them in the river. When you don’t have very much, I mean, you resort to some pretty crude techniques.

But, from that we started to build a fairly fine testing laboratory. This is why I was interested in it. I knew nothing, absolutely nothing, about refrigeration other than what I learned in my physics class. We built testing chambers. They were about six-foot, by six-foot, by six-foot, and they would go down to sub-zero temperatures in there. It was interesting because we ran cascade and we had to run them. We didn’t know that much about low temperature equipment. I mean, creating the temperature in the first place. We learned fast about running compressors and cascade to get the temperature down! We had vibration tables. We had those built for us. They were not directly available. But that was interesting. The tables were electromagnetically driven and we could put their frequency into that machinery and we could scan the capability of the product to withstand different frequencies.

Morton:

I’m probably restating the obvious but there’s two kinds of testing going on, there’s testing reliability in the field, versus testing along the production line to see if the product coming off the line is going to function.

Rollman:

There was indeed testing in the field.

Morton:

Right. Right. And this is what you’re talking about, particularly I guess for the military projects.

Rollman:

For the military, we weren’t doing it in the field. We were doing it on subassemblies and that sort of thing right in the laboratory.

Morton:

But sort of simulating?

Rollman:

Simulating, yes indeed, simulating. So, we had that. We also were developing on a pretty nice scale a good-sized component evaluation. And this is where we would study the individual components to determine what the risk was with using them.

Morton:

Would the results from that feed back into the production process, or were they simply to estimate the chance of failure?

Rollman:

They would feed back through, generally, purchasing to the manufacturer and then the first move was to select the manufacturers. On capacitors, resistors, and that sort of thing you could be at that time state-of-the-art and advanced for the manufacturers. So if they were sincere and conscientious they could get a good product out, but they could unload their inferior product too. So it was testing and then screening too. We did not screen the product that went on the line, we screened on a bulk basis. And not by statistical methods there then. The only people doing statistical work then was the Bell Laboratories with -- the famous name is Walter A. Shewhart. But the industry had not gone too far with that.

Reliability, IRE

Morton:

I see. That’s a nice lead-in to the formation of the group on reliability, in ‘49.

Rollman:

Oh, yes.

Morton:

How did that come about?

Rollman:

Again, you see, you didn’t have very experienced people anywhere to tell you how to deal with these problems. And Dr. Dumont was shall I say pretty savvy on the science and the technical parts of it and though I don’t know where he was getting his input but he knew that the word was beginning to migrate around the country about quality control. The word did not originate with us by any means. And just to cite one of the colorful instances, he hired a retiring admiral to carry out some of his commands or orders. The admiral was skilled in giving orders and seeing to it that they were executed, and Dumont had the technical sense. One of the first things he did about this quality control… he thought Rollman had better find out what’s going on in the field a little bit more, and what other companies are doing. And the command from the admiral came to me.

What I did was…, there was another person involved in Dumont, his name was Scott Hill and he was really a floating ambassador in the industry. He knew a little bit about everything but not much of any one item. I say that with respect. And he knew people. And the first time I really became aware of his activities was when he came to me and told me that he thought it was time that we think about organizing a group in the IRE at that time. There was a committee headed by I think Dr. William R.G. Baker, and he was in charge of administering the IRE activities, informing groups within the IRE. You probably know more about that than I do. And Scott suggested that he thought he could get me into one of Dr. Baker’s meetings, and I could at least go and mention the words and sound them out as to how receptive they would be, I mean, how quality control would fit in with the IRE’s activities, which I did.

And from that it was proposed that I document the thoughts I passed on to them. And they had another meeting. That meeting was up in Syracuse in Dr. Baker’s office and there I made a formal presentation. They indicated more interest up there. I mean, they were not discouraging me. They weren’t telling everybody else to stop what they’re doing and listen to what Rollman is doing. They didn’t do that. But they were rationing off minutes to me so to speak so I did put together a graph. At this time another chap in the television industry heard about this and said that he was very interested and would like to follow it, and like to be a part of it. That was Jerry Steen. So Jerry Steen, and myself, and Scott were now moving ahead in an attempt to put together a proposal for a new group. And we did that. It was suggested that we assemble the signatures of people across the country who would sign a petition that they thought this was a worthy cause.

Morton:

Sorry to interrupt, but were there any formal requirements about the number of signatures or anything like that?

Rollman:

I suspect there were. There was a significant number that we had to get. I have, up in my room, all my original files documenting this. I wonder sometimes how well they were documented. But if you really want to research this you might look into those files a little more. We got the signatures. We presented them to the committee. And shortly thereafter we got a letter from the technical secretary telling us that our group had been approved. This is a little, interesting tidbit, because a few days letter I got second letter. No, I got that letter from Covings. Do you know Covings?

Morton:

No, who’s that?

Rollman:

He was a technical secretary on the IRE’s staff. You notice I always revert back to IRE.

Morton:

That’s appropriate.

Rollman:

He wrote me the letter and told me that the group was approved. And you would think that a letter from the technical secretary had the authority. But in a matter of days later I got another that you can sense was written in sort of a panic, where that first letter didn’t. That is definitely, certainly, in the file. I wouldn’t throw that one away. But shortly thereafter the committee, the Baker committee did approve it. We got another letter, that it was approved. That gave us a charter.

At the time we were submitting the documents for this we had to even name a temporary president and a temporary group of officers for it. So from that point, as soon as we got the second letter from Covings, we were able to move ahead. So I called a committee -- this is not ego -- I was the only one who was gifted. That’s because Dumont wanted it. And therefore, the admiral wanted it, and I had widely monitored this. I had a full-time secretary working on it. And I’m not boasting of that, I’m just saying that’s what Dumont wanted. So that was the power behind us. And he asked that they reflect it into his own production lines because we were gaining status through Dumont because he wanted it. And it was not wisdom to ever challenge any of our activities as long as there was merit to them. I mean, it wasn’t a blind indulgence, because he was skilled himself. So we had to get the minutes, we met over in New York. We did not meet at the IRE. I couldn’t tell you how we got the rooms each time, but we had rooms in New York. We sat around and we started to discuss how to build up a group. I mean, how do you assemble a group of people like that? We were all young, all of us.

Morton:

One question about the original membership. From what you described to me it sounds like a multidisciplinary field in some ways. Was there ever any consideration of making this field include people who weren’t necessarily electrical engineers but were somehow related to this set of problems, or was it pretty much going to be electrical engineers who had taken an interest in these wider problems?

Rollman:

There is a straightforward answer to it. I was turning over in my mind just how to explain it. Number one, there was another small organization that was another group like ours. Independent Electronics, which had been formed and which called themselves the Quality Control Society, or something like that. I don’t recall. I think they may be in my documents. We talked to them, and we brought up some of the same questions you were asking. “Wouldn’t there be wisdom in broadening this out?” Though we were primarily electronic, and we seemed to think there would be wisdom in knowing what each other is doing. And so we brought them into our ranks as sort of an affiliate, and I think it’s a common practice in our organization there.

And from there we started to draw some people. And then by word-of-mouth, we heard of people in different places and we would start drawing them in. But we drew on our own from there on, by word-of-mouth efforts. We did that. And we were fortunate, very fortunate. But the way we selected our people initially gave us a prop, or they became the pillars of the operation. They, themselves, had influence back from where they came. So we were beginning to influence, say the Bell Laboratories, and Western Electric, we had a fellow by the name of Tarkelson and this was almost his field alone, almost as a liaison or interface between Western Electric’s vacuum tube manufacturing that was big then, and our activities. And he was always meeting with us, and we were getting to the point where he would go back to his office get commitments from his people on certain aspects, and we were trying to build up the concept of quality control. And we were doing that by people like Tarkelson. Leon Bass was working on jet engines, in GE, and in the Midwest, in Cincinnati. It was in the same place Proctor and Gamble was. Incidentally it wasn’t the same building, don’t get me wrong, it was the same city that GE had their jet plant running up there. Leon Bass was an interface between us. He was a member of our group. I mean, he was one of the members of the military committee. So were all these fellows I mentioned. MacIroy was from General Radio, which was a very fine radio -- not radio as you know about it, but a kind of electronic equipment.

Morton:

Right. Communications and aeronautics in the field.

Rollman:

Yes. Right. So Tarkelson was not only good for us he was highly respected by the professional community. How did we do it? Don’t ask me. I mean we were just extremely fortunate in running across these people one way or another, and bringing them into our fold.

Japanese manufacturing and quality control

Morton:

It’s really a fascinating story. We can’t do the whole thing but I thought I might ask you a question and give you a chance to say if I’ve cut you off or if there’s something else you want to say. Of course, the famous story is that Japanese manufacturers have become really famous in terms of quality control. Was there any hint that was going to happen at the time of the formation of this society?

Rollman:

To the best of my knowledge, no. They weren’t really in it. I mean, that’s my recollection. They just weren’t into building this kind of equipment. Remember, during the war, we would think twice before we would even say good morning to a Japanese. So, no, there’s no inkling that I have. I’m not saying there wasn’t one, but I didn’t know about it. Remember I was a neophyte here too so there could have been an awful lot going on that we didn’t know about.

Bell Labs; transmission engineering

Morton:

That’s the question I had. We’ve gotten to about 1950 or so in your career and there’s obviously quite a lot after that.

Rollman:

Okay. I’ll cover some of that. Later on at the Pastures we’d become pretty well established, I mentioned some of the names we had there. The opportunity came for me to -- I’ll have to tell you how it happened. At the first I consulted with the Pentagon for a while in that period, not full time, you know. And there was a chap there who was a consultant also, and I was going home after the meetings we had together there, and I sat down to have a cup of coffee, waiting for a plane to take me back to Jersey and this other chap came up and I knew him. And I made some comment to him to the effect that he’s got a wonderful assignment. Really how could anybody have more than he has. He was working at Bell Laboratories and I highly respected and I still respect Bell Laboratories. And he very quietly asked, “Would you be interested in moving over?”

[End of tape one, side a]

Morton:

So you got the offer to go to Bell Labs.

Rollman:

No, I didn’t get the offer. That was just a conversation we had over coffee. That he was very fortunate to be working with such a fine organization. He was, incidentally, a vice president and that had an influence. But the next morning I got a telephone call from a member of the staff of another vice president from Bell Laboratories. He was not a vice president or anything like that, but he was a good man, and doing the job he was supposed to do. And he called and he said that they had heard over at his office that I might be receptive to talking to them about moving. And I said yes. And I got a date with him and that’s how I got to Bell Laboratories. And what I did at Bell Laboratories was on transmission engineering. And needless to say that transmission I thought that was the greatest thing in the world. And so I got involved in the engineering field in Bell Laboratories.

Morton:

Does that have any connection to the earlier reliability stuff or not? That sounds like a different direction for you.

Rollman:

It was a far more sophisticated move. They were taking advantage of my background, but the things that we had were, “How do you deal with service interruptions?” or “How do you deal with sudden changes in performance?” and this sort of thing.

Morton:

I see.

Rollman:

And they were drawing on my past experience to deal with and to identify issues. I was not in production there.

Morton:

Right.

Quality control at Bell Labs; silver migration and switching systems

Rollman:

A product would go out in the field with AT&T, if there was trouble in the field, then Western Electric came in and diagnosed it. If they said it wasn’t a real defect, well then how could they be liable for that. If it got an “A” classification that meant it had to be corrected. Every unit on the field had to be corrected at no charge to the operating company.

Morton:

So you didn’t want to find too many of those.

Rollman:

The company didn’t wish it. No, let’s make that straight. The company did want to find those. They didn’t want them. They wanted performance. And they took a dim view when one showed up. But get rid of them. Don’t let them linger out there.

Morton:

Are there any good examples of that, that you remember?

Rollman:

Well, of course along these lines, silver migration. If you’re familiar with that. You see, the switching system they worked with there was all mechanical and the contacts, all the connections were mechanical connections. And to be sure they had a good product, they were conscientious, they silver-plated all the contacts. But then they became acquainted with what they call silver migration. There was a voltage across those contacts and the electrons would migrate over there, and when they did there was a flash and a disturbance on the system. And what they had to do was to go to another plating process that didn’t do that.

Morton:

So every contact in every switching system in the country had to be changed or--

Rollman:

Indeed. Indeed. But it was a good system. It was a mighty good system and you’ll never see it again..

Significance of IEEE

Morton:

Have you got any final words for this interview?

Rollman:

Not for the interview, for the organization.

Morton:

Okay.

Rollman:

I say, more power to you. I say, that the need for it’s greater than it’s ever been before, partly because the work has getting so much more sophisticated, complex, and intricate. And the best men in the country need to be directed towards this group with enthusiasm.

Morton:

Well, thank you very much.