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Oral-History:Roger Hull

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Hull received his BS in electrical engineering from Ohio State in 1933. He worked for Leland Electric as a motor design engineer until 1937, then for NCR (National Cash Register Company) until he retired in 1972. First he worked on contact protection of speed control on cash registers and on the phone hookup from a cash register to a credit office to verify a charge account. During World War II he worked for Joe Desch’s project—on a primitive calculator involving thyratron tubes and on a counting board. After the war he returned to working on cash registers. He helped put induction motors in cash registers ca. 1960, worked on an adding machine that could print out a line of text when you pressed a single button, worked on portable battery-operated machines, a special machine for use in payrolls, and a Gerber Plotter, used for making masters for printed circuit boards.<br>  
 
Hull received his BS in electrical engineering from Ohio State in 1933. He worked for Leland Electric as a motor design engineer until 1937, then for NCR (National Cash Register Company) until he retired in 1972. First he worked on contact protection of speed control on cash registers and on the phone hookup from a cash register to a credit office to verify a charge account. During World War II he worked for Joe Desch’s project—on a primitive calculator involving thyratron tubes and on a counting board. After the war he returned to working on cash registers. He helped put induction motors in cash registers ca. 1960, worked on an adding machine that could print out a line of text when you pressed a single button, worked on portable battery-operated machines, a special machine for use in payrolls, and a Gerber Plotter, used for making masters for printed circuit boards.<br>  
  
<br>
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<br>  
  
For further information on the National Cash Register Company's role in developing World War II code-breaking machines, see [http://www.ieeeghn.org/wiki/index.php/Milestones:US_Naval_Computing_Machine_Laboratory%2C_1942-1945 Milestones: US Naval Computing Machine Laboratory, 1942-1945].<br>
+
For further information on the National Cash Register Company's role in developing World War II code-breaking machines, see [http://www.ieeeghn.org/wiki/index.php/Milestones:US_Naval_Computing_Machine_Laboratory%2C_1942-1945 Milestones: US Naval Computing Machine Laboratory, 1942-1945].<br>  
  
 
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=== Family and educational background<br>  ===
 
=== Family and educational background<br>  ===
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
This is the sixteenth of September 1995. I'm talking with Roger Hull, in Dayton, Ohio. This is Rik Nebeker. Could we start by your telling me where and when you were born, and a little bit about your family?<br>  
 
This is the sixteenth of September 1995. I'm talking with Roger Hull, in Dayton, Ohio. This is Rik Nebeker. Could we start by your telling me where and when you were born, and a little bit about your family?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, I was born in Cleveland [Ohio]. My mother had come from Dayton; my father was from Indiana. My father got a job up there, and that’s where I was born.<br>  
 
Well, I was born in Cleveland [Ohio]. My mother had come from Dayton; my father was from Indiana. My father got a job up there, and that’s where I was born.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
What was his job?<br>  
 
What was his job?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
He, at that time, was with the Standard Tool Company, to make twist-drills. I liked him--he always was doing things at home--making things. He bought a boat up there, and used it on the lake--things like that. But when I was three we moved to Dayton, and I’ve been in Dayton ever since.<br>  
 
He, at that time, was with the Standard Tool Company, to make twist-drills. I liked him--he always was doing things at home--making things. He bought a boat up there, and used it on the lake--things like that. But when I was three we moved to Dayton, and I’ve been in Dayton ever since.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Were you interested in gadgets when you were young?<br>  
 
Were you interested in gadgets when you were young?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Oh, yes. When I was just so big I took his camera apart, to see what was inside of it. (laughter) <br>  
 
Oh, yes. When I was just so big I took his camera apart, to see what was inside of it. (laughter) <br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Did you ever build a crystal radio?<br>  
 
Did you ever build a crystal radio?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Oh yes.<br>  
 
Oh yes.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Did you get into amateur radio? <br>  
 
Did you get into amateur radio? <br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No, I didn’t. When I get to the point that I can’t do Model Ts, I'm going to move into ham radio.<br>  
 
No, I didn’t. When I get to the point that I can’t do Model Ts, I'm going to move into ham radio.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
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'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
OK—You’ve got that to look forward to. (laughter)<br>  
 
OK—You’ve got that to look forward to. (laughter)<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
I’ve had a crystal radio where I used a bed spring for an antenna. I don’t know whether you knew that WLW in Cincinnati had an experimental 50,000-watt radio broadcasting station. They would come on at midnight with this 50,000-watt station, and, with my bed spring antenna, I could leave the headphones way out here on the pillow and hear it very nicely.<br>  
 
I’ve had a crystal radio where I used a bed spring for an antenna. I don’t know whether you knew that WLW in Cincinnati had an experimental 50,000-watt radio broadcasting station. They would come on at midnight with this 50,000-watt station, and, with my bed spring antenna, I could leave the headphones way out here on the pillow and hear it very nicely.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Did you decide at an early age that you wanted to go into engineering, and science?<br>  
 
Did you decide at an early age that you wanted to go into engineering, and science?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Oh yes. My father was an engineer, so I just fit into that and took electrical engineering at Ohio State.<br>  
 
Oh yes. My father was an engineer, so I just fit into that and took electrical engineering at Ohio State.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
When did you graduate?<br>  
 
When did you graduate?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
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'''Hull:'''
  
 
'33.<br>  
 
'33.<br>  
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=== Employment at Leland Electric  ===
 
=== Employment at Leland Electric  ===
  
Nebeker:  
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'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
And what then? That was a hard time to find jobs.<br>  
 
And what then? That was a hard time to find jobs.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
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'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, my father helped me there, though; a fellow from his hometown was working at a place called Leland Electric, which made electric motors. I got in there as a messenger which was still a job!<br>  
 
Well, my father helped me there, though; a fellow from his hometown was working at a place called Leland Electric, which made electric motors. I got in there as a messenger which was still a job!<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
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'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
You had a E.E. degree, and had to get a job as a messenger (laughter)<br>  
 
You had a E.E. degree, and had to get a job as a messenger (laughter)<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
As I remember I made $42.50 a month. I think that’s what it was.<br>  
 
As I remember I made $42.50 a month. I think that’s what it was.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Were you able to move up in Leland?<br>  
 
Were you able to move up in Leland?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
I got to be a motor design engineer. In '37 times got kind of hard, and they cut down.<br>  
 
I got to be a motor design engineer. In '37 times got kind of hard, and they cut down.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
What sort of motors were they making?<br>  
 
What sort of motors were they making?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
They were one of the foremost makers of motors for gasoline pumps --explosion-proof motors. They made fan motors.<br>  
 
They were one of the foremost makers of motors for gasoline pumps --explosion-proof motors. They made fan motors.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
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'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
They had to be sure of course that there was no spark.<br>  
 
They had to be sure of course that there was no spark.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Incidentally, they were sealed motors which had very precise gaps. I think, a .002 gap was the maximum anywhere. And they would test them [by] filling them with an explosive gas mixture. They had a spark plug put in them. They would take them to a dark room and see if any flame came out.<br>  
 
Incidentally, they were sealed motors which had very precise gaps. I think, a .002 gap was the maximum anywhere. And they would test them [by] filling them with an explosive gas mixture. They had a spark plug put in them. They would take them to a dark room and see if any flame came out.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
I see. (laughter) But their business suffered in the Depression?<br>  
 
I see. (laughter) But their business suffered in the Depression?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
They've been out of business now for a number of years. A fellow named George Leland ran it. He was an eccentric fellow, but he was a genius on coming up with things.<br>  
 
They've been out of business now for a number of years. A fellow named George Leland ran it. He was an eccentric fellow, but he was a genius on coming up with things.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
And you were involved actually in the design of motors?<br>  
 
And you were involved actually in the design of motors?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yes.<br>  
 
Yes.<br>  
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==== Contact protection for cash registers  ====
 
==== Contact protection for cash registers  ====
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
So what happened in '37?<br>  
 
So what happened in '37?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, I was out [of work] for a while and, and then about the end of '37 I came here to NCR, and got a job.<br>  
 
Well, I was out [of work] for a while and, and then about the end of '37 I came here to NCR, and got a job.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Just applied for one?<br>  
 
Just applied for one?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
They had an ad in the paper that they wanted engineers, and I came out and applied.<br>  
 
They had an ad in the paper that they wanted engineers, and I came out and applied.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
And so what was your assignment?<br>  
 
And so what was your assignment?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, at that time cash registers had a vibrating contact type of speed control and the contact life was kind of short. They wanted better protection on that.<br>  
 
Well, at that time cash registers had a vibrating contact type of speed control and the contact life was kind of short. They wanted better protection on that.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Did you stick with that kind of speed control?<br>  
 
Did you stick with that kind of speed control?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yes, with the contact protection across it.<br>  
 
Yes, with the contact protection across it.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
How long did you work on that?<br>  
 
How long did you work on that?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
They also then had the "OK phone." They needed something for handling charge accounts. They had a telephone at each cash register, and this phone had a solenoid-operated punch. If there was a charge, the clerk would call on this phone to the credit office and put the sales slip in the phone. If the credit was OK the credit office would push a button and punch a set of holes to show that it was approved.<br>  
 
They also then had the "OK phone." They needed something for handling charge accounts. They had a telephone at each cash register, and this phone had a solenoid-operated punch. If there was a charge, the clerk would call on this phone to the credit office and put the sales slip in the phone. If the credit was OK the credit office would push a button and punch a set of holes to show that it was approved.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
I see. I was going to ask why a simple telephone hook up wouldn’t work but you needed to show that the credit office had approved.<br>  
 
I see. I was going to ask why a simple telephone hook up wouldn’t work but you needed to show that the credit office had approved.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
This showed the credit office did it.<br>  
 
This showed the credit office did it.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
I see.<br>  
 
I see.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
They recommended using a packaged envelope sack that was a different color than their sales slip so that the different color showed through these holes quite readily.<br>  
 
They recommended using a packaged envelope sack that was a different color than their sales slip so that the different color showed through these holes quite readily.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
I see. Did they market that system? <br>  
 
I see. Did they market that system? <br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yes, it was in almost all of the big department stores.<br>  
 
Yes, it was in almost all of the big department stores.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
I see. Was that the beginning of it, when you were working there?<br>  
 
I see. Was that the beginning of it, when you were working there?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Oh, no. It [the OK phone] was begun back some time before that, but we modernized it--such as a vacuum-tube oscillator for ringing, and little odds and ends like that.<br>  
 
Oh, no. It [the OK phone] was begun back some time before that, but we modernized it--such as a vacuum-tube oscillator for ringing, and little odds and ends like that.<br>  
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==== Assignment to Joe Desch's department  ====
 
==== Assignment to Joe Desch's department  ====
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
What then?<br>  
 
What then?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, that, that was about the time the war started and, at the beginning, I got part-time into Joe Desch’s department.<br>  
 
Well, that, that was about the time the war started and, at the beginning, I got part-time into Joe Desch’s department.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Did you do that because these people were likely to get deferments?<br>  
 
Did you do that because these people were likely to get deferments?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
The company did this for me. I was only in there part-time.<br>  
 
The company did this for me. I was only in there part-time.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
In other words, you told the people that you’d like to stay at the company? They just wanted to protect you?<br>  
 
In other words, you told the people that you’d like to stay at the company? They just wanted to protect you?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
It was their idea. I was only in there part-time, half days really--<br>  
 
It was their idea. I was only in there part-time, half days really--<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
--otherwise continuing in the early department--<br>  
 
--otherwise continuing in the early department--<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
--then finally went in there full-time.<br>  
 
--then finally went in there full-time.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Was it before Pearl Harbor that you started working with Joe’s group?<br>  
 
Was it before Pearl Harbor that you started working with Joe’s group?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
I think it was just before I started with them, I don’t remember exactly when. <br>  
 
I think it was just before I started with them, I don’t remember exactly when. <br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Was it before they moved to Building 26?<br>  
 
Was it before they moved to Building 26?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Oh yes. For quite a while before that.<br>  
 
Oh yes. For quite a while before that.<br>  
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==== Counting circuits  ====
 
==== Counting circuits  ====
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
What were you doing with Joe’s group in the very beginning?<br>  
 
What were you doing with Joe’s group in the very beginning?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Have you heard the name of Larry Kilheffer? He was one of Joe’s engineers, and he built, worked on [what] was really a small calculator, using thyratron tubes. I think it had about eight banks of keys. That then went up to Chicago, and was used in the atomic work up there.<br>  
 
Have you heard the name of Larry Kilheffer? He was one of Joe’s engineers, and he built, worked on [what] was really a small calculator, using thyratron tubes. I think it had about eight banks of keys. That then went up to Chicago, and was used in the atomic work up there.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
I see. There was a reference to some of the accounting circuits being used to count, or to measure the radiation.<br>  
 
I see. There was a reference to some of the accounting circuits being used to count, or to measure the radiation.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
I don’t remember anymore. But this machine went up there as a part of that work <br>  
 
I don’t remember anymore. But this machine went up there as a part of that work <br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Do you think that it was a calculator rather than some kind of a timing device or--<br>  
 
Do you think that it was a calculator rather than some kind of a timing device or--<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
It was at least an adding machine, and as I remember it had multiplication on it also. [It] was banks of keys with ten thyratron types in each bank. Jack Kern made [the] tubes.<br>  
 
It was at least an adding machine, and as I remember it had multiplication on it also. [It] was banks of keys with ten thyratron types in each bank. Jack Kern made [the] tubes.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
You worked on that device?<br>  
 
You worked on that device?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yes.<br>  
 
Yes.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
That was very important work that Joe was doing at that point on those counting circuits. What was your next assignment? Do you recall?  
 
That was very important work that Joe was doing at that point on those counting circuits. What was your next assignment? Do you recall?  
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==== Move to Building 26  ====
 
==== Move to Building 26  ====
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No, when, when they moved into Building 26 I went down there with them. I was with Bob Goebel and Ralph Bruce some on the big machine too--[I was] just going around to different things really.<br>  
 
No, when, when they moved into Building 26 I went down there with them. I was with Bob Goebel and Ralph Bruce some on the big machine too--[I was] just going around to different things really.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
How was that in the beginning? You went in the initial group that moved to Building 26?<br>  
 
How was that in the beginning? You went in the initial group that moved to Building 26?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yes.<br>  
 
Yes.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
I can imagine that may have been a little bit chaotic there with the group growing so much.<br>  
 
I can imagine that may have been a little bit chaotic there with the group growing so much.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yes, but of course we were quite limited; if you didn’t have your name on the door you didn’t go in the room. So that I didn’t get in all of it. That made it not quite so bad I guess.<br>  
 
Yes, but of course we were quite limited; if you didn’t have your name on the door you didn’t go in the room. So that I didn’t get in all of it. That made it not quite so bad I guess.<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Do you recall your initial assignments there with that group?<br>  
 
Do you recall your initial assignments there with that group?<br>  
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<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Not particularly. Later on I worked, I guess it was some of the Japanese stuff where there were big banks of counters--26 by 26--with all these individual counters. That was 656 counters I guess.<br>  
 
Not particularly. Later on I worked, I guess it was some of the Japanese stuff where there were big banks of counters--26 by 26--with all these individual counters. That was 656 counters I guess.<br>  
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==== Research security during World War II<br>  ====
 
==== Research security during World War II<br>  ====
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
I know of two devices that were for the Japanese; one was the Copperhead, which was a microfilm device, and the other was the Rattler, that was an electronic device.<br>  
 
I know of two devices that were for the Japanese; one was the Copperhead, which was a microfilm device, and the other was the Rattler, that was an electronic device.<br>  
Line 507: Line 507:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
I worked mainly on this counting board. I didn’t really know how it was tied in with anything.<br>  
 
I worked mainly on this counting board. I didn’t really know how it was tied in with anything.<br>  
Line 513: Line 513:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
But of course they didn’t want people to know the rest of it.<br>  
 
But of course they didn’t want people to know the rest of it.<br>  
Line 519: Line 519:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No, no. (laughter)<br>  
 
No, no. (laughter)<br>  
Line 525: Line 525:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
How much did you know about this, how much did you guess at what was going on?<br>  
 
How much did you know about this, how much did you guess at what was going on?<br>  
Line 531: Line 531:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, before we moved to Building 26, I had guessed what the project was. I was told I was wrong, but I didn’t believe it. (laughter)<br>  
 
Well, before we moved to Building 26, I had guessed what the project was. I was told I was wrong, but I didn’t believe it. (laughter)<br>  
Line 537: Line 537:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
So they asked you, “What do you think you’re going to be doing?” Is that it?<br>  
 
So they asked you, “What do you think you’re going to be doing?” Is that it?<br>  
Line 543: Line 543:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No, no -- but I said, "I think I know what this is," to someone—might’ve been to Larry Kilheffer. And he reported it to Joe. So that’s when Joe called me in and we talked about it, and he told me, "No, no, no, that’s not what it is." (laughter)<br>  
 
No, no -- but I said, "I think I know what this is," to someone—might’ve been to Larry Kilheffer. And he reported it to Joe. So that’s when Joe called me in and we talked about it, and he told me, "No, no, no, that’s not what it is." (laughter)<br>  
Line 549: Line 549:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
But what you saw after that seemed to confirm your suspicions --<br>  
 
But what you saw after that seemed to confirm your suspicions --<br>  
Line 555: Line 555:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Oh sure, oh sure. Well, it was almost sure when I saw first off, with the 26, and then with all these interconnections, why… (laughter)<br>  
 
Oh sure, oh sure. Well, it was almost sure when I saw first off, with the 26, and then with all these interconnections, why… (laughter)<br>  
Line 561: Line 561:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Well it could’ve been an encoding machine, that you were working on, rather than…<br>  
 
Well it could’ve been an encoding machine, that you were working on, rather than…<br>  
Line 567: Line 567:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, it could’ve been, but I didn’t think so.<br>  
 
Well, it could’ve been, but I didn’t think so.<br>  
Line 573: Line 573:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
(laughter) O.K. But you weren’t ever officially told what, what these devices were.<br>  
 
(laughter) O.K. But you weren’t ever officially told what, what these devices were.<br>  
Line 579: Line 579:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No. We were very much told not to say anything. <br>  
 
No. We were very much told not to say anything. <br>  
Line 585: Line 585:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Did you also refrain from talking with your co-workers about what you thought it was?<br>  
 
Did you also refrain from talking with your co-workers about what you thought it was?<br>  
Line 591: Line 591:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yes, we all were pretty careful about it.<br>  
 
Yes, we all were pretty careful about it.<br>  
Line 597: Line 597:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
And you took seriously the security? Not talking about your work outside.<br>  
 
And you took seriously the security? Not talking about your work outside.<br>  
Line 603: Line 603:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Oh, very definitely.<br>  
 
Oh, very definitely.<br>  
Line 609: Line 609:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Do you know anything about this the person who was arrested as a spy?<br>  
 
Do you know anything about this the person who was arrested as a spy?<br>  
Line 615: Line 615:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
I had never heard that, although now that it’s mentioned, I think there was some kind of a little hint but I’m not sure--<br>  
 
I had never heard that, although now that it’s mentioned, I think there was some kind of a little hint but I’m not sure--<br>  
Line 621: Line 621:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Of course, they tried to keep it a secret--<br>  
 
Of course, they tried to keep it a secret--<br>  
Line 627: Line 627:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
I was quite surprised that there was really such a thing.<br>  
 
I was quite surprised that there was really such a thing.<br>  
Line 633: Line 633:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
But the security precautions didn’t interfere with your own work?<br>  
 
But the security precautions didn’t interfere with your own work?<br>  
Line 639: Line 639:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No.<br>  
 
No.<br>  
Line 645: Line 645:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Or bother you particularly?<br>  
 
Or bother you particularly?<br>  
Line 651: Line 651:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Oh no. The Marines, they were, they were--if you were nice with them they were nice with us. They were friendly. Most of them. There were a few that were kind of nasty.<br>  
 
Oh no. The Marines, they were, they were--if you were nice with them they were nice with us. They were friendly. Most of them. There were a few that were kind of nasty.<br>  
Line 659: Line 659:
 
==== Working environment at Building 26; post-war research declassification  ====
 
==== Working environment at Building 26; post-war research declassification  ====
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
How was the atmosphere in Building 26, as far as you experienced it?<br>  
 
How was the atmosphere in Building 26, as far as you experienced it?<br>  
Line 665: Line 665:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
There, there’s nothing I can remember that was distasteful or anything.<br>  
 
There, there’s nothing I can remember that was distasteful or anything.<br>  
Line 671: Line 671:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
You were putting in long hours I think?<br>  
 
You were putting in long hours I think?<br>  
Line 677: Line 677:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Oh yes, oh yes, long hours.<br>  
 
Oh yes, oh yes, long hours.<br>  
Line 683: Line 683:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
And weren’t you paid overtime?<br>  
 
And weren’t you paid overtime?<br>  
Line 689: Line 689:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yeah. <br>  
 
Yeah. <br>  
Line 695: Line 695:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
You were paid overtime?<br>  
 
You were paid overtime?<br>  
Line 701: Line 701:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yeah. There was one Sunday I got paid for twenty-four and a half hours for that day, because I had worked over the twenty four hours.<br>  
 
Yeah. There was one Sunday I got paid for twenty-four and a half hours for that day, because I had worked over the twenty four hours.<br>  
Line 707: Line 707:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
People had a good attitude?<br>  
 
People had a good attitude?<br>  
Line 713: Line 713:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
They all believed they were doing something worthwhile.<br>  
 
They all believed they were doing something worthwhile.<br>  
Line 719: Line 719:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Did you ever get official word during the war that things you had done were valuable?<br>  
 
Did you ever get official word during the war that things you had done were valuable?<br>  
Line 725: Line 725:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No, no. But the security and everything made us believe that there must be something there. (laughter)<br>  
 
No, no. But the security and everything made us believe that there must be something there. (laughter)<br>  
Line 731: Line 731:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
And what about after the war? When did you first learn of it?<br>  
 
And what about after the war? When did you first learn of it?<br>  
Line 737: Line 737:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, it came out in the paper about, what--a year or two ago? That was the first that I really saw of anything. I understand that it was released before that.<br>  
 
Well, it came out in the paper about, what--a year or two ago? That was the first that I really saw of anything. I understand that it was released before that.<br>  
Line 743: Line 743:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
It was declassified in a certain way, but a lot of the things weren’t released.<br>  
 
It was declassified in a certain way, but a lot of the things weren’t released.<br>  
Line 749: Line 749:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, I ran into Bob Mumma, in… let’s say 1975. At that time he said that it still was [classified].<br>  
 
Well, I ran into Bob Mumma, in… let’s say 1975. At that time he said that it still was [classified].<br>  
Line 755: Line 755:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
That’s in a way a shame for people who were on such an important project.<br>  
 
That’s in a way a shame for people who were on such an important project.<br>  
Line 761: Line 761:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yes. Because it was a very interesting project. By the way, after it came out they mentioned a couple of the books from England that were about it. I got those and read them, which cleared up some.<br>  
 
Yes. Because it was a very interesting project. By the way, after it came out they mentioned a couple of the books from England that were about it. I got those and read them, which cleared up some.<br>  
Line 767: Line 767:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
What type of work were you working on? With the rotors themselves, brushes or what? Can you remember?<br>  
 
What type of work were you working on? With the rotors themselves, brushes or what? Can you remember?<br>  
Line 773: Line 773:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No I don’t remember. That’s a long time ago.<br>  
 
No I don’t remember. That’s a long time ago.<br>  
Line 779: Line 779:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
And another thing of course is that if you don’t talk about those experiences with people.<br>  
 
And another thing of course is that if you don’t talk about those experiences with people.<br>  
Line 785: Line 785:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
They fade.<br>  
 
They fade.<br>  
Line 791: Line 791:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
You don’t refresh your memory of it. What’s your recollection of, of Joe’s management style at Building 26?<br>  
 
You don’t refresh your memory of it. What’s your recollection of, of Joe’s management style at Building 26?<br>  
Line 797: Line 797:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
I always got along fine with Joe.<br>  
 
I always got along fine with Joe.<br>  
Line 803: Line 803:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
And things seemed to function well there?<br>  
 
And things seemed to function well there?<br>  
Line 809: Line 809:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Oh yeah.<br>  
 
Oh yeah.<br>  
Line 815: Line 815:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Were you conscious of this of the great pressure in early ‘43 when the device was behind schedule and Joe was working very hard to solve some of its problems?<br>  
 
Were you conscious of this of the great pressure in early ‘43 when the device was behind schedule and Joe was working very hard to solve some of its problems?<br>  
Line 821: Line 821:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No, I really didn’t know that. Of course, Joe kept on people to keep working. Jay Welker was working one time and Joe came walking up to him and said, “Jay, can you do a little faster here?” and Jay looked up to Joe and said, “Joe, I’ve got two speeds: this ‘un and one a little bit slower.” (laughter)<br>  
 
No, I really didn’t know that. Of course, Joe kept on people to keep working. Jay Welker was working one time and Joe came walking up to him and said, “Jay, can you do a little faster here?” and Jay looked up to Joe and said, “Joe, I’ve got two speeds: this ‘un and one a little bit slower.” (laughter)<br>  
Line 827: Line 827:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
He felt he could say that to his boss.<br>  
 
He felt he could say that to his boss.<br>  
Line 833: Line 833:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yeah.<br>  
 
Yeah.<br>  
Line 839: Line 839:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
That says something about Joe. <br>  
 
That says something about Joe. <br>  
Line 845: Line 845:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Oh, Joe was fair.<br>  
 
Oh, Joe was fair.<br>  
Line 851: Line 851:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
What about the winding down of the project? What do you remember of that?<br>  
 
What about the winding down of the project? What do you remember of that?<br>  
Line 857: Line 857:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, not too much, in that I just went back to my other job.<br>  
 
Well, not too much, in that I just went back to my other job.<br>  
Line 863: Line 863:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
I see, back with -- <br>  
 
I see, back with -- <br>  
Line 869: Line 869:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, it changed names a couple times. "Electro-mechanical Lab," and "Electrical Engineering," and I think there was another one.<br>  
 
Well, it changed names a couple times. "Electro-mechanical Lab," and "Electrical Engineering," and I think there was another one.<br>  
Line 875: Line 875:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
And there was the, the kind of the "Product Development Group"? Or "Product Improvement Group?"<br>  
 
And there was the, the kind of the "Product Development Group"? Or "Product Improvement Group?"<br>  
Line 881: Line 881:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yeah. We developed a new line of motors for the cash registers, and things like that.<br>  
 
Yeah. We developed a new line of motors for the cash registers, and things like that.<br>  
Line 887: Line 887:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
I’d like to ask a little bit about, about your subsequent work, but before we leave the World War II period, I wonder if there's anything else you care to comment on about that, about that effort? Other people that impressed you?<br>  
 
I’d like to ask a little bit about, about your subsequent work, but before we leave the World War II period, I wonder if there's anything else you care to comment on about that, about that effort? Other people that impressed you?<br>  
Line 893: Line 893:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
I don't know whether it was really justified. There was some feeling against Cmdr. Meader that that he was really nasty. Well, in a way he was, but he had a job to do.<br>  
 
I don't know whether it was really justified. There was some feeling against Cmdr. Meader that that he was really nasty. Well, in a way he was, but he had a job to do.<br>  
Line 899: Line 899:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Was that something that was apparent to you?<br>  
 
Was that something that was apparent to you?<br>  
Line 905: Line 905:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No, I didn't really have that much contact with him.<br>  
 
No, I didn't really have that much contact with him.<br>  
Line 911: Line 911:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
I think I heard that he was on to people to speed things up.<br>  
 
I think I heard that he was on to people to speed things up.<br>  
Line 917: Line 917:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, I can say that he had a job to do too.<br>  
 
Well, I can say that he had a job to do too.<br>  
Line 925: Line 925:
 
==== Post-war redesign of cash register motors  ====
 
==== Post-war redesign of cash register motors  ====
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
So, do you recall the postwar projects that you worked on?<br>  
 
So, do you recall the postwar projects that you worked on?<br>  
Line 931: Line 931:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
This thing of redesigning motors on the cash registers.<br>  
 
This thing of redesigning motors on the cash registers.<br>  
Line 937: Line 937:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
What was the objective of that redesign?<br>  
 
What was the objective of that redesign?<br>  
Line 943: Line 943:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, the old motor I mentioned was a series motor and vibrating speed control, and that was a troublemaker. We worked with General Electric and got a special winding and design and so on, to put induction motors on the cash register. [Those] were much more trouble-free.<br>  
 
Well, the old motor I mentioned was a series motor and vibrating speed control, and that was a troublemaker. We worked with General Electric and got a special winding and design and so on, to put induction motors on the cash register. [Those] were much more trouble-free.<br>  
Line 949: Line 949:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Roughly when did those types of motors come into production?<br>  
 
Roughly when did those types of motors come into production?<br>  
Line 955: Line 955:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
It was 1960 or thereabouts.<br>  
 
It was 1960 or thereabouts.<br>  
Line 961: Line 961:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
It’s interesting that very often with these established technologies, the improvements never received attention. But there's I know very important ones--the cash registers got a new type of induction motor.<br>  
 
It’s interesting that very often with these established technologies, the improvements never received attention. But there's I know very important ones--the cash registers got a new type of induction motor.<br>  
Line 967: Line 967:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
It cut radio interference and it was a more trouble-free motor.<br>  
 
It cut radio interference and it was a more trouble-free motor.<br>  
Line 975: Line 975:
 
==== Adding machine, payroll machine, and cash register product improvements  ====
 
==== Adding machine, payroll machine, and cash register product improvements  ====
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
What other product improvements did you work on?<br>  
 
What other product improvements did you work on?<br>  
Line 981: Line 981:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
I did some work on the adding machine, from Ithaca, to put solenoids to punch the keys, We had remote operation. It was an early thing which became a bar reader, in a way. We had boards with a bunch of little jacks on it [so] that you could set up keys, or covers, [to] press one key and it would say "hamburger: $1.35," or whatever.<br>  
 
I did some work on the adding machine, from Ithaca, to put solenoids to punch the keys, We had remote operation. It was an early thing which became a bar reader, in a way. We had boards with a bunch of little jacks on it [so] that you could set up keys, or covers, [to] press one key and it would say "hamburger: $1.35," or whatever.<br>  
Line 987: Line 987:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
I see. Print that out on the tape?<br>  
 
I see. Print that out on the tape?<br>  
Line 993: Line 993:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
On the adding machine tape. And we had some of those because the adding machines went to electrified (the earlier ones were manual).<br>  
 
On the adding machine tape. And we had some of those because the adding machines went to electrified (the earlier ones were manual).<br>  
Line 999: Line 999:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Was that in your time, that they went to electrified adding machines?<br>  
 
Was that in your time, that they went to electrified adding machines?<br>  
Line 1,005: Line 1,005:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, no. But we made one that battery operated so that they could put on a stand and go around and do their adding out on the floor, by racks of beans or whatever.<br>  
 
Well, no. But we made one that battery operated so that they could put on a stand and go around and do their adding out on the floor, by racks of beans or whatever.<br>  
Line 1,011: Line 1,011:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Now that surprises me because I think that most adding machine motors draw a fair amount of power.<br>  
 
Now that surprises me because I think that most adding machine motors draw a fair amount of power.<br>  
Line 1,017: Line 1,017:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
We had nicad batteries and they could run for a half a day or something like that. It draws a fair amount of power but each operation is really a short time.<br>  
 
We had nicad batteries and they could run for a half a day or something like that. It draws a fair amount of power but each operation is really a short time.<br>  
Line 1,023: Line 1,023:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
You didn’t have to develop a special motor for that that device?<br>  
 
You didn’t have to develop a special motor for that that device?<br>  
Line 1,029: Line 1,029:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No.<br>  
 
No.<br>  
Line 1,035: Line 1,035:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Besides this adding machine, were you involved with the with the accounting machines, these more sophisticated devices?<br>  
 
Besides this adding machine, were you involved with the with the accounting machines, these more sophisticated devices?<br>  
Line 1,041: Line 1,041:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No. I retired in '72. And they were really just getting into that stuff then.<br>  
 
No. I retired in '72. And they were really just getting into that stuff then.<br>  
Line 1,047: Line 1,047:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
What were the other products?<br>  
 
What were the other products?<br>  
Line 1,053: Line 1,053:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Big accounting machines. The big bank machines. They were a nice machine in that, in check-handling, when you made a deposit, and gave a total on the deposit slip, the machine would enter the individual deposits, and the total amount. Well, if those two totals didn't agree, the machine would not operate. So it gave a check.<br>  
 
Big accounting machines. The big bank machines. They were a nice machine in that, in check-handling, when you made a deposit, and gave a total on the deposit slip, the machine would enter the individual deposits, and the total amount. Well, if those two totals didn't agree, the machine would not operate. So it gave a check.<br>  
Line 1,059: Line 1,059:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
I see--it's automatically making a total and checking it and stopping. [Do] you have an idea of when that came into production?<br>  
 
I see--it's automatically making a total and checking it and stopping. [Do] you have an idea of when that came into production?<br>  
Line 1,065: Line 1,065:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No, I don't.<br>  
 
No, I don't.<br>  
Line 1,071: Line 1,071:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
NCR's gotten a little bit of bad press because they were slow to move to electronics, but it sounds like they were continuing to improve their electronic products.<br>  
 
NCR's gotten a little bit of bad press because they were slow to move to electronics, but it sounds like they were continuing to improve their electronic products.<br>  
Line 1,077: Line 1,077:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Another machine I worked on was for payroll use. And that was a complicated thing too. There was a rotating drum, which had a chart on it, I guess you would call it, and when they would press in the amount of the paycheck this drum would rotate to a proper position. [It would] tell how much the social security was and the various deductions [which] would show automatically on a line.<br>  
 
Another machine I worked on was for payroll use. And that was a complicated thing too. There was a rotating drum, which had a chart on it, I guess you would call it, and when they would press in the amount of the paycheck this drum would rotate to a proper position. [It would] tell how much the social security was and the various deductions [which] would show automatically on a line.<br>  
Line 1,083: Line 1,083:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Was that a magnetic drum for storing the information?<br>  
 
Was that a magnetic drum for storing the information?<br>  
Line 1,089: Line 1,089:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No, this was visual. A film was put on there that had this information on it, and it would light up the line that had this information.<br>  
 
No, this was visual. A film was put on there that had this information on it, and it would light up the line that had this information.<br>  
Line 1,095: Line 1,095:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Sort of a big table that would have the appropriate social security for every salary?<br>  
 
Sort of a big table that would have the appropriate social security for every salary?<br>  
Line 1,101: Line 1,101:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yes. The drum would rotate the position, and then they could just read that off.<br>  
 
Yes. The drum would rotate the position, and then they could just read that off.<br>  
Line 1,107: Line 1,107:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
So that’s sort of an automatic table-reader. Was that put into production?<br>  
 
So that’s sort of an automatic table-reader. Was that put into production?<br>  
Line 1,113: Line 1,113:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Oh yes, they sold quite a few of them.<br>  
 
Oh yes, they sold quite a few of them.<br>  
Line 1,119: Line 1,119:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
I was wondering what the electronic calculating capability would mean to a cash register manufacturer because these days, all electronic sales tax would be an obvious thing. But I can remember from my childhood that all the cash registers had a little tax table. It was simple enough. (laughter) <br>  
 
I was wondering what the electronic calculating capability would mean to a cash register manufacturer because these days, all electronic sales tax would be an obvious thing. But I can remember from my childhood that all the cash registers had a little tax table. It was simple enough. (laughter) <br>  
Line 1,125: Line 1,125:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
That's right.<br>  
 
That's right.<br>  
Line 1,131: Line 1,131:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Do you recall giving cash registers this multiplying capability?<br>  
 
Do you recall giving cash registers this multiplying capability?<br>  
Line 1,137: Line 1,137:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No. That came in really in the electronic development.<br>  
 
No. That came in really in the electronic development.<br>  
Line 1,143: Line 1,143:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Yes. It was probably impractical as a mechanical multiplying.<br>  
 
Yes. It was probably impractical as a mechanical multiplying.<br>  
Line 1,149: Line 1,149:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
That's right.<br>  
 
That's right.<br>  
Line 1,157: Line 1,157:
 
==== Product development and management  ====
 
==== Product development and management  ====
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Did it seem to you that the company was progressive at least in its line of machines?<br>  
 
Did it seem to you that the company was progressive at least in its line of machines?<br>  
Line 1,163: Line 1,163:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yes, they had an active product development department.<br>  
 
Yes, they had an active product development department.<br>  
Line 1,169: Line 1,169:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Were they up with or ahead of the other manufacturers?<br>  
 
Were they up with or ahead of the other manufacturers?<br>  
Line 1,175: Line 1,175:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, we liked to think so. (laughter)<br>  
 
Well, we liked to think so. (laughter)<br>  
Line 1,181: Line 1,181:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
(laughter) And that was your, your impression anyway.<br>  
 
(laughter) And that was your, your impression anyway.<br>  
Line 1,187: Line 1,187:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yeah!<br>  
 
Yeah!<br>  
Line 1,193: Line 1,193:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
And, and how was NCR, as an employer in the long term for you?<br>  
 
And, and how was NCR, as an employer in the long term for you?<br>  
Line 1,199: Line 1,199:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Maybe you’ve heard people say that (this is back in past years), "if you got a job at the 'Cash'-- you got it made." It was a benevolent company. They took care of their employees, and the employees were quite loyal. And most of the management came up through the ranks. Well then, 1960’s or somewhere in there, they started bringing in trainees right out of college who’d had their business training and so on, who knew it all and (laughter) from then on, a lot of the old spirit was gone.<br>  
 
Maybe you’ve heard people say that (this is back in past years), "if you got a job at the 'Cash'-- you got it made." It was a benevolent company. They took care of their employees, and the employees were quite loyal. And most of the management came up through the ranks. Well then, 1960’s or somewhere in there, they started bringing in trainees right out of college who’d had their business training and so on, who knew it all and (laughter) from then on, a lot of the old spirit was gone.<br>  
Line 1,205: Line 1,205:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Is that because the new people were less benevolent?<br>  
 
Is that because the new people were less benevolent?<br>  
Line 1,211: Line 1,211:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
I think so. They looked at and worshipped the bottom line but lost sight of the fact that living, breathing people made it possible.<br>  
 
I think so. They looked at and worshipped the bottom line but lost sight of the fact that living, breathing people made it possible.<br>  
Line 1,217: Line 1,217:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
How was it for you in this product development business? Were you on timetables usually?<br>  
 
How was it for you in this product development business? Were you on timetables usually?<br>  
Line 1,223: Line 1,223:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No. If you came up with an idea and suggested it -- "Try it out!"<br>  
 
No. If you came up with an idea and suggested it -- "Try it out!"<br>  
Line 1,229: Line 1,229:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
So it was satisfying work for you?<br>  
 
So it was satisfying work for you?<br>  
Line 1,235: Line 1,235:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Very much so.<br>  
 
Very much so.<br>  
Line 1,241: Line 1,241:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Had a pace you liked?<br>  
 
Had a pace you liked?<br>  
Line 1,247: Line 1,247:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Oh yes.<br>  
 
Oh yes.<br>  
Line 1,253: Line 1,253:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Anything else you want to comment on?<br>  
 
Anything else you want to comment on?<br>  
Line 1,261: Line 1,261:
 
==== Gerber plotter  ====
 
==== Gerber plotter  ====
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
For the last couple years, they were getting into the electronic stuff and I worked on a machine called a "Gerber Plotter," which basically was for making masters for printed circuit boards. And that was quite interesting. There was a big table--<br>  
 
For the last couple years, they were getting into the electronic stuff and I worked on a machine called a "Gerber Plotter," which basically was for making masters for printed circuit boards. And that was quite interesting. There was a big table--<br>  
Line 1,267: Line 1,267:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Four or five feet square?<br>  
 
Four or five feet square?<br>  
Line 1,273: Line 1,273:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yes. And you would put big photographic film on [that table], and there was a transverse carriage and a smaller carriage on it that were positioned by stepping motors. A tape control would position this head to any desired location on the table. There was a light source with various apertures and a shutter on this head.<br>  
 
Yes. And you would put big photographic film on [that table], and there was a transverse carriage and a smaller carriage on it that were positioned by stepping motors. A tape control would position this head to any desired location on the table. There was a light source with various apertures and a shutter on this head.<br>  
Line 1,279: Line 1,279:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
So you would punch in or somehow tell it the coordinates that would go to it.<br>  
 
So you would punch in or somehow tell it the coordinates that would go to it.<br>  
Line 1,285: Line 1,285:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
And it would position this head to that point. And then when it was ready, the light would flash--<br>  
 
And it would position this head to that point. And then when it was ready, the light would flash--<br>  
Line 1,291: Line 1,291:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Exposing the film, is that it?<br>  
 
Exposing the film, is that it?<br>  
Line 1,297: Line 1,297:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
By using various apertures; it could be a line, it could be round, a spot, rectangle, or whatever.<br>  
 
By using various apertures; it could be a line, it could be round, a spot, rectangle, or whatever.<br>  
Line 1,303: Line 1,303:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
At that point, or would it actually draw?<br>  
 
At that point, or would it actually draw?<br>  
Line 1,309: Line 1,309:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
If you wanted to draw a line, yes, you could put it here, and say, “Now, move.”<br>  
 
If you wanted to draw a line, yes, you could put it here, and say, “Now, move.”<br>  
Line 1,315: Line 1,315:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
And how was it programmed?<br>  
 
And how was it programmed?<br>  
Line 1,321: Line 1,321:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, it, it was a magnetic or punch-tape drive. It was very nice. <br>  
 
Well, it, it was a magnetic or punch-tape drive. It was very nice. <br>  
Line 1,327: Line 1,327:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
So somebody would figure this all out, and then punch the tapes?<br>  
 
So somebody would figure this all out, and then punch the tapes?<br>  
Line 1,333: Line 1,333:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yeah. It would draw this thing and then it would be reduced, in several steps down to the size for the printed circuit.<br>  
 
Yeah. It would draw this thing and then it would be reduced, in several steps down to the size for the printed circuit.<br>  
Line 1,339: Line 1,339:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Was that machine mass-produced, or produced in any numbers?<br>  
 
Was that machine mass-produced, or produced in any numbers?<br>  
Line 1,345: Line 1,345:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
I don’t know. They called it a "Gerber plotter," and the name of the company that made it was "Gerber".<br>  
 
I don’t know. They called it a "Gerber plotter," and the name of the company that made it was "Gerber".<br>  
Line 1,351: Line 1,351:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Oh, it wasn’t an NCR [product]?<br>  
 
Oh, it wasn’t an NCR [product]?<br>  
Line 1,357: Line 1,357:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
No, it was made just for the purpose of making these masters.<br>  
 
No, it was made just for the purpose of making these masters.<br>  
Line 1,363: Line 1,363:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
How is it that you were working on that? [Was it] for Gerber?<br>  
 
How is it that you were working on that? [Was it] for Gerber?<br>  
Line 1,369: Line 1,369:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Well, no, this was for NCR -- running this plotter for NCR.<br>  
 
Well, no, this was for NCR -- running this plotter for NCR.<br>  
Line 1,375: Line 1,375:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
The plotter came from Gerber and you were using it to produce NCR circuit boards. Would NCR then, did they produce their own circuit boards?<br>  
 
The plotter came from Gerber and you were using it to produce NCR circuit boards. Would NCR then, did they produce their own circuit boards?<br>  
Line 1,381: Line 1,381:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
 
Yes, they were making their own chips.<br>  
 
Yes, they were making their own chips.<br>  
Line 1,387: Line 1,387:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
 
Well, thank you very much.<br><br>  
 
Well, thank you very much.<br><br>  

Revision as of 18:21, 31 October 2008

Contents

About Roger Hull

Hull received his BS in electrical engineering from Ohio State in 1933. He worked for Leland Electric as a motor design engineer until 1937, then for NCR (National Cash Register Company) until he retired in 1972. First he worked on contact protection of speed control on cash registers and on the phone hookup from a cash register to a credit office to verify a charge account. During World War II he worked for Joe Desch’s project—on a primitive calculator involving thyratron tubes and on a counting board. After the war he returned to working on cash registers. He helped put induction motors in cash registers ca. 1960, worked on an adding machine that could print out a line of text when you pressed a single button, worked on portable battery-operated machines, a special machine for use in payrolls, and a Gerber Plotter, used for making masters for printed circuit boards.


For further information on the National Cash Register Company's role in developing World War II code-breaking machines, see Milestones: US Naval Computing Machine Laboratory, 1942-1945.


About the Interview

ROGER HULL: An Interview Conducted by Frederik Nebeker, IEEE History Center, 16 September 1995


Interview # 419 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., and
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey


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, 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.


It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Roger Hull, an oral history conducted in 1995 by Frederik Nebeker, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

Interview: Roger Hull
Interviewer: Frederik Nebeker
Date: 16 September 1995
Place: Dayton, Ohio

Family and educational background

Nebeker:

This is the sixteenth of September 1995. I'm talking with Roger Hull, in Dayton, Ohio. This is Rik Nebeker. Could we start by your telling me where and when you were born, and a little bit about your family?


Hull:

Well, I was born in Cleveland [Ohio]. My mother had come from Dayton; my father was from Indiana. My father got a job up there, and that’s where I was born.


Nebeker:

What was his job?


Hull:

He, at that time, was with the Standard Tool Company, to make twist-drills. I liked him--he always was doing things at home--making things. He bought a boat up there, and used it on the lake--things like that. But when I was three we moved to Dayton, and I’ve been in Dayton ever since.


Nebeker:

Were you interested in gadgets when you were young?


Hull:

Oh, yes. When I was just so big I took his camera apart, to see what was inside of it. (laughter)


Nebeker:

Did you ever build a crystal radio?


Hull:

Oh yes.


Nebeker:

Did you get into amateur radio?


Hull:

No, I didn’t. When I get to the point that I can’t do Model Ts, I'm going to move into ham radio.


Nebeker:

OK—You’ve got that to look forward to. (laughter)


Hull:

I’ve had a crystal radio where I used a bed spring for an antenna. I don’t know whether you knew that WLW in Cincinnati had an experimental 50,000-watt radio broadcasting station. They would come on at midnight with this 50,000-watt station, and, with my bed spring antenna, I could leave the headphones way out here on the pillow and hear it very nicely.


Nebeker:

Did you decide at an early age that you wanted to go into engineering, and science?


Hull:

Oh yes. My father was an engineer, so I just fit into that and took electrical engineering at Ohio State.


Nebeker:

When did you graduate?


Hull:

'33.

Employment at Leland Electric

Nebeker:

And what then? That was a hard time to find jobs.


Hull:

Well, my father helped me there, though; a fellow from his hometown was working at a place called Leland Electric, which made electric motors. I got in there as a messenger which was still a job!


Nebeker:

You had a E.E. degree, and had to get a job as a messenger (laughter)


Hull:

As I remember I made $42.50 a month. I think that’s what it was.


Nebeker:

Were you able to move up in Leland?


Hull:

I got to be a motor design engineer. In '37 times got kind of hard, and they cut down.


Nebeker:

What sort of motors were they making?


Hull:

They were one of the foremost makers of motors for gasoline pumps --explosion-proof motors. They made fan motors.


Nebeker:

They had to be sure of course that there was no spark.


Hull:

Incidentally, they were sealed motors which had very precise gaps. I think, a .002 gap was the maximum anywhere. And they would test them [by] filling them with an explosive gas mixture. They had a spark plug put in them. They would take them to a dark room and see if any flame came out.


Nebeker:

I see. (laughter) But their business suffered in the Depression?


Hull:

They've been out of business now for a number of years. A fellow named George Leland ran it. He was an eccentric fellow, but he was a genius on coming up with things.


Nebeker:

And you were involved actually in the design of motors?


Hull:

Yes.


Employment at National Cash Register Company (NCR)

Contact protection for cash registers

Nebeker:

So what happened in '37?


Hull:

Well, I was out [of work] for a while and, and then about the end of '37 I came here to NCR, and got a job.


Nebeker:

Just applied for one?


Hull:

They had an ad in the paper that they wanted engineers, and I came out and applied.


Nebeker:

And so what was your assignment?


Hull:

Well, at that time cash registers had a vibrating contact type of speed control and the contact life was kind of short. They wanted better protection on that.


Nebeker:

Did you stick with that kind of speed control?


Hull:

Yes, with the contact protection across it.


Nebeker:

How long did you work on that?


Hull:

They also then had the "OK phone." They needed something for handling charge accounts. They had a telephone at each cash register, and this phone had a solenoid-operated punch. If there was a charge, the clerk would call on this phone to the credit office and put the sales slip in the phone. If the credit was OK the credit office would push a button and punch a set of holes to show that it was approved.


Nebeker:

I see. I was going to ask why a simple telephone hook up wouldn’t work but you needed to show that the credit office had approved.


Hull:

This showed the credit office did it.


Nebeker:

I see.


Hull:

They recommended using a packaged envelope sack that was a different color than their sales slip so that the different color showed through these holes quite readily.


Nebeker:

I see. Did they market that system?


Hull:

Yes, it was in almost all of the big department stores.


Nebeker:

I see. Was that the beginning of it, when you were working there?


Hull:

Oh, no. It [the OK phone] was begun back some time before that, but we modernized it--such as a vacuum-tube oscillator for ringing, and little odds and ends like that.

Assignment to Joe Desch's department

Nebeker:

What then?


Hull:

Well, that, that was about the time the war started and, at the beginning, I got part-time into Joe Desch’s department.


Nebeker:

Did you do that because these people were likely to get deferments?


Hull:

The company did this for me. I was only in there part-time.


Nebeker:

In other words, you told the people that you’d like to stay at the company? They just wanted to protect you?


Hull:

It was their idea. I was only in there part-time, half days really--


Nebeker:

--otherwise continuing in the early department--


Hull:

--then finally went in there full-time.


Nebeker:

Was it before Pearl Harbor that you started working with Joe’s group?


Hull:

I think it was just before I started with them, I don’t remember exactly when.


Nebeker:

Was it before they moved to Building 26?


Hull:

Oh yes. For quite a while before that.


Counting circuits

Nebeker:

What were you doing with Joe’s group in the very beginning?


Hull:

Have you heard the name of Larry Kilheffer? He was one of Joe’s engineers, and he built, worked on [what] was really a small calculator, using thyratron tubes. I think it had about eight banks of keys. That then went up to Chicago, and was used in the atomic work up there.


Nebeker:

I see. There was a reference to some of the accounting circuits being used to count, or to measure the radiation.


Hull:

I don’t remember anymore. But this machine went up there as a part of that work


Nebeker:

Do you think that it was a calculator rather than some kind of a timing device or--


Hull:

It was at least an adding machine, and as I remember it had multiplication on it also. [It] was banks of keys with ten thyratron types in each bank. Jack Kern made [the] tubes.


Nebeker:

You worked on that device?


Hull:

Yes.


Nebeker:

That was very important work that Joe was doing at that point on those counting circuits. What was your next assignment? Do you recall?

Move to Building 26

Hull:

No, when, when they moved into Building 26 I went down there with them. I was with Bob Goebel and Ralph Bruce some on the big machine too--[I was] just going around to different things really.


Nebeker:

How was that in the beginning? You went in the initial group that moved to Building 26?


Hull:

Yes.


Nebeker:

I can imagine that may have been a little bit chaotic there with the group growing so much.


Hull:

Yes, but of course we were quite limited; if you didn’t have your name on the door you didn’t go in the room. So that I didn’t get in all of it. That made it not quite so bad I guess.


Nebeker:

Do you recall your initial assignments there with that group?


Hull:

Not particularly. Later on I worked, I guess it was some of the Japanese stuff where there were big banks of counters--26 by 26--with all these individual counters. That was 656 counters I guess.


Research security during World War II

Nebeker:

I know of two devices that were for the Japanese; one was the Copperhead, which was a microfilm device, and the other was the Rattler, that was an electronic device.


Hull:

I worked mainly on this counting board. I didn’t really know how it was tied in with anything.


Nebeker:

But of course they didn’t want people to know the rest of it.


Hull:

No, no. (laughter)


Nebeker:

How much did you know about this, how much did you guess at what was going on?


Hull:

Well, before we moved to Building 26, I had guessed what the project was. I was told I was wrong, but I didn’t believe it. (laughter)


Nebeker:

So they asked you, “What do you think you’re going to be doing?” Is that it?


Hull:

No, no -- but I said, "I think I know what this is," to someone—might’ve been to Larry Kilheffer. And he reported it to Joe. So that’s when Joe called me in and we talked about it, and he told me, "No, no, no, that’s not what it is." (laughter)


Nebeker:

But what you saw after that seemed to confirm your suspicions --


Hull:

Oh sure, oh sure. Well, it was almost sure when I saw first off, with the 26, and then with all these interconnections, why… (laughter)


Nebeker:

Well it could’ve been an encoding machine, that you were working on, rather than…


Hull:

Well, it could’ve been, but I didn’t think so.


Nebeker:

(laughter) O.K. But you weren’t ever officially told what, what these devices were.


Hull:

No. We were very much told not to say anything.


Nebeker:

Did you also refrain from talking with your co-workers about what you thought it was?


Hull:

Yes, we all were pretty careful about it.


Nebeker:

And you took seriously the security? Not talking about your work outside.


Hull:

Oh, very definitely.


Nebeker:

Do you know anything about this the person who was arrested as a spy?


Hull:

I had never heard that, although now that it’s mentioned, I think there was some kind of a little hint but I’m not sure--


Nebeker:

Of course, they tried to keep it a secret--


Hull:

I was quite surprised that there was really such a thing.


Nebeker:

But the security precautions didn’t interfere with your own work?


Hull:

No.


Nebeker:

Or bother you particularly?


Hull:

Oh no. The Marines, they were, they were--if you were nice with them they were nice with us. They were friendly. Most of them. There were a few that were kind of nasty.


Working environment at Building 26; post-war research declassification

Nebeker:

How was the atmosphere in Building 26, as far as you experienced it?


Hull:

There, there’s nothing I can remember that was distasteful or anything.


Nebeker:

You were putting in long hours I think?


Hull:

Oh yes, oh yes, long hours.


Nebeker:

And weren’t you paid overtime?


Hull:

Yeah.


Nebeker:

You were paid overtime?


Hull:

Yeah. There was one Sunday I got paid for twenty-four and a half hours for that day, because I had worked over the twenty four hours.


Nebeker:

People had a good attitude?


Hull:

They all believed they were doing something worthwhile.


Nebeker:

Did you ever get official word during the war that things you had done were valuable?


Hull:

No, no. But the security and everything made us believe that there must be something there. (laughter)


Nebeker:

And what about after the war? When did you first learn of it?


Hull:

Well, it came out in the paper about, what--a year or two ago? That was the first that I really saw of anything. I understand that it was released before that.


Nebeker:

It was declassified in a certain way, but a lot of the things weren’t released.


Hull:

Well, I ran into Bob Mumma, in… let’s say 1975. At that time he said that it still was [classified].


Nebeker:

That’s in a way a shame for people who were on such an important project.


Hull:

Yes. Because it was a very interesting project. By the way, after it came out they mentioned a couple of the books from England that were about it. I got those and read them, which cleared up some.


Nebeker:

What type of work were you working on? With the rotors themselves, brushes or what? Can you remember?


Hull:

No I don’t remember. That’s a long time ago.


Nebeker:

And another thing of course is that if you don’t talk about those experiences with people.


Hull:

They fade.


Nebeker:

You don’t refresh your memory of it. What’s your recollection of, of Joe’s management style at Building 26?


Hull:

I always got along fine with Joe.


Nebeker:

And things seemed to function well there?


Hull:

Oh yeah.


Nebeker:

Were you conscious of this of the great pressure in early ‘43 when the device was behind schedule and Joe was working very hard to solve some of its problems?


Hull:

No, I really didn’t know that. Of course, Joe kept on people to keep working. Jay Welker was working one time and Joe came walking up to him and said, “Jay, can you do a little faster here?” and Jay looked up to Joe and said, “Joe, I’ve got two speeds: this ‘un and one a little bit slower.” (laughter)


Nebeker:

He felt he could say that to his boss.


Hull:

Yeah.


Nebeker:

That says something about Joe.


Hull:

Oh, Joe was fair.


Nebeker:

What about the winding down of the project? What do you remember of that?


Hull:

Well, not too much, in that I just went back to my other job.


Nebeker:

I see, back with --


Hull:

Well, it changed names a couple times. "Electro-mechanical Lab," and "Electrical Engineering," and I think there was another one.


Nebeker:

And there was the, the kind of the "Product Development Group"? Or "Product Improvement Group?"


Hull:

Yeah. We developed a new line of motors for the cash registers, and things like that.


Nebeker:

I’d like to ask a little bit about, about your subsequent work, but before we leave the World War II period, I wonder if there's anything else you care to comment on about that, about that effort? Other people that impressed you?


Hull:

I don't know whether it was really justified. There was some feeling against Cmdr. Meader that that he was really nasty. Well, in a way he was, but he had a job to do.


Nebeker:

Was that something that was apparent to you?


Hull:

No, I didn't really have that much contact with him.


Nebeker:

I think I heard that he was on to people to speed things up.


Hull:

Well, I can say that he had a job to do too.


Post-war redesign of cash register motors

Nebeker:

So, do you recall the postwar projects that you worked on?


Hull:

This thing of redesigning motors on the cash registers.


Nebeker:

What was the objective of that redesign?


Hull:

Well, the old motor I mentioned was a series motor and vibrating speed control, and that was a troublemaker. We worked with General Electric and got a special winding and design and so on, to put induction motors on the cash register. [Those] were much more trouble-free.


Nebeker:

Roughly when did those types of motors come into production?


Hull:

It was 1960 or thereabouts.


Nebeker:

It’s interesting that very often with these established technologies, the improvements never received attention. But there's I know very important ones--the cash registers got a new type of induction motor.


Hull:

It cut radio interference and it was a more trouble-free motor.


Adding machine, payroll machine, and cash register product improvements

Nebeker:

What other product improvements did you work on?


Hull:

I did some work on the adding machine, from Ithaca, to put solenoids to punch the keys, We had remote operation. It was an early thing which became a bar reader, in a way. We had boards with a bunch of little jacks on it [so] that you could set up keys, or covers, [to] press one key and it would say "hamburger: $1.35," or whatever.


Nebeker:

I see. Print that out on the tape?


Hull:

On the adding machine tape. And we had some of those because the adding machines went to electrified (the earlier ones were manual).


Nebeker:

Was that in your time, that they went to electrified adding machines?


Hull:

Well, no. But we made one that battery operated so that they could put on a stand and go around and do their adding out on the floor, by racks of beans or whatever.


Nebeker:

Now that surprises me because I think that most adding machine motors draw a fair amount of power.


Hull:

We had nicad batteries and they could run for a half a day or something like that. It draws a fair amount of power but each operation is really a short time.


Nebeker:

You didn’t have to develop a special motor for that that device?


Hull:

No.


Nebeker:

Besides this adding machine, were you involved with the with the accounting machines, these more sophisticated devices?


Hull:

No. I retired in '72. And they were really just getting into that stuff then.


Nebeker:

What were the other products?


Hull:

Big accounting machines. The big bank machines. They were a nice machine in that, in check-handling, when you made a deposit, and gave a total on the deposit slip, the machine would enter the individual deposits, and the total amount. Well, if those two totals didn't agree, the machine would not operate. So it gave a check.


Nebeker:

I see--it's automatically making a total and checking it and stopping. [Do] you have an idea of when that came into production?


Hull:

No, I don't.


Nebeker:

NCR's gotten a little bit of bad press because they were slow to move to electronics, but it sounds like they were continuing to improve their electronic products.


Hull:

Another machine I worked on was for payroll use. And that was a complicated thing too. There was a rotating drum, which had a chart on it, I guess you would call it, and when they would press in the amount of the paycheck this drum would rotate to a proper position. [It would] tell how much the social security was and the various deductions [which] would show automatically on a line.


Nebeker:

Was that a magnetic drum for storing the information?


Hull:

No, this was visual. A film was put on there that had this information on it, and it would light up the line that had this information.


Nebeker:

Sort of a big table that would have the appropriate social security for every salary?


Hull:

Yes. The drum would rotate the position, and then they could just read that off.


Nebeker:

So that’s sort of an automatic table-reader. Was that put into production?


Hull:

Oh yes, they sold quite a few of them.


Nebeker:

I was wondering what the electronic calculating capability would mean to a cash register manufacturer because these days, all electronic sales tax would be an obvious thing. But I can remember from my childhood that all the cash registers had a little tax table. It was simple enough. (laughter)


Hull:

That's right.


Nebeker:

Do you recall giving cash registers this multiplying capability?


Hull:

No. That came in really in the electronic development.


Nebeker:

Yes. It was probably impractical as a mechanical multiplying.


Hull:

That's right.


Product development and management

Nebeker:

Did it seem to you that the company was progressive at least in its line of machines?


Hull:

Yes, they had an active product development department.


Nebeker:

Were they up with or ahead of the other manufacturers?


Hull:

Well, we liked to think so. (laughter)


Nebeker:

(laughter) And that was your, your impression anyway.


Hull:

Yeah!


Nebeker:

And, and how was NCR, as an employer in the long term for you?


Hull:

Maybe you’ve heard people say that (this is back in past years), "if you got a job at the 'Cash'-- you got it made." It was a benevolent company. They took care of their employees, and the employees were quite loyal. And most of the management came up through the ranks. Well then, 1960’s or somewhere in there, they started bringing in trainees right out of college who’d had their business training and so on, who knew it all and (laughter) from then on, a lot of the old spirit was gone.


Nebeker:

Is that because the new people were less benevolent?


Hull:

I think so. They looked at and worshipped the bottom line but lost sight of the fact that living, breathing people made it possible.


Nebeker:

How was it for you in this product development business? Were you on timetables usually?


Hull:

No. If you came up with an idea and suggested it -- "Try it out!"


Nebeker:

So it was satisfying work for you?


Hull:

Very much so.


Nebeker:

Had a pace you liked?


Hull:

Oh yes.


Nebeker:

Anything else you want to comment on?


Gerber plotter

Hull:

For the last couple years, they were getting into the electronic stuff and I worked on a machine called a "Gerber Plotter," which basically was for making masters for printed circuit boards. And that was quite interesting. There was a big table--


Nebeker:

Four or five feet square?


Hull:

Yes. And you would put big photographic film on [that table], and there was a transverse carriage and a smaller carriage on it that were positioned by stepping motors. A tape control would position this head to any desired location on the table. There was a light source with various apertures and a shutter on this head.


Nebeker:

So you would punch in or somehow tell it the coordinates that would go to it.


Hull:

And it would position this head to that point. And then when it was ready, the light would flash--


Nebeker:

Exposing the film, is that it?


Hull:

By using various apertures; it could be a line, it could be round, a spot, rectangle, or whatever.


Nebeker:

At that point, or would it actually draw?


Hull:

If you wanted to draw a line, yes, you could put it here, and say, “Now, move.”


Nebeker:

And how was it programmed?


Hull:

Well, it, it was a magnetic or punch-tape drive. It was very nice.


Nebeker:

So somebody would figure this all out, and then punch the tapes?


Hull:

Yeah. It would draw this thing and then it would be reduced, in several steps down to the size for the printed circuit.


Nebeker:

Was that machine mass-produced, or produced in any numbers?


Hull:

I don’t know. They called it a "Gerber plotter," and the name of the company that made it was "Gerber".


Nebeker:

Oh, it wasn’t an NCR [product]?


Hull:

No, it was made just for the purpose of making these masters.


Nebeker:

How is it that you were working on that? [Was it] for Gerber?


Hull:

Well, no, this was for NCR -- running this plotter for NCR.


Nebeker:

The plotter came from Gerber and you were using it to produce NCR circuit boards. Would NCR then, did they produce their own circuit boards?


Hull:

Yes, they were making their own chips.


Nebeker:

Well, thank you very much.