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Oral-History:Roger Hull

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== About Roger Hull<br> ==
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== 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 till 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>
+
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|Milestones: US Naval Computing Machine Laboratory, 1942-1945]].
  
== About the Interview<br> ==
+
== About the Interview ==
  
ROGER HULL: An Interview Conducted by Frederik Nebeker, IEEE History Center, 16 September 1995<br><br>
+
ROGER HULL: An Interview Conducted by Frederik Nebeker, IEEE History Center, 16 September 1995  
  
<br>
+
Interview # 419 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
  
Interview # 419 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., and<br>Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey<br><br>
+
== Copyright Statement  ==
  
<br>
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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.
  
== Copyright Statement<br> ==
+
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.
  
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>
+
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
  
<br>
+
Roger Hull, an oral history conducted in 1995 by Frederik Nebeker, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.
  
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>
+
== Interview  ==
  
<br>
+
Interview: Roger Hull
  
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:<br>Roger Hull, an oral history conducted in 1995 by Frederik Nebeker, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.<br><br>
+
Interviewer: Frederik Nebeker  
  
== Interview<br>  ==
+
Date: 16 September 1995
  
Interview: Roger Hull<br>Interviewer: Frederik Nebeker<br>Date: 16 September 1995<br>Place: Dayton, Ohio  
+
Place: Dayton, Ohio  
  
=== Family and educational background<br> ===
+
=== Family and educational background  ===
  
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>
+
'''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.
  
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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
What was his job?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
What was his job?<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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
Were you interested in gadgets when you were young?
  
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>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
Oh, yes. When I was just so big I took his camera apart, to see what was inside of it. (laughter)
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Were you interested in gadgets when you were young?<br>
+
Did you ever build a crystal [[Radio|radio]]?  
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
Oh yes.
  
Oh, yes. When I was just so big I took his camera apart, to see what was inside of it. (laughter) <br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
Did you get into [[Amateur Radio|amateur radio]]?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Did you ever build a crystal 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 [[Amateur Radio|ham radio]].
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
OK—You’ve got that to look forward to. (laughter)
  
Oh yes.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<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.
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Did you get into amateur radio? <br>
+
Did you decide at an early age that you wanted to go into engineering, and science?  
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
Oh yes. My father was an engineer, so I just fit into that and took electrical engineering at Ohio State.
  
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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
When did you graduate?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
OK—You’ve got that to look forward to. (laughter)<br>
+
'33.  
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
Did you decide at an early age that you wanted to go into engineering, and science?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
Oh yes. My father was an engineer, so I just fit into that and took electrical engineering at Ohio State.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
When did you graduate?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
'33.<br>
+
  
 
=== Employment at Leland Electric  ===
 
=== Employment at Leland Electric  ===
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
 
+
And what then? That was a hard time to find jobs.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
You had a E.E. degree, and had to get a job as a messenger (laughter)<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
As I remember I made $42.50 a month. I think that’s what it was.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
Were you able to move up in Leland?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
  
Hull:
+
And what then? That was a hard time to find jobs.
  
I got to be a motor design engineer. In '37 times got kind of hard, and they cut down.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<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!
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
What sort of motors were they making?<br>
+
You had a E.E. degree, and had to get a job as a messenger (laughter)
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
As I remember I made $42.50 a month. I think that’s what it was.
  
They were one of the foremost makers of motors for gasoline pumps --explosion-proof motors. They made fan motors.<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
Were you able to move up in Leland?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
They had to be sure of course that there was no spark.<br>
+
I got to be a motor design engineer. In '37 times got kind of hard, and they cut down.  
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
What sort of motors were they making?
  
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>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
They were one of the foremost makers of motors for gasoline pumps --explosion-proof motors. They made fan motors.
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
I see. (laughter) But their business suffered in the Depression?<br>
+
They had to be sure of course that there was no spark.  
  
<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.
  
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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
I see. (laughter) But their business suffered in the Depression?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
And you were involved actually in the design of motors?<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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
And you were involved actually in the design of motors?
  
Yes.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
Yes.
  
=== Employment at NCR  ===
+
=== Employment at National Cash Register Company (NCR) ===
  
 
==== Contact protection for cash registers  ====
 
==== Contact protection for cash registers  ====
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
So what happened in '37?<br>
+
So what happened in '37?  
  
<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.
  
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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
Just applied for one?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Just applied for one?<br>
+
They had an ad in the paper that they wanted engineers, and I came out and applied.
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
And so what was your assignment?
  
They had an ad in the paper that they wanted engineers, and I came out and applied.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<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.
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
And so what was your assignment?<br>
+
Did you stick with that kind of speed control?  
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
Yes, with the contact protection across it.
  
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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
How long did you work on that?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Did you stick with that kind of speed control?<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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
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.
  
Yes, with the contact protection across it.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
This showed the credit office did it.
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
How long did you work on that?<br>
+
I see.
  
<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.
  
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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
I see. Did they market that system?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
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>
+
Yes, it was in almost all of the big department stores.  
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
I see. Was that the beginning of it, when you were working there?
  
This showed the credit office did it.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
Oh, no. It [the OK phone] was begun back some time before that, but we modernized it--such as a [[Electron (or Vacuum) Tubes|vacuum-tube]] oscillator for ringing, and little odds and ends like that.  
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
I see.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
I see. Did they market that system? <br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
Yes, it was in almost all of the big department stores.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
I see. Was that the beginning of it, when you were working there?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
  
 
==== Assignment to Joe Desch's department  ====
 
==== Assignment to Joe Desch's department  ====
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
 
+
What then?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
Did you do that because these people were likely to get deferments?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
The company did this for me. I was only in there part-time.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
  
In other words, you told the people that you’d like to stay at the company? They just wanted to protect you?<br>
+
What then?  
  
<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.
  
It was their idea. I was only in there part-time, half days really--<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
Did you do that because these people were likely to get deferments?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
--otherwise continuing in the early department--<br>
+
The company did this for me. I was only in there part-time.
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
In other words, you told the people that you’d like to stay at the company? They just wanted to protect you?
  
--then finally went in there full-time.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
It was their idea. I was only in there part-time, half days really--
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Was it before Pearl Harbor that you started working with Joe’s group?<br>
+
--otherwise continuing in the early department--
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
--then finally went in there full-time.
  
I think it was just before I started with them, I don’t remember exactly when. <br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
Was it before Pearl Harbor that you started working with Joe’s group?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Was it before they moved to Building 26?<br>
+
I think it was just before I started with them, I don’t remember exactly when.
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
Was it before they moved to Building 26?
  
Oh yes. For quite a while before that.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
Oh yes. For quite a while before that.
  
 
==== 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>
+
'''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.
  
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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
I see. There was a reference to some of the accounting circuits being used to count, or to measure the radiation.
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
I see. There was a reference to some of the accounting circuits being used to count, or to measure the radiation.<br>
+
I don’t remember anymore. But this machine went up there as a part of that work
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
Do you think that it was a calculator rather than some kind of a timing device or--
  
I don’t remember anymore. But this machine went up there as a part of that work <br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<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.
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Do you think that it was a calculator rather than some kind of a timing device or--<br>
+
You worked on that device?
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
Yes.
  
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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
That was very important work that Joe was doing at that point on those counting circuits. What was your next assignment? Do you recall?  
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
You worked on that device?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
Yes.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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?<br>
+
 
+
==== <br>  ====
+
  
 
==== 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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
How was that in the beginning? You went in the initial group that moved to Building 26?
  
How was that in the beginning? You went in the initial group that moved to Building 26?<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
Yes.
  
Hull:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Yes.<br>
+
I can imagine that may have been a little bit chaotic there with the group growing so much.  
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
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.
  
I can imagine that may have been a little bit chaotic there with the group growing so much.<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
Do you recall your initial assignments there with that group?
  
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>
+
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>
+
==== Research and security during World War II  ====
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Do you recall your initial assignments there with that group?<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>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
I worked mainly on this counting board. I didn’t really know how it was tied in with anything.
  
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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
But of course they didn’t want people to know the rest of it.
  
==== Research security  ====
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
No, no. (laughter)
  
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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
How much did you know about this, how much did you guess at what was going on?
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
I worked mainly on this counting board. I didn’t really know how it was tied in with anything.<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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
So they asked you, “What do you think you’re going to be doing?” Is that it?
  
But of course they didn’t want people to know the rest of it.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<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)
  
Hull:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
No, no. (laughter)<br>
+
But what you saw after that seemed to confirm your suspicions --
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
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)
  
How much did you know about this, how much did you guess at what was going on?<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
Well it could’ve been an encoding machine, that you were working on, rather than…
  
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, it could’ve been, but I didn’t think so.  
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
(laughter) O.K. But you weren’t ever officially told what, what these devices were.
  
So they asked you, “What do you think you’re going to be doing?” Is that it?<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
No. We were very much told not to say anything.
  
Hull:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
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>
+
Did you also refrain from talking with your co-workers about what you thought it was?
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
Yes, we all were pretty careful about it.
  
But what you saw after that seemed to confirm your suspicions --<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
And you took seriously the security? Not talking about your work outside.
  
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, very definitely.  
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
Do you know anything about this the person who was arrested as a spy?
  
Well it could’ve been an encoding machine, that you were working on, rather than…<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<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--
  
Hull:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Well, it could’ve been, but I didn’t think so.<br>
+
Of course, they tried to keep it a secret--
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
I was quite surprised that there was really such a thing.
  
(laughter) O.K. But you weren’t ever officially told what, what these devices were.<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
But the security precautions didn’t interfere with your own work?
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
No. We were very much told not to say anything. <br>
+
No.  
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
Or bother you particularly?
  
Did you also refrain from talking with your co-workers about what you thought it was?<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<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.  
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
Yes, we all were pretty careful about it.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
And you took seriously the security? Not talking about your work outside.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
Oh, very definitely.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
Do you know anything about this the person who was arrested as a spy?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
Of course, they tried to keep it a secret--<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
I was quite surprised that there was really such a thing.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
But the security precautions didn’t interfere with your own work?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
No.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
Or bother you particularly?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
==== 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>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
There, there’s nothing I can remember that was distasteful or anything.
  
There, there’s nothing I can remember that was distasteful or anything.<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
You were putting in long hours I think?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
You were putting in long hours I think?<br>
+
Oh yes, oh yes, long hours.
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
And weren’t you paid overtime?
  
Oh yes, oh yes, long hours.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
Yeah.
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
And weren’t you paid overtime?<br>
+
You were paid overtime?  
  
<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.
  
Yeah. <br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
People had a good attitude?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
You were paid overtime?<br>
+
They all believed they were doing something worthwhile.
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
Did you ever get official word during the war that things you had done were valuable?
  
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>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
No, no. But the security and everything made us believe that there must be something there. (laughter)
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
People had a good attitude?<br>
+
And what about after the war? When did you first learn of it?  
  
<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.
  
They all believed they were doing something worthwhile.<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
It was declassified in a certain way, but a lot of the things weren’t released.
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Did you ever get official word during the war that things you had done were valuable?<br>
+
Well, I ran into [[Oral-History:Robert Mumma|Bob Mumma]], in… let’s say 1975. At that time he said that it still was [classified].
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
That’s in a way a shame for people who were on such an important project.
  
No, no. But the security and everything made us believe that there must be something there. (laughter)<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<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.
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
And what about after the war? When did you first learn of it?<br>
+
What type of work were you working on? With the rotors themselves, brushes or what? Can you remember?  
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
No I don’t remember. That’s a long time ago.
  
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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
And another thing of course is that if you don’t talk about those experiences with people.
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
It was declassified in a certain way, but a lot of the things weren’t released.<br>
+
They fade.  
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
You don’t refresh your memory of it. What’s your recollection of, of Joe’s management style at Building 26?
  
Well, I ran into Bob Mumma, in… let’s say 1975. At that time he said that it still was [classified].<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
I always got along fine with Joe.
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
That’s in a way a shame for people who were on such an important project.<br>
+
And things seemed to function well there?
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
Oh yeah.
  
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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<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?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
What type of work were you working on? With the rotors themselves, brushes or what? Can you remember?<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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
He felt he could say that to his boss.
  
No I don’t remember. That’s a long time ago.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
Yeah.
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
And another thing of course is that if you don’t talk about those experiences with people.<br>
+
That says something about Joe.  
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
Oh, Joe was fair.
  
They fade.<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
What about the winding down of the project? What do you remember of that?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
You don’t refresh your memory of it. What’s your recollection of, of Joe’s management style at Building 26?<br>
+
Well, not too much, in that I just went back to my other job.
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
I see, back with --
  
I always got along fine with Joe.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
Well, it changed names a couple times. "Electro-mechanical Lab," and "Electrical Engineering," and I think there was another one.
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
And things seemed to function well there?<br>
+
And there was the, the kind of the "Product Development Group"? Or "Product Improvement Group?"
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
Yeah. We developed a new line of motors for the cash registers, and things like that.
  
Oh yeah.<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<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?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
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>
+
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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
Was that something that was apparent to you?
  
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>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
No, I didn't really have that much contact with him.
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
He felt he could say that to his boss.<br>
+
I think I heard that he was on to people to speed things up.  
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
Well, I can say that he had a job to do too.  
 
+
Yeah.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
That says something about Joe. <br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
Oh, Joe was fair.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
What about the winding down of the project? What do you remember of that?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
Well, not too much, in that I just went back to my other job.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
I see, back with -- <br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
Well, it changed names a couple times. "Electro-mechanical Lab," and "Electrical Engineering," and I think there was another one.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
And there was the, the kind of the "Product Development Group"? Or "Product Improvement Group?"<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
Yeah. We developed a new line of motors for the cash registers, and things like that.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
Was that something that was apparent to you?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
No, I didn't really have that much contact with him.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
I think I heard that he was on to people to speed things up.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
Well, I can say that he had a job to do too.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
==== 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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
This thing of redesigning motors on the cash registers.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
What was the objective of that redesign?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
Roughly when did those types of motors come into production?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
It was 1960 or thereabouts.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
It cut radio interference and it was a more trouble-free motor.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
What other product improvements did you work on?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
I see. Print that out on the tape?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
Was that in your time, that they went to electrified adding machines?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
Now that surprises me because I think that most adding machine motors draw a fair amount of power.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
You didn’t have to develop a special motor for that that device?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
No.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
Besides this adding machine, were you involved with the with the accounting machines, these more sophisticated devices?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
No. I retired in '72. And they were really just getting into that stuff then.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Nebeker:
+
 
+
What were the other products?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
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>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
Hull:
+
 
+
No, I don't.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
  
Nebeker:
+
So, do you recall the postwar projects that you worked on?
  
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>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
This thing of redesigning motors on the cash registers.
  
Hull:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
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>
+
What was the objective of that redesign?
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
Well, the old motor I mentioned was a series motor and vibrating speed control, and that was a troublemaker. We worked with [[General Electric (GE)|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.
  
Was that a magnetic drum for storing the information?<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
Roughly when did those types of motors come into production?
  
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>
+
It was 1960 or thereabouts.  
  
<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.
  
Sort of a big table that would have the appropriate social security for every salary?<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
It cut radio interference and it was a more trouble-free motor.
  
Hull:
+
==== Adding machine, payroll machine, and cash register product improvements  ====
  
Yes. The drum would rotate the position, and then they could just read that off.<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
What other product improvements did you work on?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
So that’s sort of an automatic table-reader. Was that put into production?<br>  
+
<flashmp3>419 - hull - clip 1.mp3</flashmp3>
  
<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.
  
Hull:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Oh yes, they sold quite a few of them.<br>
+
I see. Print that out on the tape?
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
On the adding machine tape. And we had some of those because the adding machines went to electrified (the earlier ones were manual).
  
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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
Was that in your time, that they went to electrified adding machines?
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
That's right.<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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
Now that surprises me because I think that most adding machine motors draw a fair amount of power.
  
Do you recall giving cash registers this multiplying capability?<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<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.
  
Hull:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
No. That came in really in the electronic development.<br>
+
You didn’t have to develop a special motor for that that device?
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
No.
  
Yes. It was probably impractical as a mechanical multiplying.<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
Besides this adding machine, were you involved with the with the accounting machines, these more sophisticated devices?
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
That's right.<br>
+
No. I retired in '72. And they were really just getting into that stuff then.  
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
What were the other products?
  
Did it seem to you that the company was progressive at least in its line of machines?<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<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.
  
Hull:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Yes, they had an active product development department.<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>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
No, I don't.
  
Were they up with or ahead of the other manufacturers?<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<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.
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Well, we liked to think so. (laughter)<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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
Was that a magnetic drum for storing the information?
  
(laughter) And that was your, your impression anyway.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<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.
  
Hull:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Yeah!<br>
+
Sort of a big table that would have the appropriate social security for every salary?
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
Yes. The drum would rotate the position, and then they could just read that off.
  
And, and how was NCR, as an employer in the long term for you?<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
So that’s sort of an automatic table-reader. Was that put into production?
  
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>
+
Oh yes, they sold quite a few of them.  
  
<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)
  
Is that because the new people were less benevolent?<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
That's right.
  
Hull:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
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>
+
Do you recall giving cash registers this multiplying capability?
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
No. That came in really in the electronic development.
  
How was it for you in this product development business? Were you on timetables usually?<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
Yes. It was probably impractical as a mechanical multiplying.
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
No. If you came up with an idea and suggested it -- "Try it out!"<br>
+
That's right.  
  
<br>
+
==== Product development and management  ====
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
So it was satisfying work for you?<br>
+
Did it seem to you that the company was progressive at least in its line of machines?  
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
Yes, they had an active product development department.
  
Very much so.<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
Were they up with or ahead of the other manufacturers?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Had a pace you liked?<br>
+
Well, we liked to think so. (laughter)
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
(laughter) And that was your, your impression anyway.
  
Oh yes.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
Yeah!
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Anything else you want to comment on?<br>
+
And, and how was NCR, as an employer in the long term for you?  
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
<flashmp3>419 - hull - clip 2.mp3</flashmp3>
  
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>
+
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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
Is that because the new people were less benevolent?
  
Four or five feet square?<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<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.
  
Hull:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
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>
+
How was it for you in this product development business? Were you on timetables usually?
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
No. If you came up with an idea and suggested it -- "Try it out!"
  
So you would punch in or somehow tell it the coordinates that would go to it.<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
So it was satisfying work for you?
  
Hull:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
And it would position this head to that point. And then when it was ready, the light would flash--<br>
+
Very much so.  
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Nebeker:
+
Had a pace you liked?
  
Exposing the film, is that it?<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
Oh yes.
  
Hull:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
By using various apertures; it could be a line, it could be round, a spot, rectangle, or whatever.<br>
+
Anything else you want to comment on?
  
<br>
+
==== Gerber plotter  ====
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
At that point, or would it actually draw?<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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
Four or five feet square?
  
If you wanted to draw a line, yes, you could put it here, and say, “Now, move.”<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<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.
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
And how was it programmed?<br>
+
So you would punch in or somehow tell it the coordinates that would go to it.
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
And it would position this head to that point. And then when it was ready, the light would flash--
  
Well, it, it was a magnetic or punch-tape drive. It was very nice. <br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
Exposing the film, is that it?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
So somebody would figure this all out, and then punch the tapes?<br>
+
By using various apertures; it could be a line, it could be round, a spot, rectangle, or whatever.
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
At that point, or would it actually draw?
  
Yeah. It would draw this thing and then it would be reduced, in several steps down to the size for the printed circuit.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
If you wanted to draw a line, yes, you could put it here, and say, “Now, move.”
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Was that machine mass-produced, or produced in any numbers?<br>
+
And how was it programmed?  
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
Well, it, it was a magnetic or punch-tape drive. It was very nice.
  
I don’t know. They called it a "Gerber plotter," and the name of the company that made it was "Gerber".<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
So somebody would figure this all out, and then punch the tapes?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Oh, it wasn’t an NCR [product]?<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>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
Was that machine mass-produced, or produced in any numbers?
  
No, it was made just for the purpose of making these masters.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
I don’t know. They called it a "Gerber plotter," and the name of the company that made it was "Gerber".
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
How is it that you were working on that? [Was it] for Gerber?<br>
+
Oh, it wasn’t an NCR [product]?  
  
<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
Hull:
+
No, it was made just for the purpose of making these masters.
  
Well, no, this was for NCR -- running this plotter for NCR.<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>
+
How is it that you were working on that? [Was it] for Gerber?
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Hull:'''
  
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>
+
Well, no, this was for NCR -- running this plotter for NCR.  
  
<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Hull:
+
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?
  
Yes, they were making their own chips.<br>
+
'''Hull:'''
  
<br>
+
Yes, they were making their own chips.
  
Nebeker:  
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
Well, thank you very much.<br><br>
+
Well, thank you very much.  
  
<br>
+
[[Category:People and organizations|Hull]] [[Category:Corporations|Hull]] [[Category:Business, management & industry|Hull]] [[Category:Business|Hull]] [[Category:Culture and society|Hull]] [[Category:Defense & security|Hull]] [[Category:World War II|Hull]] [[Category:Communications|Hull]] [[Category:Radio communication|Hull]] [[Category:Power, energy & industry applications|Hull]] [[Category:Consumer electronics|Hull]]

Revision as of 13:52, 13 November 2013

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.

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:

Roger Hull, an oral history conducted in 1995 by Frederik Nebeker, IEEE History Center, 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 and 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.