IEEE
You are not logged in, please sign in to edit > Log in / create account  

Oral-History:Theodore Saad

From GHN

Revision as of 15:43, 22 July 2014 by Administrator1 (Talk | contribs)
Jump to: navigation, search

Contents

About Theodore Saad

Theodore S. Saad
Theodore S. Saad

This interview covers Saad’s professional career, with an emphasis on his work at the MIT Radiation Lab during World War II. Saad received his BS in Electrical Engineering in 1941, specializing in communication. He joined the MIT Radiation Lab (Rad Lab) in January 1942, partly to serve his country and partly to avoid the draft. He worked in the theoretical division under Norm Ramsey and Ed Purcell, then switched to work in the microwave components division under Jerrold Zacharias. In particular he designed a directional coupler, devised a system to see if/when microwave parts would break down at high altitude, and then worked on the microwave aspects of the beacon group. After the war ended, he worked for a number of companies in the microwave field—Submarine Signal Company (1945-49), Microwave Development Laboratories (1949-53), both of these in association with Henry Riblet, and Sylvania (1953-55). He then founded his own company, Sage Laboratories, working on coaxial lines and other related media. Raab describes the microwave business as having been heavily dependent on government purchases to begin with, only lately finding wider private-sector markets. The industry itself is friendly and incestuous, with competitors buying and selling products from one another.

About the Interview

THEODORE SAAD: An Interview Conducted by Andrew Goldstein, IEEE History Center, 23 May 1991

Interview # 067 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, IEEE History Center at Stevens Institute of Technology, Castle Point on Hudson, Hoboken, NJ 07030 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:

Theodore Saad, an oral history conducted in 1991 by Andrew Goldstein, IEEE History Center, Hoboken, NJ, USA.

Interview

Interview: Theodore Saad

Interviewer: Andrew Goldstein

Date: 23 May 1991
Location: New Brunswick, New Jersey

Rad Lab

The Job Search

Goldstein:

This is Andy Goldstein recording Theodore Saad on May 23, 1991. Mr. Saad, could you give me some biographical details of your background and education before coming to the Rad Lab?

Saad:

I got a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from MIT in June of 1941. I specialized in communications. After graduation I went to work at Sylvania Electric Products in Danvers, Massachusetts. There I worked on the design and testing of fluorescent lamps. When the war started on December 7, 1941, I listened to President Roosevelt on my car radio in the parking lot at Sylvania. At that time I began looking for another job related to the defense industry because at that time I was still 21, and I hadn't registered for the draft. Through MIT, I had an opportunity to be interviewed for the Rad Lab. I had no idea what it was. They offered me a job, and I went to work at the Rad Lab in January of 1942. Over subsequent years I've learned what it was all about. But at that time I knew very little about it.

One of the interesting things about the Rad Lab was that although it was heavily shrouded in secrecy, when you were a member of the Rad Lab, you had a pretty good idea of what was going on. For example, we used to have meetings every Monday night in Room 10250 under the dome at MIT. They would tell us what was going on in the war — not only in the war in general, but specifically with regard to Rad Lab products. Within a matter of a few months, you were fully aware of what you were doing and what you were there for. Of course I was very young. I had just gotten out of school. I had a bachelor's degree, and the Laboratory, of course, was well stocked with some of the very best physicists, Ph.D.'s, and well-known names from the physics community. To be in that environment was just a tremendous experience for me.

Goldstein:

How did you become aware of an opportunity at the Rad Lab? Did someone approach you, or did you submit an application?

Saad:

I began looking to see what I could do because at the time there was much pressure on me as an individual to be drafted. I don't remember what the age requirements were. But in January of 1942 I was 21 years old. I may have registered for the draft, but I don't recall whether I had or not. But I was looking to become involved in something having to do with the war effort. I remember I had also sent in an application to the civil service. At that time civil service was a big part of recruitment for the war effort. I had put down a requirement that I must receive at least $50 a week in order to work for the civil service. I realized that was an astronomical amount at the time, and that they would never offer me that kind of money. If I was going to go anywhere, it would probably be into the service, rather than leave to get a job outside the Boston area. But then I heard about the opportunity at MIT. I don't remember the details. I applied, and I was offered a position, and I took it and started to work. I never regretted it for a minute. It was a job where you worked a minimum of 50 hours a week, but you didn't think anything if you had to work 60 or 70 hours a week, or work around the clock. Nobody ever thought about it. We were fighting a war, and it was not like wars that we've seen since then. It was a war where we identified the culprits who caused it. Hitler, Mussolini, and the Japanese were people that we automatically hated. Therefore we had a motivation for working hard and trying to win the war. It's interesting, because after the war, when I started my own company and I began to travel, when I first went to Germany and then later I went to Japan, I was a bit apprehensive about visiting those countries, because I had spent four or five years working to defeat them decisively. It took a little while for me to calm down and relax when I went over there. But the Rad Lab was an experience that had a tremendous impact on me. I don't think I've worked less than 45 hours a week since then, and I never think about working long hours. I'm working maybe 45 to 50 hours a week now, and I feel as though I'm on vacation.

Microwave Components

Goldstein:

You said you started in early 1942. What division were you in?

Saad:

I started out in the theoretical division, Group 41 or 42. I began working for Norm Ramsey. That group was taken over later by Ed Purcell, and I worked with that group for perhaps a year or more. Then I was transferred into the RF group. This was the group that designed microwave components. I worked for Jerrold Zacharias. I worked there for perhaps a year or two. One of the projects they were interested in was whether microwave components would break down at high altitudes. So I developed a very simple system whereby I would place microwave components in a bell jar and pump microwave energy into a piece of waveguide that was inside the bell jar. I would connect a component to be tested to the waveguide, and I would leave the end of the component open. For the test I would feed in about 50 watts of average power, 50 kilowatts of peak power, into the waveguide. This was at 3-centimeter wavelength. I would look into the open end of the component and reduce the air pressure in the bell jar until the component broke down electrically. I was looking into an open-ended waveguide, with 50-kilowatts peak power of microwave energy coming at me, and I would wait until it would arc over. I wrote one or two reports on the results of those experiments.

Goldstein:

Was that while you were in the theory group?

Beacon Group

Saad:

No. That was while I was in Zacharias's group. Then I was transferred. As time went on, the Laboratory changed constantly. New groups were formed, and new priorities were assigned. One of the new priorities that was assigned was the beacon group. I was transferred to the beacon group to help with the microwave component aspects of beacons. Basically, there were two types of beacons. There were portable beacons and ground-based beacons. They were passive beacons to the extent that they would not send out a signal until they were interrogated by an airborne radar. A plane with a radar would send out a coded signal that would trigger off the beacon. The beacon would then send a signal back to the plane. The plane would see the code on a PPI (Planned Position Indicator) scope — and from the code, they would know where the beacon was located, and from that they could tell where they were. It was a form of mapping, and they used that during the latter stages of the war. I worked on the ones that were made at the 3-centimeter frequency range. These were actually used on the D-Day landing. My function was to work with the antenna design and the component design. One of the problems that we had in the early stages was maintaining the frequency stability of the magnetron on the beacon. The receivers on the aircraft were very narrow-band. Therefore the frequency of the beacon on the magnetron had to be very, very precise. So I worked with the man who developed the technique for locking those magnetron frequencies.

Goldstein:

Would they tend to drift?

Saad:

They tended to drift, and he designed a simple system to stabilize the magnetron. As part of the project Dr. Rieke developed the Rieke diagram and people who make microwave ovens today still use the Rieke diagram. Basically he came up with a method of analyzing what the magnetron was doing. On the basis of that analysis, he was able to design the waveguide component to lock the magnetron of the beacon at a precise frequency. For the X-band beacons, the frequency was 9.310 gigahertz.

At the end of the war I was in California, still employed by the Rad Lab, but working with a company called Gilfillan. Gilfillan was manufacturing the X-band portable beacons that were used in the war effort. They were in the manufacturing stages, and my function there was to make sure they knew what they were doing and to help them with whatever problems they encountered.

Goldstein:

Were they manufacturing the components of the systems before the Rad Lab's activity? Or were they commissioned by the Rad Lab?

Saad:

No, they were commissioned by the Rad Lab.

Component Contractors

Goldstein:

Were they given specifications to develop the components?

Saad:

Oh, yes. We would give the project to these companies, and then they would begin to work on it. There were two companies in the greater Boston area: one was Sylvania, and the other one was Raytheon. They had people who came from the company and spent time at the Radiation Laboratory to learn about things. For instance, Sylvania worked on microwave diodes; we called them crystals, but they were really crystal diodes. They would get the information from the Radiation Laboratory, and then they would go back and begin making diodes so that they could be used by the Radiation Laboratory and by other companies who were manufacturing radar systems. Raytheon did the same thing with regard to microwave tubes, klystrons, and magnetrons. There would be people who worked at the Radiation Laboratory who were liaisons to Raytheon. They would work back and forth so that they would learn how to design the tubes, and then they would go back and work with Raytheon to actually develop the tubes in production.

I remember going to Long Island. There was a company that had been in the photographic business. The name of the company was De Mornay Budd. After the war, it moved out to the West Coast and became Demornay Bernardi. I don't know what the name is today. But they were a company that made photographic equipment. I went down there on a number of occasions to work with them on some of the components that were used in the radar beacons. Another company, Humble Oil, which was part of the Esso Corporation, was making microwave components, slotted lines, and various types of components. We had companies all around the area who were making different things for us. Within Zacharias's group, they would send out requests for quotes for various radar components, and these companies would make them to our drawings. In fact, when I started the historical collection for the Microwave Society, one of the first things I had for display was a large board that I borrowed from the MIT Museum. On it were a number of these various components that had been made outside of the Radiation Laboratory. They were designed by the people at Rad Lab, but the actual machining, soldering, and fabrication of the unit was done on the outside.

That's the way we got a lot of our work done. Within the Radiation Lab, we had machine shops. On occasion I would design something and then give the drawings to our machine shop, and they would make one piece. If that turned out to be a product that was going to be used in production of any consequence, then, after we made sure it was working properly we'd have the drafting department put it into a more formal drawing. Then that would go out for quotes. Usually we had a number of companies all over the country, not just in the Boston area. However, there were quite a few in the Boston area, and some of them are still in existence. We would send the drawings out, get quotes back. A company would be given the order and they would manufacture the item.

Goldstein:

Would you as a designer be involved in the selection of the contractor?

Saad:

No, not usually. I can remember one situation. We were designing a radar head that was going to go into the nacelle of an airplane. The nacelle was under the wing of the aircraft. One of my responsibilities was to work out the layout for the RF head. The RF head included the power source, i.e. the magnetron, and the mixer, as well as the other devices to do what we call today signal processing. That whole signal-processing circuit had to be put into a nacelle under the wing of the aircraft. My job was to design the layout so that it would fit into this particular plane. It was the F4U aircraft, a carrier plane. So I had to go up to Stromberg-Carlson in Rochester, New York, to show them the design and work with them. Once I showed them what had to go into it, that was the end of my function. My job as the microwave component engineer was to see that all of the components fit into the package and were properly located relative to the transmitting tube and the receiving section. You could call me a gofer except that I was a graduate engineer, and I had a lot of practical knowledge that was very useful.

Goldstein:

When you say that you would execute a design, and it would be handed over to a company, are you referring to designs of complete systems or of components?

Saad:

No, of components. I never really got into complete systems other than to be the microwave component individual on a particular program. Let me explain if I can. When you have a radar system, you have a transmitter, and you have a receiver. There's a power supply that powers the magnetron. The magnetron is the first part that is microwave. Then from the magnetron out to the antenna, those are microwave components, including the antenna. Then the signal comes back through the antenna, and it goes through a TR box, and an ATR box, and then into the mixer. From the mixer it goes into the receiver. From the mixer to the antenna, and from the antenna back to the magnetron, that was my field. In other words, I was a microwave component man. I was not a modulator, receiver or circuit man. We had people who were experts in receivers and people who were experts in the power supply for the magnetron. We had experts on magnetrons alone and people who were experts on the diodes. I became an expert on diodes after I left Rad Lab, when I went to work for Sylvania for a few years. But there were a number of different people who were specialists in these areas. Within the Laboratory, we had people who were systems people, and they would work in the following fashion: They would come up with a concept that we need a system to do the following. And they would draw black boxes that the special groups were assigned to fill. I was a black-box person as differentiated from a systems person.

Undergraduate Training

Goldstein:

Was there anything in your undergraduate training that was particularly geared towards microwaves?

Saad:

I took one course in microwaves. It was given by a fellow by the name of W.W. Hansen. Unfortunately, W.W. Hansen died at a very early age. He and the Varian brothers were three of the key people in microwaves in the early days. The three of them invented the klystron. The Varians actually came to the Rad Lab during World War II. The Varian brothers had gone down to Sperry Gyroscope Company and essentially helped them build klystrons. After I took that one course with Bill Hansen, I did my thesis at MIT. I don't know whether they still do it, but at that time getting a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering required doing a thesis. My thesis was in microwaves. I actually designed what we call a slotted line and made measurements in what we called "bends in hollow" pipes. I worked for Professor Barrow. Professor Barrow later became the chief scientist for Sperry Gyroscope, and he and George Southworth were the first two people to give papers on microwave technology for the IEEE. (At that time it was the IRE.) Fortunately, I knew both of them. I did my thesis for one, and I became friendly with the other later on. But that was all the microwave work I did as an undergraduate. One of the courses that I took at MIT was in acoustics. Acoustics and microwaves are very much related because they both work on the same basic principles of physical size, wave formation, and so forth. I was very good in my acoustics course. I didn't always get top marks in every course. But I remember I felt very much at home with the course that I took in acoustics. When I got into microwaves and began to look at these special charts that you use in order to understand microwave components, they were identical to the ones that we used in acoustics. So I immediately felt very much at home with microwaves. That's probably why I continued to work in that field.

Goldstein:

When you applied to the Rad Lab, did you apply specifically to work in a microwave position there?

Saad:

No. I had no idea what I was going to be assigned to. I didn't know what they were doing because, at the time, the security was intense. They couldn't tell me what they were doing. All they did was look at my school record. I had only worked for six or seven months at Sylvania. I graduated from MIT in June, and I went to work soon thereafter because I couldn't afford not to. I worked through the middle of January, and then in January I went to work at the Rad Lab. So they couldn't make any judgment on the basis of what I did at Sylvania. They had very little to go on other than for the fact that I took the course by Hansen, and I had done my thesis in that slotted line and the "bends in hollow" pipe. So they knew that I was familiar with a few things. But getting into the Rad Lab was a whole new, totally different ball game.

Goldstein:

When you were at Sylvania, was it well known that there was activity, perhaps jobs, at the Rad Lab? Did they know what the activities down there were?

Saad:

I don't remember that there were. There was a lot of talk about jobs, and I had applied with the civil service for a job. But I asked for too much money, I figured they'd never hire me. I was making $30 a week at Sylvania at the time I got the job at MIT, and they raised me to $42 a week, which I thought was astronomical. I think there was some talk about the opportunities for jobs in defense. At that time we called it "in defense," because although the war had turned around a little bit, England was still pretty much on the ropes, and everybody was worried that Hitler was going to cross the Channel and come into England. I decided I had to do something, so I went to MIT, and they hired me. I am eternally grateful for that series of events that got me there because it's been more than just a job. I worked long hours, and I'm still working. Most people my age have long since retired. So I've enjoyed it, I really have. And I feel as though it's been a contribution.

Rad Lab Cont'd.

Security

Goldstein:

The other security issue that occurred to me relates to the representatives for companies that were frequently visiting your lab. Were there any security considerations there?

Saad:

Absolutely! It was very difficult to get into the Laboratory without proper security clearance. Whenever we would travel, we would have to make sure that our security was sent on ahead. During the war, on more than one occasion, people (probably the FBI) would come to my neighborhood and be checking on me. They'd talk to my neighbors. Security was very, very tight in those days.

Goldstein:

Would companies send representatives before they'd gotten a contract, to examine a piece of technology that they were considering manufacturing?

Saad:

My recollection is that they couldn't come into the place. They would have to be invited, and then they would have to be cleared before they made it. Security was very, very intense. It wasn't as complicated as it was shortly after the war started because we got more sophisticated and knew a little bit better how to do it. But when the war started and shortly thereafter, it was very, very hush-hush. My wife didn't know what I did until a few years after the war was over. It was unfortunate, but they chose the name "Radiation Laboratory" to fool people into thinking they were working on atomic testing. Today, of course, everybody talks about microwave radiation as though it was some harmful thing. Certainly it's harmful if you get into a microwave oven and turn it on, but it's not harmful the way people talk about it. It's a pity in a way because it delayed the microwave oven for a few years. It's like everything else. We know that cars are the most dangerous thing in the world, but you can't get people to give up cars, and they won't legislate against them. Once people found out that the microwave oven was such a wonderful gadget, you can't legislate against that. You can only try to protect people.

Designing from Scratch

Goldstein:

When you would be working on a design, did you typically take production components off the shelf in trying to design a circuit? Did the proper components always exist?

Saad:

The things that I was working on were cut from whole cloth. In other words, they didn't exist before we worked on them. Somebody would come along, and they would say, "We need a gadget to measure power in a piece of waveguide. And we want it instantaneously." It had never been created before. I got a patent on a gadget that consisted of a little neon bulb and a piece of waveguide. You buy the waveguide and sketch up how you want it cut. We had the neon bulbs in the stockroom, so I'd go out into the stockroom and get it. We had open stockrooms. They provided us with whatever we needed. It was not a case where I'm going to have to order this thing, I'm going to have to wait for it, and so forth. Rarely would that happen. They would see to it that you got everything you needed, and you got it as soon as you needed it. Of course some things didn't exist. Or if they did exist, they weren't the quality that you needed. So there was that problem. But that wasn't in my area because I was a microwave component man, and most of the things that I was working on were simple hardware that you made out of tubes of metal.

As an example, I have been told that the first waveguide that we ordered for the 9-gigahertz frequency range came from a company that made storm doors. The dimensions of the tubing were 1" by 1/2" by .050". That became the standard waveguide for the 3cm frequency range because we could get it quickly. A lot of things happened that way. Once you got that particular tubing, then I as a microwave engineer would design everything using that tubing. I would order things from the shop, and I would just simply call for a length of the tubing. I would show them how to cut it and what holes to put in it and so forth. The work that I was doing required machine work more than anything else. It didn't require purchased parts. Of course, I also had to have a little box and a meter. But again, these were fairly simple parts, and we had them in the stockroom. My recollection was that they were able to get all of the simple parts we needed because they had good purchasing people, and they had access to materials.

Goldstein:

Were you involved much in the design of circuitry?

Saad:

No. I was not a circuit person. I worked with circuit people because they knew circuit design. For example, one of the projects that I was involved with was trying to design the waveguide components to stabilize the magnetron frequency. A friend of mine was working on the circuitry that would take the information coming out of the waveguide components, and plug it into an electronic circuit that would then be fed back to control the magnetron. He would work with the circuit which would require tubes, resistors, capacitors, inductances and so forth. He would work on that end of it, whereas I would work on the parts that would give a signal to a diode. Then he would take the signal from the diode, process that signal, and bring it back to some control on the magnetron. So I stayed between the magnetron and the diode. I was always in that area. I would work on the antennas, too. I would make the antenna measurements because that was also part of the hardware side of it.

Goldstein:

So if you needed components, you could supply specifications to the machine shop, and they would produce them?

Saad:

Exactly. Most of what I did worked that way. I would say 90 percent of what I did came right out of the machine shop. One of the good things about going to MIT was that they taught you how to make drawings and how to design things. I took courses in machine shop so I understood what could and could not be done. It was not a case where I'd ask for things that were theoretically impossible. I would ask for things that were practical, perhaps because I had gotten a good rounding in education that appeared to fit with the microwave requirements.

Goldstein:

Would you say the system worked well?

Saad:

It worked well. Even though there were personality problems of a third or fourth level nature, everybody was working to win the war. You didn't hang it on your sleeve or anything like that. But there was such a level of enthusiasm to get the job done. Did you see Echoes of War?

Win The War Spirit

Goldstein:

No, I haven't.

Saad:

Well, you have to see it. You will see a passage by Louis Smullin. Lou was at Rad Lab. He was later head of the electrical engineering department at MIT. Louis made a comment about how it felt to be there. As young guys doing design work, we weren't asked to fight in the war. So we all felt a certain level of, not exactly guilt, but we were aware of the fact that we had been given privileges that a lot of other people were not given. Therefore there was no way that we were going to goof off, or think in any terms other than if the job needed to be done, we were going to do the job. That was the attitude. It was a great atmosphere to be in.

The other thing that was great was I knew these people were all brilliant. Even though I was not one of them, I was there, and I was able to learn from them. I learned the technology as I went along. I learned a lot from a lot of different people including the attitude of doing a good job and working hard. Each person would make sacrifices, and not think about his or her own personal situation. We would focus on the job. That's been with me my whole life. That part of it probably was more important than almost anything else I got out of it. Of course this Radiation Lab get-together is just so tremendous. I say to people, I get calls from Marconi and Faraday and Maxwell. [Chuckling] Those were the men who were responsible for the whole business. I get calls from Getting, Pollard, and DuBridge. It's just a great, great feeling because these were the people who, without realizing what they were doing, pointed me in what I thought was the right direction for me. Not everybody should be in the same direction, but for me it was tremendous. I owe them.

Directional Coupler and Other Projects

Goldstein:

I want to ask about some of the specific projects you worked on. Was microwave components the last group you were in?

Saad:

No. The last group I was in was the beacon group. In the beacon group I worked on two or three different things. One of the things was the measurements and the design of the antenna. I didn't do the design, but I modified the design. I made measurements on antennas. One of the things that you had to do with these antennas was feed a signal into it and make sure that the antenna pattern sent a signal that was as even in a 360 degree in azimuth as possible. That was a matter of measurement. Although it was done by the antenna group, I had to do some of the measurements. I also had to worry about simple things like designing directional couplers. A directional coupler is a device used to pick up a sample of energy going in only one direction in the waveguide. I'd have to work on designing things of that nature to be put in the line so they could monitor the signal going out. I already mentioned I designed a little power meter so that you could put it in the line and monitor the power, and it would give you a quick reading. That was not a great product, but it was useful. Much of what we were doing in those days were interim things that were later obsolesced by new technology. For example, I designed the microwave parts for a receiver where you had to have a TR tube and an ATR tube. You had to have a mixer, and so forth. All of this had to be tied together in a package. I remember designing that for a particular radar system.

I also did a lot of work on high-power testing. I would work with sections of waveguide (between .4 by .9 inches) and I would bring the .4 inches down to .1 and slope it. That way I could look in and watch when that would literally arc over by bringing the vacuum down. I would plot curves of this information because we were very interested in knowing whether we needed to pressurize the radar systems in the aircraft. At that time, the aircraft would only go up about 10,000 feet. We had to determine whether the power that we had in the system would break the waveguide down, whether the component would break down, and whether it would literally arc over. We had to make sure that it wouldn't. I spent a lot of time doing that. I probably spent part of a year, maybe more, doing that. Then I wrote a report that was part of the archival material that came out of the Rad Lab.

Goldstein:

Did these products that you worked on have any application beyond the immediate project?

Saad:

Oh, yes. For example, let's take a directional coupler. My company makes directional couplers today. We don't make the same type that were made then. Nor when I started my company did we make the same type. But the principles are all the same. In other words, you still want to make a device that will be sensitive to energy going in one direction and insensitive to energy coming in the opposite direction. So many of the things that I did in those days, I used in later jobs that I had. When I left the Rad Lab, I went to work at the Submarine Signal Company. Then, with other people, we started another company called Microwave Development Labs. After that I was in Sylvania a couple of times. Then I started my own company back in 1955. So during those stages, a lot of the designs that I had worked on at the Radiation Lab applied to my work. I used a lot of the same technology and many of the same designs. They carried right over. They were practical and useful designs. The technology was useful. I used all of what I learned at the Rad Lab when I went to work at the Submarine Signal Company. Then later on, when we started the Microwave Development Lab, I used many of those things. I was chief engineer there. As I went along, of course, the technology kept growing and evolving and changing. But I still use the basic principles. Up until a few years ago, I was still using the books that were written at the end of the Radiation Lab.

Linda Garman was the gal that did Echoes of War. I was very upset with her because she didn't mention the books. To me the books were almost the most important thing that came out of the Radiation Laboratory. That collection of 28 books was the foundation for what we see in our electronics and electrical engineering since World War II. They were the basis. They gave electronics a head start over any other technology. In preparation for her work on "Echoes of War," Garman came to my office, and I told her, "There are two things you've got to do. One is you've got to give the British the proper credit for the work that they did. The second thing is mention the books, and the importance that they have had on the technology." Well, she did fine by the British, but she forgot about the books.

Importance of Government Demand

Goldstein:

I want to come back to the devices that had broader applications. Was there a sense in these local electronic companies that these were worthwhile products to manufacture because it was good to have a head start in manufacturing devices that would have an ongoing demand?

Saad:

No. When the war was over all of the need for radar was strictly within the government. There were no private concerns around who had microwave products or systems that they were going to sell. Even though Westinghouse, General Electric, Motorola, Raytheon, and all of these companies had built systems, few of them had systems that they thought they were going to sell for civilian use. Of course, when the war was over, the amount of defense spending dropped dramatically. So a lot of these companies were sort of floating around. I went to work for the Submarine Signal Company, and the first contract we got when the war was over was a contract with the Navy. We were asked to develop a KU-band radar system. During the war there were two basic frequency ranges. One was in the 10-gigahertz range from about 8600 to 9500 megahertz. Then there was the S-band frequency, which was about 2.6 to 3.4 gigahertz. One was 10 centimeters; the other was 3 centimeters. In those years gigahertz were called kilomegacycles, and we worked in those two frequency ranges. After the war the Navy wanted us to develop a radar system in the frequency range around 18 to 26 gigahertz. It would have a higher frequency and a smaller waveguide. We had a small microwave group there. Again, I was involved in the design of microwave components that went into the radar system. All the other parts, the receiver and the modulator, were standard. There was nothing different there. What was different was the waveguide components. They had to be smaller in size, and there were modifications. You could think of it as being a serious analog problem rather than a serious digital problem. So we had to design all the various components: the mixers, the transmitting tubes, the receiving tubes, the antennas, everything. We had to design the whole thing to make a system that would operate at that frequency range.

Then along came Korea, and people woke up to the fact that we'd better have a defense program. From that point on, the United States government and the Defense Department became the big customer for microwave work. Not until ten or fifteen years ago, did we see a serious non-defense market. There was always a market for microwave systems. For example, in commercial radar, boat radar, airplane radar, commercial airplane radar, and so forth. That started after World War II and gradually grew, and now it's a very big business. But the Defense Department, up until just a few years ago, was the biggest market for microwave people. But now everywhere you turn you've got microwave applications, primarily radar systems. For example, my company makes a product that's used for treatment of cancer. So there are many applications that are not usually well known by the lay person for microwave products. After the war it didn't die out, but it diminished rapidly. Then of course there was the euphoria. The war was over. Now people had to make automobiles, and they had to build houses. So microwaves and that whole business was not very important. But I happened to be in a position where I stayed in the microwave field, and I've been in it ever since.

After the Rad Lab

Goldstein:

During your time with the Submarine Signal Company, were you at liberty to export innovations that were developed at the Rad Lab?

Saad:

Oh, yes. When the war was over, I used all of the same designs. I had books that I had gotten while I was at the Rad Lab, and I could design products that were identical to things that I had made at the Rad Lab. The patent problem didn't come in. In fact, I had three or four patents while I was at the Rad Lab. I really didn't have any occasion to use any of those designs, but I used a lot of the basic designs, which were not patentable, and I used a number of those techniques constantly in the work that we did. We took a lot of ideas that we had while we were at the Radiation Laboratory and developed them further. We made products, and we developed the technology that has since become the foundation for the microwave industry in general. It's just tremendous. In this day and age, of course, it's all on computers, and you can buy a computer program that will design almost any microwave component that you want. Unfortunately, for a lot of these people it still has to be made, and then it has to be tested in the laboratory. That's where experience helps considerably.

Goldstein:

When did you leave the Rad Lab? What were the circumstances around your leaving the Rad Lab?

Saad:

The Rad Lab was shut down in December 1945. Of course, the war ended in August. So from August until December everybody essentially had a job, but everybody was told: Go look for work. So I went to look for work. While I was looking for work, we did a number of things. First of all, we tried to beat the horses at Suffolk Downs because we had primitive computers by then. We did a lot of strange things like that, and people talked about setting up companies to do things. I was married at the time and had only been married a couple of years. Things were tight, and we had no money. So I had to get a job. I went around looking. I had an opportunity to work for American District Telegraph; that was ADT. They wanted to build a microwave burglar alarm system.

But they were somewhere out of town, and I had this opportunity to work at the Submarine Signal Company. I took that opportunity, and I was very pleased because it was a fine company. There were two other aspects that were more important than it being just a fine company: I had a great boss, and then I worked with some good microwave people. One of the fellows was a Dr. Henry Riblet who was at the Radiation Laboratory. He was a very fine mathematician; but more importantly, he was also a good antenna man, and he later became a good microwave component man. There were other people in the group that were microwave people. So we had a nucleus of a good microwave group, and my microwave capability knowledge continued to build over that four-year-period that I was at Submarine Signal Company. We built that system that I told you about. We started a whole family of products in that frequency range. We were the first people in that field. In fact, I ordered the first piece of waveguide. I determined what the dimensions would be, and those dimensions are with us to this day. Then Dr. Riblet decided he wanted to start a company, and he asked me if I would work with him, which I did. We took two other people out of the Submarine Signal Company, and we started Microwave Development Laboratories. At the same time that we were doing that, Raytheon had purchased the Submarine Signal Company. There was no traumatic situation whereby we were taking out the nucleus of their microwave capability because Raytheon had a very extensive microwave capability. I worked at Microwave Development Laboratories with him for about four years, and we were successful. The company is still in existence, it's still successful, and it's still owned by Dr. Riblet. I left him after about four years, and I went up to Sylvania for a little over a year, working on microwave diodes.

Sage Laboratories

Saad:

Then I started Sage Laboratories in January of 1955, and I've been there ever since. I tried to get away from doing the same things that I had done in these other places when I started my own company. There are various media that you can use to work with in microwaves. I had up until that point worked almost exclusively in waveguides, although I would sometimes work on coaxial line components. When I started my own company, I determined that I didn't want to compete directly with my previous employer, the Microwave Development Lab — so I decided I would begin to work in coaxial lines and other related media. We've been doing that ever since. So today, we sell to Microwave Development Laboratories, and we buy from them. In fact, what you'll find about the microwave industry, it's very incestuous. You sell to people, and you buy from people, and then you compete with them. For example, we might sell to MA/COM, which is a large microwave company, and we buy from MA/COM, and then we compete with them. And we're all friends.

Goldstein:

Has that always been a characteristic of the microwave industry?

Saad:

Yes.

Microwave Opportunities after War

Goldstein:

Right after the war, during these closing months of Rad Lab, what were the employment prospects?

Saad:

They were dim because we didn't know where we were going. But the largest portion of the Rad Lab were primarily top-notch physicists who had been taken from different companies and different schools in order to form the Radiation Laboratory. When the war was over, many of them just went back to their prior responsibilities.

Goldstein:

It was almost like a military tour of duty.

Saad:

But there were those of us, like myself and others, who had come out of school and didn't have any prior experience, or had left a company to come to work for the Radiation Laboratory. We didn't have that aura about us that a DuBridge or a Getting or somebody like that would have. So the net result was there were a number of us who were looking for work. I don't know what proportion that might have been. It might have been a third of them, or it might have been half of them.

Goldstein:

Are you speaking of the microwave organization or the whole Lab?

Saad:

No, I'm talking about the whole Laboratory. Within the microwave part there might have been a thousand who were focused in my area. After Rad Lab, some of them got out of microwaves, but a good number of them continued in the microwave field.

Goldstein:

I'm getting the impression that there wasn't tremendous industry interest in microwaves immediately after the war.

Saad:

No, there wasn't.

Goldstein:

Some of your colleagues at the Rad Lab got out of microwaves. Was that a decision based on their preferences or simply a lack of jobs?

Saad:

Both. Some of them wanted to get out, and some of them wanted to stay in the field, but couldn't. I remember two of my friends who were microwave engineers who decided to set up a company. They set it up in Cambridge in Massachusetts to make geiger counters. Atomic energy was the big thing. When the war ended Time Magazine had planned to do a special issue on microwaves. When they dropped the atomic bomb, it was the feature of the issue, and microwaves and radar were hardly mentioned. It was mentioned, but somewhere in the back pages. So a lot of people got caught up in the atomic side of it. This one group actually started a company and for a long while they couldn't get any business. They called themselves Tracer Lab. It became a fairly successful company, but they eventually went in all different directions. The company stayed in the Boston area, but they were no longer involved.

Goldstein:

Can you think of any branch of the Rad Lab that was hot after the war?

Saad:

Well, there were a number of things that happened. For example, they started Air Force Cambridge Research Center in the Boston area, which was an outgrowth of some of the activities that were going on. It was really an Army facility, but a lot of the Rad Lab people went there.

Goldstein:

Are these military institutions?

Saad:

Yes, these were military. Lincoln Laboratories was started not too long after that. I don't know when Mitre Lab started, but it couldn't have been too many years after that. So a number of things started. I remember NRL flew a group of us to Washington, D.C. to offer us jobs. Some people took them and some people didn't. There were opportunities that were presented to us, but primarily in military or government facilities. But I do remember that when I had that chance to go to Submarine Signal Company, I figured, I wouldn't have far to travel because it was in the center of Boston, not too far from where the famous Brinks Robbery took place. I enjoyed that job at Submarine Signal Company.

Goldstein:

You say some of the older, more-established people had corporations to which they could return, but there was a class of younger people like yourself straight out of school. I'm wondering if there was any spirit of entrepreneurship, having worked on new technology.

Saad:

There was some. John Niles, Homer Myers, and Ray Ghelardi started Tracer Labs in Cambridge. There were others.

Innovation at Rad Lab

Goldstein:

Which group at Rad Lab do you think was working with the most innovative technology? Which group was working on the technology that was of greatest interest to private industry?

Saad:

I don't think you can break it up that way because you have to remember that we had different specialty groups. One group was the modulator group, another one was the receiver group, another one was the indicator group, another one was the microwave components group, another one was the antenna group. If you said which one of those groups, I'd say, well nobody would come in and say: I want to be in the microwave business because I think there's a lot of market for it. But the groups that probably attracted the most attention would be the systems groups. For example, one of the great systems that was built during the war was the 584, and there were three major companies that were involved — Westinghouse, General Electric, and Chrysler. Chrysler built the trailer, and they built a lot of the mechanical structure. Now I suspect that they recognized the value there, and of course Westinghouse has been in the radar business ever since. They do an excellent job. Motorola was another one, and Motorola kept making radar systems after the war. Raytheon continued to make tubes and other radar and microwave products after the war. After the war Sylvania continued to make microwave diodes and some of the associated component parts that went into radar systems. There were other companies: Philco, which no longer exists, made a lot of things. They were in the microwave diode business, and they made some systems. So there were a number of companies that continued. Bell Laboratories, of course, although they didn't need the Radiation Lab to do the things they were doing, nevertheless had a close tie. They continued making radar systems. After the war they were the microwave creative talent. One of the great tragedies in my estimation was when they broke up AT&T, because I always thought of Bell Laboratories as one of the great national resources of the United States. They still have it, but I don't think it functions quite as it did in those days. The Bell Laboratories and the work they did was just absolutely tremendous.

Goldstein:

Can you recall the circumstances by which any of these companies became involved in Rad Lab contracting?

Saad:

I mentioned Raytheon earlier. Raytheon was actually manufacturing tubes for the Radiation Lab. They would have people who would come over to the Rad Lab, and people from Rad Lab would go over to Raytheon and work with them on tubes. There was a constant exchange going back and forth. The people from General Electric and Westinghouse would come up to the Rad Lab and get the designs for the 584, and then they would go back and do their own modifications of those designs.

Goldstein:

Was there corollary research going on at those companies?

Saad:

I imagine there was. I was not privy to that information. But I suspect that there was. I know that Bell Laboratories was doing a lot of their own research, and they made tremendous contributions. I would say that of all the companies in the United States during World War II, the one that made the most contributions in the radar and communications are outside of the Radiation Laboratory would be Bell Laboratories. But other companies were doing very constructive, productive things.

Goldstein:

Were they developing tubes or just simply manufacturing?

Saad:

They were developing tubes. Not simply manufacturing them, but doing a lot of their own internal development.

Goldstein:

Can you think of any instances where a design innovation was stimulated by the availability of a component?

Saad:

Not off the top of my head, no.

Goldstein:

For your particular assignment, it sounds that you were not so much involved with electronic components. What companies were you interacting with?

Saad:

I would interact with the systems companies who needed a particular system that had a microwave component involved. For example, I got involved with the design of that RF head for Stromberg-Carlson. I didn't spend much time with them. I went up there, I laid the thing out, figured out where all the various parts had to be. It was not just a matter of fitting them into a box; it was a matter of knowing what their function was and knowing what the dimensions had to be in order to meet the electrical parameters. That was one thing I did. I had to go down to De Mornay Budd, the company that used to be in the photographic business. I would go down to them and work with them because they were designing the antennas that we were using. They were also doing other work. I would interact with them. But they didn't do any creative design. I never got involved with them to that extent. I didn't do that much traveling. During the war I went down to Boca Raton in Florida to do testing of the beacons from ground to air, and that was with the Air Force. That was not with a company. I didn't spend that much time with companies. If I had to have something done, I would go through purchasing. We had an excellent purchasing department at Rad Lab, and these people were gung ho and most cooperative. When you needed something, you would just simply go to them and give them the drawings, and they'd tell you, "We'll get them for you in a few weeks." It was an ideal setup for someone like myself.

Goldstein:

When your design was done, would it be up to the systems people to coordinate its production?

Saad:

If I made the design and it worked, I might design something and prove it out, like a directional coupler. Then maybe when they're doing the whole systems design, the whole systems design would go into the drafting department. What they would do is they would make modifications of something I had designed and they would make modifications to fit it into the package. In making those modifications, they would come back to make sure that the modifications they had made did not in any way alter the performance.

Goldstein:

Did you design it with black-box methodology?

Saad:

I suppose you'd call it black-box methodology. But basically someone would say to you: We need a directional coupler that will reduce the signal by a hundred times. But the other one has to be a hundred thousand times below the incoming signal. I'm saying that, but what I really mean is 20 dB down in one direction, and it has to be 40 dB down in the other direction. And they'd tell you what the frequency range would have to be. From that, you'd go ahead, and design it. We also had opportunities to do some of the machining modifications ourselves. We could solder and we could do a lot of the actual fabrication ourselves. It was a lot of fun, really. It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed that period of my working career as much as any period. It was a stimulating environment.

Goldstein:

Would you say that one of the most successful products of the Lab was the human resources that developed there?

Saad:

Absolutely!

Goldstein:

I wonder if industry felt that way. Was there a demand out there?

Saad:

I think that some of the companies probably knew that there were people in there that they'd like to hire. A person like myself — and there were a lot of "me's" over there — probably wouldn't have connections with outside companies because they spent most of their time working in the laboratory, and they didn't really get out to visit companies. But I never really developed a liaison with them the way I might have done later on. But those that did spend a lot of time visiting back and forth probably were able to get pretty good set-ups with those companies. And rightfully so, because they were a special group of workers. Their work ethic was great. As I mentioned before, they thought nothing of working long hours.

Goldstein:

You have a couple of times suggested a real esprit de corps and a valuable sense of mission. I wonder if during the course of the Rad Lab operation, during your tenure there between '42 and '45, if there was much defection of people working there. Would people just drop and leave because a good offer was presented to them?

Saad:

A few of them wanted to get into the service because they wanted to actually wear a uniform and get in that way. There were only a few of those. Then there were a few who went down to Los Alamos to work on the atomic bomb, but we weren't supposed to know about them. We found out about it after the war. But I don't ever remember anybody leaving the Rad Lab to work for another company, except there might have been a few isolated cases where people were working in specialized areas. It was almost like a mutual agreement that an individual should be working for this company rather than at the Rad Lab because the thing had probably gone into production or it was at a stage where the person would be of more value to the total effort if he were working for the company. There might have been a few of those. If you were to ask me if the people who were there at the beginning stayed until the bitter end, I would say probably more than 90 percent of them did. A number of people moved around within the Laboratory. As the Laboratory evolved and kept growing we all moved around to develop a capability in a certain area. If they needed that capability in another system they'd put you in another group to work on that.

Goldstein:

Was the fact that people stayed in Rad Lab due to a sense of duty or satisfaction with their work? Was there an opportunity for people to move out of Rad Lab? Were companies coming in to raid the staff there and present other opportunities?

Saad:

I really don't know if people were trying to raid us. I do know that we all had a sense of purpose. At least that was my interpretation. There was a war that had to be won, and we knew that we were making a significant contribution. How would anybody want to leave that environment? There was just too much that they were contributing. I know a few people left, based on my experience in industry, I would say the turnover was negligible.

Government, Academia and Industry

Goldstein:

You've already identified the 28 volumes of text that came out. Can you think of other lasting and significant contributions generated by Rad Lab?

Saad:

Up until that time the government, academia, and industry were like three separate entities. This was the first time that they were brought together to work on a mutual problem. That was another important contribution. It was tremendously successful. They worked well together. We were facing three horrible dictators. You're too young to visualize what it was like to read about Hitler or Mussolini or Hirohito. You wanted to go out, and you wanted to do something. Everybody wanted to do something. We were in a position where we could do something significant. So our Laboratory, which had the blessings of Roosevelt, had some of the wisest men in the history of this country with Bush and Compton and all of those people, leading us. We had companies that in today's antitrust atmosphere couldn't exist. But in those days they could exist and they could do good things, e.g. the Bell Laboratories and General Electric. Then we had the Laboratory itself, which was run by a college professor who had tremendous wisdom. DuBridge had the kind of wisdom that you pray for in a situation like that. It was efficient. If you look at the statistics on the operation of the Laboratory, it was very, very efficient from the standpoint of the R&D versus the output.

Goldstein:

When you talk about military, government and industry working well together, I think of citizens today being suspicious of military contractors.

Saad:

Of course.

Goldstein:

Was there any sense of that then?

Saad:

No. None at all. There was no concern at that time. Again, the environment was different. The war ended in August, and the day the war ended, they announced that the Rad Lab was going to shut down on December 31st of that year. It didn't drag out. They had their orders. These were very intelligent men, and they recognized that the smart thing for them to do was to close it down and go back to what they were doing before. And that's exactly what they did.

Today, of course, the profit motive has come into it. You talk about what happened in Korea. That was thousands of miles away, and it didn't take all of our effort. Vietnam was an unfortunate situation. We could watch it on television, and we procrastinated so that it never really resolved itself the way we wanted it to. Everybody got excited about Desert Storm. That was tremendous. The only problem was they didn't look beyond the end of their nose, and they should have looked beyond the end of their nose, to find out what do we do when this thing is over? They didn't take that into consideration. They should have. But nevertheless, it ended. If you think about the way it was at Desert Storm while we were watching the whole process on television and everybody was hyper, that's how it was during World War II. Except they were wise enough to look ahead. It was so much more all-absorbing of the country. You could see Stalin sitting there with Truman and Churchill, and they're giving away their countries' store. They're giving away Eastern Europe. You couldn't just sit around. In retrospect, we can go back and say they shouldn't have done this, and they shouldn't have done that. Well, with Desert Storm we can do that. Now everybody's a critic. And maybe that's good, maybe that's bad. I don't know. I won't live long enough to find out whether it was good or bad. But in those days you didn't have that opportunity. Television has changed society more than anything else. I always made the observation after the war that two things are going to happen: One is, with the improvement in communication and the improvement in travel, we're never going to have another situation like we had in World War II. We can have these enclaves with Hussein and Iraq. But you're not going to have Germany against England because they simply can't hide anymore. It's got to be out in the open. So World War II was the last of those types of experiences, I really believe. But I could be wrong.

Goldstein:

Are you aware of any efforts to enforce some kind of competition between the different companies that contracted with Rad Lab?

Saad:

I'll be perfectly honest with you. I was not that sensitive to it at that time. I don't remember whether there was any of that. I don't recall that there was much competition. There may have been, they may have sent out for bids. But as a young engineer, it wasn't that I wasn't privy, it was simply that it was not of concern to me.

Goldstein:

But even that's significant, that the engineers were insulated from the economic considerations of the Rad Lab operation.

Saad:

I was never concerned about price or anything of that nature. Price was not important. In fact, price was not important for many years after the war in the microwave business. It wasn't until later that we began to get very touchy about how much things cost. But particularly at that time, there was no concern over how much things cost. We simply went to the purchasing guy and I'd say, "Jules, I've got to have this thing made for me." And he'd say, "All right. I'll see that it's done." Then the thing would come back from the shop. So I never thought about the economics of it at that time. It never entered into my mind at all.

Goldstein:

Is there anything that you want to add, anything you feel that you'd like to express?

Saad:

It was just the best period of my working life, other than for my own company. I met the greatest people in the world there, and it was a tremendous experience that has stayed with me all these years. The reason we're having this 50th anniversary celebration is because it meant so much to me at the time, and, very frankly, this whole thing is coming about because somebody asked me to give the history of the Radiation Lab. When I did, I gave it to Lockheed down in Georgia, and I realized these people had never heard of this place. I said, "this is so important." I began giving the talk more and more, and I suggested that we have this 50th anniversary celebration. Then, of course, it just grew because there are so many good people in the Boston area who wanted it, too. We just put it together, and now we're going to have it.

Goldstein:

Thank you.