IEEE

Oral-History:Gerard Lehmann

SHARE |

From GHN

(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
(23 intermediate revisions by 6 users not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
== About Gerard Lehmann<br> ==
+
== About Gerard Lehmann  ==
  
Born in 1909, Gerard Lehmann developed an early interest in electrical engineering by observing his father, the founder of an electrical equipment company.&nbsp; During World War I, young Gerard used a galena receiver for telegraph coded radio, and he operated an amateur radio transmitter during the 1920s.&nbsp; Pursuing these interests, Lehmann began electrical engineering studies at the École Centrale in 1928.&nbsp; After his graduation, Lehmann taught the first radio courses offered by the École Centrale.&nbsp; He joined Breguet, an airplane manufacturer, as its chief engineer, building radio equipment used by French military aircraft in World War II.&nbsp; After the German invasion of Southern France in 1942, Lehmann joined the engineers working with Maurice Deloraine at International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) in New York.<br>
+
<p>Gerard Lehmann is an [[IEEE Fellow Grade History|IEEE Life Fellow]] and an officer of the Légion d'Honeur. Born in 1909, Lehmann developed an early interest in electrical engineering by observing his father, the founder of an electrical equipment company. During World War I, young Gerard used a galena receiver for telegraph coded [[Radio|radio]], and he operated an [[Amateur Radio|amateur radio]] transmitter during the 1920s. Pursuing these interests, he began electrical engineering studies at the École Centrale in 1928. After his graduation, Lehmann taught the first radio courses offered by the École Centrale.&nbsp; He joined Breguet, an airplane manufacturer, as its chief engineer, building radio equipment used by French military aircraft in World War II. Following the German invasion of Southern France in 1942, Lehmann joined the engineers working with Maurice Deloraine at International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) in New York. </p>
  
<br><br>
+
<p>After World War II, Lehmann predicted industrial growth potential in servo-mechanics. As an employee of ITT's Paris laboratory, Lehmann established Société des Servomécanismes Électroniques (SME), a company to manufacture mechanical equipment. With SME's sale to Compagnie Générale d’Électricité (later Alcatel-Alsthom), Lehmann became Chief Scientist at CGE.&nbsp; There, his projects included research for the TGV high-speed train network. In his capacity as Chief Scientist, he also evaluated the economics of the electric car and of high-voltage power transmission in Africa. Lehmann retired in 1975 but continued to work in the larger field of electronics. </p>
  
<br>
+
<p>In this interview, Lehmann outlines his education and engineering career. He describes ITT's contributions to World War II, including his own work to jam German radar. Detailing the rationale for his post-war focus on servo-mechanics, he identifies the products and clients of SME. Lehmann also identifies his leadership roles in French and international professional societies, and he assesses the role of the IEEE in France. He describes the value of interdisciplinarity, including his work with the French Ministry of Research to promote collaborations between physicians and industry on electronic equipment development.&nbsp; Lehmann concludes his comments with some analysis of shifts in industrial practice, and he criticizes the practice of child labor. </p>
  
After World War II, Lehmann identified servo-mechanics as a growing market.&nbsp; As an employee of ITT's Paris laboratory, Lehmann established a company to manufacture mechanical equipment.&nbsp; With this company's sale to Compagnie Générale d’Électricité (later Alcatel-Alsthom), Lehmann became Chief Scientist at CGE.&nbsp; There, his projects included research for the TGV high-speed train network.&nbsp; Lehmann retired in 1975, continuing<br>
+
== About the Interview  ==
  
== About the Interview<br> ==
+
<p>GERARD LEHMANN: An Interview Conducted by Janet Abbate, Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, July 26, 1996 </p>
  
GERARD LEHMANN: An Interview Conducted by Janet Abbate, Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, July 26, 1996<br><br>  
+
<p>Interview #293 for the Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. </p>
  
Interview #293 for the Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
+
== Copyright Statement  ==
  
<br>  
+
<p>This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center. </p>
  
== Copyright Statement<br> ==
+
<p>Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. </p>
  
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>  
+
<p>It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>GERARD LEHMANN, an oral history conducted in 1996 by Janet Abbate, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA. </p>
  
Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, Rutgers - the State University, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. <br><br>
+
== Interview  ==
  
<br>  
+
<p>INTERVIEW: GERARD LEHMANN </p>
  
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:<br> GERARD LEHMANN, an oral history conducted in 1996 by Janet Abbate, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.
+
<p>INTERVIEWER: JANET ABBATE </p>
  
== Interview<br> ==
+
<p>PLACE: PARIS, FRANCE </p>
  
INTERVIEW: GERARD LEHMANN<br>INTERVIEWER: JANET ABBATE<br>PLACE: PARIS, FRANCE <br>DATE: JULY 26, 1996<br>  
+
<p>DATE: JULY 26, 1996 </p>
  
=== Family<br> ===
+
=== Family ===
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>To start it, could you tell me a little bit about how you first got interested in electrical engineering and why you chose to do that?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>To start it, could you tell me a little bit about how you first got interested in electrical engineering and why you chose to do that? </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>I first got interested in electrical engineering because my father was an electrical engineer.<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I first got interested in electrical engineering because my father was an electrical engineer. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Oh, really? What did he do? <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Oh, really? What did he do? </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>He came out of the École Centrale de Paris at the end of the last century and started doing electrical engineering with the Exposition Universal that was in Paris. Very large, as sometimes happens now, an Exposition Universal. And this Exposition Universal was circled by a rolling sidewalk. He was associated with the construction and operation of this rolling sidewalk, which was very popular at that time.<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>He came out of the École Centrale de Paris at the end of the last century and started doing electrical engineering with the Exposition Universal that was in Paris. Very large, as sometimes happens now, an Exposition Universal. And this Exposition Universal was circled by a rolling sidewalk. He was associated with the construction and operation of this rolling sidewalk, which was very popular at that time. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>I’ve heard of that. Was there also a floating sidewalk on water?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I’ve heard of that. Was there also a floating sidewalk on water? </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>No, no. It was all on the earth, I believe. Then he founded a company on electrical equipment, especially for home electrical equipment, which was in full development at that time. They manufactured and sold all the low-power electrical equipment, including lighting systems, electrical lamps, and so on. This was operating until shortly before the 1940s. All of his life he was in charge of this company. He founded it, with some other friends. So, I became interested in electrical engineering when I was very, very young. I got books on electricity, even when I was seven or eight years old. <br>
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>
+
<p>No, no. It was all on the earth, I believe. Then he founded a company on electrical equipment, especially for home electrical equipment, which was in full development at that time. They manufactured and sold all the low-power electrical equipment, including lighting systems, electrical lamps, and so on. This was operating until shortly before the 1940s. All of his life he was in charge of this company. He founded it, with some other friends. So, I became interested in electrical engineering when I was very, very young. I got books on electricity, even when I was seven or eight years old. </p>
  
=== Amateur radio; École Centrale<br> ===
+
=== Amateur radio; École Centrale ===
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
And I started being interested in radio very, very early also, I think when I was ten or twelve. I was born in 1909. Six years later it was 1915, and I think I then started receiving telegraph coded radio during World War I, receiving with a galena receiver. Do you know what a galena receiver is? The radio waves at this time were made by spark-- there were no vacuum tubes at this time. Some of the biggest spark transmitters used the Eiffel Tower as a mast for long wires. The founder of radio in France and in the French army was a man who is well known in the communication part of the American army. There are a lot of people associated with radio communication in the American army, and the museums always have equipment and information about General Ferrie. General Ferrie was the head of military radio communications in France. And, by the way, there is an association of veterans in radio and electronics which is very active in Paris, and I’m a member of the executive office of this association. Before vacuum tubes were invented by Lee DeForest, I think that’s about in the early 1920s, just after the First World War, radio waves were detected and made useful with lead sulfide. A natural, crystalline lead sulfide which is called galena. You have never heard of that?<br>  
+
<p><flashmp3>293 - lehmann - clip 1.mp3</flashmp3></p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And I started being interested in [[Radio|radio]] very, very early also, I think when I was ten or twelve. I was born in 1909. Six years later it was 1915, and I think I then started receiving [[Telegraph|telegraph]] coded radio during World War I, receiving with a galena receiver. Do you know what a galena receiver is? The radio waves at this time were made by [[Spark Transmitter|spark]]-- there were no [[Electron (or Vacuum) Tubes|vacuum tubes]] at this time. Some of the biggest spark transmitters used the Eiffel Tower as a mast for long wires. The founder of radio in France and in the French army was a man who is well known in the communication part of the American army. There are a lot of people associated with radio communication in the American army, and the museums always have equipment and information about [[Gustave-Auguste Ferrie|General Ferrie]]. General Ferrie was the head of military radio communications in France. And, by the way, there is an association of veterans in radio and electronics which is very active in Paris, and I’m a member of the executive office of this association. Before vacuum tubes were invented by [[Lee De Forest|Lee DeForest]], I think that’s about in the early 1920s, just after the First World War, radio waves were detected and made useful with lead sulfide. A natural, crystalline lead sulfide which is called galena. You have never heard of that? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>I’ve never heard of the word galena.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I’ve never heard of the word galena. </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>So, the radio receiver of this time included coils and condensers and galena, that is lead sulfide. That is the first type of solid-state; it is the ancestor of all of the solid-state rectifiers. It is a rectifier with a piece of sulfide lead about that size, with a sharp needle going on the surface, and by searching one found a good point for rectification, on earphones. I started receiving radio signals with this type of equipment when I was around ten or twelve. In 1921, I received in my home outside Paris the very first transmission on phone, on radio-phone, hearing voice or music, which came also from the Eiffel Tower. Then, I finished my secondary study. I won, I think one or two times, the first prize in physics in high school. Each time the professors really knew that I was interested in that field. When you get a prize in high school, you get a book as a reward, and I always got books on radio. So, I learned radio from these books, and I learned in class. Then I went in 1928 to one of the biggest and first engineering schools in France, which is called École Centrale, where I learned general subjects, but specialized in electricity. Even before I went to this school I became a radio amateur. Do you know what is a radio amateur?<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So, the radio receiver of this time included coils and condensers and galena, that is lead sulfide. That is the first type of solid-state; it is the ancestor of all of the solid-state rectifiers. It is a rectifier with a piece of sulfide lead about that size, with a sharp needle going on the surface, and by searching one found a good point for rectification, on earphones. I started receiving radio signals with this type of equipment when I was around ten or twelve. In 1921, I received in my home outside Paris the very first transmission on phone, on radio-phone, hearing voice or music, which came also from the Eiffel Tower. Then, I finished my secondary study. I won, I think one or two times, the first prize in physics in high school. Each time the professors really knew that I was interested in that field. When you get a prize in high school, you get a book as a reward, and I always got books on radio. So, I learned radio from these books, and I learned in class. Then I went in 1928 to one of the biggest and first engineering schools in France, which is called École Centrale, where I learned general subjects, but specialized in electricity. Even before I went to this school I became a [[Amateur Radio|radio amateur]]. Do you know what is a radio amateur? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Someone who tries to pick up the...<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Someone who tries to pick up the... </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>I had a transmitter myself. I had a radio transmitter in my home that was short-wave and at this time, the long distance range of short-wave, the decametric wave, was discovered by radio amateurs because the conventional physicists did not believe they could go much beyond the horizon. Due to the ionospheric, reflective layer, they covered all of the world. From my home, I could contact and speak by telephone with people all around the world, including China. I also had contact with Russian physicists in Asia by these radio communications from my own room. On the door of my room was posted an official sign from Électricité de France, “Do not touch any wire; it’s dangerous.” So, when I came into École Centrale, I contributed to the construction of a more powerful radio amateur transmitter. I learned all my information on radio by myself because there were no teachings of any sort on that field. I learned it. I made a creation, I calculated the operation of antennae, of long distance wiring; all of that I did myself.
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I had a transmitter myself. I had a radio transmitter in my home that was short-wave and at this time, the long distance range of short-wave, the decametric wave, was discovered by radio amateurs because the conventional physicists did not believe they could go much beyond the horizon. Due to the ionospheric, reflective layer, they covered all of the world. From my home, I could contact and speak by telephone with people all around the world, including China. I also had contact with Russian physicists in Asia by these radio communications from my own room. On the door of my room was posted an official sign from Électricité de France, “Do not touch any wire; it’s dangerous.” So, when I came into École Centrale, I contributed to the construction of a more powerful radio amateur transmitter. I learned all my information on radio by myself because there were no teachings of any sort on that field. I learned it. I made a creation, I calculated the operation of antennae, of long distance wiring; all of that I did myself. </p>
  
<br>Very soon after I was graduated from École Centrale, I was appointed teacher of the first classes on radio, and I taught radio and electronics at École Centrale for years and years. Also, more recently, at École Supérieure d'Électricité, which is, if you wish, the MIT of electronics in France. I’ve been a teacher there too. So, that’s how I picked up my interest and knowledge in that field. <br>
+
<p>Very soon after I was graduated from École Centrale, I was appointed teacher of the first classes on radio, and I taught radio and electronics at École Centrale for years and years. Also, more recently, at École Supérieure d'Électricité, which is, if you wish, the MIT of electronics in France. I’ve been a teacher there too. So, that’s how I picked up my interest and knowledge in that field. </p>
  
 +
=== Engineering career  ===
  
 +
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
=== Engineering career<br> ===
+
<p>After the war was over, since I had an education in the mechanics and theory of electricity, I realized very quickly that electronics would become very active in industry and equipment by servo-mechanics. Do you know what servo-mechanics is? </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
After the war was over, since I had an education in the mechanics and theory of electricity, I realized very quickly that electronics would become very active in industry and equipment by servo-mechanics. Do you know what servo-mechanics is?<br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>Therefore, I visualized a pioneering fashion, the association of electronics with mechanics and electricity. That is, electronics driving motors and driving machines. At this time I was with ITT; I can tell you later about my professional career. I was associated with the Paris laboratory of ITT, and in an agreement with ITT, I founded a company building electronics, mechanical equipment, servo-mechanic driving motors, and the like. That company grew, until it was bought by the French Compagnie Générale d’Électricité, which has changed names recently. Now its name is Alcatel-Alsthom. I became Chief Scientist of Alcatel-Alsthom, and I ended my career as Chief Scientist next to the president of the company, helping him on all technological and scientific problems. He was rather on the financial and managing side of it. That’s until I retired from my engineering career in 1975. I am now 87 and I did a lot of things since I retired, but not specifically in the electrical field. You see that my main interest has been the electronic field, and it enlarged to the general electrical industry and electrical field after the Second World War. Then when I was with Alcatel-Alsthom, I had to work with the whole field of electricity and electronics. I was associated with research on the TGV. You know TGV? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Therefore, I visualized a pioneering fashion, the association of electronics with mechanics and electricity. That is, electronics driving motors and driving machines. At this time I was with ITT; I can tell you later about my professional career. I was associated with the Paris laboratory of ITT, and in an agreement with ITT, I founded a company building electronics, mechanical equipment, servo-mechanic driving motors, and the like. That company grew, until it was bought by the French Compagnie Générale d’Électricité, which has changed names recently. Now its name is Alcatel-Alsthom. I became Chief Scientist of Alcatel-Alsthom, and I ended my career as Chief Scientist next to the president of the company, helping him on all technological and scientific problems. He was rather on the financial and managing side of it. That’s until I retired from my engineering career in 1975. I am now 87 and I did a lot of things since I retired, but not specifically in the electrical field. You see that my main interest has been the electronic field, and it enlarged to the general electrical industry and electrical field after the Second World War. Then when I was with Alcatel-Alsthom, I had to work with the whole field of electricity and electronics. I was associated with research on the TGV. You know TGV?<br>  
+
<p>Oh yes. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Oh yes.<br>  
+
<p><flashmp3>293 - lehmann - clip 2.mp3</flashmp3></p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>The TGV is based on many quite novel things in technology. First, France I think was one of the first countries to feed the locomotive with normal industrial current, 50 Hz current. Before it was fed on DC, and in America it was fed on a 25 Hz cycle, and I don’t know if it’s not the still the main feeding for electric locomotives in the States. I think in the 1960s, we fed all our railroads with normal 50 cycle volts. That’s high voltage; that’s 25,000 volts on the overhead wires. So the current is not so high because it’s 25,000 volts and it was possible to draw a much larger power from the head-line due to that. Then it was also necessary to study the return of 50 cycle AC by the rail and by the ground, which was completely unknown at that time. All of that was made mainly by the French National Railroad. At Alsthom, we studied a completely new type of suspension of the car, the spring system of the car, so that they can run at much higher speeds without oscillation and resonance. At this time, between 60 and 80, this type of train broke, and it is still valid. The world record on train speed is 525 km/hr, which is quite fast. That gave birth to the TGV. There was a lot of proposals for building other types of rapid train, by air suspension or magnetic suspension, and for many reasons which I’m willing to discuss with you, I always told the president of the company that all of them would have difficulties and would not succeed, and that high speeds on rails was the proper solution. And it was. </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br> The TGV is based on many quite novel things in technology. First, France I think was one of the first countries to feed the locomotive with normal industrial current, 50 Hz current. Before it was fed on DC, and in America it was fed on a 25 Hz cycle, and I don’t know if it’s not the still the main feeding for electric locomotives in the States. I think in the 1960s, we fed all our railroads with normal 50 cycle volts. That’s high voltage; that’s 25,000 volts on the overhead wires. So the current is not so high because it’s 25,000 volts and it was possible to draw a much larger power from the head-line due to that. Then it was also necessary to study the return of 50 cycle AC by the rail and by the ground, which was completely unknown at that time. All of that was made mainly by the French National Railroad. At Alsthom, we studied a completely new type of suspension of the car, the spring system of the car, so that they can run at much higher speeds without oscillation and resonance. At this time, between 60 and 80, this type of train broke, and it is still valid. The world record on train speed is 525 km/hr, which is quite fast. That gave birth to the TGV. There was a lot of proposals for building other types of rapid train, by air suspension or magnetic suspension, and for many reasons which I’m willing to discuss with you, I always told the president of the company that all of them would have difficulties and would not succeed, and that high speeds on rails was the proper solution. And it was.  
+
<p>At this time, on the other hand I knew the American electrical engineering situation quite well, because I spent several years with ITT in the States, in New York. So I know the people; that’s where I picked up my bad English. I’m still friends with some of the engineers of that time, in the 1940s. Still good friends, and one of them is in Paris and came to my home last week, after fifty years. That’s a good friendship, fifty years. At this time, you know, in the States there were about 2000 utilities. All of them were supported; all of them had their own factory, their own transmission line. There were 2000 independent manufacturers and commercial dealers of electrical power. At this time, I thought that the economical push for connecting those utilities together would soon become a reality because there are differences of peak hours, differences of habits, differences of types of consumption, and having connections between the various utilities was a source of financial economy. I was one of the first ones and the only one in France at this time to foresee that America would become a buyer of high-voltage long distance electrical transmission lines. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>At this time, on the other hand I knew the American electrical engineering situation quite well, because I spent several years with ITT in the States, in New York. So I know the people; that’s where I picked up my bad English. I’m still friends with some of the engineers of that time, in the 1940s. Still good friends, and one of them is in Paris and came to my home last week, after fifty years. That’s a good friendship, fifty years. At this time, you know, in the States there were about 2000 utilities. All of them were supported; all of them had their own factory, their own transmission line. There were 2000 independent manufacturers and commercial dealers of electrical power. At this time, I thought that the economical push for connecting those utilities together would soon become a reality because there are differences of peak hours, differences of habits, differences of types of consumption, and having connections between the various utilities was a source of financial economy. I was one of the first ones and the only one in France at this time to foresee that America would become a buyer of high-voltage long distance electrical transmission lines.<br>  
+
<p>I see. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>I see.<br>  
+
<p>Alsthom was building and developing this type of equipment in Europe, and we were the leading European manufacturer of this type of equipment. Transformers, insulators, circuit breakers and the lines. We were building equipment up to 450 kilovolts, and a little later, to 750 kilovolts. We sold this type of equipment all over the world, including Russia. But none was used in America at this time. So I took all of the people associated with this type of technology, and I toured most electrical utilities in America to show them that when they were needed, we had the equipment ready to install, and that time came actually. We made a very large business in America and we built factories in America to franchise them in America and Canada. By the way, Alcatel-Alsthom is one of the few European companies which is about the size of [[General Electric (GE)|General Electric]]. We were at the peak of our activity at about 200,000 people, so it was a very big company. I very often went to America, as the company's chief scientist, to help the commercial people explain what they made, and make connections between the American engineers who realized that long distance was a good choice, and those of us who were manufacturing this type of equipment. From this time, in the 1960s, I became as much associated with electrical engineering as with radio and electronics, and at this time I decided to leave electronics and radio to the newer people, and concentrate on high power electricity and mechanics, which much fewer people were mastering. That’s in a few words, the answer to your question. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Breguet employment  ===
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Alsthom was building and developing this type of equipment in Europe, and we were the leading European manufacturer of this type of equipment. Transformers, insulators, circuit breakers and the lines. We were building equipment up to 450 kilovolts, and a little later, to 750 kilovolts. We sold this type of equipment all over the world, including Russia. But none was used in America at this time. So I took all of the people associated with this type of technology, and I toured most electrical utilities in America to show them that when they were needed, we had the equipment ready to install, and that time came actually. We made a very large business in America and we built factories in America to franchise them in America and Canada. By the way, Alcatel-Alsthom is one of the few European companies which is about the size of General Electric. We were at the peak of our activity at about 200,000 people, so it was a very big company. I very often went to America, as the company's chief scientist, to help the commercial people explain what they made, and make connections between the American engineers who realized that long distance was a good choice, and those of us who were manufacturing this type of equipment. From this time, in the 1960s, I became as much associated with electrical engineering as with radio and electronics, and at this time I decided to leave electronics and radio to the newer people, and concentrate on high power electricity and mechanics, which much fewer people were mastering. That’s in a few words, the answer to your question. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
=== Breguet employment<br> ===
+
<p>How did you come to work for ITT in the first place? </p>
  
'''Abbate:''' <br>How did you come to work for ITT in the first place?<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Before the war, before the Second World War, I was associated with a company which was associated with one of the big manufacturers of airplanes, that is, Breguet. You have heard of the Breguet maybe. The Breguet family has been pioneering in technology since the middle of the 19th century. They first started as builders of high accuracy watches for navigation. The name of Breguet is still a well-known and active name in watch and chronometer manufacturing. And then in the early 1900s they started building airplanes. The Breguet company built most of the French airplane fighters in World War I. A few years after I graduated, I was introduced to them as being a radio engineer, which was partially true because they realized at this time that radio would become an important part of an airplane. They wanted to develop a company manufacturing radio equipment for airplanes and ground-associated vehicles. I was the chief engineer of this company, one of the Breguet brothers being the president. I built a fair part of the radio equipment for the French military aircraft that served in World War II. </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Before the war, before the Second World War, I was associated with a company which was associated with one of the big manufacturers of airplanes, that is, Breguet. You have heard of the Breguet maybe. The Breguet family has been pioneering in technology since the middle of the 19th century. They first started as builders of high accuracy watches for navigation. The name of Breguet is still a well-known and active name in watch and chronometer manufacturing. And then in the early 1900s they started building airplanes. The Breguet company built most of the French airplane fighters in World War I. A few years after I graduated, I was introduced to them as being a radio engineer, which was partially true because they realized at this time that radio would become an important part of an airplane. They wanted to develop a company manufacturing radio equipment for airplanes and ground-associated vehicles. I was the chief engineer of this company, one of the Breguet brothers being the president. I built a fair part of the radio equipment for the French military aircraft that served in World War II. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Really? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Really?<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>The reason was very simple. I’d been working very actively as a radio amateur. As a radio amateur, I started developing metric wavelength equipment, that is working in the 2 to 10 meters wavelength. That is the wavelength now used for [[FM Radio|FM]] and television, which was quite new at this time. It was demonstrated that those waves were very convenient for fighter planes because they had about the same range that the fighter (had), they were light and they could convey radio telephones, which was necessary for a fighter. There is no radio operator on a fighter; they were single-pilot planes. So I built part of the airplane equipment and almost all of the ground equipment corresponding with those equipments, and I invented at this time the first direction finding equipment for those waves, which gave the possibility of radio navigation to the fighter who had no way of navigating other than looking at the ground. So I was very well-known and popular at that time. Some people still remember me as the one who invented the short wave direction finder. </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>The reason was very simple. I’d been working very actively as a radio amateur. As a radio amateur, I started developing metric wavelength equipment, that is working in the 2 to 10 meters wavelength. That is the wavelength now used for FM and television, which was quite new at this time. It was demonstrated that those waves were very convenient for fighter planes because they had about the same range that the fighter (had), they were light and they could convey radio telephones, which was necessary for a fighter. There is no radio operator on a fighter; they were single-pilot planes. So I built part of the airplane equipment and almost all of the ground equipment corresponding with those equipments, and I invented at this time the first direction finding equipment for those waves, which gave the possibility of radio navigation to the fighter who had no way of navigating other than looking at the ground. So I was very well-known and popular at that time. Some people still remember me as the one who invented the short wave direction finder.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So all of the planes had this direction finder? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So all of the planes had this direction finder?<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No, the direction finder was at this time on the ground. They were finding the direction where the plane was. There was only radio reception on the plane, but when the pilot spoke, the ground could find out what direction he was, and with three ground stations, one could pinpoint where he was, and tell him, which was extremely helpful from the military point-of-view. So that was a great success. In 1938, my company was in the Breguet industrial group, and was very active in metric waves. I started developing radar on these waves. We built all of the French radar equipment, which was not very much equipment in 1939. But there was already working equipment in the army with rather long distances on radar at this time. I developed those equipments, because I was well-equipped for the type of wave which could be used on those radars. The first American radar was also using these wavelengths before they used the 10 cm wavelength. Then the war broke open, and France lost the war against the Germans and the Germans started occupying France. Since I am a Jew, I did not want to go to Paris with the Germans there. The head of the military armies, the director of the research service of the French army, decided that all of the radar engineers should be brought together in Lyon in the Unoccupied Zone and have there a small laboratory where all the well informed people could still be active, outside of the view of the Germans. I was the chief engineer of these laboratories, and that’s what I did. </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>No, the direction finder was at this time on the ground. They were finding the direction where the plane was. There was only radio reception on the plane, but when the pilot spoke, the ground could find out what direction he was, and with three ground stations, one could pinpoint where he was, and tell him, which was extremely helpful from the military point-of-view. So that was a great success. In 1938, my company was in the Breguet industrial group, and was very active in metric waves. I started developing radar on these waves. We built all of the French radar equipment, which was not very much equipment in 1939. But there was already working equipment in the army with rather long distances on radar at this time. I developed those equipments, because I was well-equipped for the type of wave which could be used on those radars. The first American radar was also using these wavelengths before they used the 10 cm wavelength. Then the war broke open, and France lost the war against the Germans and the Germans started occupying France. Since I am a Jew, I did not want to go to Paris with the Germans there. The head of the military armies, the director of the research service of the French army, decided that all of the radar engineers should be brought together in Lyon in the Unoccupied Zone and have there a small laboratory where all the well informed people could still be active, outside of the view of the Germans. I was the chief engineer of these laboratories, and that’s what I did.
+
=== ITT employment  ===
  
 +
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
 +
<p>When the Germans invaded the South of France in 1942, I received a written order to go to the States and join ITT where a group of French engineers were already working. That’s the group of Deloraine. I crossed the Pyrenees mountains by foot. And finally, in early 1943, I joined... </p>
  
=== ITT employment ===
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''
+
<p>You crossed the Pyrenees? </p>
  
When the Germans invaded the South of France in 1942, I received a written order to go to the States and join ITT where a group of French engineers were already working. That’s the group of Deloraine. I crossed the Pyrenees mountains by foot. And finally, in early 1943, I joined...<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' I crossed the Pyrenees by foot and after various adventures, including some jail in Spain, I joined ITT in New York. And I joined the Deloraine Group. Deloraine is dead now. He is very famous in Europe and in France because he invented the numerical time division of telephone. You know what telephone is now doing? It’s digital. Deloraine and his people completely invented in France a digital telephone system. See; that is a post office telephone card, and they put a picture of Deloraine on these very official cards. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>You crossed the Pyrenees?<br>  
+
<p>So in 1945, fundamentals of time division... </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>I crossed the Pyrenees by foot and after various adventures, including some jail in Spain, I joined ITT in New York. And I joined the Deloraine Group. Deloraine is dead now. He is very famous in Europe and in France because he invented the numerical time division of telephone. You know what telephone is now doing? It’s digital. Deloraine and his people completely invented in France a digital telephone system. See; that is a post office telephone card, and they put a picture of Deloraine on these very official cards.<br>  
+
<p>He made the fundamental pattern of electronic switching in 1945, which has been holding for 25 years or more. This group was... </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So in 1945, fundamentals of time division...<br>  
+
<p>So he was with ITT? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>He made the fundamental pattern of electronic switching in 1945, which has been holding for 25 years or more. This group was...<br>  
+
<p>He was with ITT. Deloraine was the head of the Paris laboratory of ITT, which was a very big laboratory, about a thousand people. I was not with them at that time, but they invented for the French navy an instant direction finder in order to find out the positions of the German submarines. The German submarines thought they were completely undetectable because they used magnetic recording. They recorded their messages at normal speed and they sent them to Germany at a very high speed, so that any message from a German submarine lasted less than one second. With a normal type of direction finder, you cannot find the direction in one second. So Deloraine and a few engineers in his group invented an instantaneous direction finder which made it possible to find out the positions of German submarines. In 1940, the French officials told them, “You take the plan of this equipment, and you go to New York with Colonel Behnes, and you put this equipment at the disposal of the American navy.” The American navy first wouldn’t believe it was true. But since it was ITT, they bought a testing ground. They built equipment according to the plans which they had with themselves. In one month, they could demonstrate to the American navy that they were showing the positions of German submarines. So hundreds of these equipments were built, and you know that in 1942 the German submarines were sinking more ships than the Americans could build. The war would have been lost if this situation had progressed, because no equipment could reach England. At this time, hundreds of ITT direction finders, invented by Deloraine and his group, were put into operation and in a few months, most of the German submarines were sunk. They were credited with winning the Atlantic war. They got high distinctions, the medal of the President of the United States and all that, because they made a gigantic step in winning the war with radio, with direction finders. The Germans never heard a word about that, and they never found out how their submarines could be located. In the memory book of the admiral in charge of the submarine fleet, he said, “There must have been a traitor in our headquarters who sent the positions of our submarines to the Americans, but we never found him.</p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>In 1943, I joined this group, and I worked with Deloraine. I worked in jamming radar. I specialized in this, in jamming the German radar. When the war was over Colonel Behnes gave me the choice of remaining in America or coming to Paris. I told him, “You make the choice. Whatever it is, it will be good.” And he said, ”Then you’ll return to Paris.” So I returned to Paris at the ITT laboratory, and started work a few months later on servo-mechanics, which finally took me to Alcatel-Alsthom. But all that was in good friendship with ITT, and I still remain friends with all the ITT people. At the very end of the story, it is that the Alcatel telephone manufacturing company became powerful and rich. Colonel Behnes died. The telephone companies of ITT in Europe were sold to Alcatel, and all my former colleagues came to my company and now I’m good friends with them in our retired association. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So he was with ITT?<br>
+
=== Servo-mechanics and radar  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>He was with ITT. Deloraine was the head of the Paris laboratory of ITT, which was a very big laboratory, about a thousand people. I was not with them at that time, but they invented for the French navy an instant direction finder in order to find out the positions of the German submarines. The German submarines thought they were completely undetectable because they used magnetic recording. They recorded their messages at normal speed and they sent them to Germany at a very high speed, so that any message from a German submarine lasted less than one second. With a normal type of direction finder, you cannot find the direction in one second. So Deloraine and a few engineers in his group invented an instantaneous direction finder which made it possible to find out the positions of German submarines. In 1940, the French officials told them, “You take the plan of this equipment, and you go to New York with Colonel Behnes, and you put this equipment at the disposal of the American navy.” The American navy first wouldn’t believe it was true. But since it was ITT, they bought a testing ground. They built equipment according to the plans which they had with themselves. In one month, they could demonstrate to the American navy that they were showing the positions of German submarines. So hundreds of these equipments were built, and you know that in 1942 the German submarines were sinking more ships than the Americans could build. The war would have been lost if this situation had progressed, because no equipment could reach England. At this time, hundreds of ITT direction finders, invented by Deloraine and his group, were put into operation and in a few months, most of the German submarines were sunk. They were credited with winning the Atlantic war. They got high distinctions, the medal of the President of the United States and all that, because they made a gigantic step in winning the war with radio, with direction finders. The Germans never heard a word about that, and they never found out how their submarines could be located. In the memory book of the admiral in charge of the submarine fleet, he said, “There must have been a traitor in our headquarters who sent the positions of our submarines to the Americans, but we never found him.” <br>  
+
<p>So you all joined together at the end. How did you get interested in the servo-mechanisms after you had been doing radar? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
In 1943, I joined this group, and I worked with Deloraine. I worked in jamming radar. I specialized in this, in jamming the German radar. When the war was over Colonel Behnes gave me the choice of remaining in America or coming to Paris. I told him, “You make the choice. Whatever it is, it will be good.” And he said, ”Then you’ll return to Paris.” So I returned to Paris at the ITT laboratory, and started work a few months later on servo-mechanics, which finally took me to Alcatel-Alsthom. But all that was in good friendship with ITT, and I still remain friends with all the ITT people. At the very end of the story, it is that the Alcatel telephone manufacturing company became powerful and rich. Colonel Behnes died. The telephone companies of ITT in Europe were sold to Alcatel, and all my former colleagues came to my company and now I’m good friends with them in our retired association.<br>  
+
<p>Because, I was educated very completely as a mechanical engineer. I was good in mechanical technology and also I became good in electricity and electronics. Since I always understood that the great things came from fields which were foreign to each other, in the 1950s I realized that joining mechanics and electronics would become an important part of industrial activity. There was more of accordance from that by the development in the States of the first radar with automatic direction finding for planes. I think that was SCR 584, if my memory is good. The antenna of this radar was moved by several machinations, receiving the signal from the radar, and they were automatically following the plane in the air. That was one of the first demonstrations of what servo-mechanics with electronic drive could do. Since I was good in mechanics and good in electronics I naturally decided that I would be one of the few people who started in this direction. And it was right. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Société des Servomécanismes Électroniques (SME)  ===
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So you all joined together at the end. How did you get interested in the servo-mechanisms after you had been doing radar?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>You were doing this for ITT? </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Because, I was educated very completely as a mechanical engineer. I was good in mechanical technology and also I became good in electricity and electronics. Since I always understood that the great things came from fields which were foreign to each other, in the 1950s I realized that joining mechanics and electronics would become an important part of industrial activity. There was more of accordance from that by the development in the States of the first radar with automatic direction finding for planes. I think that was SCR 584, if my memory is good. The antenna of this radar was moved by several machinations, receiving the signal from the radar, and they were automatically following the plane in the air. That was one of the first demonstrations of what servo-mechanics with electronic drive could do. Since I was good in mechanics and good in electronics I naturally decided that I would be one of the few people who started in this direction. And it was right.<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. I started doing this with ITT, in the Paris laboratory. But then I understood that money should be put in this field, that there should be a financial investment in that field which was completely new for ITT. The ITT presidents at that time were other people with a more narrow view and they said, “Well, we don’t want to compete with General Electric and Westinghouse. So if you, Lehmann, want to build a company on that field, we are ready to give you all the patent licenses from our research that you will need, but we won’t give you money. Do it yourself.” So, I finally built up a company with some manufacturers of electrical equipment. I still worked half the time at ITT, until this company grew and needed much more money, which ITT didn’t want to give. That’s how I joined Alcatel-Alsthom. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>You were doing this for ITT?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>What was the name of your company? </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Yes. I started doing this with ITT, in the Paris laboratory. But then I understood that money should be put in this field, that there should be a financial investment in that field which was completely new for ITT. The ITT presidents at that time were other people with a more narrow view and they said, “Well, we don’t want to compete with General Electric and Westinghouse. So if you, Lehmann, want to build a company on that field, we are ready to give you all the patent licenses from our research that you will need, but we won’t give you money. Do it yourself.” So, I finally built up a company with some manufacturers of electrical equipment. I still worked half the time at ITT, until this company grew and needed much more money, which ITT didn’t want to give. That’s how I joined Alcatel-Alsthom.<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>S.M.E. Société des Servomécanismes Électroniques. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>What was the name of your company?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Did you have customers for your inventions? </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>S.M.E. Societé des servomechanismes Electroniques.<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Oh, yes. It was a time when every field of mechanics in the civilian industry, or in the French Army or Navy, discovered that. I taught that field at a higher school of the Army. I was well known having specialized in that, and I got large orders from the Navy. The automatic driving of guns and torpedoes and all that, and the other side for the industry machinery. So it grew quite rapidly, and the smaller people who were members of this corporation had not the necessary money to do it, and Alcatel-Alsthom bought the whole company. Bought the whole thing. At this time, I was called by the president to become Chief Scientist of the company and in the headquarters, which was very nice. We built a lab here which is called the Marcoussis Laboratory, which is still in activity today, and which is about 1000 people, but not far from Paris. They’ve worked on the semi-conductor, they built a part of the long distance telephone submarine cables, and all of that. I was not associated with that. I was advising the president when he had to make a choice on his investment. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Did you have customers for your inventions?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>What kind of advice did you give him? </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Oh, yes. It was a time when every field of mechanics in the civilian industry, or in the French Army or Navy, discovered that. I taught that field at a higher school of the Army. I was well known having specialized in that, and I got large orders from the Navy. The automatic driving of guns and torpedoes and all that, and the other side for the industry machinery. So it grew quite rapidly, and the smaller people who were members of this corporation had not the necessary money to do it, and Alcatel-Alsthom bought the whole company. Bought the whole thing. At this time, I was called by the president to become Chief Scientist of the company and in the headquarters, which was very nice. We built a lab here which is called the Marcoussis Laboratory, which is still in activity today, and which is about 1000 people, but not far from Paris. They’ve worked on the semi-conductor, they built a part of the long distance telephone submarine cables, and all of that. I was not associated with that. I was advising the president when he had to make a choice on his investment.<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Not to go into the air or magnetic train, but to concentrate on the electric train, and that’s proved to be good advice. We had a very large and very well-equipped manufacturer of ceramics; we had a large group of manufacturers in that industry or group, because ceramics are very important in insulators. So we had a factory which was specializing in ceramics and high technology ceramics. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>What kind of advice did you give him?<br>  
+
<p>[End of tape one, side one] </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Not to go into the air or magnetic train, but to concentrate on the electric train, and that’s proved to be good advice. We had a very large and very well-equipped manufacturer of ceramics; we had a large group of manufacturers in that industry or group, because ceramics are very important in insulators. So we had a factory which was specializing in ceramics and high technology ceramics.  
+
<p>I also advised the company to go into the field of uranium enrichment for electrical-atomic factories and atomic bombs. The group was one of the manufacturers of the French uranium enrichment plant. The people in the ceramics were very good, and they developed a part of the barrier which is necessary to separate the various isotopes of uranium. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So you used ceramic barriers. Which method? Was this a gas separation method? </p>
  
[End of tape one, side one]
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, it was. Uranium-fluoride gas. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:''' <br>I also advised the company to go into the field of uranium enrichment for electrical-atomic factories and atomic bombs. The group was one of the manufacturers of the French uranium enrichment plant. The people in the ceramics were very good, and they developed a part of the barrier which is necessary to separate the various isotopes of uranium. <br>  
+
<p>I see. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So you used ceramic barriers. Which method? Was this a gas separation method?<br>  
+
<p>I will tell you about a funny bit of advice I gave. Once we were asked to build a rather long high-voltage transmission line in Africa, going from Mozambique to the Cape of Good Hope. So we were asked to bid for these very long lines, 2,000 kilometers. The president asked me, “I received advice to build it on high voltage DC, and other people in our factories said, ‘No, we should do it in high voltage AC.’ What advice do you give me?” So I started looking at the problem, and I told him, “Use DC. The main reason is that, with either DC or AC, the same amount of copper will be needed. There is no difference in price concerning the copper to be bought. But an AC line has three wires, and it’s rather complicated to build a pylon for three wires. You have one on top, and two on the side, and you have three insulators. If you work on DC, a rather good cross will do the job because there is a pylon, one cross and two wires and two insulators hanging from the cross. So you make a large financial economy on the line. And then you must pay for the conversion equipment from AC to DC and back to AC. The price of this converting equipment is fixed. The economy of the line depends on the length of the line. It’s not worth doing that for short line, but for a long line, you have a bid much cheaper than the AC people.” </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Here is another piece of advice I gave, on a field which you know. I was several times asked whether we should put a large investment into the electrical automobile, because we were manufacturing only what was needed for electrical equipment. This company was and still is one of the largest manufacturers of batteries. Batteries will become a gigantic field if electrical automobiles succeed. So I told them, “I don’t believe electric automobiles will succeed for many decades.” I gave such and such precise reasons. But that’s okay; it hasn’t succeeded even now, and I gave this advice forty years ago. And I’m sorry it was true. </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Yes, it was. Uranium-fluoride gas. <br>
+
=== CGE, Alcatel-Alsthom  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>I see. <br>  
+
<p>Can you explain a bit what Alcatel-Alsthom or Compagnie Generale d’Electricite...it sounds like they were involved in many fields, making motors and batteries, high voltage equipment. What areas did they work in? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>I will tell you about a funny bit of advice I gave. Once we were asked to build a rather long high-voltage transmission line in Africa, going from Mozambique to the Cape of Good Hope. So we were asked to bid for these very long lines, 2,000 kilometers. The president asked me, “I received advice to build it on high voltage DC, and other people in our factories said, ‘No, we should do it in high voltage AC.’ What advice do you give me?” So I started looking at the problem, and I told him, “Use DC. The main reason is that, with either DC or AC, the same amount of copper will be needed. There is no difference in price concerning the copper to be bought. But an AC line has three wires, and it’s rather complicated to build a pylon for three wires. You have one on top, and two on the side, and you have three insulators. If you work on DC, a rather good cross will do the job because there is a pylon, one cross and two wires and two insulators hanging from the cross. So you make a large financial economy on the line. And then you must pay for the conversion equipment from AC to DC and back to AC. The price of this converting equipment is fixed. The economy of the line depends on the length of the line. It’s not worth doing that for short line, but for a long line, you have a bid much cheaper than the AC people.
+
<p>They have two main poles; that is why they are called Alcatel-Alsthom. Alcatel is the telephone and electric part of it, building telephonic switches, telephone cables and all the components associated with telephone, including now satellite equipment, because a lot of telephone goes by satellite. So that is a highly electronic side of this company, which has subsidiaries all over the world. For GEC/Alsthom, Alsthom has made an agreement with an electrical manufacturer in Britain, called the General Electric Company. And so there the name is GEC/Alsthom. They are manufacturing all the types of electronic equipment, including cranes, factories for making electricity, transmission lines, and all the equipment associated with electricity outside the house. So there are two main poles. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>Here is another piece of advice I gave, on a field which you know. I was several times asked whether we should put a large investment into the electrical automobile, because we were manufacturing only what was needed for electrical equipment. This company was and still is one of the largest manufacturers of batteries. Batteries will become a gigantic field if electrical automobiles succeed. So I told them, “I don’t believe electric automobiles will succeed for many decades.” I gave such and such precise reasons. But that’s okay; it hasn’t succeeded even now, and I gave this advice forty years ago. And I’m sorry it was true.<br>  
+
<p>So both power and communications... </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Can you explain a bit what Alcatel-Alsthom or Compagnie Generale d’Electricite...it sounds like they were involved in many fields, making motors and batteries, high voltage equipment. What areas did they work in?<br>  
+
<p>Power on one side, and telephone and electronics on the other side. There are altogether I think not far from 250,000 people. When they bought ITT, ITT had published since before the war a highly technological magazine on the telephone which was called Electrical Communication. There were a lot of fascinating articles in ''Electrical Communication'' since 1935. So Alcatel-Alsthom got this magazine at the same time, and now it’s published in French, English, German, Italian, Spanish and even Chinese. It’s still interesting. I published a lot of papers in this magazine, especially when I was at ITT, because it was an ITT magazine. Until two or three years ago, I got it in English. . So I was receiving the English edition, which got my English at some level. But two or three years ago, they wrote me and said, “Well, now you are long retired, and moreover you are French. Do you still want this magazine and moreover do you still want it in English?” “Yes,” I told them, “I want it. And if you look at the longtime back issues you will find my name on the list of authors.” So I think they decided to keep me on the list but now send it to me in French. Now I give some of these books to some of my grandsons who are becoming active in electronics too, naturally. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Children and grandchildren  ===
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>They have two main poles; that is why they are called Alcatel-Alsthom. Alcatel is the telephone and electric part of it, building telephonic switches, telephone cables and all the components associated with telephone, including now satellite equipment, because a lot of telephone goes by satellite. So that is a highly electronic side of this company, which has subsidiaries all over the world. For GEC/Alsthom, Alsthom has made an agreement with an electrical manufacturer in Britain, called the General Electric Company. And so there the name is GEC/Alsthom. They are manufacturing all the types of electronic equipment, including cranes, factories for making electricity, transmission lines, and all the equipment associated with electricity outside the house. So there are two main poles.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Did your children become active in electronics as well? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So both power and communications...<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I have three children. I was speaking of my grandchildren, but I have three children. One woman who is a biologist like my own wife, and two sons who became engineers, one in electronics and the other a professor of physics at the Paris University. He joined the industry I think five, six years ago, and he has a very, very good career. Do you know the Saint Gobain company? Saint Gobain is a world-wide manufacturer of glass and cement and all of what is necessary to build a house. I think they have many thousand people at Saint Gobain all over the world. He’s director of research of the whole group, my second son. </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Power on one side, and telephone and electronics on the other side. There are altogether I think not far from 250,000 people. When they bought ITT, ITT had published since before the war a highly technological magazine on the telephone which was called Electrical Communication. There were a lot of fascinating articles in Electrical Communication since 1935. So Alcatel-Alsthom got this magazine at the same time, and now it’s published in French, English, German, Italian, Spanish and even Chinese. It’s still interesting. I published a lot of papers in this magazine, especially when I was at ITT, because it was an ITT magazine. Until two or three years ago, I got it in English. . So I was receiving the English edition, which got my English at some level. But two or three years ago, they wrote me and said, “Well, now you are long retired, and moreover you are French. Do you still want this magazine and moreover do you still want it in English?” “Yes,” I told them, “I want it. And if you look at the longtime back issues you will find my name on the list of authors.” So I think they decided to keep me on the list but now send it to me in French. Now I give some of these books to some of my grandsons who are becoming active in electronics too, naturally. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So you have four generations of electrical engineers? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Did your children become active in electronics as well?<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Two of my grandchildren now have children, so I am the great-grandfather of two young children. Those two young children were born to two of my grandchildren who are professional musicians. They are giving concerts in many places, and being professors of violin and piano and doing well. My musicians gave me my two first grand-grandchildren. </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>I have three children. I was speaking of my grandchildren, but I have three children. One woman who is a biologist like my own wife, and two sons who became engineers, one in electronics and the other a professor of physics at the Paris University. He joined the industry I think five, six years ago, and he has a very, very good career. Do you know the Saint Gobain company? Saint Gobain is a world-wide manufacturer of glass and cement and all of what is necessary to build a house. I think they have many thousand people at Saint Gobain all over the world. He’s director of research of the whole group, my second son. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Congratulations. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So you have four generations of electrical engineers?<br>
+
=== Professional societies  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Two of my grandchildren now have children, so I am the great-grandfather of two young children. Those two young children were born to two of my grandchildren who are professional musicians. They are giving concerts in many places, and being professors of violin and piano and doing well. My musicians gave me my two first grand-grandchildren.<br>  
+
<p>You mentioned a couple of societies you were active in. I wonder if you could explain what they were? There was the Société Française des Electroniciens et des Radioélectriciens... </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Congratulations. You mentioned a couple of societies you were active in. I wonder if you could explain what they were? There was the Societe Francaise des Electroniciens et Radioelectriciens...<br>  
+
<p>That’s a French IEEE. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>That’s a French IEEE.<br>  
+
<p>I see. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>I see. <br>  
+
<p>That’s the S.E.E. I was the president of that in 1957, before they joined electricity and electronics like in America; it’s a French IEEE. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>That’s the S.E.E. I was the president of that in 1957, before they joined electricity and electronics like in America; it’s a French IEEE.<br>  
+
<p>And the Societé des Ingénieurs et Scientifiques de France... </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>And the Societe des Ingenieurs et Scientifiques de France...<br>  
+
<p>That’s a general association of engineers and scientists in France. All types of technology united. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>That’s a general association of engineers and scientists in France. All types of technology united.<br>  
+
<p>What did you do in that Society? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>What did you do in that Society?<br>  
+
<p>It’s name is now Conseil National des Ingénieurs et Scientifiques de France. CNISF. It’s a little like the Association of Engineering Societies in America. There’s a National Engineering Association which covers the whole field. They’re about the same. Each has two main activities. One is building interconnections between the various technologies, giving basic information on electronics, biology, giving conferences. The other is taking care of engineering as a way of living, as a professional activity -- that is, relations with the government, insurance and the like. I was Chairman of this in 1957. I was Chairman of the Electronic Association in 1953 and of the Societé des Ingénieurs et Scientifiques de France in 1957. Long time ago. I had many friends in those societies; that’s why. Otherwise I would not have become the president or chairman. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>It’s name is now Conseil National des Ingenieurs et Scientifiques de France. CNISF. It’s a little like the Association of Engineering Societies in America. There’s a National Engineering Association which covers the whole field. They’re about the same. Each has two main activities. One is building interconnections between the various technologies, giving basic information on electronics, biology, giving conferences. The other is taking care of engineering as a way of living, as a professional activity -- that is, relations with the government, insurance and the like. I was Chairman of this in 1957. I was Chairman of the Electronic Association in 1953 and of the Societe des Ingenieurs et Scientifiques de France in 1957. Long time ago. I had many friends in those societies; that’s why. Otherwise I would not have become the president or chairman. <br>  
+
<p>I guess not. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Awards  ===
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>I guess not.<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And I also became at about this time, a [[IEEE Fellow Grade History|Fellow of the IEEE]], and now a Life Fellow. </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>And I also became at about this time, a Fellow of the IEEE, and now a Life Fellow. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Do you have other awards I don’t know about? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Do you have other awards I don’t know about?<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I got an award from the French Académie des Sciences. I’m an officer of the Légion d'Honeur. That’s the highest award in the French government for interesting activity. I’m also an officer of the Ordre National du Mérite, which is side-by-side with the Légion d'Honneur. There are several ranks and I am in the second one. And also I am Chevalier de Mérite Agricole. That is agricultural activity. So everybody asks me, ”What have you to do with agriculture?” Because my wife has been working all of her career in a research institution of agriculture as a biologist, and I helped them often in designing electronic equipment needed for their research, in the laboratory where she was working outside Paris. Everybody knew that I was an electronician and Alice's husband. When they had a problem in electronics they would call me and I would help them do the job. They gave me this distinction thinking rightfully that everybody would be surprised that I have it. I was very proud. </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>I got an award from the French Acadamie de Science . I’m an officer of the Legion d'Honeur. That’s the highest award in the French government for interesting activity. I’m also an officer of the Ordre National du Merite , which is side-by-side with the Legion d'Honneur There are several ranks and I am in the second one. And also I am Chevalier de Merite Agricole . That is agricultural activity. So everybody asks me, ”What have you to do with agriculture?” Because my wife has been working all of her career in a research institution of agriculture as a biologist, and I helped them often in designing electronic equipment needed for their research, in the laboratory where she was working outside Paris. Everybody knew that I was an electronician and Alice's husband. When they had a problem in electronics they would call me and I would help them do the job. They gave me this distinction thinking rightfully that everybody would be surprised that I have it. I was very proud. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s good. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>That’s good.<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I think that’s great. You did ask me for that... </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>I think that’s great. You did ask me for that...<br>
+
=== Electronics and medicine  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Yes, that was very interesting. You said at one point that you thought the most interesting areas were where two different fields were put together, like the mechanics and the electronics. Could you say a little more about that? Were there other areas where you found that to be true?<br>  
+
<p>Yes, that was very interesting. You said at one point that you thought the most interesting areas were where two different fields were put together, like the mechanics and the electronics. Could you say a little more about that? Were there other areas where you found that to be true? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Other areas other than mechanical and electricity, you mean? Can I give you examples of other areas where it was useful?<br>  
+
<p>Other areas other than mechanical and electricity, you mean? Can I give you examples of other areas where it was useful? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Of course, of course. Early after the Second World War, the association of electronics and medicine and medical and surgical activities began. You know that a lot of medical equipments now are electronic: scanners, and the artificial heart...but there is a lot of equipment of electronic nature in the field of medicine and hospitals. At that time, about forty-five years ago, the physician had absolutely no idea of what the industry was. One physician would develop an electronic equipment. He gave it its name and no other physician would buy it because it was an equipment for this particular physician. The industry would not make an industrial development of an equipment, because they knew only one would be sold.  
+
<p>Of course, of course. Early after the Second World War, the association of electronics and medicine and medical and surgical activities began. You know that a lot of medical equipments now are electronic: scanners, and the [[Artificial Heart|artificial heart]]...but there is a lot of equipment of electronic nature in the field of medicine and hospitals. At that time, about forty-five years ago, the physician had absolutely no idea of what the industry was. One physician would develop an electronic equipment. He gave it its name and no other physician would buy it because it was an equipment for this particular physician. The industry would not make an industrial development of an equipment, because they knew only one would be sold. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So the Association of Medical Research, which is a big association collecting funds for medical research, came to the president of Alcatel-Alsthom when he was coming back from America. They told him, “You should give us so-many million francs for medical research. See what the American industry gives to their research associations.” The president answered, “Yes, but it is completely different. The American government wants to develop research and industry, and all the expenses made for research and industry are tax-free from the financial reserves And in France, they are not. They are under the fiscal benefits. So I cannot take such a sum from the pockets of my stockholders. I can only give you something much smaller. But I can offer you something of great value. That is the free part-time cooperation of our chief scientist, who is interested in biology and medicine, and who might help you in solving your industrial problems.” </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So I built up, under the French Ministry of Research, of industry engineers, and of physicians. I have many good relations with physicians. I brought them together, and we built programs. We built programs with a physician agreeing that if the program succeeds, it will not be called the program of “Dr. So-and-so and Dr. So-and-so,” but it will be the program of the Industrial Physician Association. And it will be the only equipment to be sold in France and I can tell you that under such conditions, the industry will develop them. I succeeded in getting a very large sum of money from the Government Ministry of Research, to go into that direction which was supposed to be a good one. And it succeeded. In fact, that is such title that I received my new Légion d'Honneur for bringing together physicians and industrialists. I was very happy in doing that, but it takes a lot of time and effort, and that was a very good decision of my president. He told them, “If he is working by day for us, he will work by night for you.” I was very happy. I worked about fifty years in that field. </p>
  
<br>So the Association of Medical Research, which is a big association collecting funds for medical research, came to the president of Alcatel-Alsthom when he was coming back from America. They told him, “You should give us so-many million francs for medical research. See what the American industry gives to their research associations.” The president answered, “Yes, but it is completely different. The American government wants to develop research and industry, and all the expenses made for research and industry are tax-free from the financial reserves And in France, they are not. They are under the fiscal benefits. So I cannot take such a sum from the pockets of my stockholders. I can only give you something much smaller. But I can offer you something of great value. That is the free part-time cooperation of our chief scientist, who is interested in biology and medicine, and who might help you in solving your industrial problems.”
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Really. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>So I built up, under the French Ministry of Research, of industry engineers, and of physicians. I have many good relations with physicians. I brought them together, and we built programs. We built programs with a physician agreeing that if the program succeeds, it will not be called the program of “Dr. So-and-so and Dr. So-and-so,” but it will be the program of the Industrial Physician Association. And it will be the only equipment to be sold in France and I can tell you that under such conditions, the industry will develop them. I succeeded in getting a very large sum of money from the Government Ministry of Research, to go into that direction which was supposed to be a good one. And it succeeded. In fact, that is such title that I received my new Legion d'Honneur for bringing together physicians and industrialists. I was very happy in doing that, but it takes a lot of time and effort, and that was a very good decision of my president. He told them, “If he is working by day for us, he will work by night for you.” I was very happy. I worked about fifty years in that field. <br>  
+
<p>It finally succeeded; physicians were very happy. Now I am a little forgotten by young physicians, but for many years, every time I went into a hospital for surgery, which happened, I received the red carpet treatment. I got the best room, the best service, everything. That’s another example, which you asked me, of bringing two fields together. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Collaboration with American industry  ===
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Really.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Is there anything else you want to say before we finish? </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>It finally succeeded; physicians were very happy. Now I am a little forgotten by young physicians, but for many years, every time I went into a hospital for surgery, which happened, I received the red carpet treatment. I got the best room, the best service, everything. That’s another example, which you asked me, of bringing two fields together. <br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Well, I only want to answer your questions. One thing more I want to say, is that certainly a very important fact from my career has been to be associated with an American industry, ITT, and been living in America and having American friends and knowing a little, because I stayed in America I think for three years and went back very often, having some knowledge of the American way of life. That was a very important fact in my life, certainly. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Is there anything else you want to say before we finish?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Why was that? Why was that so important? </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Well, I only want to answer your questions. One thing more I want to say, is that certainly a very important fact from my career has been to be associated with an American industry, ITT, and been living in America and having American friends and knowing a little, because I stayed in America I think for three years and went back very often, having some knowledge of the American way of life. That was a very important fact in my life, certainly.<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Because for many years I understood how many inventions or improvements were first made in America and signaled through me to Europe. That was very helpful for me to give advice to my president. I looked at what the Americans were doing, and said, “Well, that will be the case in five years.” Since I understood English, I was reading a lot of American magazines, especially ''[[IEEE Spectrum|Spectrum]]'', which is a very good one. That was very helpful. And moreover, at that time, few people spoke English fluently. Now you find fluently spoken English everywhere, especially from the young people. Most young people have been going into the cities in England and America, and now they start going into Japan. My young electrical engineer grandson is going to go to Japan next year. Now, after I bring the coffee you will ask me questions, if there are some you want to ask me. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Why was that? Why was that so important?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Okay. </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Because for many years I understood how many inventions or improvements were first made in America and signaled through me to Europe. That was very helpful for me to give advice to my president. I looked at what the Americans were doing, and said, “Well, that will be the case in five years.” Since I understood English, I was reading a lot of American magazines, especially Spectrum, which is a very good one. That was very helpful. And moreover, at that time, few people spoke English fluently. Now you find fluently spoken English everywhere, especially from the young people. Most young people have been going into the cities in England and America, and now they start going into Japan. My young electrical engineer grandson is going to go to Japan next year. Now, after I bring the coffee you will ask me questions, if there are some you want to ask me.<br>  
+
<p><br> [tape pauses] </p>
  
<br>
+
=== IEEE activities  ===
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Okay.
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p><flashmp3>293 - lehmann - clip 3.mp3</flashmp3></p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I helped develop the [[IEEE France Section History|French section of IEEE]]. I helped by removing difficulties between the European National Electrical Association and IEEE, because in those days there were fundamental problems. </p>
  
[tape pauses]
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I didn’t know that. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>I helped develop the French section of IEEE. I helped by removing difficulties between the European National Electrical Association and IEEE, because in those days there were fundamental problems. <br>  
+
<p>IEEE behaves as and declares it is an international company. It has many members all over the world; you know the various sections of IEEE. But, in Europe, each European state has its national association of electricity and electronics. In France, it’s SEE. There’s one in Germany. There is a very strong one in England because they deliver the graduation for electrical engineers. You cannot become an electrical engineer in England if you hadn’t got your graduation from the British Association of Electrical Engineers. So, at the time, the IEEE knew those associations, but they wouldn’t know them well. They were discounting them. They were organizing conferences and technological meetings in France, for example. Exhibitions are a source of money. If you make a successful exhibition, it pays. So, there was a kind of war between the European associations and IEEE. I was politely known in America and also in Europe. I used the people on both sides and I helped them have common meetings, make exhibitions in common, and stop the competition. We made EUREL. That is European electricity; it is a federation of all national electrical associations, which is a good counterpart to IEEE, and now there’s a lot of consultation, talking and agreement between European and American associations for meetings. When people come for two or three days, what’s the name... </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>I didn’t know that.<br>  
+
<p>Conferences. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>IEEE behaves as and declares it is an international company. It has many members all over the world; you know the various sections of IEEE. But, in Europe, each European state has its national association of electricity and electronics. In France, it’s SEE. There’s one in Germany. There is a very strong one in England because they deliver the graduation for electrical engineers. You cannot become an electrical engineer in England if you hadn’t got your graduation from the British Association of Electrical Engineers. So, at the time, the IEEE knew those associations, but they wouldn’t know them well. They were discounting them. They were organizing conferences and technological meetings in France, for example. Exhibitions are a source of money. If you make a successful exhibition, it pays. So, there was a kind of war between the European associations and IEEE. I was politely known in America and also in Europe. I used the people on both sides and I helped them have common meetings, make exhibitions in common, and stop the competition. We made EUREL. That is European electricity; it is a federation of all national electrical associations, which is a good counterpart to IEEE, and now there’s a lot of consultation, talking and agreement between European and American associations for meetings. When people come for two or three days, what’s the name...<br>  
+
<p>Conferences, where people go to one city. There are a thousand people in one town for a week on a given subject, and there are exhibitions, and that’s the main activity of technological associations. Being known in IEEE and in France and Europe, I helped stop the war between the two. There is no more war for the time being, for the past twenty years. All that was twenty, twenty-five years ago. When IEEE came to France, I was to become the chairman of the French section, so I had the status to help stop the war. I had no real difficulty; once they started talking together it was finished. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Conferences.<br>  
+
<p>Do you think there is more communication now between the French engineers and the engineers in the United States and other places? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Conferences, where people go to one city. There are a thousand people in one town for a week on a given subject, and there are exhibitions, and that’s the main activity of technological associations. Being known in IEEE and in France and Europe, I helped stop the war between the two. There is no more war for the time being, for the past twenty years. All that was twenty, twenty-five years ago. When IEEE came to France, I was to become the chairman of the French section, so I had the status to help stop the war. I had no real difficulty; once they started talking together it was finished. <br>  
+
<p>Oh yes. There is more communication now, just because world-wide communication has become available. One of the normal statements of everybody is that everything is becoming world-wide. That’s why our children and grand-children speak fluent English. They go to America quite regularly, and normally have no problem. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Do you think there is more communication now between the French engineers and the engineers in the United States and other places?<br>  
+
<p>Do you think that’s changed the way people do engineering? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Oh yes. There is more communication now, just because world-wide communication has become available. One of the normal statements of everybody is that everything is becoming world-wide. That’s why our children and grand-children speak fluent English. They go to America quite regularly, and normally have no problem. <br>  
+
<p>Yes. It has changed. It has changed and teaching has changed. Now that’s part of the normal change of life, of education, of programs in engineering school. For example, there was no teaching of electronics in my engineering school. I was asked to give the first one. There was a new course on radar and missile guiding after the war. I gave the first course to the military on radar and guided missiles. Because I had been in America now, it was common for those to go together; it had become quite normal. My young grandson finds that absolutely part of the life. They all have been to America at one time or another. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Evolution of French electrical industry  ===
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Do you think that’s changed the way people do engineering?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Do you think the French electrical industry has changed? And how it’s organized? </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Yes. It has changed. It has changed and teaching has changed. Now that’s part of the normal change of life, of education, of programs in engineering school. For example, there was no teaching of electronics in my engineering school. I was asked to give the first one. There was a new course on radar and missile guiding after the war. I gave the first course to the military on radar and guided missiles. Because I had been in America now, it was common for those to go together; it had become quite normal. My young grandson finds that absolutely part of the life. They all have been to America at one time or another. <br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>It has changed to the point that now the industry itself is made of two separate groups. A bunch of small companies active in a very highly specialized item, and a few very large companies for all the large quantity equipment and some of the very modern technology. But yes, still very many companies are from 20 to 200 people. This separation is much more relative today than it was fifty years ago. I will tell you one story while the coffee is becoming ready, on my teaching radio at École Centrale. I was the first teacher of radio. So I had about 300 students. I was giving lessons to 300 students at a time in a big hall. I had to speak to them about noise. Noise is very important in radio. Noise is the limitation on everything in radio. It’s a very common physical property which is associated with the fact that matter is made of atoms and molecules. The fact that there are atoms is the source of noise. Noise comes from the fact that electricity flows through electrons, which is a fluctuation. I had to give some notion to my students on that. I decided to let them hear the noise. So I took a radio receiver with a loudspeaker. I came at 8:15, and my lesson was to start at 8:30. I tuned the receiver to a frequency where there was no transmission, nothing to hear. If you turn the sound level up, you’ll hear the noise. So I turned the sound button, a lot of noise was heard, and then I stopped it until it was time to speak about it. My students came in. I gave them a lesson on electronic noise and told them, “Now, I will make you hear the noise of electrons.” I turned on my radio receiver. From the radio receiver came a very loud voice which said, “Yes, but with a woman it is not the same.” So they laughed and that’s there was a terrific noise from the people. I had great difficulty in convincing them that I hadn’t done the job myself. I was of course completely surprised. “Yes, but with a woman it is different.” </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Do you think the French electrical industry has changed? And how it’s organized?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Where did that come from? </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>It has changed to the point that now the industry itself is made of two separate groups. A bunch of small companies active in a very highly specialized item, and a few very large companies for all the large quantity equipment and some of the very modern technology. But yes, still very many companies are from 20 to 200 people. This separation is much more relative today than it was fifty years ago. I will tell you one story while the coffee is becoming ready, on my teaching radio at Ecole Centrale. I was the first teacher of radio. So I had about 300 students. I was giving lessons to 300 students at a time in a big hall. I had to speak to them about noise. Noise is very important in radio. Noise is the limitation on everything in radio. It’s a very common physical property which is associated with the fact that matter is made of atoms and molecules. The fact that there are atoms is the source of noise. Noise comes from the fact that electricity flows through electrons, which is a fluctuation. I had to give some notion to my students on that. I decided to let them hear the noise. So I took a radio receiver with a loudspeaker. I came at 8:15, and my lesson was to start at 8:30. I tuned the receiver to a frequency where there was no transmission, nothing to hear. If you turn the sound level up, you’ll hear the noise. So I turned the sound button, a lot of noise was heard, and then I stopped it until it was time to speak about it. My students came in. I gave them a lesson on electronic noise and told them, “Now, I will make you hear the noise of electrons.” I turned on my radio receiver. From the radio receiver came a very loud voice which said, “Yes, but with a woman it is not the same.” So they laughed and that’s there was a terrific noise from the people. I had great difficulty in convincing them that I hadn’t done the job myself. I was of course completely surprised. “Yes, but with a woman it is different.”<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>It came from somebody talking in a radio, which was stopped at 8:15 and radiating at 9:00. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Where did that come from? <br>  
+
<p>[End of tape one, side two] </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Industrial competition, labor, and ethics  ===
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>It came from somebody talking in a radio, which was stopped at 8:15 and radiating at 9:00.
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>A lot of nations are making clothing with child labor </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
[End of tape one, side two]
+
<p>Have you read any papers on the uses of children in Asian factories? Some are attached the bench by chains. They are chained to the bench. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So that’s an example of competition going too far? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>A lot of nations are making clothing with child labor<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I’m very eager to eliminate that child labor. Also, you can’t have a fair competition between a nation where there is a high level of social security and a nation which has none. Those are the type of difficulties that exist now. Everything is world-wide, the catalog orders, the communication, everything. Free competition. Therefore, the people who are spending less on their people spend less and make cheaper products. And I don’t mean cheaper by twenty percent; they are one-third the price. The price of work in that country is one-tenth the price of work in our country. So there is a very large need for improving these organizations. What we call wide competition is not a good solution. That fact, as far as I know, is not fully understood in the States. </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Have you read any papers on the uses of children in Asian factories? Some are attached the bench by chains. They are chained to the bench. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I think you're right about that. So do you think some position in between is... </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So that’s an example of competition going too far?<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Of course. That will happen sometime. But if it’s in only fifty years, a large number of accidents will have developed. Have you ever read books or seen moving pictures on carpet manufacture? </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>I’m very eager to eliminate that child labor. Also, you can’t have a fair competition between a nation where there is a high level of social security and a nation which has none. Those are the type of difficulties that exist now. Everything is world-wide, the catalog orders, the communication, everything. Free competition. Therefore, the people who are spending less on their people spend less and make cheaper products. And I don’t mean cheaper by twenty percent; they are one-third the price. The price of work in that country is one-tenth the price of work in our country. So there is a very large need for improving these organizations. What we call wide competition is not a good solution. That fact, as far as I know, is not fully understood in the States. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No. </p>
  
'''Abbate:''' <br>I think you're right about that. So do you think some position in between is...<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>You have no idea how the carpets are manufactured? </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Of course. That will happen sometime. But if it’s in only fifty years, a large number of accidents will have developed. Have you ever read books or seen moving pictures on carpet manufacture? <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Well, in the United States, or in other places? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>No.<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Nice carpets are coming from Iran and Turkey, and other Asian countries. There are people working fifteen hours a day, children. No social welfare; it’s fantastic. The industry of carpet making is one of the best examples of why competition is here. Not a single nice carpet is made in Europe or in America. They all came from there. From there at the expense of the terrifically cruel lives of the people who make them. We have the responsibility of improving the lives of other people. Since we are the most developed countries, it is one of our responsibilities to help the poor people in the world. Definitely so. And that cannot be done by wide competition. All those people's countries have laws forbidding child work, forbidding fifteen hours a day work, forbidding everything that is wrong. But that’s only written, not observed. In any international conference they say, “You see, we have the law here, the same one that you have,” but nobody thinks of them. </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>You have no idea how the carpets are manufactured?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>It’s a problem. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Well, in the United States, or in other places?<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>It is a very, very large problem. </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Nice carpets are coming from Iran and Turkey, and other Asian countries. There are people working fifteen hours a day, children. No social welfare; it’s fantastic. The industry of carpet making is one of the best examples of why competition is here. Not a single nice carpet is made in Europe or in America. They all came from there. From there at the expense of the terrifically cruel lives of the people who make them. We have the responsibility of improving the lives of other people. Since we are the most developed countries, it is one of our responsibilities to help the poor people in the world. Definitely so. And that cannot be done by wide competition. All those people's countries have laws forbidding child work, forbidding fifteen hours a day work, forbidding everything that is wrong. But that’s only written, not observed. In any international conference they say, “You see, we have the law here, the same one that you have,” but nobody thinks of them. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>It’s a problem.<br>  
+
<p>'''Lehmann:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Have you any other questions? </p>
  
'''Lehmann:'''<br>It is a very, very large problem. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No. Thank you for the interview. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>[End of interview] </p>
  
<br>
+
[[Category:People and organizations|Lehmann]] [[Category:Engineers|Lehmann]] [[Category:Corporations|Lehmann]] [[Category:Communications|Lehmann]] [[Category:Radio communication|Lehmann]] [[Category:Power, energy & industry application|Lehmann]] [[Category:Industrial electronics|Lehmann]] [[Category:IEEE|Lehmann]] [[Category:Transportation|Lehmann]] [[Category:Culture and society|Lehmann]] [[Category:Defense & security|Lehmann]] [[Category:World War II|Lehmann]] [[Category:Business, management & industry|Lehmann]] [[Category:Business|Lehmann]] [[Category:International collaboration|Lehmann]] [[Category:Economics|Lehmann]] [[Category:Bioengineering|Lehmann]] [[Category:Biomedical equipment|Lehmann]] [[Category:News|Lehmann]]
 
+
'''Lehmann:'''<br>Have you any other questions? <br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>No. Thank you for the interview.
+
 
+
[End of interview] <br> <br><br><br>
+

Revision as of 15:03, 27 March 2012

Contents

About Gerard Lehmann

Gerard Lehmann is an IEEE Life Fellow and an officer of the Légion d'Honeur. Born in 1909, Lehmann developed an early interest in electrical engineering by observing his father, the founder of an electrical equipment company. During World War I, young Gerard used a galena receiver for telegraph coded radio, and he operated an amateur radio transmitter during the 1920s. Pursuing these interests, he began electrical engineering studies at the École Centrale in 1928. After his graduation, Lehmann taught the first radio courses offered by the École Centrale.  He joined Breguet, an airplane manufacturer, as its chief engineer, building radio equipment used by French military aircraft in World War II. Following the German invasion of Southern France in 1942, Lehmann joined the engineers working with Maurice Deloraine at International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) in New York.

After World War II, Lehmann predicted industrial growth potential in servo-mechanics. As an employee of ITT's Paris laboratory, Lehmann established Société des Servomécanismes Électroniques (SME), a company to manufacture mechanical equipment. With SME's sale to Compagnie Générale d’Électricité (later Alcatel-Alsthom), Lehmann became Chief Scientist at CGE.  There, his projects included research for the TGV high-speed train network. In his capacity as Chief Scientist, he also evaluated the economics of the electric car and of high-voltage power transmission in Africa. Lehmann retired in 1975 but continued to work in the larger field of electronics.

In this interview, Lehmann outlines his education and engineering career. He describes ITT's contributions to World War II, including his own work to jam German radar. Detailing the rationale for his post-war focus on servo-mechanics, he identifies the products and clients of SME. Lehmann also identifies his leadership roles in French and international professional societies, and he assesses the role of the IEEE in France. He describes the value of interdisciplinarity, including his work with the French Ministry of Research to promote collaborations between physicians and industry on electronic equipment development.  Lehmann concludes his comments with some analysis of shifts in industrial practice, and he criticizes the practice of child labor.

About the Interview

GERARD LEHMANN: An Interview Conducted by Janet Abbate, Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, July 26, 1996

Interview #293 for the Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, 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:

GERARD LEHMANN, an oral history conducted in 1996 by Janet Abbate, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

INTERVIEW: GERARD LEHMANN

INTERVIEWER: JANET ABBATE

PLACE: PARIS, FRANCE

DATE: JULY 26, 1996

Family

Abbate:

To start it, could you tell me a little bit about how you first got interested in electrical engineering and why you chose to do that?

Lehmann:

I first got interested in electrical engineering because my father was an electrical engineer.

Abbate:

Oh, really? What did he do?

Lehmann:

He came out of the École Centrale de Paris at the end of the last century and started doing electrical engineering with the Exposition Universal that was in Paris. Very large, as sometimes happens now, an Exposition Universal. And this Exposition Universal was circled by a rolling sidewalk. He was associated with the construction and operation of this rolling sidewalk, which was very popular at that time.

Abbate:

I’ve heard of that. Was there also a floating sidewalk on water?

Lehmann:

No, no. It was all on the earth, I believe. Then he founded a company on electrical equipment, especially for home electrical equipment, which was in full development at that time. They manufactured and sold all the low-power electrical equipment, including lighting systems, electrical lamps, and so on. This was operating until shortly before the 1940s. All of his life he was in charge of this company. He founded it, with some other friends. So, I became interested in electrical engineering when I was very, very young. I got books on electricity, even when I was seven or eight years old.

Amateur radio; École Centrale

Lehmann:

And I started being interested in radio very, very early also, I think when I was ten or twelve. I was born in 1909. Six years later it was 1915, and I think I then started receiving telegraph coded radio during World War I, receiving with a galena receiver. Do you know what a galena receiver is? The radio waves at this time were made by spark-- there were no vacuum tubes at this time. Some of the biggest spark transmitters used the Eiffel Tower as a mast for long wires. The founder of radio in France and in the French army was a man who is well known in the communication part of the American army. There are a lot of people associated with radio communication in the American army, and the museums always have equipment and information about General Ferrie. General Ferrie was the head of military radio communications in France. And, by the way, there is an association of veterans in radio and electronics which is very active in Paris, and I’m a member of the executive office of this association. Before vacuum tubes were invented by Lee DeForest, I think that’s about in the early 1920s, just after the First World War, radio waves were detected and made useful with lead sulfide. A natural, crystalline lead sulfide which is called galena. You have never heard of that?

Abbate:

I’ve never heard of the word galena.

Lehmann:

So, the radio receiver of this time included coils and condensers and galena, that is lead sulfide. That is the first type of solid-state; it is the ancestor of all of the solid-state rectifiers. It is a rectifier with a piece of sulfide lead about that size, with a sharp needle going on the surface, and by searching one found a good point for rectification, on earphones. I started receiving radio signals with this type of equipment when I was around ten or twelve. In 1921, I received in my home outside Paris the very first transmission on phone, on radio-phone, hearing voice or music, which came also from the Eiffel Tower. Then, I finished my secondary study. I won, I think one or two times, the first prize in physics in high school. Each time the professors really knew that I was interested in that field. When you get a prize in high school, you get a book as a reward, and I always got books on radio. So, I learned radio from these books, and I learned in class. Then I went in 1928 to one of the biggest and first engineering schools in France, which is called École Centrale, where I learned general subjects, but specialized in electricity. Even before I went to this school I became a radio amateur. Do you know what is a radio amateur?

Abbate:

Someone who tries to pick up the...

Lehmann:

I had a transmitter myself. I had a radio transmitter in my home that was short-wave and at this time, the long distance range of short-wave, the decametric wave, was discovered by radio amateurs because the conventional physicists did not believe they could go much beyond the horizon. Due to the ionospheric, reflective layer, they covered all of the world. From my home, I could contact and speak by telephone with people all around the world, including China. I also had contact with Russian physicists in Asia by these radio communications from my own room. On the door of my room was posted an official sign from Électricité de France, “Do not touch any wire; it’s dangerous.” So, when I came into École Centrale, I contributed to the construction of a more powerful radio amateur transmitter. I learned all my information on radio by myself because there were no teachings of any sort on that field. I learned it. I made a creation, I calculated the operation of antennae, of long distance wiring; all of that I did myself.

Very soon after I was graduated from École Centrale, I was appointed teacher of the first classes on radio, and I taught radio and electronics at École Centrale for years and years. Also, more recently, at École Supérieure d'Électricité, which is, if you wish, the MIT of electronics in France. I’ve been a teacher there too. So, that’s how I picked up my interest and knowledge in that field.

Engineering career

Lehmann:

After the war was over, since I had an education in the mechanics and theory of electricity, I realized very quickly that electronics would become very active in industry and equipment by servo-mechanics. Do you know what servo-mechanics is?

Abbate:

Yes.

Lehmann:

Therefore, I visualized a pioneering fashion, the association of electronics with mechanics and electricity. That is, electronics driving motors and driving machines. At this time I was with ITT; I can tell you later about my professional career. I was associated with the Paris laboratory of ITT, and in an agreement with ITT, I founded a company building electronics, mechanical equipment, servo-mechanic driving motors, and the like. That company grew, until it was bought by the French Compagnie Générale d’Électricité, which has changed names recently. Now its name is Alcatel-Alsthom. I became Chief Scientist of Alcatel-Alsthom, and I ended my career as Chief Scientist next to the president of the company, helping him on all technological and scientific problems. He was rather on the financial and managing side of it. That’s until I retired from my engineering career in 1975. I am now 87 and I did a lot of things since I retired, but not specifically in the electrical field. You see that my main interest has been the electronic field, and it enlarged to the general electrical industry and electrical field after the Second World War. Then when I was with Alcatel-Alsthom, I had to work with the whole field of electricity and electronics. I was associated with research on the TGV. You know TGV?

Abbate:

Oh yes.

Lehmann:

The TGV is based on many quite novel things in technology. First, France I think was one of the first countries to feed the locomotive with normal industrial current, 50 Hz current. Before it was fed on DC, and in America it was fed on a 25 Hz cycle, and I don’t know if it’s not the still the main feeding for electric locomotives in the States. I think in the 1960s, we fed all our railroads with normal 50 cycle volts. That’s high voltage; that’s 25,000 volts on the overhead wires. So the current is not so high because it’s 25,000 volts and it was possible to draw a much larger power from the head-line due to that. Then it was also necessary to study the return of 50 cycle AC by the rail and by the ground, which was completely unknown at that time. All of that was made mainly by the French National Railroad. At Alsthom, we studied a completely new type of suspension of the car, the spring system of the car, so that they can run at much higher speeds without oscillation and resonance. At this time, between 60 and 80, this type of train broke, and it is still valid. The world record on train speed is 525 km/hr, which is quite fast. That gave birth to the TGV. There was a lot of proposals for building other types of rapid train, by air suspension or magnetic suspension, and for many reasons which I’m willing to discuss with you, I always told the president of the company that all of them would have difficulties and would not succeed, and that high speeds on rails was the proper solution. And it was.

At this time, on the other hand I knew the American electrical engineering situation quite well, because I spent several years with ITT in the States, in New York. So I know the people; that’s where I picked up my bad English. I’m still friends with some of the engineers of that time, in the 1940s. Still good friends, and one of them is in Paris and came to my home last week, after fifty years. That’s a good friendship, fifty years. At this time, you know, in the States there were about 2000 utilities. All of them were supported; all of them had their own factory, their own transmission line. There were 2000 independent manufacturers and commercial dealers of electrical power. At this time, I thought that the economical push for connecting those utilities together would soon become a reality because there are differences of peak hours, differences of habits, differences of types of consumption, and having connections between the various utilities was a source of financial economy. I was one of the first ones and the only one in France at this time to foresee that America would become a buyer of high-voltage long distance electrical transmission lines.

Abbate:

I see.

Lehmann:

Alsthom was building and developing this type of equipment in Europe, and we were the leading European manufacturer of this type of equipment. Transformers, insulators, circuit breakers and the lines. We were building equipment up to 450 kilovolts, and a little later, to 750 kilovolts. We sold this type of equipment all over the world, including Russia. But none was used in America at this time. So I took all of the people associated with this type of technology, and I toured most electrical utilities in America to show them that when they were needed, we had the equipment ready to install, and that time came actually. We made a very large business in America and we built factories in America to franchise them in America and Canada. By the way, Alcatel-Alsthom is one of the few European companies which is about the size of General Electric. We were at the peak of our activity at about 200,000 people, so it was a very big company. I very often went to America, as the company's chief scientist, to help the commercial people explain what they made, and make connections between the American engineers who realized that long distance was a good choice, and those of us who were manufacturing this type of equipment. From this time, in the 1960s, I became as much associated with electrical engineering as with radio and electronics, and at this time I decided to leave electronics and radio to the newer people, and concentrate on high power electricity and mechanics, which much fewer people were mastering. That’s in a few words, the answer to your question.

Breguet employment

Abbate:

How did you come to work for ITT in the first place?

Lehmann:

Before the war, before the Second World War, I was associated with a company which was associated with one of the big manufacturers of airplanes, that is, Breguet. You have heard of the Breguet maybe. The Breguet family has been pioneering in technology since the middle of the 19th century. They first started as builders of high accuracy watches for navigation. The name of Breguet is still a well-known and active name in watch and chronometer manufacturing. And then in the early 1900s they started building airplanes. The Breguet company built most of the French airplane fighters in World War I. A few years after I graduated, I was introduced to them as being a radio engineer, which was partially true because they realized at this time that radio would become an important part of an airplane. They wanted to develop a company manufacturing radio equipment for airplanes and ground-associated vehicles. I was the chief engineer of this company, one of the Breguet brothers being the president. I built a fair part of the radio equipment for the French military aircraft that served in World War II.

Abbate:

Really?

Lehmann:

The reason was very simple. I’d been working very actively as a radio amateur. As a radio amateur, I started developing metric wavelength equipment, that is working in the 2 to 10 meters wavelength. That is the wavelength now used for FM and television, which was quite new at this time. It was demonstrated that those waves were very convenient for fighter planes because they had about the same range that the fighter (had), they were light and they could convey radio telephones, which was necessary for a fighter. There is no radio operator on a fighter; they were single-pilot planes. So I built part of the airplane equipment and almost all of the ground equipment corresponding with those equipments, and I invented at this time the first direction finding equipment for those waves, which gave the possibility of radio navigation to the fighter who had no way of navigating other than looking at the ground. So I was very well-known and popular at that time. Some people still remember me as the one who invented the short wave direction finder.

Abbate:

So all of the planes had this direction finder?

Lehmann:

No, the direction finder was at this time on the ground. They were finding the direction where the plane was. There was only radio reception on the plane, but when the pilot spoke, the ground could find out what direction he was, and with three ground stations, one could pinpoint where he was, and tell him, which was extremely helpful from the military point-of-view. So that was a great success. In 1938, my company was in the Breguet industrial group, and was very active in metric waves. I started developing radar on these waves. We built all of the French radar equipment, which was not very much equipment in 1939. But there was already working equipment in the army with rather long distances on radar at this time. I developed those equipments, because I was well-equipped for the type of wave which could be used on those radars. The first American radar was also using these wavelengths before they used the 10 cm wavelength. Then the war broke open, and France lost the war against the Germans and the Germans started occupying France. Since I am a Jew, I did not want to go to Paris with the Germans there. The head of the military armies, the director of the research service of the French army, decided that all of the radar engineers should be brought together in Lyon in the Unoccupied Zone and have there a small laboratory where all the well informed people could still be active, outside of the view of the Germans. I was the chief engineer of these laboratories, and that’s what I did.

ITT employment

Lehmann:

When the Germans invaded the South of France in 1942, I received a written order to go to the States and join ITT where a group of French engineers were already working. That’s the group of Deloraine. I crossed the Pyrenees mountains by foot. And finally, in early 1943, I joined...

Abbate:

You crossed the Pyrenees?

Lehmann: I crossed the Pyrenees by foot and after various adventures, including some jail in Spain, I joined ITT in New York. And I joined the Deloraine Group. Deloraine is dead now. He is very famous in Europe and in France because he invented the numerical time division of telephone. You know what telephone is now doing? It’s digital. Deloraine and his people completely invented in France a digital telephone system. See; that is a post office telephone card, and they put a picture of Deloraine on these very official cards.

Abbate:

So in 1945, fundamentals of time division...

Lehmann:

He made the fundamental pattern of electronic switching in 1945, which has been holding for 25 years or more. This group was...

Abbate:

So he was with ITT?

Lehmann:

He was with ITT. Deloraine was the head of the Paris laboratory of ITT, which was a very big laboratory, about a thousand people. I was not with them at that time, but they invented for the French navy an instant direction finder in order to find out the positions of the German submarines. The German submarines thought they were completely undetectable because they used magnetic recording. They recorded their messages at normal speed and they sent them to Germany at a very high speed, so that any message from a German submarine lasted less than one second. With a normal type of direction finder, you cannot find the direction in one second. So Deloraine and a few engineers in his group invented an instantaneous direction finder which made it possible to find out the positions of German submarines. In 1940, the French officials told them, “You take the plan of this equipment, and you go to New York with Colonel Behnes, and you put this equipment at the disposal of the American navy.” The American navy first wouldn’t believe it was true. But since it was ITT, they bought a testing ground. They built equipment according to the plans which they had with themselves. In one month, they could demonstrate to the American navy that they were showing the positions of German submarines. So hundreds of these equipments were built, and you know that in 1942 the German submarines were sinking more ships than the Americans could build. The war would have been lost if this situation had progressed, because no equipment could reach England. At this time, hundreds of ITT direction finders, invented by Deloraine and his group, were put into operation and in a few months, most of the German submarines were sunk. They were credited with winning the Atlantic war. They got high distinctions, the medal of the President of the United States and all that, because they made a gigantic step in winning the war with radio, with direction finders. The Germans never heard a word about that, and they never found out how their submarines could be located. In the memory book of the admiral in charge of the submarine fleet, he said, “There must have been a traitor in our headquarters who sent the positions of our submarines to the Americans, but we never found him.”

In 1943, I joined this group, and I worked with Deloraine. I worked in jamming radar. I specialized in this, in jamming the German radar. When the war was over Colonel Behnes gave me the choice of remaining in America or coming to Paris. I told him, “You make the choice. Whatever it is, it will be good.” And he said, ”Then you’ll return to Paris.” So I returned to Paris at the ITT laboratory, and started work a few months later on servo-mechanics, which finally took me to Alcatel-Alsthom. But all that was in good friendship with ITT, and I still remain friends with all the ITT people. At the very end of the story, it is that the Alcatel telephone manufacturing company became powerful and rich. Colonel Behnes died. The telephone companies of ITT in Europe were sold to Alcatel, and all my former colleagues came to my company and now I’m good friends with them in our retired association.

Servo-mechanics and radar

Abbate:

So you all joined together at the end. How did you get interested in the servo-mechanisms after you had been doing radar?

Lehmann:

Because, I was educated very completely as a mechanical engineer. I was good in mechanical technology and also I became good in electricity and electronics. Since I always understood that the great things came from fields which were foreign to each other, in the 1950s I realized that joining mechanics and electronics would become an important part of industrial activity. There was more of accordance from that by the development in the States of the first radar with automatic direction finding for planes. I think that was SCR 584, if my memory is good. The antenna of this radar was moved by several machinations, receiving the signal from the radar, and they were automatically following the plane in the air. That was one of the first demonstrations of what servo-mechanics with electronic drive could do. Since I was good in mechanics and good in electronics I naturally decided that I would be one of the few people who started in this direction. And it was right.

Société des Servomécanismes Électroniques (SME)

Abbate:

You were doing this for ITT?

Lehmann:

Yes. I started doing this with ITT, in the Paris laboratory. But then I understood that money should be put in this field, that there should be a financial investment in that field which was completely new for ITT. The ITT presidents at that time were other people with a more narrow view and they said, “Well, we don’t want to compete with General Electric and Westinghouse. So if you, Lehmann, want to build a company on that field, we are ready to give you all the patent licenses from our research that you will need, but we won’t give you money. Do it yourself.” So, I finally built up a company with some manufacturers of electrical equipment. I still worked half the time at ITT, until this company grew and needed much more money, which ITT didn’t want to give. That’s how I joined Alcatel-Alsthom.

Abbate:

What was the name of your company?

Lehmann:

S.M.E. Société des Servomécanismes Électroniques.

Abbate:

Did you have customers for your inventions?

Lehmann:

Oh, yes. It was a time when every field of mechanics in the civilian industry, or in the French Army or Navy, discovered that. I taught that field at a higher school of the Army. I was well known having specialized in that, and I got large orders from the Navy. The automatic driving of guns and torpedoes and all that, and the other side for the industry machinery. So it grew quite rapidly, and the smaller people who were members of this corporation had not the necessary money to do it, and Alcatel-Alsthom bought the whole company. Bought the whole thing. At this time, I was called by the president to become Chief Scientist of the company and in the headquarters, which was very nice. We built a lab here which is called the Marcoussis Laboratory, which is still in activity today, and which is about 1000 people, but not far from Paris. They’ve worked on the semi-conductor, they built a part of the long distance telephone submarine cables, and all of that. I was not associated with that. I was advising the president when he had to make a choice on his investment.

Abbate:

What kind of advice did you give him?

Lehmann:

Not to go into the air or magnetic train, but to concentrate on the electric train, and that’s proved to be good advice. We had a very large and very well-equipped manufacturer of ceramics; we had a large group of manufacturers in that industry or group, because ceramics are very important in insulators. So we had a factory which was specializing in ceramics and high technology ceramics.

[End of tape one, side one]

Lehmann:

I also advised the company to go into the field of uranium enrichment for electrical-atomic factories and atomic bombs. The group was one of the manufacturers of the French uranium enrichment plant. The people in the ceramics were very good, and they developed a part of the barrier which is necessary to separate the various isotopes of uranium.

Abbate:

So you used ceramic barriers. Which method? Was this a gas separation method?

Lehmann:

Yes, it was. Uranium-fluoride gas.

Abbate:

I see.

Lehmann:

I will tell you about a funny bit of advice I gave. Once we were asked to build a rather long high-voltage transmission line in Africa, going from Mozambique to the Cape of Good Hope. So we were asked to bid for these very long lines, 2,000 kilometers. The president asked me, “I received advice to build it on high voltage DC, and other people in our factories said, ‘No, we should do it in high voltage AC.’ What advice do you give me?” So I started looking at the problem, and I told him, “Use DC. The main reason is that, with either DC or AC, the same amount of copper will be needed. There is no difference in price concerning the copper to be bought. But an AC line has three wires, and it’s rather complicated to build a pylon for three wires. You have one on top, and two on the side, and you have three insulators. If you work on DC, a rather good cross will do the job because there is a pylon, one cross and two wires and two insulators hanging from the cross. So you make a large financial economy on the line. And then you must pay for the conversion equipment from AC to DC and back to AC. The price of this converting equipment is fixed. The economy of the line depends on the length of the line. It’s not worth doing that for short line, but for a long line, you have a bid much cheaper than the AC people.”

Here is another piece of advice I gave, on a field which you know. I was several times asked whether we should put a large investment into the electrical automobile, because we were manufacturing only what was needed for electrical equipment. This company was and still is one of the largest manufacturers of batteries. Batteries will become a gigantic field if electrical automobiles succeed. So I told them, “I don’t believe electric automobiles will succeed for many decades.” I gave such and such precise reasons. But that’s okay; it hasn’t succeeded even now, and I gave this advice forty years ago. And I’m sorry it was true.

CGE, Alcatel-Alsthom

Abbate:

Can you explain a bit what Alcatel-Alsthom or Compagnie Generale d’Electricite...it sounds like they were involved in many fields, making motors and batteries, high voltage equipment. What areas did they work in?

Lehmann:

They have two main poles; that is why they are called Alcatel-Alsthom. Alcatel is the telephone and electric part of it, building telephonic switches, telephone cables and all the components associated with telephone, including now satellite equipment, because a lot of telephone goes by satellite. So that is a highly electronic side of this company, which has subsidiaries all over the world. For GEC/Alsthom, Alsthom has made an agreement with an electrical manufacturer in Britain, called the General Electric Company. And so there the name is GEC/Alsthom. They are manufacturing all the types of electronic equipment, including cranes, factories for making electricity, transmission lines, and all the equipment associated with electricity outside the house. So there are two main poles.

Abbate:

So both power and communications...

Lehmann:

Power on one side, and telephone and electronics on the other side. There are altogether I think not far from 250,000 people. When they bought ITT, ITT had published since before the war a highly technological magazine on the telephone which was called Electrical Communication. There were a lot of fascinating articles in Electrical Communication since 1935. So Alcatel-Alsthom got this magazine at the same time, and now it’s published in French, English, German, Italian, Spanish and even Chinese. It’s still interesting. I published a lot of papers in this magazine, especially when I was at ITT, because it was an ITT magazine. Until two or three years ago, I got it in English. . So I was receiving the English edition, which got my English at some level. But two or three years ago, they wrote me and said, “Well, now you are long retired, and moreover you are French. Do you still want this magazine and moreover do you still want it in English?” “Yes,” I told them, “I want it. And if you look at the longtime back issues you will find my name on the list of authors.” So I think they decided to keep me on the list but now send it to me in French. Now I give some of these books to some of my grandsons who are becoming active in electronics too, naturally.

Children and grandchildren

Abbate:

Did your children become active in electronics as well?

Lehmann:

I have three children. I was speaking of my grandchildren, but I have three children. One woman who is a biologist like my own wife, and two sons who became engineers, one in electronics and the other a professor of physics at the Paris University. He joined the industry I think five, six years ago, and he has a very, very good career. Do you know the Saint Gobain company? Saint Gobain is a world-wide manufacturer of glass and cement and all of what is necessary to build a house. I think they have many thousand people at Saint Gobain all over the world. He’s director of research of the whole group, my second son.

Abbate:

So you have four generations of electrical engineers?

Lehmann:

Two of my grandchildren now have children, so I am the great-grandfather of two young children. Those two young children were born to two of my grandchildren who are professional musicians. They are giving concerts in many places, and being professors of violin and piano and doing well. My musicians gave me my two first grand-grandchildren.

Abbate:

Congratulations.

Professional societies

Abbate:

You mentioned a couple of societies you were active in. I wonder if you could explain what they were? There was the Société Française des Electroniciens et des Radioélectriciens...

Lehmann:

That’s a French IEEE.

Abbate:

I see.

Lehmann:

That’s the S.E.E. I was the president of that in 1957, before they joined electricity and electronics like in America; it’s a French IEEE.

Abbate:

And the Societé des Ingénieurs et Scientifiques de France...

Lehmann:

That’s a general association of engineers and scientists in France. All types of technology united.

Abbate:

What did you do in that Society?

Lehmann:

It’s name is now Conseil National des Ingénieurs et Scientifiques de France. CNISF. It’s a little like the Association of Engineering Societies in America. There’s a National Engineering Association which covers the whole field. They’re about the same. Each has two main activities. One is building interconnections between the various technologies, giving basic information on electronics, biology, giving conferences. The other is taking care of engineering as a way of living, as a professional activity -- that is, relations with the government, insurance and the like. I was Chairman of this in 1957. I was Chairman of the Electronic Association in 1953 and of the Societé des Ingénieurs et Scientifiques de France in 1957. Long time ago. I had many friends in those societies; that’s why. Otherwise I would not have become the president or chairman.

Abbate:

I guess not.

Awards

Lehmann:

And I also became at about this time, a Fellow of the IEEE, and now a Life Fellow.

Abbate:

Do you have other awards I don’t know about?

Lehmann:

I got an award from the French Académie des Sciences. I’m an officer of the Légion d'Honeur. That’s the highest award in the French government for interesting activity. I’m also an officer of the Ordre National du Mérite, which is side-by-side with the Légion d'Honneur. There are several ranks and I am in the second one. And also I am Chevalier de Mérite Agricole. That is agricultural activity. So everybody asks me, ”What have you to do with agriculture?” Because my wife has been working all of her career in a research institution of agriculture as a biologist, and I helped them often in designing electronic equipment needed for their research, in the laboratory where she was working outside Paris. Everybody knew that I was an electronician and Alice's husband. When they had a problem in electronics they would call me and I would help them do the job. They gave me this distinction thinking rightfully that everybody would be surprised that I have it. I was very proud.

Abbate:

That’s good.

Lehmann:

I think that’s great. You did ask me for that...

Electronics and medicine

Abbate:

Yes, that was very interesting. You said at one point that you thought the most interesting areas were where two different fields were put together, like the mechanics and the electronics. Could you say a little more about that? Were there other areas where you found that to be true?

Lehmann:

Other areas other than mechanical and electricity, you mean? Can I give you examples of other areas where it was useful?

Abbate:

Yes.

Lehmann:

Of course, of course. Early after the Second World War, the association of electronics and medicine and medical and surgical activities began. You know that a lot of medical equipments now are electronic: scanners, and the artificial heart...but there is a lot of equipment of electronic nature in the field of medicine and hospitals. At that time, about forty-five years ago, the physician had absolutely no idea of what the industry was. One physician would develop an electronic equipment. He gave it its name and no other physician would buy it because it was an equipment for this particular physician. The industry would not make an industrial development of an equipment, because they knew only one would be sold.

So the Association of Medical Research, which is a big association collecting funds for medical research, came to the president of Alcatel-Alsthom when he was coming back from America. They told him, “You should give us so-many million francs for medical research. See what the American industry gives to their research associations.” The president answered, “Yes, but it is completely different. The American government wants to develop research and industry, and all the expenses made for research and industry are tax-free from the financial reserves And in France, they are not. They are under the fiscal benefits. So I cannot take such a sum from the pockets of my stockholders. I can only give you something much smaller. But I can offer you something of great value. That is the free part-time cooperation of our chief scientist, who is interested in biology and medicine, and who might help you in solving your industrial problems.”

So I built up, under the French Ministry of Research, of industry engineers, and of physicians. I have many good relations with physicians. I brought them together, and we built programs. We built programs with a physician agreeing that if the program succeeds, it will not be called the program of “Dr. So-and-so and Dr. So-and-so,” but it will be the program of the Industrial Physician Association. And it will be the only equipment to be sold in France and I can tell you that under such conditions, the industry will develop them. I succeeded in getting a very large sum of money from the Government Ministry of Research, to go into that direction which was supposed to be a good one. And it succeeded. In fact, that is such title that I received my new Légion d'Honneur for bringing together physicians and industrialists. I was very happy in doing that, but it takes a lot of time and effort, and that was a very good decision of my president. He told them, “If he is working by day for us, he will work by night for you.” I was very happy. I worked about fifty years in that field.

Abbate:

Really.

Lehmann:

It finally succeeded; physicians were very happy. Now I am a little forgotten by young physicians, but for many years, every time I went into a hospital for surgery, which happened, I received the red carpet treatment. I got the best room, the best service, everything. That’s another example, which you asked me, of bringing two fields together.

Collaboration with American industry

Abbate:

Is there anything else you want to say before we finish?

Lehmann:

Well, I only want to answer your questions. One thing more I want to say, is that certainly a very important fact from my career has been to be associated with an American industry, ITT, and been living in America and having American friends and knowing a little, because I stayed in America I think for three years and went back very often, having some knowledge of the American way of life. That was a very important fact in my life, certainly.

Abbate:

Why was that? Why was that so important?

Lehmann:

Because for many years I understood how many inventions or improvements were first made in America and signaled through me to Europe. That was very helpful for me to give advice to my president. I looked at what the Americans were doing, and said, “Well, that will be the case in five years.” Since I understood English, I was reading a lot of American magazines, especially Spectrum, which is a very good one. That was very helpful. And moreover, at that time, few people spoke English fluently. Now you find fluently spoken English everywhere, especially from the young people. Most young people have been going into the cities in England and America, and now they start going into Japan. My young electrical engineer grandson is going to go to Japan next year. Now, after I bring the coffee you will ask me questions, if there are some you want to ask me.

Abbate:

Okay.


[tape pauses]

IEEE activities

Lehmann:

I helped develop the French section of IEEE. I helped by removing difficulties between the European National Electrical Association and IEEE, because in those days there were fundamental problems.

Abbate:

I didn’t know that.

Lehmann:

IEEE behaves as and declares it is an international company. It has many members all over the world; you know the various sections of IEEE. But, in Europe, each European state has its national association of electricity and electronics. In France, it’s SEE. There’s one in Germany. There is a very strong one in England because they deliver the graduation for electrical engineers. You cannot become an electrical engineer in England if you hadn’t got your graduation from the British Association of Electrical Engineers. So, at the time, the IEEE knew those associations, but they wouldn’t know them well. They were discounting them. They were organizing conferences and technological meetings in France, for example. Exhibitions are a source of money. If you make a successful exhibition, it pays. So, there was a kind of war between the European associations and IEEE. I was politely known in America and also in Europe. I used the people on both sides and I helped them have common meetings, make exhibitions in common, and stop the competition. We made EUREL. That is European electricity; it is a federation of all national electrical associations, which is a good counterpart to IEEE, and now there’s a lot of consultation, talking and agreement between European and American associations for meetings. When people come for two or three days, what’s the name...

Abbate:

Conferences.

Lehmann:

Conferences, where people go to one city. There are a thousand people in one town for a week on a given subject, and there are exhibitions, and that’s the main activity of technological associations. Being known in IEEE and in France and Europe, I helped stop the war between the two. There is no more war for the time being, for the past twenty years. All that was twenty, twenty-five years ago. When IEEE came to France, I was to become the chairman of the French section, so I had the status to help stop the war. I had no real difficulty; once they started talking together it was finished.

Abbate:

Do you think there is more communication now between the French engineers and the engineers in the United States and other places?

Lehmann:

Oh yes. There is more communication now, just because world-wide communication has become available. One of the normal statements of everybody is that everything is becoming world-wide. That’s why our children and grand-children speak fluent English. They go to America quite regularly, and normally have no problem.

Abbate:

Do you think that’s changed the way people do engineering?

Lehmann:

Yes. It has changed. It has changed and teaching has changed. Now that’s part of the normal change of life, of education, of programs in engineering school. For example, there was no teaching of electronics in my engineering school. I was asked to give the first one. There was a new course on radar and missile guiding after the war. I gave the first course to the military on radar and guided missiles. Because I had been in America now, it was common for those to go together; it had become quite normal. My young grandson finds that absolutely part of the life. They all have been to America at one time or another.

Evolution of French electrical industry

Abbate:

Do you think the French electrical industry has changed? And how it’s organized?

Lehmann:

It has changed to the point that now the industry itself is made of two separate groups. A bunch of small companies active in a very highly specialized item, and a few very large companies for all the large quantity equipment and some of the very modern technology. But yes, still very many companies are from 20 to 200 people. This separation is much more relative today than it was fifty years ago. I will tell you one story while the coffee is becoming ready, on my teaching radio at École Centrale. I was the first teacher of radio. So I had about 300 students. I was giving lessons to 300 students at a time in a big hall. I had to speak to them about noise. Noise is very important in radio. Noise is the limitation on everything in radio. It’s a very common physical property which is associated with the fact that matter is made of atoms and molecules. The fact that there are atoms is the source of noise. Noise comes from the fact that electricity flows through electrons, which is a fluctuation. I had to give some notion to my students on that. I decided to let them hear the noise. So I took a radio receiver with a loudspeaker. I came at 8:15, and my lesson was to start at 8:30. I tuned the receiver to a frequency where there was no transmission, nothing to hear. If you turn the sound level up, you’ll hear the noise. So I turned the sound button, a lot of noise was heard, and then I stopped it until it was time to speak about it. My students came in. I gave them a lesson on electronic noise and told them, “Now, I will make you hear the noise of electrons.” I turned on my radio receiver. From the radio receiver came a very loud voice which said, “Yes, but with a woman it is not the same.” So they laughed and that’s there was a terrific noise from the people. I had great difficulty in convincing them that I hadn’t done the job myself. I was of course completely surprised. “Yes, but with a woman it is different.”

Abbate:

Where did that come from?

Lehmann:

It came from somebody talking in a radio, which was stopped at 8:15 and radiating at 9:00.

[End of tape one, side two]

Industrial competition, labor, and ethics

Abbate:

A lot of nations are making clothing with child labor

Lehmann:

Have you read any papers on the uses of children in Asian factories? Some are attached the bench by chains. They are chained to the bench.

Abbate:

So that’s an example of competition going too far?

Lehmann:

I’m very eager to eliminate that child labor. Also, you can’t have a fair competition between a nation where there is a high level of social security and a nation which has none. Those are the type of difficulties that exist now. Everything is world-wide, the catalog orders, the communication, everything. Free competition. Therefore, the people who are spending less on their people spend less and make cheaper products. And I don’t mean cheaper by twenty percent; they are one-third the price. The price of work in that country is one-tenth the price of work in our country. So there is a very large need for improving these organizations. What we call wide competition is not a good solution. That fact, as far as I know, is not fully understood in the States.

Abbate:

I think you're right about that. So do you think some position in between is...

Lehmann:

Of course. That will happen sometime. But if it’s in only fifty years, a large number of accidents will have developed. Have you ever read books or seen moving pictures on carpet manufacture?

Abbate:

No.

Lehmann:

You have no idea how the carpets are manufactured?

Abbate:

Well, in the United States, or in other places?

Lehmann:

Nice carpets are coming from Iran and Turkey, and other Asian countries. There are people working fifteen hours a day, children. No social welfare; it’s fantastic. The industry of carpet making is one of the best examples of why competition is here. Not a single nice carpet is made in Europe or in America. They all came from there. From there at the expense of the terrifically cruel lives of the people who make them. We have the responsibility of improving the lives of other people. Since we are the most developed countries, it is one of our responsibilities to help the poor people in the world. Definitely so. And that cannot be done by wide competition. All those people's countries have laws forbidding child work, forbidding fifteen hours a day work, forbidding everything that is wrong. But that’s only written, not observed. In any international conference they say, “You see, we have the law here, the same one that you have,” but nobody thinks of them.

Abbate:

It’s a problem.

Lehmann:

It is a very, very large problem.

Abbate:

Yes.

Lehmann:

Have you any other questions?

Abbate:

No. Thank you for the interview.

[End of interview]