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Oral-History:Mick Byford, Robert Williams and Bob Winton

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About Mick Byford, Robert Williams and Bob Winton

Dr. Gordon H. (Mick) Byford’s professional interests were in Vestibular Physiology and Physiological Signal Analysis. He held the position of Head of Aviation Medicine at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough and continued to lecture in Europe on his subjects of interest after retirement. His association with the UKRI Section of IEEE included terms as both Section Chair and Section Secretary, as well as the stints as editor of both the Region 8 and UKRI newsletters. In 1989 Mick Byford received the IEEE’s RAB Larry K. Wilson Transnational Award "For creative innovation in the editing, production, and management of the Region 8 News, thus improving communication and member service in Region 8."

Robert Williams was a graduate of the Imperial College of Science & Technology of the University of London. He worked for Murphy Radio and for North American Philips. From 1948 to 1969, he served as chief engineer of Philips Electronics & Associate Industries in England. He was the founding chairman of the IEEE United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland Section. In 1967, he became the third director of IEEE Region 8 and was the founding editor of the Region 8 newsletter. The recipient of numerous awards, he published extensively. He was also chair of the committee of the International Electrotechnical Commission as well as other international conference committees.

Bob Winton made his career with Mullard Ltd., the electronics component manufacturing and marketing subsidiary of the Philips Group. He was initially a Sales Engineer and later a Senior Executive Engineer with particular interest in education and training. From 1940-1945 he served as a Major with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in charge of radar and radio repair, as well as maintenance workshops in the UK, Egypt, Sicily and Italy. When he retired from Mullard in 1975 he worked for a charity, Help the Aged, and then took up his present position as European consultant to the Los Angeles-based company State of the Art. The positions he has held in the IEEE include Secretary and Chair of the UKRI Section, Secretary and Treasurer of Region 8, and member of the Spectrum Editorial Board.

In the interview, they discuss the motivation for founding the UKRI Section as an alternative to an IEE dominated by "heavy" electrical engineers; the sometimes tense, but generally amicable relation with the IEE and other national societies; the differences between the transnational IEEE and IEE; the working relationship between section volunteers and IEEE staff; the founding of Region 8; political, cultural and linguistic issues within Region 8; and the governance, finances and services of Region 8.

About the Interview

BOB WINTON, MICK BYFORD, AND ROBERT WILLIAMS: An Interview Conducted by William Aspray, 4 September 1995

Interview # 257 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

Copyright Statement

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

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

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

Bob Winton, Mick Byford, Robert Williams, an oral history conducted in 1995 by William Aspray, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

Interview: Bob Winton, Mick Byford, Robert Williams

Interviewer: William Aspray

Date: 4 September 1995

Introductions

Winton:

I'm Bob Winton, and I've been working voluntarily for IEEE since 1963, for the UKRI section, and for Region 8.

Byford:

I'm Mick Byford, and I came into the IEEE via Dr. Zworykin, quite well known in the telephone world and in television. Since then I've been a volunteer in UKRI and in Region 8.

Williams:

I'm Robert Williams. Probably if I remain Robert, and Bob remains Bob, we can distinguish between us. I got involved with the IRE originally in my student days, and then at the end of World War II, and after the IRE and AIEE merger I became chairman of the UKRI section, being nominated by the IRE to do this and to choose my own committee. There's the background, and I remained in the chair of the UKRI section for five or six years — probably quite illegally, but it went on like that. Then I think the next person to take over from me was a heavy electrical engineer, whose name I forget now, because we tried to keep it balanced between electronics and electrical.

Motives for Founding UKRI

Aspray:

Yes. Do you want to start back at the beginning, and talk about how the section was formed?

Williams:

Yes, I'll do that, because that again was probably a bit unorthodox. The background that influenced much that's happened, and will happen, with IEEE in the UK is of course the IEE, the British institution. It was formed before the IRE and was a really well established body holding many meetings all over the country, with student bodies established in many universities and colleges. I was at the Imperial College in London from 1926 to 1929 as an undergraduate, and then a year or two post-graduate, and then a year or two as a demonstrator, when I left and plunged into industry in about '31 or '32.

One of the things that I noticed while I was an undergraduate was the amount of gossip that used to go on at the professorial level. I knew my professor extremely well. He was the first professor at the Imperial College to have a separate department for wireless as it then was as distinct from electrical engineering. There used to be a great deal of gossip about whether the next president of the IEE would be a heavy electrical man or a light electrical man, as the language went in those days. The light people always felt they had rather a raw deal, and that the IEE, was heavily biased toward heavy electrical engineering. This in a way was rather strange, because it started as a society of telegraph engineers in the late 1800s and really took on heavy electrical engineering which was then the sort of whiz-bang development. It swung right over to the domination of the heavy side, largely because the electrical industry, which was of course then nationalized, had offices all over the country, and these were always put at the disposal of the IEE, so there was the tendency to collect all the heavy engineers regularly at what they regarded the local pub, which was the office of the electrical industry. Also the IEE council had in its makeup, in its constitution, that the chairman and vice chairman of each of the various Regional sections automatically had a seat on the council, so it completely swamped the light engineering side. This is the background which I've tried to show you, the atmosphere which was prevalent when I was at college, and which was at the background of a great deal of what happened subsequently.

During the first world war, of course, as in America, the light engineering side grew in leaps and bounds and a completely new industry was developed, and people started radio businesses, usually with no money at all or far too little money, and lived on the credit between the component suppliers and the radio set makers. The radio industry went through a very strange phase to start with, and again I imagine in America as well, by starting as a do-it-yourself industry. You put kits of parts together on the kitchen table, and this went on very happily until about 1930, when two things happened that suddenly killed it. One was the valve (vacuum tube) supplied from the mains, which means you can't have 240 volts on the kitchen table, and the other one was the moving coil loudspeaker that needed power for the rather powerful electro-magnets that were used long before the days of good permanent magnets.

When this happened, this suddenly put practically out of work the very considerable kit-making industry, which used to sell attractively boxed kits. You bought one of these, you took it home and you screwed it together, and you were in business. And all of a sudden this couldn't be done anymore. So a few rather far-thinking people started small businesses, again, starting on the kitchen table, to make sets that would be easy to use and could be sold as a complete box and worked when you plugged them into the mains. All this happened about the early 1930s, which was about the time I had left as a demonstrator at Imperial College and launched into one of these companies, which was only about five people at that time, and expected to go bankrupt at any moment.

Aspray:

The name?

Williams:

It was named Murphy Radio, and it was run by a somewhat eccentric Irishman named Frank Murphy, aided by another Irishman, who was more a practical man at getting a factory together and getting things going. Frank Murphy was the theoretical man. Frank Murphy had the background of World War I experience in radio, equipping aircraft with radio, and incidentally, had at that time met my Imperial College professor, at the end of the war. They both worked for the post office before the war and went straight into the army. Both got fed up with going back to the post office. Frank Murphy decided to get a new angle on advertising, because he thought that was poorly done for professional equipment, and started eventually his own business, which was called Murphy Radio. I joined them, grew up with them from five people to about 2,000 during World War II. I had the responsibility, really at much too young an age, for running everything concerned with the business: laboratories, production, buying, all the odds and ends like commissionaires, the first aid department, the service department, everything except the actual selling and marketing. That experience was rather unusual for someone who came out of a research lab at Imperial College.

Now, that gets us to the 1930s and my joining the IEE with this background. I had an uneasy feeling that there was something wrong with the IEE that wasn't really satisfying the radio people. I'll look at the back of an old envelope to remind myself here. During this period of uneasiness, several things happened. First of all, the Institute of Radio Engineers of America began to get appreciated over here as having excellent publications. Many people joined to have the publications. This went on during World War II, and it led after awhile to the creation of another institution, called the British Institution of Radio Engineers (British IRE). This was a very small institute; it had nothing like the level of entry qualifications needed to join the IEE, and was rather looked on as a sort of technicians' body.

Aspray:

Do you know what year this was?

Williams:

I think it was sometime around just before the last war. In other words, the late 1930s, somewhere like that.

Aspray:

Yes, fine.

Williams:

Now, it would have had great difficulty staying alive, had it not been clever enough to attract the attention of Lord Mountbatten. Does the name mean anything to you?

Aspray:

Yes, indeed.

Williams:

He was part of the royal family, a tremendous hero to the British navy, and had some very big jobs during the war, including as viceroy looking after the Indian part of the British Empire, as it then was, and seeing it to independence. He rather welcomed this association with the British IRE as a platform he could use. He was a man with a very good PR sense, and this was a platform he took a lot of interest in. Of course his name attracted a lot of other big support. It brought in radio companies, who found it a useful entrée to the corridors of power to make sure that they kept on the right side of the British IRE. Now, various efforts were made by the IEE to see if some reconciliation couldn't be made with the British IRE along the lines that they would form the technician engineer section while the IEE did the professional engineer graduate side. But partly because Mountbatten was sticking to his soapbox, and partly because the two IEE and British IRE secretaries didn't get along with each other at all, it did not work out.

Winton:

Brasher was IEE's secretary.

Establishing UKRI Section

Williams:

And he couldn't get on at all with a man named Clifford who was the British IRE's secretary. Now, the IRE after the war was very dominant in America, and its publications got better and better. The American Institution of Electrical Engineers, which had worked very closely with the British IEE, seemed not to have the get-up-and-go that the IEE had, and roundabout the late 1950s a group of vice presidents or past presidents (I'm not quite sure which) of the IRE decided to make a tour of Europe and see what was possible in the way of developing branches of the American IRE in Europe. The first call they made was to the IEE in England, because there was rather a close relationship between the two countries anyway, and also because during the period immediately after World War II — in fact it might even have started before the war — there was a close relationship between the IRE in America and the IEE over here.

Then they took off all around Europe. I wasn't privy to those discussions that took place at that time, although I was within a year or so chairman of the electronics side of the IEE. I don't think you were either, Bob, were you?

Winton:

No, I wasn't around; I wasn't a member then.

Williams:

Anyway, it took off and I spent I think two or three months touring around to find what interest there was in an IRE. I then returned to America, and some of the people seemed to have disappeared after I'd had talks with them, and on either Christmas Eve or the day before, I was at the IEE one evening when a call came through from America. They had chased me, found me there, and it was one of this group of people who had been touring around Europe. He said that they'd decided they wanted to set up an IRE group in the UK, they decided to nominate me as chairman, and I said, "What do I do about a committee? How do I collect this?" and he said, "You go ahead and do what you like. Pick your own committee, and start off." And that was the brief that started us, [laughter], the IEEE over here; actually it was the IRE before the merger. So I thought, "Now this is a tricky business." I was working closely with the IEE myself, was in line for promotion there, and I thought, "Well, I don't want to ruin my chances of promotion. Am I being a bit hasty here?" So I took a few months deciding what committee to pick up, and decided in the end that I would go for some of the past presidents of the IEE. I thought if I got them on the committee, this would protect my back. And I did so, and was fortunate in collecting them. Over half the committee was past presidents of the IEE.

Aspray:

And what reservations, if any, did those people show when you asked them to join this new organization?

Williams:

Well, very little. They were rather interested in the fact that I had shown this initiative. Well, I hadn't shown it, I'd just been picked up to show it. I learned from one of them, in a private letter that he sent to me, that during the 1920s and into the 1930s, there had been a group, the IEE people dissatisfied with what was happening to them in the IEE and feeling they were rather second-class citizens, and wanting to start up an IRE branch themselves, which you could do under the rules of the IRE. They approached the IEE about this, and the IEE was immediately alarmed, because they thought this was going to bleed off a lot of members into the IRE. There was a certain feeling that they didn't want to be taken over by Americans who seemed to be taking over vigorously at the time. [laughter] Also, of course, the IRE subscription was much lower than the IEE subscription. They caught up and are about the same now, but at that time they were much lower.

Because of this background, the IEE persuaded the IRE not to start their own UK branch, and said, "Look, instead of this, we'll form a section of the IEE" — it had never had sections before — "and we'll call it the wireless section, and you can have all the freedom that you want within this section within the IEE. You can have a liaison with the IRE, but you would be IEE members. You'll have the autonomy of how you develop, how you work, membership, a budget to work with; you wouldn't have to come through the IEE," and so on. They agreed to that offer, and then they were let down. In fact when the section was set up, they found that its constitution was such that it was entirely subservient to the IEE council, with its dominating heavy electrical engineering background, which again goes back to the environment that I had suspected when I was at college, from the gossip that I heard. So I found that, far from there being any reluctance to form a UK IRE section, what they wanted really to do was to get behind me and to say, "Look, be careful. We got caught like this (i.e., being a part of the IEE) a few years ago. Make sure you don't get stuck again with the same sort of idea."

Aspray:

And were the people that you invited to be on your committee those very people who had tried earlier to set up this IEE section?

Williams:

So far as I could see, yes, it certainly contained the moving spirits of it.

Aspray:

Who were they? Can you name some names?

Williams:

I'll read out to you in a moment, as it's all here, the first committee I finally set up, which contained all these people.

Aspray:

If the names are all there, and I can get access to a copy of that, there's no reason to put it on the tape. We can just refer to it.

Williams:

I've got a copy.

Aspray:

Ah, very good.

Williams:

All right. Well, then, with this background, I would say that one of the people who gave me the most support in all of this was Sir Harold Bishop, chief engineer of the BBC. In the 1930s, the two top jobs in radio engineering were chief engineer of the post office, which controlled all telephones, and chief engineer of the BBC, which controlled all broadcasting, because only the BBC could broadcast. Nobody else could register a company with the word "broadcasting" in it. It was a long time before that was permitted. So I got tremendous help, and in particular from Harold Bishop, because all of them were worked on by Brasher, the secretary of the IEE, to persuade them to not give me as full backing as I wanted from them, and to rather sort of ease it into the situation that would have happened before. They all backed me solidly on this, particularly Harold Bishop. I know that he had all sorts of pressure put on him, as could be done in those days at government level, because the BBC was a government body.

So there was a lot of support for the sort of thing I'd started, much more than I ever expected to find, because I didn't locate this until after I'd got the committee half-formed. This reached the stage where the merger was being discussed, and I found myself as chairman of the UK section of the IRE of America. There were at that time memberships of the IRE and the AIEE totaling about 1,100 in this country, which was more than half of those in the whole of Europe. I'll come back to this because it also affected the way it all developed. I didn't really do more than keep this group together. I don't think it ever met all together in one go because there were a lot of people on it. I used to see them at meetings of the IEE and keep in touch with them and so on, up to the stage of the merger happening, when I suddenly found myself chairman of the IEEE over here, with a membership greater than 50% of the IEEE people all over Europe. I realized it would need rather careful handling to avoid Europe being thought dominated by the UK. The first thing I did was to follow the custom of the IEE and rope in southern Ireland, which was independent [Eire]. I formed it as the United Kingdom and Eire section. There were a number of meetings; all meetings were held at the IEE, who gave full backing to this once they realized what had been started up and gave us room to hold all our meetings at the IEE.

From “Eire” to “Republic of Ireland”

Winton:

We should discuss how the Eire component became "The Republic of Ireland."

Williams:

Well, that was at an IEEE meeting at the IEE. I thought I was pleasing them by calling them Eire, although in fact it caused quite a bit of confusion in the States, who got it mixed up with Erie, and I used to get all sorts of documents for the Erie Pennsylvania section.

Winton:

Now, we found that in fact the legal state name was Republic of Ireland when we made inquiries of our Foreign Office, which I think I did at the time. That was why the name was changed to the formation of the UKRI.

Williams:

Yes, this is when you began to come into this. I remember your being at that meeting.

Winton:

We agreed to change it because it was the legal name. The name of the state internationally is Republic of Ireland.

Williams:

So this led to the led to the acronym UKRI section which we stuck to ever since. Well, of course news got around about all this starting, and when the IEEE formed the section over here after the merger, it had quite a burst of publicity. Now here's a copy of all the publicity that was received. Fifteen of the top electronic bodies picked it up, and the most prestigious of them was The Engineer. This was the sort of Times of all the —

Aspray:

Yes. I know the publication.

Williams:

It gave that column to all the details of the whole thing.

Aspray:

Almost a foot of —

Williams:

It was covered by The Engineer; Electronics Weekly; The Wireless and Electrical Trader, which was the main trade organization; The Wireless World, probably known to you; Nature picked it up; the IEE Journal; the Electrical Review; Control; Process Control and Automation; The Electrical Times; Electronic Components; World Medical Electronics and Instrumentation; Research and Development for Industry; Practical Wireless; and British Communications and Electronics. These were all in 1963 picking up this story.

Aspray:

Before we go much further, I'm looking at the IEEE era. Can we talk a little more about the IRE period?

Winton:

Before you go into it, let's just make one point which you may find confusing. Northern Ireland was part of the UK, so that came in as the UKRI section. The southern part of Ireland was the independent part, and that was called Eire or the Republic of Ireland. I see in some of these releases it is called Ireland. It says here, "addressing all members of Great Britain and Ireland." Ireland here again means Southern Ireland.

Relations between UKRI and IEE

Aspray:

Okay, thank you. In the IRE era, can you tell me a bit more about the relationships between the IEE and your IRE section? For example, did they hold meetings together? Was there good will between the officers of the two groups? Those kinds of concerns I'm curious about.

Williams:

Yes, yes there was a great deal of good will except between the two secretaries. This was part of the difficulty, but this was got over by the tremendous strength of the committee here.

Winton:

Now Bill's talking about the relations between the IRE and the IEE, and that was not a matter of secretaries. How did the IEE view the IRE?

Aspray:

From the time you took on the chairmanship until 1963, what was the attitude of the IEE towards your organization?

Williams:

Oh, very helpful. We had the address to use, the offices that were put at our disposal.

Aspray:

Was there still concern about your taking their membership?

Williams:

There was, yes. I had many discussions with Brasher about this, and the line I took was that whatever arrangements were made should be reciprocal. In other words, I said that the IRE members in this country should be able to attend any IEE meetings they wished, and similarly, IEE people could join the IRE meetings. And this reciprocity we maintained, and has worked out very well over a great many years.

Aspray:

And did the two organizations hold joint conferences, or have any joint publications?

Williams:

No, because the merger came on rather quickly after the IRE section over here had been started up.

Aspray:

I've forgotten the year that the IRE section was formed?

Winton:

The UKRI section was formed in 1962, just before the IRE/AIEE merger.

Aspray:

I see.

Winton:

But I think I'm right in saying that as soon as the UKRI section was formed, there was considerable hostility, particularly from the secretary of the IEE.

Williams:

Yes.

Winton:

And this went on for a long, long, time. It's really only in recent times, in the last few years, that the IEEE and the IEE have really got together and decided that this hostility is not productive and that they really have to work together. That is happening now in numerous areas which I won't go into now. But we were restricted in our membership of the UKRI section because the IEE was very much against people joining; they thought they would lose their members. We did not form student branches because this is a most sensitive area for IEE. That is where they get their future members from, and it's only in the last year or two that UKRI has formed student branches. So the growth of the UKRI was extremely restricted because of the IEE hostility. When I was UKRI Section Chairman, if we wanted to hold a conference or do something, I went and said to the secretary, "If we did so and so, what would your view be?" We didn't say, "Can we do it?" We didn't want permission. But we would then say to our committee, "If we do this the IEE won't be very happy," and then possibly, as there were a lot of leading IEE people intentionally on the UKRI committee, we wouldn't do it.

Relations were very difficult until I suppose about the 1980s when Brasher was no longer secretary, and then subsequent secretaries varied in their attitude, but they were never quite as antagonistic as Brasher. Now the present secretary and the IEEE B of D have got a method of living together which is fairly happy. I won't go into more detail but that will give you a brief outline of the relationship between IEE and the UKRI section and its influence on the growth of the UKRI section. Within about the last four or five years we've gone from about 1,500 members to over 3,000, because of this relaxation in IEE attitude to IEEE.

Williams:

That's a good point, I hadn't emphasized it, especially, and it's quite true. At one stage, we were near the stage that we wouldn't recruit anyone for the IEEE unless they were already members of the IEE. We had that as a rule for students for quite a while, didn't we?

Winton:

Yes, yes.

Williams:

But of course it leaked, the system, because students could join by contacting America direct —

Winton:

Yes.

Williams:

— so that it wasn't watertight. And then they were living over here and of course they were part of the UKRI section. [laughter] And this was another thing I think that helped to break it down.

Winton:

Should we break it there for the moment, because I'm not quite sure where we go from here. [Break in recording]

Aspray:

So could you tell me about the way that the IEEE UKRI section grew and why it was that people were interested and willing to join the organization over the last three decades?

Winton:

I think the point we made to IEE was, the IEEE did not want to compete, that was the basic principle, but what we can do is to bring to your members and others a much more transnational outlook on this rapidly developing electronics and electrical and computer industry, than you can produce from your resources in your own country. And the reason that people joined was to get the publications. That is still the reason. They are internationally acknowledged as the finest. I remember, when I was UKRI chairman presenting a Fellow certificate to Sir Robert Clayton, and he said in his acknowledgment, "I only wish IEE could produce publications of the quality which IEEE produces." Since then IEE are doing better, but they're not in the same class really. And that to obtain the publications is a major reason why people join. And I think we have a higher proportion of Senior Members than most other Regions for that reason; it's when people have come up in their careers that they want a wider outlook, that they then join IEEE, and that is one of the major reasons. Going to meetings is not a big factor because in the UKRI the IEE run so many meetings, the universities run courses, there's an immense amount of —

Winton:

All right. There's an immense amount of material in the UKRI for professional development, and if we run conferences or meetings, we usually run them jointly with IEE, and this now works fairly well. In fact, at conferences we run they usually provide the secretariat. I correct the figures I gave earlier, which is in my time as chairman, about 1970 or so, we had about 1,000 members and not growing, now we're over 5,000.

Aspray:

And just for comparison's sake, what was and what is the membership of the IEE?

Winton:

Well the membership of the IEE extends from graduates, from students who are studying for their bachelor's, to graduate members who have achieved their bachelor's, up through all the grades because the big difference between the IEE and the IEEE is that in their membership they take account of your experience in a much more serious way than IEEE, so that if you have a certain number of years of high level responsible experience you can become a Fellow, which is not the same as the IEEE Fellow because they do not have such a grade, by invitation, as IEEE has. So that you get IEE members who, as chief engineer of the Post Office, at the top of the profession, are members of IEE, so it's everybody from students to that. The big difference is that you cannot really become a president of IEE unless you are extremely senior in the profession. And this is a major difference between the IEE and the IEEE where in the IEEE if you're proficient, you do a job, and you're willing to serve, you can reach anywhere. That does not obtain in IEE.

Aspray:

The thrust of my question was to explore this concern that the IEE people had about losing membership. I mean did from 1963 to the 1990s did the membership grow in the IEE?

Winton:

Oh yes.

Aspray:

And it doesn't sound to me as though the number of members who became IEEE members were really a serious impediment to the membership of the IEE.

Winton:

We never had the least evidence that this was happening. But another reason people joined IEEE was because they could not join IEE. You see we will take people in IEEE, as you know, of below graduate grade, and they could not join IEE, and so they wanted to be attached to a society, particularly a transnational one, and quite a number of those joined the IEEE. Now since then, an institution has sprung up for these below graduate level technicians and technician engineers. I have no idea what effect we have on their membership but I don't think very much.

Differences between IEEE and IEE

Byford:

Could I interrupt? The IEE is a qualifying body. It sets its own examinations and you can sit the examination and in this way become a qualified engineer. This is not true for the IEEE. There is a move at the moment for the IEE to put the qualifying standards even higher, so that you would have to have a master's degree instead of a bachelor's degree, but that has made an enormous difference, because it's the same in Europe, where the German, Italian, and other national societies are not qualifying bodies; if you say, "I am a member of the IEE," it is equivalent to saying "Well, I've got a degree in engineering."

Aspray:

Yes.

Byford:

Sorry.

Winton:

That's all right. Now I've lost the thing I'd meant to say. [Break in recording]

Williams:

There is a chartered engineer, which is someone who is a qualified member of the IEE, and there's an incorporated engineer, who is someone who's a qualified member of the IEEIE. [In 1997 changed to the "Institution of Incorporated Engineers in electronic electrical and mechanical engineering" (IIE).] We had to use incorporated because any other adjective would have rather de-rated that body compared with the IEE, a chartered engineer. And I got involved with this IEEIE as well, as chairman, because it had difficulties. The body which started it, together with the IEE, was the Association of Supervising Electrical Engineers, which was a trade union and worked and operated by trade union rules, which were very strict in this country; the way you held meetings and things like that were all defined by rules, and it was sometime before we could shake them off. Bob was in on some of these battles that were quite intense at the time.

Winton:

Perhaps I should say that it stands for the Institution of Electrical and Electronic Incorporated Engineers, and to come back to make the point I wanted to make, the standing of the IEE is enhanced because it is the national society, and it is to that which industry gives most support and welcomes the qualifications, and that is the reason that IEE — You might say, well, with the IEEE technical publications and all it has to offer, why hasn't the IEE membership gone down? But the IEE is nationally recognized and supported and people who write papers like to say that they are members of IEE, like their papers to appear in IEE journals. And this is a major reason why the IEE continues to flourish as it does now.

Williams:

Yes, the IEE is here to stay. One could see that right from the beginning. There was never any case, I know of, of somebody leaving the IEE to join the IEEE. That would be unheard of.

Winton:

Yes, I think a point one can make is that the IEE had been regarded, in the tremendously fast-developing areas of electronics especially, as not always giving people with particular interest sufficient scope, in computers especially. They were somewhat slow in starting up a computer section and computer activities, and this has recently given a big boost to the formation of IEEE chapters, and we have now got about ten chapters.

Byford:

Thirteen.

Winton:

We've now thirteen chapters in the UKRI section. We had some previously, but only two or three, and many more have sprung up recently as people have begun to realize what chapters can bring which to some extent the national societies (IEE and IEEIE) don't bring because they haven't expanded into these areas as quickly as the practicing people there would wish them to do. And I would have thought that is probably the major change that has occurred since we were founded. Through the Region 8 news we've let people know what's going on in the sections. Recently there's been a UKRI newsletter, to tell people about meetings and so on, and at the moment my feeling is that the UKRI section is certainly more active and likely to produce more results than previously in its history. That's my impression, because I have been on the UKRI committee since it started. My impression has been recently of enthusiasm.

Another problem we've had of course has been for volunteers, because they go to the IEE first. But again, the big advantage of the IEEE has been the autonomy it gives to its subsidiary levels, which does not occur in IEE. The fact that you give money to spend as they wish within IEEE bylaws to a section, and a section gives it to a chapter, is a big factor in enthusing people to volunteer to work for IEEE. In IEE it's much more circumscribed by what the council will allow and by the IEE rules and regulations. It's a big plus point for IEEE that they allow this sinking down of the level of responsibility from headquarters to Region with its own finances, to section with its own finances, to chapters, with their own finances.

Williams:

I think that's a very good point to emphasize. That is the big difference, that IEEE takes a risk with its money, IEE is frightened of taking a risk with its money. It controls it very carefully, but in doing so it loses an enormous amount of enthusiasm.

Winton:

Yes. And you can take initiatives in the IEEE on your own responsibility, within reason of course. I mean, I've done it myself for Region 8. And pick up the pieces afterwards, but usually you'll get support. And IEEE again, are not too unhappy to allow you to — I don't think "to bend the rules" is the right term — but at any rate to make the rules as all-embracing to cover what you wish to do as they possibly can. The IEE is sometimes a bit sticky in this regard; IEEE is altogether a freer organization. You feel you can breathe you can live, you can work, you can take initiatives on your own responsibility and do it, you've got the money to do it, and it's altogether a different atmosphere.

Relations between UKRI and IEEE Staff

Aspray:

How well was the UKRI section served by the staff of the IEEE? What are the kinds of problems, what are the kinds of advantages you've had?

Williams:

Well this I think that really brings in another point, and that is, one of the areas where there's been a lot of cooperation between IEE and IEEE is on international conferences. We've, over a period of a number of years, had an international conference nearly every year, over about the 1960s, because I was chairman of nearly all of these conferences, and of course the publicity that was produced by the IEEE listing the conference helped with people attending to some extent, and at the same time it helped the IEE to have this cooperation, so that a whole string of international conferences on major areas took place over the 1960s, which was very valuable. Now I think it helped to give, Bob has said this quite rightly, brought up this point about the literature. I'd like to widen that a little bit to say that the advantage of the IEEE to someone who's a member of the IEE is it gives them a new window on the world, a window that incorporates what's happening in America, the publications are an important part of that. It goes a little further than that, via the IEEE, in many cases you get a trip to America because it was to the advantage of the section, this was subsidized, financially, which could never happen in the IEE; it had to go through so many layers, get approval, that the idea of sending someone to America and paying for them would hardly ever occur to the IEE council.

Winton:

I would widen that. It's not just a window on America; it's a window on the world, because the IEEE publications have authors from all over the world. But as regards what the membership feels, as regards the service they get, it varies enormously. I have had excellent service from IEEE, but that's because I know people. It's very much a question of whom you know. If you know the right person it helps enormously. The continuing problems are the delay in the delivery of publications. When I was on the Spectrum editorial board, I got Spectrum by airmail and by sea mail. The difference was usually at least four weeks. For South Africa or Israel it could be eight weeks; I won't go into all the reasons, including the vagaries of the US Post. That delay is a major complaint. There is also a lot of complaints about servicing dues, and I must say that a lot of them are not due to the fault of headquarters. For instance, they get lump payments and it doesn't state for whom they are, these kinds of things. It's often mistakes made by the people sending dues. And that also has been a continuing problem. It's been of course very much worse just recently as you'll know due to the problem they've had with the new computer system. The opening of the Brussels office has had some impact, but not as much as we hoped because it will only deal with new members and not with renewals. But I think for ordering publications the Brussels office has been a help, but that has been only for the computer society until more recently; of course it now deals with other publications as well.

I think the problems in general, in dealing with the States is that it's impersonal, and enquirers don't always get answers. We who work in it know the machinery know who to get to, but others don't, and they may just write to the institute, and God knows if it gets to the right person, or if it gets handed around, or if they do anything. It probably isn't acknowledged, and they've sent off dues into the blue, they sent off a complaint into the blue, and nothing happens, and this is one of the problems. We have an advantage in UKRI in so far as we speak the same language. Now we know that all IEEE members speak English but there have been movements that they would like people on the phones in the US to speak another language. Well we can get on to this perhaps a bit more when we talk about Region 8, but I don't know, Mick, if you've any other points, of major complaint?

Byford:

As you know, I recently conducted an investigation in the Denmark section to find out what people thought of the service they were getting.

Winton:

No, I didn't know.

Byford:

Well the result was that nothing much has changed, remains as it was before. The major complaints still concern the delivery of journals; it's difficult to put your finger on a single cause, it just seems to be a kind of general incompetence. But that's the view from here. The view from the other end, where these journals are actually put together, may be completely different. But that has been compounded, as Bob said recently, by the fact that we don't know how accurate the membership database is. And to give you some idea of that, I have been using a database from June last year because there's no fresh data available. The result of that has been a tremendous increase in the number of journals which have been returned to the R8News editor because they cannot be delivered; the recipient having moved.

Aspray:

OK. [break in recording]

Original Founding Committee of UKRI

Williams:

If we could all spend the time reading that column, and I collected the committee, then before it got very far, the merger came up the following year.

Winton:

Oh, I see.

Williams:

So really the IRE, under this new guise, really had hardly got started, except maybe the committee, when it became the IEEE.

Winton:

Yes. So that answers your question.

Aspray:

So there was no real change that you had to make in your organizational structure, because you were just in the process of forming.

Williams:

That's right, yes.

Aspray:

I see.

Williams:

Harold Bishop was chief engineer of the BBC; Sir John Hacking, I think he was the Central Electricity Board, or something like that. Smithrose, well he was the head of the —

Winton:

Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, DSIR.

Aspray:

This is R. L. Smithrose.

Winton:

Yes, yes. He was —

Williams:

F. S. Barton had spent a lot of the war in America.

Winton:

Yes he was on contract.

Williams:

Yes.

Winton:

The Ministry of — I forgot what it was called.

Williams:

And in fact he did very little in the way of secretarial work. He loaded it on to you, I remember, Bob.

Winton:

Yes. Mr. Basil de Ferranti is interesting. He came from the Ferranti firm and for a brief time was a minister in the government, Minister of Technology.

Williams:

Yes and on the council of the IEE too.

Winton:

Yes, well he was president.

Williams:

Yes.

Winton:

Sir Archibald Gill was chief engineer of the Post Office.

Williams:

Sir Noel Ashbridge —

Winton:

Chief engineer of the BBC.

Williams:

He was previous to Bishop, wasn't he?

Winton:

And Sir Edward Appleton was the Appleton of the Appleton layer.

Williams:

Yes, the Appleton layer.

Winton:

I think that's —

Williams:

Barlow, the two Barlows, one was radio and one was heavy. S. and M. Barlow, Barton. Pat Bevan was chief engineer of the —

Winton:

ITA, Independent Television Authority. He was chief engineer.

Williams:

Yes.

Winton:

I think that's about it.

Williams:

Boyce, I can't quite place what he did, or Cuffe. Brian Donkin was a potential president of the IEE. He was a pretty powerful man, wasn't he? His wife was the mountaineering lady of those days.

Winton:

I don't think that in the IEE, somebody of the standing of Robert Williams, good as it was, would have been allowed to chair people of that caliber. [laughter] Right.

Williams:

I think the important thing is although we can't recall exactly and I can't remember exactly all these people, all of them were top level in the profession.

Winton:

I would say that it was the most prestigious committee that UKRI has ever had, or is ever likely to have! [laughter]

Aspray:

Well I wonder if we should simply stop at this point and talk about Region 8 after lunch.

Winton:

Yes.

Williams:

Yes. [break in recording]

Founding of Region 8

Williams:

— done via cable I remember, because

Aspray:

Could I ask you —

Williams:

Oh, start again?

Aspray:

Yes.

Williams:

The UKRI section was one of the founder sections of Region 8, getting in at the last moment by means of a cable, and I remember the response I got to this was that how marvelous it is that after centuries of unhappiness and fighting between North and South Ireland, that the IEEE has managed to get them both together in the same section. [laughter] So Region 8 really started up very soon after UKRI started up, and automatically became one of the founder sections, and the voting at that time for the Regional director was a single nomination, which was seen to be the only sensible thing to do when the UKRI had about sixty percent of the votes in Region 8, and after some discussion it was decided that it would be rather unwise for me to follow as the next Regional director after Rinia, because it would be two people working for Philips, and it would look rather a put-up job, and so the second director was a Frenchman.

Winton:

Lebel.

Williams:

He was Swiss, wasn't he really?

Winton:

I thought he was French.

Williams:

Lived in Switzerland, anyway. Lebel, yes, and I followed after that.

Winton:

Yes, that's right. Well we, at the time Region 8 started there were seven sections, and I will refer you to the Region 8 Newsletter IEEE Centennial Review. By the end of 1982 we were twenty-four sections, and now we have thirty-five?

Byford:

I think that's right, yes.

Transnational Issues

Winton:

Thirty-five sections. So, there's been a fairly steady expansion. There are a few things I'd like to mention which are peculiar at any rate to Regions outside 1 through 7. We've had problems with the word not to be used in IEEE, namely political problems. In Poland for instance, while still under the Communist regime, it was forbidden that any organization be formed with affiliations to the West, of any independent organization. The Poland section then became part of the Polish National Society, more or less independent. That was one of the things that happened. Some countries you couldn't get your money out. We ran a conference in Yugoslavia, we couldn't get our money out of a blocked account; we had to spend it when various people visited there. There was a problem with one Region 8 committee because people from Israel could not obtain visas for entering the country, and we then — that's the only time it's happened — but we did alter the bylaws to say that when a Regional committee venue was decided, an alternative must be given so that if the first one had visa problems, the second could be used. Before the reconciliation between Israel and Egypt we had both Israel and Egypt section chairmen attending a Region 8 committee. From that point of view it was excellent; as engineers, it was strictly non-political, and we never had any political discussions of any kind or any problems on the Region 8 committee.

One of the things I insisted on as secretary was to call sections by the name of the country. As you notice I've said the Egypt and the Israel section not the Egyptian and Israeli. I always felt that Israeli, or Egyptian, or French, or British had some kind of political overtones, whereas if you call it the Egypt section, it's just a chunk of land we call Egypt and has none. And that I think has more or less now become established. We had considerable and still have considerable problems in explaining to headquarters, and by headquarters I mean permanent staff plus all the volunteer committees from B of D downward — it's a term we use loosely for the whole of everything that goes on there — of the implications of being transnational. In fact I sent to Don Christianson, editor of Spectrum, a notice years ago which said that the most important thing about a transnational organization is that it is transnational, and that I think he put up in some of his offices. But to get them to understand our idiom was difficult.

As you know, to become a member of IEEE, you have to have graduated from a school of recognized standing. I well recall a meeting in the early days which Robert Williams and I were both at when the president of the IEEE asked whether Oxford and Cambridge were schools of recognized standing. [laughter] So you see we've had quite a long way to come. And I remember very well Robert Williams' reply: "Well, I think they were both established before the United States were established." [laughter] And the IEEE president looked up and remarked very dryly, "Well, I suppose that's good." And it was borne on me that we had a lot to learn, because just because something is old, it in the States doesn't mean it's necessarily good. And that is a different outlook from what we have. So this cultural exchange has had to go both ways.

And it continues, I mean, on a different level, we've had problems because of the way some deadlines have been fixed. People have put a deadline for the return of some information or questionnaire maybe six weeks ahead which seems a long time. They haven't realized that before it gets to South Africa they've probably got a week to run and couldn't possibly meet the deadline. This was in the days before we had faxes and all the rest. And there's still quite a lot of cultural exchange to be done. When the USSR collapsed, I did a fair amount of work trying to explain what had happened to staff in Regional Activities, and that some of the newly independent states would not be pleased if you put Kiev Russia because it was now the independent Republic of Georgia, and these kinds of things. It's understandable that they don't realize what's happening, but sometimes it's difficult to get it all across.

Africa has been an interesting area, because originally Region 8 was concerned only with the northern part of Africa, and that is to say, Egypt, Morocco, Algiers, and across, and the rest of it was in Region 9. And then we were asked whether Region 8 would take on the whole of Africa. We were a little reluctant. A major reason was the amount we'd have to pay to get a man from South Africa to a Region 8 committee meeting. But at any rate, we did agree to that, and that has worked out very well, and the South Africans I must say are now becoming quite a source of strength for our African effort by cooperating with other countries there. But there have been problems with the sections. We had a very enthusiastic chairman from the Kenya section, who wanted to form an East Africa section with all the other neighboring countries, and it never came to anything and he didn't come to the meetings and eventually he faded out. So we've had these sorts of problems in Africa.

Robert Williams has mentioned the two directors for Region 8. We always put up one on the grounds that the Region 8 committee knew far better than the voting members who the most suitable candidate was. But then, from headquarters, the cry came, "This is undemocratic, you must put up at least two." And so that is now what we do and we've got a nominating committee. I was also instrumental in drafting a change in the by-laws, so that we would have a director-elect. Originally the director was elected and immediately took office. This had problems. We had one director who had been elected who hadn't even been on the Region 8 committee. And he really hadn't the chance to run himself in. So we now have a director-elect and he gets absorbed into the system, and he really is brought into discussions with the director during his year, just as it runs with the IEEE president-elect of course except that our director sits for two years, so that he's director-elect one year, director for two, and then past director for a fourth year. Now I think that's by and large some of the background. I've no doubt you have a lot of questions which you'd like to ask, but that's all I've sort of raggedly made notes about.

Boundaries of Region 8

Williams:

There's one I'd just like to add to that, and that is the original area of Region 8 finished at the Urals, and it was dictated by the Board of Directors that if any part of a country was in a Region, the whole of that country was in the Region. That took us right across to Vladivostok in one swoop.

Winton:

But it doesn't now, because some of the independent — what are now the independent states of the former USSR — are now entirely to the East of the Urals. So I don't know how that's going to work out.

Williams:

That's in the south. But that stretch in Siberia goes right across to Vladivostok.

Aspray:

So have some of those countries moved out of Region 8?

Winton:

No, no none of them have. But you see, as you will know from the article I sent you, we have very few members there because they just can't afford it. And we have been doing what we can to help them, and I've given you the whole story, so I won't repeat it on the tape, as to how our attempts to pay for members failed and what we're doing now with libraries and what eventually may happen once it costs less than one month's salary for people in East Europe to join IEEE.

Williams:

But another bit about the extent of Region 8 of course arose over areas like Greenland.

Winton:

Yes, well the Greenland story is interesting. Greenland was formerly a dependency of Denmark, and I said to the Denmark chairman, about three or four years ago, "Wouldn't you like to have Greenland as a subsection?" He said, "I'll try." But when he got in touch with them they didn't want to be connected in any way with Denmark anymore, so that fell through. So, you know, again it's political, and we have these undertones occasionally. I mean at one time the French were asking that French be made a second language of Region 8. And that also we refused because otherwise you'd have had everybody, I mean we'd have been talking Arabic, Russian, and you name it. But these have never caused real differences and dissensions. They've been occasionally points of discussion. But I think it's been quite an achievement of Region 8 that it has always completely, firmly and totally closed its mind to any sort of political discussion or activity, or anything that could be construed in that way. When it came up we have managed to sidetrack it in one way or another, and that has been completely accepted. For instance, Czechoslovakia, as it was, is now split into two republics. When this was imminent, I as coordinator of forward planning wrote to the Czechoslovakian chairman and said, "Are you going to have two sections? What's going to happen?" "Oh," he said, "No, the engineers aren't that keen on the split. We'll just keep one section and we'll cover both republics." And that's what we've got now. So we have to look at these things but it's always very friendly and always very easy and it's never produced any major difficulties.

And I think with the various directors and officers this has been quite something to keep your eye on, and I can understand something which is difficult for the IEEE headquarters to understand, the ins and outs of European politics. Now of course, we have been engaged with the former Yugoslavia, we have formed three sections there. One is Slovenia, which is the northern part, and has been totally untouched by the civil war, the other is Croatia, which we thought would be untouched when we formed the section, and the rest we still call the Yugoslavia section and that is what remains of Serbia, centered on Belgrade. So, one has to anticipate these changes and we had a very keen eye on what happened in East Europe and the effects of the breakup there. And it's very good now that all the countries formerly to the east of the Iron Curtain, who were formerly in the west of the USSR, are sections except for the Baltic States. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have not formed sections because they just can't afford the dues. But the most recent, Bulgaria, is now a section. We hoped to form sections in the Baltic States but it just hasn't worked out, and in Lithuania, they're still working on it. The chap who was working on it went to Denmark as the Lithuanian ambassador so we had to start again. [laughter] That's how these things happen.

Former Iron Curtain Countries

Aspray:

And to what degree have these sections in the former Iron Curtain countries succeeded and how do you measure success in these cases?

Winton:

Well, the former Iron Curtain, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, have been successful. They're working well, they've had meetings, they appoint their chairmen, they come to Region 8 committee meetings —

Aspray:

Membership is going up?

Winton:

Yes, membership is. Do you have any figures?

Byford:

No.

Winton:

Yes, I think membership is doing quite well. That has gone well. Now in the other countries, it is a tremendous problem because of the salaries. There are discussions at headquarters on whether we could have different classes of membership and a variety of schemes have been proposed, but none has yet been accepted. And the big problem is that people feel that if you let others in at a lower salary, first of all, they'll be looked at as second-class citizens, secondly, it's not only East Europe that has these problems. There's a tremendous problem in South America, there's a tremendous problem of low salaries also in Africa, so that you've got to look at the global picture of IEEE and not just at your own Region. And these have all been considerations why no scheme has yet evolved that will enable people to join for a lesser amount. And of course, we're very well aware of the half-dues arrangement, but even half-dues, below 8,000 dollars annual salary as it now is, is still too much for these people. As I say, it can be about a month's salary, and really they can't afford it.

And the ones who do join — there are a few members in these places — are supported either by their own organizations, their university, or their academy of sciences or somebody who want this window on the world which the publications provide and more particularly, this contact. Or sometimes, but not very often, western companies who are developing there. I had the whole thing extremely well put to me at a Region 8 committee, where this gentleman who became Lithuanian ambassador talked to us. He said, "We have in our country," in his case it was Lithuania, "the knowledge, we have the intellect, to do these developments. What we do not have is the know-how, and it's the know-how we must have in order to compete with Western Europe and thereby revive our economies." And I think this is a very key consideration in these countries. And that's why I believe that we are destined to have, when salaries make it possible, a very large increase in membership in East Europe.

Services Provided by Region 8

Aspray:

Do you have any sense for how the boundaries were decided upon for the Region, and did the Region people have any input on this?

Winton:

No, this was decided more or less at the time of the merger. The only input we had was in the case of Africa, which I've already mentioned, as to whether we would be content to expand down there, which eventually we did. But, no, and I as forward planning coordinator did suggest at one time that we should look and see what would happen to the Region when East Europe came in, but they decided they would wait a little longer, which was wise because it didn't happen nearly as quickly as I had expected.

We decided at one point, that we would only have one Region 8 committee a year for financial reasons; we are one of the very few Regions that have two committee meetings per year. We could see that we would run out of money, if we didn't, if we had two meetings a year. We ran it for one year, and then the committee said, "It won't work, we must get together more often. A section chairman serves for two years, and if he can't get to the first meeting, he goes to the next one and then he's out again. We must have a greater continuity." And I mention this because it illustrates what people get from the Region 8 committee. They get a tremendous exchange of experiences: on their problems; with developing chapters; with being familiar with the general policies of headquarters, and how they are to be implemented; with the experience of one section which maybe can help another section. And so on. And at all of these meetings, a very great deal of the most useful work occurs outside the formal meetings, when you chat to people. So participants really do value the experience they get.

And one of the things which Region 8 has turned to now is to give them orientation. We're trying now to have a meeting before every Region 8 committee meeting where we will tell people about the IEEE, how they go about their problems and how the whole thing fits together. I've been an IEEE volunteer for thirty-two years and I learn all the time new aspects of IEEE. It's an extraordinarily complex organization. And somebody who comes into it fresh, and they do into section chairmanship, I mean, they know about their section, they've probably been on the committee, but then suddenly they've got this huge world of IEEE, and all these members' queries, which is — it's quite an experience, for them, to do that. So, we try and orient them before a Region 8 committee, and give them insight into the institute.

Williams:

The boundaries of Region 8, as I first came across it, when it was first formed, were straight lines. It impressed me a lot, because it had been drawn up by somebody at headquarters, and your boundaries in the States are straight lines. [laughter, unintelligible] So a line was drawn down, starting at the Urals, went clean down, chopping a lot of countries in the middle, into two or just a little bit on one side and most of it on the other. And it was some time before it was sorted out into the actual countries and having to follow the wiggly boundaries of the countries, because there was a wiggly boundary in the North of Africa you've already referred to, and one country that kept getting, dropping out of it was Mali, M-A-L-I, and this sort of was like a pimple on the bottom of this strip across the top, and also Mali was counted by the British Post Office as part of North Africa, which was a lower postage rate from the rest of Africa.

Winton:

One of the things which I've been doing more recently is to try and get more contact with members in Region 88 – more recently section 99 — you know these are the people who are not in sections. And there, you know, it helps to know the culture, for instance, because people in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, I knew had some connections with France, who were the colonizers there. So a number of these have now joined the France section. In the Middle East I'm trying to make subsections which would belong to existing sections, and that is still going on. Just to give people a little more feeling that they belong.

Aspray:

You've spoken a little bit to this point, but what does the Region offer to the sections in it, or to the members in it, other than this orientation you referred to, and how has that changed over time?

Winton:

Well, that depends enormously upon the sections. For instance, in the UKRI we've explained what it is, it's mostly the technical content of the publications, and I think you could say that that would apply to a majority of countries in West Europe. But now if you go to Israel, IEEE has become more or less the national society, so we have a lot to offer, and in countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, they are very interested in our technology. And there of course it's mixed, because a lot of people working there are Americans, or at any rate non-native people, because they've gone there to help them develop their national resources.

Aspray:

But my question was slightly different than that.

Winton:

Sorry.

Aspray:

My question was, what does the Region, or Regional structure itself, offer to the sections that are in it, or to the members of those sections; not what IEEE offers, but what the Regional committee offers.

Winton:

The chief thing it offers is the Region 8 newsletter, because that is the only communication that every member gets to tell him about what is going on not only in the Region generally but in his section because Mick Byford, the newsletter editor, invites sections to contribute. And if they wish they can contribute in their own language. Also, of course, the other benefits are, we provide conferences, which we run in various countries, and indirectly, we explain to the chairmen of the various sections through the Region 8 committee, what they can do, and a lot of this has led to the formation of chapters. There's been a tremendous upsurge in the formation of chapters in about the last five or six years, not only here, but there's much more attention focused on it at headquarters and by the societies, because, really, formerly chapters just sort of happened, and there was this conflict, between what allegiance does the chapter owe to the section and what does it owe to the society, and how did the whole thing work together, and this has been very much resolved now, and this is the thing which is offered. Because the important thing about chapters is that they can be formed not necessarily in a capital city or where the main section activities are. For instance, if there happens to be some area, where the computers or the communications people want to talk about their own thing, you can form a chapter there, and this

I think is one of the big advantages which the Region has given to make the chairmen aware of the possibilities of the better service which they can give to their members, which they often haven't heard about. The Region also explains what sections have to do to get their rebate, how they have to send all their reports in, which of course is important to members, so that their section can get financed. And, to explain to chairmen how they can deal with members' problems, usually, problems of payment and so on, and who, in their own country, they can turn to. I'm not going to say that in some cases he gets the problem solved in the long term more quickly, but at least the member feels there's somebody on his doorstep and not way out there somewhere else whom they don't know a lot about. There's somebody there, to whom they can at least make a complaint.

Relations between IEEE & National Societies

Aspray:

We talked at some length about the relationship between the national society and the IEEE in England earlier today. Do you want to speak about that same issue as it arose in some other countries? I think of Germany, for example.

Winton:

Well, it's very often a matter of personalities, and Dr. Paul Dietrich, who was the secretary of the Verband Deutscher Elektrotechniker (VDE), which is the national society in Germany, was a great friend of IEEE, but his successor, whose name I've forgotten, was not. But this is a problem, which painfully and painstakingly we have resolved. And now, I think, there are no problems with national societies which we know about on the Region 8 committee. But we constantly tell chairmen that you must live in harmony with your national society. This is the way to tackle national societies: we're not in competition, we're there to bring an added dimension; people want to join to get the publications. And we can bring to you a wider outlook for your members, we can bring to you speakers through the distinguished speakers programs which otherwise you couldn't get, and we can bring to you major conferences, supported by the leading people in societies in the States, who are often the leaders in particular areas, and thereby we can improve what you can do for your members. And by and large with this approach, we live with the national societies. But I say again, that it is a basic principle of Region 8 that we live harmoniously with the national societies, and in fact I think that's somewhere in the bylaws now. So there are no major problems which I know of at this moment. When the South Africa section went into abeyance because the chairman just didn't do anything, and I managed to get it started up again, I said to the person who said he would organize it, "Well, go to your national society and tell them what you're doing." It's often a matter of letting them know what you're doing.

I will tell you a major point of controversy with national societies which we haven't been able to resolve. It's this. IEEE societies decide to have a conference, let us say in France, and they arrange the whole thing, the theme and the dates, and at some stage when all this has been done, they may or they may not tell the section chairmen, and the section chairman should then go to his national society. Now it can happen that the national society have got a conference on that subject about that time, and they are very, and rightly, upset, and we have been striving for years and years and years to get societies to tell the chairman at the time when the subject or the date can still be changed. It would be the date because for a society conference you can't change the subject very much. We haven't really succeeded, and you might say, well this are the societies, but these societies are the IEEE, that's all the national society sees. They are part of the IEEE, and here they are on our territory, running something in competition with us. And they get very upset about it. I had quite a bit of a problem with the IEE on one occasion about this, because this is what we did to them. And Eric Herz said he would not sign any society conference budget without evidence that they have informed the local section chairman. Well, that meant that chairmen get a bit more notice, but it didn't mean they got it at a time when they could still change anything if they or the national society were running an event in competition a couple of months later. "If you run it now really it's going to take so away many of our attendees. We want to know in time to change the date, and you say, it doesn't suit us to change the date." I don't think we got very far with this, and this is the major point of contention, still, between IEEE and national societies.

Williams:

I remember this cropping up a lot of times.

Winton:

Oh yes.

Williams:

You've got to give warning well ahead, if somebody wants to shift ideas as to when they'll hold a conference.

Winton:

It's not just well ahead, but I say, "It's before it's frozen, and well, the societies say, well, you know we're independent, why should we have a permission from the local national society we've never heard of?" So it's a difficult thing. I haven't heard recently of any particular upsets with this, but it's still always at the back of my mind as a possible source of friction.

Byford:

When you start a chapter, do you not start it under the aegis of the society? Is the society —

Winton:

No, no you start —

Byford:

Can you start a computer chapter without any reference to the computer society?

Winton:

You, well, you have to raise a petition of at least twelve signatures, and that goes to headquarters. Now, I don't know if they consult the society or not. Why should they object to a chapter being formed?

Byford:

Well I don't really know why but it just seems the right thing to do, to advise the parent society.

Aspray:

Yes, that's what I would think.

Winton:

Well, when it's being formed, yes. I don't, honestly don't know because my interest stops when I've got the people organized and sent their petition in, and I'm not quite sure what happens after that. It's out of our hands.

Aspray:

I would think that it would have to go to the society, although I don't know for a fact whether it doesn't, because this is really their province. They're the ones who are lending their authorization to this, their umbrella to this.

Winton:

Well, the societies need not have anything to do with chapters if they don't want to; they can be entirely a creature of sections, which is very unfortunate, but they are financed by the section.

Byford:

I don't know why, but I just thought, it's the sort of thing that if we don't know, we might clear up some time.

Winton:

Well, where we do have problems is the enormous variation in the size of societies. Some of them have their own permanent staff — I mean, the preeminent is the computer society — and some societies are run entirely by volunteers. And it happens that when chapters want to run something, and they might want a bit of financial sponsorship, they don't know to whom to write. This is a problem. It is getting better, now we have a chapter coordinator in Region 8, who can help out, and of course chapters can invite societies to run conferences in Region 8 or in their own country.

Cross-Cultural Issues

Aspray:

You gave me one example of a cultural effect in this organizational structure with the attempt to make French a second language. Can you tell me about some other cultural effects that have shaped the structure or have had to be dealt with by the structure?

Winton:

Turn this off a bit while I think. [break in recording]

Winton:

Well that was a political one on the visa. Well, I think perhaps there's been one with the Region 8 news insofar as Mick Byford will accept now, section, for section members, notices in their own language. So that's one thing. But I don't think we've — I can't recall in any other particular problems that we've had culturally, but their problems have been between Region 8 and headquarters. I think people in Region 8, each section, realize there are huge cultural differences between the different countries within the Region. And they take account of that. But it's not unwillingness at headquarters, it's just the fact that they don't realize there is a problem. And you don't look for a solution unless you've got a problem. And they don't, and it's not their fault. With 95 % at least of the staff being US citizens, it is remarkable that we're as transnational as we are. And if you can paraphrase something, the price of transnationalism is eternal vigilance. [laughter] And when I see something which isn't particularly transnational, I try to write and tell them what perhaps they might have done a little better. But I think we've only had one president who has not been a US citizen, that's Bob Tanner.

Aspray:

A second one coming up next year.

Winton:

Yes, a Canadian, that's right.

Aspray:

What about representation on the board and on other major committees? Is there a feeling in Region 8 that they're underrepresented?

Winton:

Yes. The reason we're underrepresented is that we have to pay for our own fares and accommodations to get to a meeting, and this is rather a sore point about our being invited to serve. I mean, for instance, Folke Bolinder serves on the awards board at headquarters, and Region 8 has to pay for him to visit only one meeting a year, that's all we can afford. And Levent Onural, our student activities chairman, we also have to pay for him. And you do get opportunities to join committees in the States, but you've got to pay for yourself.

Aspray:

I don't think that's universally true, because some committees have their own budgets. In fact I know I pay out of my own budget for our Europeans on our committee.

Winton:

For Region 8?

Aspray:

Yes, indeed.

Winton:

Well, it may not be, but it's not something that I know about. I mean, when I was on the Spectrum editorial board, I never got to a board meeting for financial reasons.

Aspray:

I see.

Winton:

And it is a big hindrance, and I think we could take a far bigger part. I mean it's not just Region 8, it's all the Regions outside 1 through 6, and even within 1 through 6. I remember the first time I went to a meeting in New York, I very proudly announced I'd come three thousand miles to be there, and the chap next to me said, "Well, so have I!" [laughter] He'd come from the West Coast. So you were put in your place culturally then as well. But of course, the difference is that in the States the IEEE is to some extent the national society, and therefore companies are willing to pay for their own staff to take part because of the prestige. Well here companies are not nearly so helpful, because the IEE, the VDE, and the other national societies are the ones companies want their staff to be prominent in, because there they meet their opposite numbers and staff in their own country, and there's much more useful contacts.

Region 8 Governance

Aspray:

Do you have some more information or stories you want to tell about either UKRI or about the Region 8? [laughter]

Williams:

I'm trying to think; you can never think of these things, can you, at the time?

Winton:

Well there was the time when Region 8 was going to go it alone. One of the candidates for IEEE president — they'll tell you his name when you get home because he was so well known, he's died since — who was running on a very strong ticket to form the IEEE into a national society, leave all this transnational business out; and on the Region 8 committee, Bob Williams said, "Well, if we lose the headquarters can we run on our own." And the wonderful thing about all this was that when they analyzed the voting, some people in Region 8 had voted for this guy. [laughter]

Williams:

Funny things have happened over the years, but it's amazing the way they've mostly been solved. Of course one of the things that was unfortunate, is we missed one of the best Regional directors we ought to have had, and that was Bob Winton.

Winton:

Well, you missed Geoffrey Gouriet too.

Williams:

Yes.

Winton:

Oh, well that was a funny story, of myself. That was because I had been working for quite a time in Region 8, and I eventually got the Region 8 director nomination, but we had to put up two candidates, so Rinia, who was then an elder statesman — and this must have been, I can tell you exactly, if I can find it here, in 1978 — rang up Dick Portvliet, and said, "Will you stand as Regional director? You needn't worry, the other candidate's Bob Winton, he's bound to be elected." [laughter] So Dick Portvliet stood and he was elected. [laughter] And he asked me to keep on as secretary of Region 8 and I said, well, of course, yes I'd enjoy it. And he was always most grateful to me that I hadn't sort of gone off in a huff after that.

Williams:

Yes, that was in a time when you weren't allowed to lobby. And I remember putting a bit in the Region 8 newsletter, at that time, I thought tactfully reminding all the UK people that we had given up the idea of putting up a Regional candidate each year because of the dominance of our vote, and to say that we hadn't had anyone from Region 8 in six years, but there was one this year, and I thought that would have swung the vote, but it didn't make a bit of difference [laughter]. Might even have gone the other way!

Winton:

Now that's quite true. In the early days of the Region, through the seventies, after Robert Williams had been director, we didn't put up candidates because we thought they were bound to be elected, because of predominance of members. Maybe they wouldn't have been, I don't know. Sorry, Reg Russell was elected director for 1973-74 after Robert was director in 1967-68.

Williams:

Yes, Reg was the one who voted against preserving the single Region 8 director nomination, at a meeting in Gothenburg.

Winton:

Yes, well we hadn't much chance; I mean, HQ was completely against a single candidate.

Williams:

Yes, we'd got so used in the IEE to working with single nominations that I thought it was a sensible thing to do. I think it is, too, because the average person doesn't really know the abilities of those on the committee and how good a director they'll make. They vote probably on nationalist lines, religious lines, goodness knows what, because that's all we know.

Region 8 & International Politics

Winton:

No, I mean, if you look at the complexity, politically and culturally, within Region 8, we really have never had any major difficulties because of it. It's always worked, because engineering is such a strictly non-political subject. And they've been plunged immediately into the totally non-political atmosphere of Region 8, and it's been most harmonious, so I can't really give you any good stories [laughter] about clashes from this. I mean, the most severe was the one I'd told you about visas, where the Israelis were extremely incensed, because they're very, very sensitive on such an issue. I think the meeting was in Yugoslavia, and they hadn't been allowed to go in, and they were very incensed about that. But apart from that, and as I said before there was the peace between Israel and Egypt; the two chairmen would sit down very happily and get together, no problems at all, and even after the Middle East war we didn't have any problems. One problem we have had, and that's been going on for longer than I can remember, is that we never get a representative from Iran. We have a section there which we've said to headquarters, please don't delete it. That was formed in 1970. But we've only ever once had a representative from there to a Region 8 committee meeting, from 1970 to now. And that's the sort of thing that happens.

Williams:

I remember one meeting we had that must have been almost unprecedented. It was during the Six-Day War, and we had a representative from Egypt and Israel, both sitting around the table, and they both left us to go back to the war! [laughter] For a great many years I used to mail the Region 8 newsletters, and of course a lot went into Israel, others went into Egypt, and I used to think that, when the frontier was the Suez Canal, with the Israelis on one side and the Egyptians on the other, that you would have got troops on both sides, both reading their newsletters, [laughter] and the troops occasionally taking potshots at each other! [laughter]

Winton:

Sometimes our structure reflects politics, for instance we have a Benelux section combining three countries, which have always historically, politically, been very close. Now in Italy, Southern Italy has always been looked on rather as savages by Northern Italy, and the further south you get the more savage they become. I mean, Sicily is only inhabited by Mafia, as far as the Milanese are concerned. So we have a North Italy, and a Central and South Italy section, and that was formed from the beginning, that wasn't a split politically. That was how they originally wanted it to be done. So to these extents, we reflect — and I mean now I'm forming subsections, or trying to, in the Middle East. I have to look at the politics; I mean it's not a good idea to ask Israel if they want a Saudi Arabia subsection. So you have to try [laughter] and look at the map. It's quite bewildering sometimes, because there are some, about six countries you would never hear of, they're called the United Arab Emirates, who have a section. I have list of what the countries are in my file, but I never remember who they are.

Williams:

There is a single section uniting the UK and Republic of Ireland. But I think we have suggested once or twice that the Republic could form itself into a section or subsection.

Winton:

Yes, they're looking at it again now.

Perhaps another thing we might mention is where we hold the Region 8 committee meetings. And this is done to some extent with an eye on what it's going to cost us. I mean for instance we probably wouldn't run one in Cape Town, but it's also run, very much, with an eye on where we had the last one. And we spread it around. Because we feel that it's something the sections welcome, if we meet in their country. This is something that we keep an eye on.

Standards and Ethics

Aspray:

Is there anything to be said about standards and the IEEE with regard to Region 8?

Winton:

You mean the entry standards?

Aspray:

No, as, like —

Williams:

Safety standards.

Aspray:

Safety standards and things of that sort.

Williams:

Well I got very deeply involved in all this, and it was never really resolved. The standards so far as the world standards are concerned, of course is settled by the what is it, the outfit in Switzerland, the IEC —

Winton:

The International Electrotechnical Commission.

Williams:

— technical Commission. And I was chairman of two of those committees. First of all household appliances, and after that, electronic data and office machines, and I did seven years on one and ten years on the other. And both were serviced by an American secretary, who was a member of the IEEE, and yet there seemed to be no connection whatever between the work that was done by the IEEE on standards, which is quite considerable, and what was fed in to the IEC by an American secretary.

Aspray:

That's very strange.

Winton:

But there is no influence by Region 8 or any of its sections at all on standards. That is done between whoever does it in the US, and national committees —

Williams:

BSI, yes.

Winton:

— because each or most countries have a national committee of the IEC, which feeds their recommendations in and implements decisions. Countries also have their own national standards committees. We have the British Standards Institute which sets standards here. But there is no input from IEEE whatsoever, and one thinks particularly of the computer society standards which are more or less worldwide. There is no input from Region 8 on that except in so far as some people who happen to be members in Region 8, might sit on committees concerned with it, but we have no regulation at all on standards.

Byford:

One often has the distinct impression that the IEEE standards are attempting to take over the world standards, because they do talk about world standards. And one gets this impression because there's nowhere any mention of other international or national bodies who are also setting standards. So I wonder whether there is in fact very much cooperation between the IEEE and the rest of the standards world.

Aspray:

I don't know the answer to that question. It's a good question.

Winton:

The other area where Region 8 has no interest or influence is in ethics, because our members take their ethical code from the national societies.

Aspray:

What about those countries that don't have a national society?

Winton:

Well, I don't know what happens in Region 88.

Aspray:

But are there some countries served by Region 8 that have sections but don't have national societies, like the Israelis, for example?

Winton:

It's not that they don't have one, but the IEEE now seems to have the major influence. But, you were asking what influence Region 8 has on ethics, all I'm saying is, none. How people operate who don't have a national society, I couldn't tell you. But Region 8 has never discussed ethical standards, and I don't think that we ever would wish to, because you might get 35 different answers around the table. We've never discussed it. We've never had an input on ethics, and we've never made an output. It's an area in which we don't mix at all in Region 8.

Byford:

It's an unusual state of affairs because the current standards for widescreen television, the HDTV, there are two distinct standards, and you get the impression that these two groups — one in the States, one in Europe — are just not talking to one another at all.

Winton:

Yes, but Region 8 wouldn't get them to talk together, it's not a Region 8 sort of problem.

Byford:

I don't think it's a Region 8 thing; it's a national, or an international difference.

Winton:

Well there are always peculiar things with standards, because everybody wants its own national standards of course to be adopted worldwide.

Williams:

As a matter of fact, I think you've correctly raised a point that really needs, I think, looking at quite solidly and carefully by the IEEE itself, because as I say for 20 years, I was very intimately connected with the IEC standards, with an American secretary, nominated as chairman by the American secretary, and I never at any time found that what is the view held by the IEEE on a particular standard ever got mentioned in any of those meetings. In fact, it seemed to me rather irrelevant, it was a lot of work going on in standards, at the same time the US was playing a very big part in standardization, without apparently bringing their own standards committee into it at all as such.

Winton:

Right, next question.

Williams:

There's a director of standards, isn't there?

Aspray:

Oh yes, there's a very large standards activity that, mostly national.

Williams:

I know, I came across this, it astonished me whatever it was, what was it doing?

Winton:

Well ask the next president. He was very prominent. He was on standards, Wally Reed. He had a great deal of interest, and still has.

Educational Services

Aspray:

A similar kind of question only in different area, continuing education. IEEE tries to have a series of programs to continue education for its engineers. Are those of value to the members of Region 8?

Winton:

Well that's quite a long history, because when I was secretary I realized there was a lot of material coming out of headquarters on education, and there was an output, but there was no matching input in Region 8, so we set somebody up to look after continuing education. And headquarters were continually saying, "You don't take our material, why not?" And I explained to them that, as I've already mentioned in connection with UKRI, there is so much going on by national societies, now by commercial companies, by universities, that everything the professional development, continuing education people need, they can find locally. Now there are exceptions to this: mostly now in East Europe and in the African countries, where they do want the material. We now have an educational activities representative on the Region 8 committee.

I think you should know how the Region 8 committee is constituted. As well as the director, chairman, and the section officers, there are a number of people who look after the same subject for all the sections, and one of them is the representative for educational activities, which is Kurt Richter at the moment. And he is trying to give a hand to these people who need it. But the idea which headquarters have that here is this huge Region 8, and a wonderful input for all our continuing education material isn't right. Apart from the fact that some of it is in a very American idiom. I mean technically it's good but sometimes the writing is obscure, the video is not really in our idiom at all, it's just one person talking and talking and talking to you, people don't get very interested. One of the major things that we've had to look at is this matter of Recognized Educational Programs, REP, because when somebody applies to become a member, the applications and advancements committee looks at their educational background, and where were they educated, and if headquarters has been advised that this is a recognized program, all right he goes through. The big problem has been to collect all the programs which are nationally recognized and with the standing which the chairman of the section or somebody prominent in the section says, "Yes, this is a good program." It's not only the university; it's also the program of a particular course, so it's a complex business. You don't recognize an entire university; it's the program on a particular course at the university which is recognized. That has to be advised to headquarters.

Well now with the new sections coming in, especially those from East Europe this has been a very complex task, and Kurt Richter is heavily engaged on it. So this has been a major activity in the educational area for Region 8. But as regards the material, yes it has some uses. I know from King's College, London, for instance, a professor gives courses in various places in East Europe. Not as far as I know in Africa. And there the material can be of use. But it varies a very great deal from section to section. And in talking about Region 8, on almost any subject, you've got to say which sections are you talking about. Because there is an enormous difference between the state of technology and manufacture and research and development in Western Europe from what there is in other countries. You have to take that very much into account in these sorts of questions.

Byford:

Do these courses concentrate on the education of engineers or in bringing them up to date with modern practice? Is there any division here, between these two?

Winton:

Oh yes, I mean the courses which are run commercially, they are expensive, what are we talking about? I mean, they could be, say $1400 for a two-day seminar.

Byford:

Oh yes, the Swiss and Swedish ones are very good, and very expensive, but what are they intended to do, to educate an engineer say up to degree standard, or to educate an engineer in the modern application of technology?

Winton:

In the modern application because they are, in talking technically, almost entirely aimed at people who've graduated. Therefore they are part of their continuing education.

Byford:

But is the IEEE continuing education program aimed at the same audience.

Winton:

Yes.

Aspray:

Yes it is, it is intended to —

Winton:

Yes, a lot of it is, I mean, it is, there is material for students, but when you talk continuing education you're talking about the education which you could or should continue to have after you've graduated. When you've started your career, only too often, especially in the UK, you just pick other things up as you go along, whereas you should be, as your career advances, going out into education and coming back, even if this bit going out to education is only a two days' course. And a lot of this now is bringing people up to date, with the very latest thing, especially the commercial courses. There are also summer schools which go on for longer; they're run by the universities. There are commercial courses, there are university courses, they're evening courses that people with jobs can go to. But there isn't much you can't find now, in a particular area. The big difference has been that in the '60s and '70s, industry was better off, and they were willing to send people on to conferences and courses, not closely allied to what they were doing, to keep them broad. They don't do that anymore. They just send them to something which will help them to do their present job better. And if you change your job then you've got to pick it up new knowledge all over again. That's been the big change. And the result of that has been that conferences have had to change their complexion from being conferences of broad interest to being conferences which are rather narrow on a particular subject. We started a conference in about 1970 or so we called Eurocon, European Conference. And that was a broad conference, and it never took off, the numbers never got to what they should be, because it was too broad. And we tried various ways of making it go but it never did, and it's been discontinued now. And our policy now in Region 8 is to discontinue broad conferences, run conferences on a narrower front, and workshops and this kind of thing. But that also has been a major change.

Aspray:

Has there been a desire for or a call for any geographically specific publications? A version of Spectrum that's for Europe or a research problems of developing countries, or something along those lines?

Winton:

There's been no call for it; it would be the very negation of what people want. They want the publications because they are international. And they don't want them to deal with their own particular country. Everybody who joins IEEE does it on the basis that it works in English, and apart from that all the international goings-on are in English. Of course, when they have their own committees they can run them in their own language.

Byford:

I think some attempts have been made to run courses in other languages, though. I have Spanish in mind.

Winton:

Yes but run by Spaniards.

Byford:

Yes run by Spaniards, but they could be equally well used in the western United States.

Winton:

Yes. What, you mean if the person could do them in English?

Byford:

Well I'm just wondering if it is true that we have not tried to pander, if you like that word, to other nations, nations who don't generally speak English, or don't speak English well.

Winton:

No. Not as far as I know. As far as I know, the distinguished lecturers programs that I've seen have never mentioned that they could also give it in a different language.

Byford:

No, I don't think so.

Winton:

No. I think this is more predominant in South America, what is that, Region 9, in Region 9, because they particularly want Spanish and there has been a request recently that they want people in headquarters who can speak Spanish when they ring up, so their English isn't quite that good. But we've not had it in Region 8. I've never heard of somebody who said could we get a distinguished speaker who would speak in French or German or Italian or whatever. We have tried to get speakers' programs going from our own speakers in Region 8, which is much more economic because they don't have to travel that far. It met with very limited success and I don't think we've got many of speakers from Region 8 on the society's distinguished speakers' programs either. That is something that wants to be developed. The difficulty in getting speakers over here is to make the thing viable by getting them to talk to a number of sections in sequence. But the difficulty is coordinating the dates between the sections, getting people to answer communications and so on.

Byford:

The reason why I ask that question is that I get a number of requests from Piscataway to publicize the continuing education material that they have, and they send me details of advertisements which they hope to put in Region 8 News. But first they don't seem to realize that the Region 8 News is more or less a commercial venture. If I don't get enough advertising there isn't enough money to pay for it. It's as simple as that. But Piscataway doesn't seem to realize that if you want to publicize these things you've got to know what the rules are at the publishing end of the game. But they're certainly quite enthusiastic and they do write a number of letters asking, or requesting, that they should be publicized. And I wonder how much the people behind the publishing department actually know of the basis of the problem.

Winton:

What do they want published?

Byford:

Books, and what do they call it, teleconferencing, and things of that sort.

Winton:

Oh, I see. And they don't want to pay for the advertisements?

Byford:

No they don't want to pay for the advertisements. But if I put advertisements in for free I'd be the most popular editor in the business.

Winton:

Because the Institute now has a big center page always with the IEEE publications, and it must pay for that.

Aspray:

Yes, they do pay for that.

Williams:

Well, you probably know enough about the English culture. One of its immutable customs is to stop at 4:00 for tea. [laughter] And it's getting on to that now, I was wondering if you'd like to have a cup of tea. [unintelligible] They'll be mugs of tea; it won't be elegant tea.

Winton:

That's all right.

Williams:

But it will be something to drink.

Winton:

Is there anything else?

Williams:

There's always something afterward, the most interesting part of the meeting takes place after tea. [laughter]

Winton:

I'm afraid that I haven't got a funny story about Region 8. I don't suppose there are a lot of funny things that happened.

Byford:

I think I've gone away more educated than I was when I came.

Winton:

Well, I'm glad one person has. I think we all have.

Williams:

Oh, I have too.

Linguistic Issues

Winton:

No, apart from the story about Oxford and Cambridge, which I've always remembered.

Williams:

The question of language did crop up, I was thinking, at the very start of the Region 8 newsletter. I started the Region 8 newsletter when I became director, as the third director, after Lebel, and it was at a meeting — French.

Winton:

Well, of course, he was a Frenchman.

Williams:

And I remember arguing about this, and deciding well it's not worth going ahead if we're going to split up into different languages, because it will be against the whole principle of the IEEE. And I rather left it like that. But the following day Lebel phoned me, apologized for breaking up the meeting the previous day, and said that he would agree to it being in English. [laughter] We went ahead and published in English, and until I think you introduced the foreign language usage, Mick.

Byford:

Well, I have published in Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, but the reason for that is that I divided the information into two. That was for local consumption, where in most cases meetings are held in a local language, and that which was for general consumption, in which case I wanted it in English. But I think if one can do it it's better to have it in English. But particularly the French are very keen on having theirs written in French. If I edit it, as I frequently do, I get a sharp letter from the lady who writes the material. [laughter]

Williams:

Oh yes. Mucking about with the French language. [laughter]

Financial Issues

Winton:

Perhaps another relevant thing to Region 8 is that at the end of the seventies, I learned, we were then in some financial problems as to how we were going to make the money we received from headquarters pay for all we wanted to do, particularly the Region 8 committee meetings. And I was over at the end of the seventies and quite by chance I learned to my astonishment that Regions were permitted to make an assessment. And I had never heard of this before, and I thought well this is the solution to our problems. So I came back and I worked with this on Dick Portvliet, then Region 8 director, because we had to put up a case with figures in and we had to forecast what inflation would be like and so on, and we fixed the assessment at seven dollars, and it's now eleven. So that is in about sixteen years not too bad, probably less than the rate of inflation-

Williams:

Great Lord, yes!

Winton:

— and that has been the salvation of our finances.

Williams:

Absolutely!

Winton:

We've had now to tighten up quite a lot on what we pay for Region 8 committees, because some people are traveling first class and this kind of thing, but we've managed to hold our expenses within the revenue we're getting, and in fact do quite a lot, as you'll see in that thing I gave you, towards financing the library project and paying for some memberships. And we also for about three years ran a project system for sections which had a particular item they wanted financed. We wouldn't pay revenue items, for instance we wouldn't pay for a paid secretary, because within two or three years you get all your money tied up in a continual outlet and there's nothing to show, except a few secretaries around. This was for capital outlets, and I remember, we bought quite a lot of computer teaching equipment for Nigeria, just to give you an example, and this worked quite well. But we have an excellent treasurer at the moment, Rolf Remshardt, who loves working out figures and graphs and pie charts and all kinds of thing, to show us just where our money is going, and where it's going to go. And financially now, we're just managing to keep ourselves going.

Williams:

It's the same one?

Winton:

Yes, yes.

Byford:

He does a marvelous job.

Winton:

Yes.

Byford:

I wouldn't want his job for anything. [laughter]

Aspray:

Shall I turn this off?