AVS Historical Persons | A. John Gale & John Durant - 1992

A. John Gale & John Durant - 1992

Oral History Interview with A. John Gale & John Durant

Interviewed by Sherwood (Joe) Burnett, 1992

BURNETT: In 1993, the American Vacuum Society will celebrate its 40th anniversary. We're here this afternoon to discuss the formative years of the American Vacuum Society, in which it was known as the Committee on Vacuum Techniques. We're in the residence of John Durant, one of the founder members. And John is sitting to my right, as a matter of fact. He was at that time with National Research Corporation. He was the chair of the Publicity and Publications in 1954 and '55. To his left as viewed from the camera is Mr. A. John Gale, who was at that time at the high voltage equipment engineering company, High Voltage Engineering Corporation. He was also a founder member representative and an author in the first symposium. I am Sherwood "Joe" (my nickname) Burnett. I was not a member, but I was at National Research Corporation at the time that the Committee on Vacuum Techniques was established. Behind the camera, not visible at the moment, is James Lafferty, who was at that time from GE Research Laboratories. He later became President of the American Vacuum Society. We're going to ask a few questions and do a little reminiscing on subjects that will be of considerable interest to the members. But before we do that, I wanted to show you a program for a symposium that was held by National Research Corporation as early as 1947, which in some ways was a precursor of the Committee on Vacuum Techniques, having occurred about seven years before.

DURANT: That was quite a successful meeting, actually. And it was all done under the auspices of National Research Corporation. But some of the other people in the vacuum equipment business were invited to participate and cooperate. It was held at the Commander Hotel just outside of Harvard Square. At the time, it was a very heady experience that you could get a bunch of people in one place, just coming out of interest and so on. You know, you weren't giving them anything or anything of that sort. But it gave us a sense of the potential that there was in the industry. It was a dramatic start-up time. John, I think you have some ideas about some of the other things that came after that.
: Yes, after that, what was really the very, very beginning of the Committee on Vacuum Techniques was a meeting that a few of us held at the Smith House near MIT. I know that, of course, because I was there. And Walton Briggs from General Electric, Arthur Vidali1 from Arthur D. Little, and I think, but I'm not quite sure, that Harry Bliven was there. But out of that meeting - it was only about eight people - was the kernel for the June 1953 meeting which was in Boston. John Durant, you know more about that than I do.

DURANT: Okay. I think John; that actually that June 1953 meeting was in New York2. I think at that point, there were a lot of vacuum tube folks down in north Jersey there and Long Island also. That meeting was held in June of '53, and 56 people attended. There was a strong feeling that, hey, we've really got to do something. There was a young physicist at the Jarrel Ash Company, a fellow named - 

GALE: Fred McNally.

DURANT: Fred McNally, exactly right.

GALE: He was the instigator.

DURANT: He was the cocklebur under the seat, under the saddle. Boy, he just kept after us and said, "Why don't you guys do something? Look, we've just got to have a forum where we can get together and exchange information on vacuum techniques, so that things can progress."

BURNETT: He was getting that message across to every vendor that called him.
: Absolutely. They came in to sell him pumps and valves and gauges, and he'd say, "Well, yes. I can learn this from you and this from you. But there ought to be a common ground where we can all meet and get into this thing." So seven days later, the Committee on Vacuum Techniques was formed. It was interesting, because how did we get that name? Well, we didn't want to be presumptuous and so we copied Hoyt Hottle, over at MIT. He was a hands-on kind of a fellow, and his field was combustion and flame propagation. He and a group of people who were interested in that, decided to form a committee on combustion. So we felt, well, if Hoyt Hottle can have a committee on combustion, let's call ours the Committee on Vacuum Techniques. And that's the way it started. 
We tried to develop an inexpensive logo, so the idea was it would be the Committee, as a big letter C with a VT for the vacuum techniques; but here again we had to take latitude with the way the thing was printed so it would show3. But that's basically the way it all happened. So it was from there that we went along and started.

BURNETT: Well, the original idea was that it was felt, as I understand it, at that time, that a lot of vacuum techniques, if you will, or vacuum technology, had already been developed, but there was no organization to promote the interchange of information on this particular subject, which interlaced with many other fields.

GALE: The complaint was, of course, that the only information was coming from manufacturers who had their own self-interest to take care of, and you really needed a technical interchange.

DURANT: I think it would be interesting to just note who some of these people were. We had the meeting4 at Asbury Park, New Jersey. And at that point, we had the people.

GALE: I have an anecdote about the fact that it was held at Asbury. I don't know whether you will want to put this in. But the complaint was from the "girls" at Asbury Park. They were getting no business. They had thought it was something to do with vacuum cleaner salesmen. [Laughter]

DURANT: Well anyway, the people in the original committee; the chairman was Joseph B. Merrill, Chairman, Committee on Permanent Organization, and he was President of High Vacuum Equipment Corporation. We had Rudy A. Koehler of General Electric Company, Chairman of the Committee on Symposium Programs. We had Harry Bliven, who was Chairman of the Committee on Finance. His affiliation was Vacuum Electronic Engineering Company, which we now know as Veeco. Lyle Backer was Chairman of the Committee on Symposium Arrangements. He was with Central Sales and Manufacturing Company. I'm a little bit vague, but I think that they were in the business of making special vacuum tubes, power tubes, and that kind of thing. I took the role of Committee on Publicity and Publications and, as Joe mentioned, my affiliation was National Research Corporation. Benjamin B. Dayton was Chairman of the Committee on Standards and Nomenclature. He was with Consolidated Vacuum Corporation, the new name of the company which was originally known as Distillation Products Incorporated. Fred McNally was Chairman of the Committee on Education. After having needled us into starting this organization, why, we felt that we'd better give him a job! [Laughs] So he got the job of the Committee on Education. And the real grandfather of high vacuum, certainly in the United States, was Kenneth C.D. Hickman, and he was our Honorary Symposium Chairman. We felt that it gave us an aura of respectability to have Hickman's name associated with us.

GALE: To have the inventor of the diffusion pump.

DURANT: Right.

GALE: I have a little story about that. At a subsequent meeting (I've forgotten which one), Ken was talking to me. He said, "I was talking to a Japanese gentleman, and he said to me, ‘Are you Professor or Doctor Hickman who invented the diffusion pump?'" And Ken said yes he was. And the Japanese man said to him, "Oh, so glad you not dead!" [Laughs]

DURANT: Oh, my!

BURNETT: Where did these people meet?

DURANT: The executive committee had to get together fairly often. You know, some of the nuts and bolts. We had a post office box in Boston, P.O. Box 1282 (I have a perverse memory that recalls trivia!). And Harry Bliven had the key, and he was out on the road selling for Veeco, so he had more mobility. He'd go empty the mailbox and come over to NRC and we'd sit and read the mail together and then get on the phone and call up people and tell them what was going on and needle them into, you know, doing things, doing what they ought to do. You got anything to add to that, John?

GALE: No, because I wasn't terribly active in that second and third year.

DURANT: Yes, we got you in later, though. Yes, you bet.

BURNETT: Well, speaking of the founder and memories as we have been, what was their role, actually?

GALE: Well, the role of the founder members was to supply the seed money for the progress of the Committee on Vacuum Techniques. I know that I went back to Dennis Robinson and said, "Oh, we should ante-up for this organization. It's going to be well worthwhile." I presume you did the same at National Research.

DURANT: I did, as a matter of fact. And I can clearly remember Dick Morse saying, "Well, you know, this thing may not go. But if it does, we want to wind up running it. So we'll put up some money, and you'll be our committee representative." So we were off and running. It was a very, very gratifying kind of thing to be in this thing and to see it move.

BURNETT: It was a forward look, really, beyond this year's interest and next year's interest; several years ahead. But as the society grew, the various founder members and other later affiliated companies must have grown, too.

GALE: And of course, good vacuum was essential to our operation at High Voltage Engineering Corporation. We were proponents of the mercury diffusion pump, so that there would be no contamination in the high voltage tube. Later on, it turned out to be not completely necessary. But it was an interesting exercise.

DURANT: Well, you were the despair of all the pump manufacturers! Because of course, we were going oil and we could never crack that nut over at High Voltage. [Laughs] You were building some pretty big systems. It was a real frustration, I can tell you! 
But if you look at the companies that were originally involved. I have a list here of the founder member companies. Central Sales and Manufacturing. I have no idea whether they're even still in business or or who their successor was!

BURNETT: They continued to supply gauge tubes with manufacturers like National Research, for example.

DURANT: Yes. Then you had Consolidated Vacuum Corporation, which of course had several owners, but they still exist. GE, of course, there'll always be a General Electric. High Vacuum Equipment Corporation, I think, has fallen on hard times. High Voltage Engineering. What's with High Voltage?

GALE: Well, they folded in '88, I think. They split up. They were subject to a hostile takeover.

DURANT: Mmm. But basically, the technology of the Van De Graff generator and so on as a way of producing neutrons, there are more economical ways of doing that now.

GALE: Yes. But the trouble was that the nuclear physics market, which was one of the mainstays of High Voltage, with the tandems and so on and so forth, dropped off. The emphasis became high-energy physics.

DURANT: And then we had Kinney Manufacturing. That's still going strong; they've got a new plant down in Canton, part of New York Air Brake, and now I guess they're part of General Signal. The Liberty Mirror Division of Ford, they were interested in reflection of projection television. So they were very much interested in the potential of vacuum mirrors at that point. National Research, now Varian Vacuum. Optical Film Engineering Company is now well known as Denton Vacuum. They've been quite a successful company. Sylvania Electric, we know it now more as GTE, I think. Vacuum Electronic Engineering, Veeco, and the W.M. Welch Manufacturing Company. So they were the ones to whom AVS owe thanks for the existence of the society.

BURNETT: It may be appropriate at this point to read the symposium notes going back to the first symposium, because there's a lot of history involved here. I'll read directly from the book: "By final count, 307 guests attended the First Symposium on Vacuum Technology, sponsored by the Committee on Vacuum Techniques. Many guests remarked that the program was a little on the rugged side, with not enough time for indulging in individual discussions, which are such an important part of this type of gathering. The committee acknowledges that there was little time for discussion or relaxation, the result of the decision not to break the program into sections. It was felt preferable to arrange the program in such a fashion that a guest could attend any and all papers, thus avoiding the dilemma of which session to attend when two papers of nearly equal interest are presented simultaneously, as in the multisection-type of technical society meetings. "Technical sessions were ably presided over by the Honorary Chairman, Dr. K. C. D. Hickman, assisted by Prof. Wayne D. Nottingham, Prof. H. W. Schleuning , and Mr. Rudy Koehler. Dr. Hickman also gave the brief introductory address to open the meeting. Holding to a tight schedule, discussion immediately following papers had to be limited, and in many cases eliminated entirely. Authors cooperated by making themselves available for discussion in late afternoons and evenings. Numerous members took advantage of these opportunities and many brisk discussions were held in the conference rooms. "The Symposium banquet was held Thursday evening. Dr. Hickman presided. He introduced the members at the speaker's table. The highlight of the evening was the address by A. S. D. Barrett, Technical Director of W. Edwards and Company, Limited. Mr. Barrett, whose company is one of Britain's largest manufacturers of vacuum equipment, spoke of the use of vacuum processes abroad. He emphasized the growth and the variety of applications and the continuous search for new ones. A lighter side of the evening was admirably handled by Dr. Barrett, who cited references, in the copious literature of anecdote and fact, having to do with unusual and humorous applications of vacuum technique. Following the technical sessions, which ended Friday mid-morning, the First Annual Meeting was held." So that's an interesting little look back on the early days.

GALE: An interesting thing at that meeting was that we elected Ken Hickman and Arthur Barrett to life membership5. There was another occasion, but I'll mention that later.

BURNETT: Well, that was a well-attended session, too, wasn't it? For the budding new society to get 307, or whatever that count was that you mentioned. And I think they gave 34 papers. That contrasts rather dramatically with the 1992 meeting of the American Vacuum Society, where there were 965 papers. That's an incredible growth!

BURNETT: That's quite a change.

GALE: How many attendees, do you know?

DURANT: I don't have that figure. But it's probably many, many, many hundreds.

GALE: Where was this held?

DURANT: Gosh, John, I'm not sure I can come up with that. Chicago, perhaps? I think it was Chicago6.

GALE: Shall we move on to 1955?

DURANT: Yes, I guess we did! And I have to tell a war story about the agony of getting out the Transactions. Because of course, a lot of people came to the meeting, and maybe they didn't get to all of the sessions. But they sure wanted to get that publication. And in order to, again, make ourselves respectable, we made a profound promise that there would be Transactions published and we would get all the papers out. So, "When are you going to have the papers?" Well, we didn't know what we were going to do. And Mr. Dar Welch, of the W. M. Welch Scientific Company, which also had a publishing arm - they used to get out educational materials, you know, such as the periodic chart that you had to hang in your office, which was published by the Welch Company - and he very magnanimously volunteered to publish and distribute the Transactions at his expense. And it was an absolutely marvelous gesture, far beyond what any of the other founder members had done by writing checks at the beginning. As Chairman of the Publications, I had the responsibility of editing them. And also the biggest problem was to work over the authors to have them get their manuscripts in. We finally had to set a deadline. Rudy Koehler very graciously offered to work with me. The two of us went out to Chicago to the offices of the Welch Company, which was a great, huge room, a great big bullpen. And there was Dar Welch on an elevated platform in the middle of it all so that he could keep his eye on everybody. There was an engineering department over in the corner, an accounting department somewhere else, and a bunch of folks in the sales department, , you know, calling customers and that kind of thing. And Rudy and I were given a table, and we were feverishly working over these last-minute manuscripts that came in. And then we turned the whole thing over to Welch. They published, and the result is this [Shows a copy of the hardbound Transactions]. It's really a very nice job. It's got pictures and a very faithful reproduction of the material that the authors contributed. But it was really a wonderful thing. I think it added a lot of dignity to the organization. But, you know, Dar Welch was a classy guy, and nothing less than that would have suited him. Wonderful person!

BURNETT: There was a lot of enthusiasm for another meeting7 in Pittsburgh in October 1955 at the Mellon Institute. Were you connected with that, John? Or was that before you - 

GALE: That was John Bowman.

BURNETT: But that was before your most active participation in the Society?

GALE: Yes.

DURANT: That was an amazing switch, because first of all, we got 284 attendees. We had more people attending, but there were only 20 papers. What was the reason? Well, the reason was that the level of engineering was a lot more sophisticated and the papers were of far greater length. And it was very, very evident that a lot of the Pittsburgh people were deeply involved in some of the early work that developed the profound vacuum metallurgical industry. There was a paper, for example, by Universal Cyclops on the business of hydrogen explosions in a low-pressure environment, because there was a great deal of interest in hydrogen degassing titanium in big vacuum furnaces. People were, quite properly, concerned about the possibility of hydrogen explosions.

BURNETT: I think an important technical consideration concerning Pittsburgh at that time was whether the city had been cleaned up yet. I was there in the early ‘50s, and I remember being unable to see the sun at eleven in the morning.! I couldn't quite see where it was. And being there about ten years later, and it didn't seem like the same city. It was absolutely marvelous. But that hadn't been completed, I guess, at the time.

GALE: Not at the time of that meeting. It was still quite dirty.

DURANT: A pretty grungy place! Yes, the Mellon Institute was a fabulous facility. The lecture hall and the facilities for showing slides and so on were marvelous. Then we had a big dinner meeting downtown at the William Penn Hotel. We decided to bring in a guest speaker to add a little spice to the thing. We didn't have a feisty fellow like Arthur Barrett from the first year. We were sort of looking for a name. So we engaged Willie Lay, who, I believe, had been an associate of Werner Von Braun, and he'd written several books for popular consumption on this whole idea of space travel and that kind of thing. He gave an address on the physics and engineering of a satellite shot. Of course, here we were in 1955, which was two years before Sputnik. But here again, we felt that our little vacuum society, our fledgling vacuum society, was already sort of looking off into the future and obviously getting into the back room on some of the things that were going on. It took two more years before the general public had any idea of something like a satellite.

BURNETT: And 15 years before the landing on the moon!

DURANT: Yes, exactly.

BURNETT: Did you have a…?

GALE: No. Sputnik was '56?

BURNETT: I think it was '57. I think so, because I had personal considerations that remind me of it. But it was an astonishing thing to see. You know, when you look back and think of what we knew at that time and think of what's transpired since then, it's absolutely astonishing. Getting into that, there are a number of trends that were apparent at the time; sophistication in engineering; trends towards larger vacuum systems, which is a precursor of testing for space exploration; the hydrogen explosion problem, which you've just touched upon, John; and analytical techniques, particularly electron microscopy and analysis of gases in a vacuum furnace and in many other applications too, analysis of gases at very low pressures. So do you have some further comments to make in that field, John?

GALE: No. I was just remembering the tremendous sizes of the vacuum systems that were used at Oak Ridge in separation of the isotopes of uranium, and also the large vacuum systems that were in use with E. O. Lawrence's cyclotron, and so forth, at Berkeley.

BURNETT: Only a few years after diffusion pumps had emerged; that little glass device is in the laboratory!

DURANT: But it's astonishing, really, when you look at the growth of the market-driven commercial developments. I mean: TV tube aluminizing was coming along; dehydration of refrigeration products, like orange juice. I remember NRC made a connection with Leybold, and we brought in those German mechanical pumps, which brought gas ballast to the United States for the first time. They'd been using gas ballast in the Continent for many years previously. But it just came in. This made a lot of things possible that previously had not been very feasible economically because of the oil contamination problem.

GALE: And one of the things that this was leading to was the necessity for standardization in the whole industry. Ben Dayton was doing yeoman work in that area.

DURANT: Yes. And he assembled a very distinguished group of people. R. M. Lawrance, Dick Lawrance, from NRC, worked very closely with him. And there were people at Veeco and the mechanical pump manufacturers. They all really got together, because again, instead of having these little kingdoms around like city-states, why, they suddenly just decided that they really had to get together. Standards was a thankless job; a lot of tough detail to work over. And I guess they had some pretty strong arguments about things, but they finally made some pretty definite decisions.

GALE: There needed to be a rational approach to plumbing in a vacuum facility.

BURNETT: Just to interject this for a minute, I'm thinking of the problems that the European community are having right now with individual nations having their own interests and being reluctant to subject - 

GALE: A little bit of territory.

BURNETT: Right. And here is an example in one field of high technology in which individual manufacturers, users, and so forth, were willing to disclose and exchange enough information for the benefit of everybody, without necessarily impairing their own territory.

DURANT: Well, I guess from what we're seeing, it's no surprise that there was a decision made to have yet another meeting. So along came 1956, and Chicago. Well, Chicago's a great place for almost any kind of a convention. And lo and behold, we got 549 attendees and 41 papers and a new slate of officers, among them John Gale, who was the Treasurer. And the publications task was awarded to the Pergamon Press. I, again, served in the editorial capacity. This time I was working with Edmond Perry of DPI. But we had heard about the Pergamon Press, which at that point was a fledging publishing company, and they had a second-floor office, a walk-up office, in the east 60s8. I went in there and had a chat with a young woman and told her what I wanted to do.

GALE: A Scottish woman, if I remember.

DURANT: Yes, right. And I showed her the nice job that the Welch Company had done on the first two publications, and she said, yes, she thought they could do that, "But of course, we'll have to get approval." And the next thing, I heard some heavy footsteps on the stairway and this booming voice, and in walked this great, big, impressive character. He had a double-breasted blue blazer and French cuffs and a deep, booming voice - a very impressive character. And this was Robert Maxwell, whom they called Captain Bob. Well, Captain Bob extended a hand, which was about the size of a bunch of bananas - he was just big all over, you know! Sure enough, they took on the job of publishing the Transactions. Did a very nice job. It's sort of amusing to think about coming in contact with this person who went on to have rather a notorious history. And I think you had some other stories about that.

GALE: Yes. He visited me once in my home. I'm afraid my wife said, "Don't like him!" There was some comment in our organization that he was too pushy. I don't know whether you remember that. Dar Welch, particularly, felt he was out of place with our more gentle society.

BURNETT: But that was a precursor of things to come in his life.

DURANT: Oh, I'll say. Yes. That's just an incredible thing. And again, the fact that the life of the little old CVT was touched by Robert Maxwell, who came to a very unhappy end, looking at a clipping from the Boston Globe, November of '91, I guess this was, when his untimely end was told. I guess Ben Dayton - Jim Lafferty, you told us about this - Ben Dayton was actually wined and dined by Robert Maxwell when he was over in England.

LAFFERTY: That's right, in his home!

GALE: Oh, yes. He had a place near Oxford, Bob Maxwell did, which was Heddington Hill Hall, which was the headquarters of Pergamon Press. He told me that his rent for it was so many peppercorns, and the guarantee that you would take care of the peacocks in the garden. [Laughter]

BURNETT: Right. This is a kind of a review of the first three meetings, which were really the formative stage of what later was to become the American Vacuum Society. The name was changed, in fact, at that time. And you have some - 

GALE: Yes. The name was changed to the American Vacuum Society. A little later on, the umbrella of the American Physical Society took over. That was when, John?

DURANT: Late '57, I would say. It was a tremendous relief because, you know, success was killing us. I mean, getting out all the mailings to 549 people who attended that last meeting. And the founder members, who had put in their small stipend at the beginning, were looking at the member representatives and how much company time we were spending on AVS. I'll bet I spent 50% of my time for at least a couple of years when I was at NRC! Suddenly, my boss was saying, "What's he doing? Working on AVS too much." So it had to happen. I think we felt it was a bittersweet kind of thing, because we had the gratification of starting this thing and seeing it grow and so on. We'd worked hard at it, and it was hard to let go. But obviously it was a time to say "okay, will several of us have to resign from our jobs and set this thing up and get financing?" And it was much easier to go under the wing of the Physical Society. Certainly, the progress of the society and the expansion of its services - you know, the different activities: vacuum metallurgy, thin films, and so on - it obviously was the right way to go. And I think we can take a lot of comfort as having been associated with the formative years to see how well it's come out. I derive a lot of satisfaction from it, myself.

GALE: '57 was the year that Dar Welch very deservedly became the President of the AVS. And I had the honor of following him in 1958. Two things I remember from that meeting10. I had Dar Welch become a life member of the society - which was rather difficult to ensure that he would. Arthur Barrett was there, so I conned Arthur Barrett into getting Dar away from the official meeting so that I could propose it. Dar wondered why he was not being allowed to come to the meeting, why Arthur Barrett was taking him away! The other thing at that 1958 meeting, as I recall, was that it was the first time that two Russians were invited to give a paper. And when I arrived in San Francisco to head up the meeting, there was a cable waiting for me saying that the U.S. had not granted these two scientists visas to come to the U.S. So what could I do about it? I was still a Britisher.! I hadn't become naturalized until a little later in 1958, so here was this Britisher calling up the State Department and trying to castigate them for not giving the Russians visas. [Laughs] Well, they did get their visas, and they came over the following day and gave their paper. They were a day late, that was all. But that's my reminiscence about my presidency at that time.

BURNETT: These connections with various people in the organization and outside the organization are really interesting, these anecdotes. I have one concerning Richard S. Morse, who was the founder of National Research Corporation. The reason I bring it up is because I was so impressed by what he said to me over the telephone. The conversation was about another subject. But he was in his early 70s and it was only about three or four years before he died. He was talking about these various companies and he said, "Gosh. I wish I were a young man right now. There are so many things that would be great to do." He had the same enthusiasm in his early 70s, this dynamic enthusiasm that he had had when we first knew him in the - well, you knew him - in the early '40s. I knew him about ten years later. But I was really impressed by that. So, I guess that's about it.

DURANT: Yes. Well, I think that certainly it's been some value to have had the opportunity to share this reminiscing about the early days of the precursor organization, the Committee on Vacuum Techniques, we had three very interesting and challenging years. I think that it was a gratifying experience to be able to hand a growing organization over to the American Institute of Physics. And certainly, John, you knew that we were in good shape because you had control of the money.

GALE: [Laughs] Yes, I did. Yes, carefully watched by the other committee members.

DURANT: Oh, yes!

BURNETT: I'd like to add one more comment to what I had said before about Richard S. Morse, which I think I omitted. And that is that his kind of enthusiasm typifies what has propelled this whole vacuum technology business over the last 40 years or so. It's not confined to him. It's a pretty prevalent type of situation.

DURANT: Well, he used to say during the war years - I went to National Research Corporation in 1943, and World War II was very much under way at that point - and he used to say that tomorrow's battles are being won in the research laboratories today. And of course, little did we realize that the work that we were doing with building and designing furnaces which would melt a heavy metal; we used gold as a simulant. This was one of the first induction vacuum melting furnaces which was indeed used to melt the uranium and the plutonium that went into the first two bombs. But there were also interesting things going on, like freeze-drying of foods and biologicals, penicillin and such . And of course, there was a big post-war bonanza in the development of frozen orange juice concentrate and starting the Minute Maid Corporation. This was all an offshoot of some of this R&D work that was going on.

BURNETT: Of course, one of the big things now, and has been for the past 15 or 20 years, I guess, is the production of the circuits, the chips that are used in computers. That's a world of its own. Another thing about Dick Morse that's interesting, too, is that when we had a reunion of many of the early people of NRC, he said that he came to Boston - he was one of the first entrepreneurs in this field - and he came to Boston in 1940 and raised some venture capital, which by today's numbers seems paltry, but it was a lot in those days, $50,000 or so. And he said that when everything was all set, the Germans marched into the low countries, and all of the backers except one backed out. That was Bill Coolidge. That's what got NRC, National Research, started. Not to tout that name so much, but it was a pioneer company in the field. It started under very tricky auspices but, in wartime, of course, the applications were legion. You were involved in the freeze-drying of penicillin.

DURANT: Right. Yes, I used to go out in the field and start up the plants.

BURNETT: Well, this has been an interesting summary. Did you have any further comments or anecdotes, John?

GALE: No, I think that I've said my piece. [laughter].

DURANT: Well, it's been a lot of fun. I hope that perhaps this will end up tucked away in an archive somewhere. And if anybody gets curious or wants to get some meat for a research project, why maybe this will be of some help.

BURNETT: A hundred years from now, they'll look at this and say, "My goodness. They didn't know a few things in those years."

DURANT: Right.

GALE: I was just thinking, many of the people that we knew in those very early days have retired. Some of them have gone on to the great vacuum pump in the sky. [Laughter]
BURNETT: Right. Exactly.

1. Spelling uncertain
2. The Founding meeting was held in the Commodore Hotel in New York. More information and a list of attendees is available in the e-book "Fifty Years of the AVS" on the AVS web site.
3. The CVT logo can be viewed in e-book "Fifty Years of the AVS" on the AVS web site.
4. The first Symposium was held in 1954 in Asbury Park, NJ
5. Arthur Barrett became a Life Member in 1955 and Kenneth Hickman in 1959. In 1961, the term "Life Member" was changed to "Honorary Member" 
6. The 1992 Symposium was held in Chicago
7. The 1955 Symposium was held in Pittsburgh
8. In New York City; between 60th and 69th Streets
9. AVS did not actually become an Affiliate member of the American Institute of Physics until April, 1963 and its office was not located at AIP in New York till 1967. Until then, the office activities remained in Boston.
10. Medard W Welch was elected a Life (now Honorary) Member at the 1958 Business Meeting. 

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