Oral-History:Ralph Benjamin

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About Ralph Benjamin

Ralph Benjamin was born on 17 November 1922 in Darmstadt, Germany. Due to the pre-war hatred toward the Jews, his parents sent him to a boarding school in Switzerland in 1937. Since the threat of Germany escalated, he had to stay at a refugee camp in Switzerland and was sent to England in 1939 by the English refugee organization. While attending Ellesmere College in Shropshire, he decided to switch to Science and successfully fulfilled his academic requirements. After his plan to attend an American university was thwarted by the war, he got a job as an electrician's mate and earned a scholarship to Imperial College. From 1944 to 1946, upon completing his education, Benjamin worked for the Scientific Civil Service at the Admiralty Surface Weapons Establishment (ASWE). He moved to the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment (AUWE) and was involved in developing information, intelligence, and military (torpedoes, submarines, etc.) technologies. After the seven-year's work at the AUWE, Benjamin started a new career at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) at Cheltenham, UK. He carried out Signals Intelligence tasks and developed a speech security system and an encryption system. When he retired from the GCHQ post, Benjamin joined NATO and got an appointment to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers of Europe (SHAPE) Technical Center as Head of the Communications Technique branch. Upon completing his term at NATO, Benjamin was involved in academic activities at various universities in the UK. He also held several memberships at advisory councils and boards, including the Defense Scientific Advisory Council. Ralph Benjamin received a number of academic and other awards for his decades-long contributions.

In the interview, Ralph Benjamin not only provides his personal contributions and commitments to various institutions but also offers broader reflections on intellectual activities and management issues at these organizations. In addition, he shares general thoughts on the institutions that he worked for and his efforts to challenge the problems and to improve productivities of the staff involved. Although Benjamin's career was devoted to the Civil Service, he also performed academic activities at several universities, participating in research projects, sharing ideas, and helping young students achieve their goals. He shows in the interview how much he values the importance of personal contributions and direct interactions with people at the working level. Benjamin shares his experiences of managing individual and tem projects/ programs as well as of running an R&D establishment. The interview concludes with Benjamin’s final remarks on his work ethics.

About the Interview

RALPH BENJAMIN: An Interview Conducted by Peter C. J. Hill, IEEE History Center, 16 September 2005

Interview #465 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., and
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

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, Rutgers - the State University, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Ralph Benjamin, an oral history conducted in 2005 by Peter Hill, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.


Interview: Ralph Benjamin
Interviewer: Peter C. J. Hill
Date: 7 July through 16 September 2005
Place: Bristol, England