Difference between revisions of "Oral-History:Warren Cooper"
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I think that my parents wanted me to go to Stanford—Leland Stanford, Jr. University. I was on the GI Bill, so that paid for it. I got an assistantship at the microwave lab, run by W.W. Hansen, who was a big figure. He invented the rhumbatron, which was a microwave generator. Under my assistantship I helped build the experimental first three feet of the Stanford Linear Accelerator, which I think is now a mile or so long. Then when I completed the work for my masters, I talked to [[Frederick Terman|Frederick Terman]], the head of the EE Department. I asked him whether I should go on for a doctorate, and he said if I was going to teach he would strongly recommend it; but if I were going to go into industry, then the time would probably be better spent there. I talked to [[Lewis Terman|Lew Terman]], his son, who was president of the [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|IEEE Electron Devices Society]] in the early ‘90s. Lew said that really that was not his father’s attitude later on in life, that ten years later he would have recommended that I go on for the doctorate.
I think that my parents wanted me to go to Stanford—Leland Stanford, Jr. University. I was on the GI Bill, so that paid for it. I got an assistantship at the microwave lab, run by W. W. Hansen, who was a big figure. He invented the rhumbatron, which was a microwave generator. Under my assistantship I helped build the experimental first three feet of the Stanford Linear Accelerator, which I think is now a mile or so long. Then when I completed the work for my masters, I talked to [[Frederick Terman|Frederick Terman]], the head of the EE Department. I asked him whether I should go on for a doctorate, and he said if I was going to teach he would strongly recommend it; but if I were going to go into industry, then the time would probably be better spent there. I talked to [[Lewis Terman|Lew Terman]], his son, who was president of the [[IEEE Electron Devices Society History|IEEE Electron Devices Society]] in the early ‘90s. Lew said that really that was not his father’s attitude later on in life, that ten years later he would have recommended that I go on for the doctorate.
=== Airborne Instruments Laboratory ===
=== Airborne Instruments Laboratory ===
Revision as of 15:16, 23 October 2013
About Warren Cooper
Cooper went to the University of Wisconsin in Chemical Engineering, 1937-40, worked as a chemist, and ordnance inspector, and a radio mechanic for the OSS, then finished off his bachelor’s at New Mexico State University in 1947. He received a Masters from Stanford in 1948. He worked at Airborne Instruments Laboratory, 1948-54, Maryland Electronics, 1954-58 (adapting Identification Friend or Foe radar antennas for civil aviation identification), and Westinghouse, 1958-86. At Westinghouse he invented a system to screen out radar echo off of water at shore-side airports, Boost-phase Antiballistic Missile System (BAMBI) (an unsuccessful system), work on countermeasures, receiver protectors, airborne and satellite radar, and Terminal Imaging Radar. He notes the evolution of the radar field in his lifetime; the key developments; and his work in the IEEE, particularly as President of the Aerospace and Electronics Systems Society.
About the Interview
WARREN COOPER: An Interview Conducted by Mike Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, 26 August 1999
Interview #359 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Inc.
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:
Warren Cooper, an oral history conducted in 1999 by Mike Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.
Interview: Warren Cooper
Interviewer: Mike Geselowitz
Date: 26 August 1999
Place: Hyattsville, Maryland
Education, industrial employment, and military service
Warren was born in Chicago and moved to the very cold, northern reaches of Wisconsin. I would like to pick up the story when you went to the University and how you got into electronics.
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I started at the University of Wisconsin in Chemical Engineering in 1937 and I flunked out in 1940. The reason that I flunked out was that I was taking chemical engineering, and I had a good friend that was majoring in Portuguese in the school of arts and sciences. A full course there was thirteen credit hours and engineering was seventeen credit hours, but with the labs that was forty lab and class hours a week. I liked to go bowling with him, and so I would cut classes to go bowling. As a result I dropped some classes. My freshman year I was on the Dean’s List really on what I learned in high school, but in my sophomore and junior years I cut more classes. When I went back after Christmas my junior year I promised my mother I would not cut any more classes, but in March I dropped out and came home. I was going to lay out a year and then go back, but my father was chairman of the draft board and said not to go back; I would be drafted anyway.
So I got a job as a chemist in a Northwood Chemical Company, which was run as a hobby by a son of the Reynolds metal family. I was getting forty cents an hour plus time and a half for overtime over 40 hours a week, or sixty cents. Then I got a job taking an ordnance inspection course in Chicago at the Lewis Institute (now Lewis and Armour are combined as a different school). I was an ordnance inspector at the Quad Cities Tank Arsenal in Bettendorf, Iowa. By that time the war had started. I worked very hard and put in a lot of unpaid overtime. The company was impressed with me and they offered me a job as assistant chief inspector. They said to all intents and purposes I would be the chief inspector because the chief inspector was usually on the road. As acting chief inspector I would be in charge of 200 inspectors. I was twenty-three. So I went to the Major, who was the ordnance inspector for the Quad Cities Tank Arsenal— Ordnance Steel Foundry was the name of the contract company— and asked him if I could take this job. He accused me of being a draft dodger. I went home to Land O’Lakes that weekend and tried to enlist. But at that point you could not enlist. The recruiting office said I would have to wait to be drafted but that I could enlist in the Enlisted Reserve Corps and take an electronics course. There was an electronics course at the American Television Laboratories in Chicago. Lee deForest was one of the people involved in it. The course would pay me $1,800 a year going to school. I was making $1,600 a year as an ordnance inspector. So I went to that course and finished it.
Then I went to an advanced course at Northwestern University, which was where the OSS came through and recruited about half of the class. While waiting to be called to active duty in the fall of 1943, I took a course in the SCR-268 radar in Naperville, Illinois. The SCR-270 radar drew on the technology of the SCR-268 and started development in 1935. It was developed initially by the Army Signal Corps Electronics Laboratory at Camp Evans, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, but then was produced by Westinghouse. They had them in Panama and so forth all before World War II, so they were probably installed in 1939 or 1940. I have some interesting stuff here that I got from the Signal Corps at Fort Monmouth that tells about the secret system at the Twin Lights Lighthouse, near Sandy Hook, New Jersey, where they did the first test of the 270.
Signal Company Aircraft Warning and Pearl Harbor
Later that unit was sent to Pearl Harbor where it’s information was disregarded, when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941.
A few years ago we had a fiftieth anniversary reunion for SCAWH (Signal Company Aircraft Warning- Hawaii), where the whole story was recounted. Joe Lockhart was the Chief Operator at the site at Opana Point, Hawaii, and George Elliott was his junior operator. They normally operated the radar from four until seven in the morning, which was regarded as the most critical time, then they would shut it down at seven AM. The truck that came to pick them up was late in coming that morning on December 7th, and since Elliott was relatively inexperienced, he wanted a little more practice on the radar, so he kept operating anyway. Then about 7:10 they detected a target; it was so big that it went off screen. They tracked it and Joe Lockhart called the officer of the day, an Army Air Corps officer who had just come out the week before from the west coast. He was not that familiar with radar because radar was a secret thing then and he was Army Air Corps and the radar was Army Signal Corps. He told Lockhart to forget it, even though Lockhart wanted him to pass it up the line. So the detection of the attack on Pearl Harbor was neglected.
When I was waiting to be discharged after World War II, I was stationed at an OSS camp here in Washington, which happened to be the Congressional Country Club. The OSS had about six camps, one of which is now the President’s Camp David. I went to the Senate hearings on Admiral Kimmel and Major General Short. They got the blame for not being ready at Pearl Harbor. An interesting thing I saw in the paper just a couple of months ago was that the Senate passed a resolution absolving Kimmel and Short from guilt, because there were just as many people in Washington that should have been held responsible for it as Kimmel and Short. Actually, McArthur in the Philippines, which was attacked a day later, is the one who should have been court-martialed because he had twenty-four hours notice and he had not deployed his planes and so was not prepared.
Also, I have some stuff here on the report that they wrote before the end of the year that describes the sites of all the radars and targets that they had seen. It was declassified in the ‘60s.
Communications, Office of Strategic Services
In the war you switched to electronics for the OSS, and you were doing telecommunication, cryptography, and radar also?
No, I was just doing communications. I think that I have my World War II orders here. This was the order that called me to active duty. I was a Senior Radio Mechanic Technician. This called me to active duty from Chicago. Then I was sent to Area C, just north of Quantico, VA, in what is now Prince William National Forest. We had an OSS communications veterans' reunion there two years ago. I was quite impressed. They have a plaque commemorating the fact that the OSS had a training camp there. The forest ranger there did an excellent job of describing what went on there in World War II. They have preserved the barracks and the mess hall that we had. It was quite interesting to see that. It was the first time I had been there since the fall of 1943.
At Area C we received training in cryptography and radio communications. We had a suitcase size radio set that had a 6L6 vacuum tube as an output stage. We learned the use of plastic explosives, the Thompson submachine gun, the Sten gun, the Bren gun, the Colt .45, the carbine and the M1 rifle. Then we were prepared to go overseas. I was in the overt part. It was an interesting experience. I chatted with ex-CIA Director Bill Colby before he died. I thought he had gone over to Europe before they opened Area C, and he said no, he had his training at Area C also. He was in the covert part. I found that quite interesting.
Also in the covert part one interesting group was the Free Thais which was formed from the Thais studying in America at Cornell, Caltech, and MIT. They were typically the sons and daughters of the leaders of the resistance movements. They came from their universities to Washington and were trained down at Area C, Area B, three or four other places, and Camp David and the Congressional Country Club. Then they were returned to their home country by submarine, seaplane, and airdrop. Some walked overland from China. They served under the direction of the OSS. Some of the intelligence we received at our radio station in Kandy was from the Free Thais in Bangkok. The Veterans of OSS visited Thailand in 1987 for a “Free Thai – OSS Reunion of Friendship”. In Bangkok King Bhumibol entertained us in the palace. He's the only King I've ever shaken hands with! His father was the 74th son and 365th child of the King in "Anna and the King of Siam". Because he was the 74th son, he did not think his family would ever succeed to the throne so he went to Harvard Medical School and one of the ladies of the court went to nursing school and they were married and King Bhumibol was born in Cambridge, MA. He is the only monarch of any country in all time to have been born in the United States! Also he is the longest ruling monarch today, because he became King in 1946 and Elizabeth didn’t become Queen until 1952. The Thai Foreign Minister, who had been a Free Thai, also entertained us in his palace. It was a unique experience! The Free Thais appreciated the recognition of their contribution by the Veterans of OSS and one of the Free Thais told me the Thai government never recognized their wartime contributions. The CIA recognized their contributions with a ceremony on 8 May 2000 at Langley where CIA Director George Tenet presented awards to five Free Thai veterans After CIA Director George Tenet presented the awards to the five Free Thais that were present, I went up and shook his hand and congratulated him on making the awards. I told him that while the Free Thais appreciated recognition by the Veterans of OSS, it wasn't the same as recognition by a U.S. government organization like the CIA.
In the NSA’s cryptological museum at Ft. Meade, near Washington I picked up “The Ultimate Spy Book”, by H. Keith Melton which has photos of suitcase radios and some of our other OSS equipment. It has two forwards: one by Bill Colby (CIA Director from 1973-76) and the other by Oleg Kalugin, who was head of the Soviet KGB. Kalugin lives in Hillandale, MD and was a member of our College Park Rotary Club for about six months before he dropped out. His job is international business. He was trying to get AT&T to do business in Russia. He can’t go back to Russia himself, but his wife has been able to go back. It is a small world.
We went by train from Washington to Camp Anza in Riverside, California. On the 8th of February 1944, we set sail on a Liberty ship, the Edward J. O’Brien. It took us fifty-nine days to get to Karachi, in what is today Pakistan. It was British India in those days. We were at a replacement depot there for about three weeks. Some of the guys were sent to China, and they had a rough time. They retreated before the Japanese, blowing up bridges and so forth. I was sent down to Kandy, Ceylon (today Sri Lanka) which was headquarters for the Southeast Asia Command (SEAC). The headquarters had been moved down there just a few months previously because it looked like the Japanese were going to push through Burma and take New Delhi, India. As I always say, it is better to be lucky than smart. I never heard a shot fired in anger in World War II. Despite the fact of being fifty-nine days at sea., we never saw a Japanese submarine. As we were coming into Fremantle, Australia, we had an air-raid alert, but it turned out to be a false alarm. Whereas the people who went to China had a rough time.
Initially I was the only radio operator there. I built the station up to where I had about twenty people, maybe five transmitter operators and fifteen receiver people. I came home in December of 1945. While I was overseas in 1945 my parents moved from Land O’Lakes, Wisconsin, to Las Cruces, New Mexico.
That’s a change of climate.
Which is what they were looking for. I wanted to be discharged from Fort Bliss, Texas, and so I was. I was discharged in January or February of 1946. I was not able to get back there before Christmas because I had to go up to Fort Meade and be transferred to Fort Bliss. It was at that time that I went to the Senate hearings on Kimmel and Short, which was interesting. All of the histories since then point out that they really were not at fault; they did not get the information from Washington that they should have. There was one item in Gordon Prange’s book, At Dawn We Slept, that pointed out that there was a message sent to Short by the Army telecommunications network. But it was down, and they sent it by Postal Telegraph (then a competitor of Western Union) and it didn’t get there until Thursday because it was not marked urgent.
I went to the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts in Las Cruces, New Mexico (now New Mexico State University). I was one of the tenth of a percent of the alumni that voted against the name change. They wanted to make the name change to get more women in the college, and they felt that women would not come to a college of agriculture and mechanical arts. However, I think there are only two A & Ms left now, Texas and Florida. There had been thirteen.
I finished up there in 1947. I went to Stanford for a master’s degree.
What made you decide to go on and get a masters at that point?
I think that my parents wanted me to go to Stanford—Leland Stanford, Jr. University. I was on the GI Bill, so that paid for it. I got an assistantship at the microwave lab, run by W.W. Hansen, who was a big figure. He invented the rhumbatron, which was a microwave generator. Under my assistantship I helped build the experimental first three feet of the Stanford Linear Accelerator, which I think is now a mile or so long. Then when I completed the work for my masters, I talked to Frederick Terman, the head of the EE Department. I asked him whether I should go on for a doctorate, and he said if I was going to teach he would strongly recommend it; but if I were going to go into industry, then the time would probably be better spent there. I talked to Lew Terman, his son, who was president of the IEEE Electron Devices Society in the early ‘90s. Lew said that really that was not his father’s attitude later on in life, that ten years later he would have recommended that I go on for the doctorate.
Airborne Instruments Laboratory
I received job offers from RCA, Melpar, and Airborne Instruments Laboratory. I talked to Terman about which I should take, and he said, “Don’t go to RCA. You’ll spend a month engineering out a five-cent resistor. Go to Airborne Instruments Laboratory—they do interesting work.” So I went to Airborne Instruments Laboratory. It was not until I got there that I discovered that these were all his boys (and girls) from the Harvard Radio Research Lab (RRL), which had been the main countermeasures lab during World War II. (The Radiation Laboratory, RadLab, at MIT was the radar laboratory.) I may have mentioned in my biography that during the War, Airborne Instruments Laboratory had been the Airborne Magnetometer Laboratory run by Columbia. After the War, countermeasures was still a key thing, but airborne magnetometers for submarine detection were not that big a deal, so Airborne Instruments brought in the countermeasures guys. Airborne was located in Mineola, Long Island. Subsequently, after I had left them, they were bought by Eaton Industries. I was there from 1948 until 1954. That is where I met my wife, Marie. She had been at Radio Research Labs during the War. There was a very close connection between Stanford and Airborne Instruments Laboratory because the head of the receiver group at AIL, Joe Pettit, went out to Stanford and ultimately was Dean of Engineering there before he moved on to be president of Georgia Tech. I think Bill Rambo, head of the transmitter group, was also ultimately Dean of Engineering at Stanford.
I appreciate Terman’s suggestions because that is where I met my wife, and I got a good education at AIL. One of my bosses was Gene Fubini. He was very active in the countermeasures field. He was Assistant Secretary of Defense under McNamara. Ivan Gettings’ book talks about setting up the COMSAT labs. He said he talked to Will Pritchard, who died recently. I interacted with all of them quite a bit. Fubini was a very interesting person, and very active. He knew Fermi and so on. When he was Assistant Secretary of Defense he used to invite me down for lunch in the Pentagon executive dining room about once a month, which I found interesting. I got a good education at Stanford and at AIL. So I appreciate Terman’s recommendation. I appreciate my parents for suggesting that I go to Stanford in the first place.
IRE and IEEE, Societies
I had a job offer at Maryland Electronics, offering me $10,500, and I was making $5,000 a year at AIL. I moved down here in December of 1953 and Marie stayed up there. I went back up for a Christmas party we had up there. She stayed up there to sell the house and came down in March of 1954. I have been down in this area ever since.
And I believe you became a student member of the IRE in 1948, when you were getting your M.S. from Stanford.
It was probably after I got my M.S., after I moved to AIL.
Then you became an Associate Member in 1950 while you were at AIL, then you became a Senior Member in 1955, which would have been soon after you moved to Maryland Electronics.
Right. Some place here I listed all the IEEE Technical Societies and the year I joined them. That is also when the Society was formed and when I joined. This is information from IEEE, and some of it is not good. For one thing, their records show all of the society as being joined in 1965 because they put a new computer system in. They did have the date of IEEE joining correct. But as far as the Society joining dates, they did not have it correct.
You became a Senior Member in 1955, according to this. They would not have been societies in those days; they would have still been Professional Groups.
Right. I belonged initially to the Professional Group on Aerospace and Navigational Electronics (PGANE), which was one of the predecessor groups of AES-S.
I was president of MTT-S in 1975. Later of AES-S, in 1986. Then I was on the IEEE board in 1991 and 1992.
Were you active in Societies from the beginning?
Yes. I was active in AP-S and MTT-S. I was not active in AES-S until later. In general, when you initially get out of school you join a Society like MTT, Electron Devices, or Antennas and Propagation that focus on a technique or technology. It isn’t until you have been in the field a while that you get into a systems Society or engineering management of something like that. I saw an article in The Institute by a woman who is president of The Society of Women Engineers, about the fact that they were concerned about not getting enough women into engineering schools. They did a survey, and the survey said women wanted to deal with people and not sit in front of computer screens. I sent her an email and said that is exactly why people get into engineering (as I did) because they do not want to deal with people and that they want to deal with facts, figures, and things as opposed to dealing with people. After I joined Rotary I have been more active in dealing with people. One of the things I have tried to do in my interaction with groups in the IEEE is to get them to be more involved in community activities and not just want to talk to other engineers. I think that this is one of the things that IEEE needs to do. One of the points I made at MTT’s fiftieth anniversary is that we ought to address the people -oriented things. I forgot who it was that sent out a list of things that they were thinking of for the MTT’s fiftieth, but I stressed that it should be people-oriented.
You joined initially for the technical literature, would you say?
No. Literature, to go to conferences, to interact and the local chapters.
Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society (AESS) leadership
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This is one of those things that I did when I was president of AESS. The DOD had come out with a booklet that said that the Russians were saving a 100,000 man years a year of engineering by making use of the information that they learned at our open conferences, such as the Radar Conference that AESS sponsors, and Navigation and so on. I sent a letter to Secretary Perle saying that what AESS was doing to try and reverse the technology flow was publishing abstracts and references in our Society’s magazine of papers published in Eastern Bloc countries. I received a very nice letter back from Steve Bryan, who was Perle’s Deputy, saying that he thought AESS was doing an excellent job for U.S. industry. This was before I was editor of the magazine; this was when I was president.
I went to an OSS conference that I saw advertised. Of course, OSS, I thought , was Office of Strategic Services. But in looking at the ad closely, it is “Open Systems Solutions.” I talked to the guy that had formed the company and was president and was a retired CIA type, and I asked him if he was trading on the OSS name and he laughed and said yes. In this first conference that I went to, the speakers on the opening day were Alvin and Heidi Toffler. Then on the last day they had a panel session with four retired KGB colonels. After the panel session, they opened it for questions. I raised my hand, got up and said that the DOD had published this pamphlet saying that the Russians had saved a 100,000 man years per year of engineering by going to U.S. open conferences. Can you confirm those figures? Then there was discussion up on the platform in Russian. Finally, the colonel that had been the Philby contact in London during the war came back to the microphone, laughed and said, “No, but it’s a useful figure to take back to Moscow.” In any event, one of the things that I tried to do was to reverse the technology flow. I had asked Steve Bryan for suggestions of any other things we could do, and he suggested having us publish some of the trip reports from Eastern Bloc countries from people that had been there. This was not really feasible because the people were being sent over there by their companies, and there is no way their company wanted the other companies to know what they were up to. The thing I did as AESS president was to try to address this problem.
The other thing was the “NIH” factor. Shortly after I moved down here, when I was still at Maryland Electronics, we had some NASA people. NASA was trying to get the stuff that they had done out into industry, and they were finding that a lot of the small companies would not use what they had come up with because the NIH factor—“Not Invented Here!” The chief engineers of small companies would not use it unless they had developed it in their own company. This was not only a small company problem, it was a problem in large companies. When I was at Westinghouse, one of the jobs I had was manager of R&D Programming. Westinghouse has research labs in Pittsburgh. I was in the Advanced Technology Laboratory here, and then the regular engineering lab. The communication between these was very poor: the research labs would only talk to the Advanced Technology Labs and the Advanced Technology Labs would only talk to engineering, and then the production engineering group was even another player. As manager of R&D Programming, I set up a meeting where I took twenty of our managers from Baltimore to Pittsburgh and had them make a presentation there; then I got twenty of the managers in Pittsburgh to come to Baltimore and do a similar thing here to get a better interaction between the two. It was much better by the time I left Westinghouse. Someone at Raytheon I was chatting with said the problem was the same there. The point that I am making is that the Russians were probably only able to send a dozen people to these conferences, and I would be very surprised if when they went back to Russia they were able to get this information distributed because I suspect that the Russians have the same NIH factor that we do because they are humans, and humans are NIH individuals.
In fact, they are famous for having even worse bureaucracy than we do.
It was stated as a problem that I tried to address when I was president at AESS.
Talk about what you did at Maryland Electronics between 1954 and 1958, and then how you came to work for Westinghouse.
Maryland Electronics did a lot of work for the FAA. On the FAA radar antennas there is an antenna on top which is essentially an IFF antenna for identifying the planes as friend or foe. This was essentially a countermeasures technique used during the war but it was picked up for civil aviation to allow positive identification of planes that are detected by the radar. I developed antennas there. We had programs with the Rome Air Development Centers and similar outfits. I came up with an idea for an antenna array for work with the millimeter wave region up around 60 or 70 gigahertz. Don King, who was president of IEEE at one time, had come up with something called the dielectric image line in which he uses a piece of dielectric on a ground plane as a means of transmitting microwave energy. Instead of using a wave guide with currents in the walls of the wave guide, this energy was in free space. I though this was a good way to excite currents in a ground plane, cut slots in the ground plane and make an antenna array out of it. This was for essentially millimeter wave application. I went to Westinghouse and made a proposal on this. We were Westinghouse’s subcontractor on some side-look radar contracts, but we did not get the job.
Westinghouse; vertical antenna array for glide slope system
The way I went to Westinghouse resulted from Maryland Electronics being bought by Litton Industries, and they brought in a new general manager from General Electric. He and I did not see eye to eye. I contacted Westinghouse, and Chili [Charles E.] Nobles, who was head of the side-look radar group, urged them to hire me. Stan Friedman was the guy that hired me, and one of the groups he had was the antenna group. Chili told Stan if he hired me he would let Stan’s group do the antenna work for his side-look radar group, which the group had been doing for itself previously. One of the things I did was submit an unsolicited proposal to the FAA because they were having problems with the glide slope system at La Guardia because of the changing with the height of the water in the East River. Airborne Instruments Laboratory had done a vertical antenna array. The glide slope system operates at about 300 megahertz. They hadn’t been careful on the side lobes. My proposal was to add two elements to this array and phase them so that we would have a null at the negative glide slope angle. The problem was there was energy being radiated not only at the glide slope angle, but also at the negative glide slope angle. It was bouncing off the water and being picked up so the signal that the planes were receiving was a combination of this energy that had bounced off the water along with the energy that was radiated directly. That was what was confusing their system. They accepted my proposal, I did it, and it worked. They implemented it in about a half of dozen spots. Alaska was one place. They didn’t do it nationwide because they said that the microwave landing system was going to be implemented very shortly. This was in the ‘60s, and the microwave landing system was finally implemented in 1988. This is not unusual. In talking with Merrill Skolnik, he said that the over-the-horizon radar started out in 1948, and they were saying that they would have it implemented in a year or two. It was finally implemented in 1988, and Merrill said that if their sponsors (I think the Navy) had known it was going to take forty years, they never would have funded it.
I do not believe in GPS landing. I just came across a letter from George Litchford about what it takes to jam a GPS system—not much. Less than a watt was able to jam it for thirty miles. If I am coming in for a landing, I want the antennas to be on the ground by the landing strip; I do not want them to be up in a satellite. I had some articles on GPS in the magazine when I was editor. People picked it up worldwide because a lot of the receivers provide capability for both GPS and GLONASS, which is the Soviet system similar to GPS. People having both of these systems are confident that one or the other will work. This instilled a lot more confidence in the GPS system. Now you can have hand-held receivers and so forth. This friend of mine that I mentioned that I was in Ceylon with, who retired from Lockheed in 1986, installed GPS on a forty-two foot sailboat, and he was very happy with it.
Management roles, technical society involvement
You joined Westinghouse in 1958 and you stayed there until your retirement in 1986. You must have had a series of increasing responsibilities and projects.
I had the Electromagnetic Technology Laboratory, and I was manager of R&D Programming.
I am going to take a guess here based on your biographical information you gave me. The initial societies that you joined and became active in we already noted, and you became president of MTT-S in 1975. But I noticed that in 1973 you suddenly joined a bunch of other technical societies, including the Engineering Management Society. I have two theories. One is IEEE changed their pricing structure and made it attractive for you to join those societies. But more likely you were promoted to some kind of management position where you were supervising engineers in all these other disciplines and thought you needed to track the technology. Or is that just a coincidence? You have here joined, in January 1973, the Circuits and Systems Society, the Education Society, the Electron Devices Society, the Engineering Management Society, the Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control Society, and the Vehicular Technology Society.
I was already in management. One of my groups was involved in ferroelectrics and ultrasonics, and that was the reason I joined that. I don’t know what triggered me to join the other Societies that year. Initially, I was just in Antennas and Propagation in 1958. I suspect I took over the Electromagnetic Technology Laboratory in 1963 or so, much earlier than 1973.
Radar projects, 1980s
Okay; just curious. That is the end of the ‘50s and then three full decades, ‘60s, ‘70s and most of the ‘80s. Tell me about what field you were working on and what the major developments were.
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Probably the last thing I was involved in was the Terminal Imaging Radar. One of the earlier things I was involved in was BAMBI, which was the Boost-phase Antiballistic Missile system. This was a detection of missiles by looking for infrared radiation in targets above the Earth’s atmosphere. The Earth’s atmosphere is a good filter for IR. I was managing a proposal for that. The DOD thought that this could be done with a couple of dozen satellites. When I got into it and while I was not an IR type, but based on the number of defects you have in a typical TV camera, I concluded the thing would not be just a couple dozen of satellites but two or three hundred and cost about three gross national products. Others felt that same way, so DOD ultimately just made it a research project and gave us $300,000 or something. I was involved in the Terminal Imaging Radar which was to do radar detection of incoming satellites and to be able to launch missiles to hit them.
I don’t think I did any other FAA work after that for La Guardia. A lot of the work that my group did was countermeasures related. The other reason for the interest in acoustics is that one of the countermeasures techniques was to detect the radar signal, delay it by using a coiled coaxial transmission line, and send an echo back. The propagation velocity for acoustic waves is about a 1000 feet a second compared to 186,000 miles a second for electromagnetic waves. You could make a little acoustical device to provide the same delay that you would with a big coiled coax.
Another thing my group was involved in was a receiver protectors. Radar has a single antenna, and you transmit, and then there is a receiver protector that shorts out and prevents the transmitter pulse from hitting the receiver. Westinghouse was heavily involved in various airborne and satellite radar. For example, they did the radar for the very widely used airplane, the F-16. My group was involved in a number of the key components for these various radars and also the Gemini Rendezvous Radar for NASA. Westinghouse has been heavily involved in various satellite programs. I do remember the first briefing I went to for a satellite program at NASA at Goddard. There were some of us from Westinghouse and some from Hughes, but Hughes grew ten times more rapidly than Westinghouse did in this. When I was manager of R&D Programming, one of the things I did was to provide money to the research labs for gallium arsenide work for microwave semiconductor devices, which are much more efficient than the silicon devices for generation of microwaves. There were a quite number of systems that I was involved in, and most of them were classified.
Landmarks in radar research
How about the field in general? The Professional Group on Space Electronics and Telemetry was the earliest of the various predecessor groups that eventually came together to form the Aerospace and Electronics Systems Society; it formed in 1950. The MTTS formed in 1952. We talked about the radar development before the war and the deployment of the SR-270 and there was all that Rad Lab work and the Harvard work during the war. After the war, since the society formed in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, what do you see are the landmarks of radar?
Westinghouse had a very key technology in a narrow beam— maybe a twenty-foot antenna—side-look radar that operated at thirty-five gigahertz. That would be about a one centimeter wavelength. You have a long antenna beneath the belly of the aircraft with a beam looking out to the side to record the returns (reflections) on film that was feeding through the camera system at a speed proportional to the airplane speed. One of the things that Westinghouse radar did was detect a ten mile difference in the maps in Central America. There are some pictures of it up in the Historical Electronics Museum in Lithicum, MD. They could not get photographic images because of the clouds that were there all the time.
Subsequent to side-look radar, synthetic aperture radar, of which Goodyear in Arizona was an early participant.. The key is having a stable frequency source to take advantage of the Doppler frequency change. A beam going straight out to the side has no frequency shift of the energy coming back. But as the airplane moves it changes the frequency. As you are approaching it, it increases the frequency—like a Doppler radar. What you are doing is making use of this Doppler information. In a Doppler speed radar, you have one specific target and you are looking at that target’s speed. But a synthetic aperture radar maps the ground, so you want to make use of the difference in the magnitude of the target return. With a stable frequency source you are able to trade off resolution for bandwidth and so forth. It gives you the opportunity to do all these things in terms of signal processing. Especially now in the advent of very high-speed digital signal processors, it allows you to handle all this data. It is a combination of a stable frequency source and the ability to have memory. Having memory to do this stuff is a very key thing also. The side-look radar is no longer in it.
When did side-look radar come in?
I would guess around the early ‘50s. At Westinghouse, perhaps prior to side look radar, Chili Nobles proposed a fleet of maybe half of dozen planes that would provide TV broadcasting over the entire United States. By having a number of airplanes up there, the TV station would transmit the information up to the plane and then the plane would rebroadcast it down over a broad area. Sort of like we are doing with satellites but with planes. The FCC would not allow Westinghouse to do this because they felt it would be a monopoly. They did get government funding to provide TV instruction to schools out in the Midwest. It was not nationwide, they picked one area, and it was a successful program.
All of these things are related to really semiconductor development and the ability to build things one molecule at a time. When I was working, an airborne radar took three times the weight of equipment to dissipate the heat generated by the inefficiencies of your system as it did to generate the microwave energy in the first place. Similarly, in a space system it took three times the area of radiating panels to get rid of the heat generated by inefficiencies in the system as it did to generate the energy from solar cell panels in the first place. One square foot of solar cell took three square feet to dissipate that energy. In space you do not have convection and connection; it just radiates. Every ounce is critical, so efficiency is a very key point. Anything that can be done to increase the efficiency of your system can reduce the weight dramatically. Originally on solar cells, the energy that it took to create the solar cells was greater than that solar cell would use in a lifetime. Now solar cells provide a net increase and receive more energy than it costs to make them in the first place.
Incidentally, I chaired a lecture series back in the ‘70s, right after the oil crisis, and I had some interesting speakers. One guy from Virginia who worked as consultant to a pulp and paper industry proposed burning trees to generate energy. He could plant a tree with quick growth, harvest it every five years by using big shears to harvest it, and then replant it every twenty-five years. By using it as an energy source in boilers for example, the tree while it is growing, gives off oxygen. The reason why fossil fuels are a problem is that in burning them you are only giving off carbon dioxide because the oxygen they generated was provided to the atmosphere billions of years ago. That was a good system. A man from the southwest proposed solar cells and wind generators. A professor from the University of Massachusetts proposed wind generators, but moored off the coast of Boston about twenty miles out so you would have not the visual pollution of the wind generators. Up on Nantucket there has been a big to-do about the noise and visual pollution caused by these wind generators. In California you have a lot of them in the desert areas that are really pretty much out of view. He proposed twenty miles off the coast of Boston on some sort of ships or rafts and getting the energy, converting it into liquid hydrogen, and then piping it back to the mainland. It was an interesting lecture series. I had five different gentlemen that did it. I think there are really some good concepts there that we really need to follow up on. Our energy use is increasing and our ozone and the other problems are increasing, and global warming is increasing.
When did synthetic aperture radar come out?
Probably late ‘50s. The key thing was getting a stable frequency source. The AESS Pioneer Award went to Harry Smith and George Mooney of Westinghouse in 1984 for their BOMARC Radar. They provided the radar for the Boeing BOMARC Missile. One of the things in that was, again, a stable frequency source. I nominated Harry for the Pioneer Award, and in getting endorsements, I talked to a chap at GE who said that his group at GE was most impressed with the fact that Westinghouse was able to get this stable frequency source on a missile like the BOMARC Missile, in spite of all the gravitational stresses that are created. The Bureau of Standards has an atomic standard, but for airborne equipment, the stable frequency sources are basically crystal. It is a matter of designing temperature compensation so that the temperature remains stable and that you minimize the amount of heat generated in generating your oscillation. Having that ability is very key to all of these things. For example, synthetic aperture type radar is what you use from space. You would not be able to use a kilohertz band radar from space because of absorption by the Earth’s atmosphere. The one to ten gigahertz band is the band that really tolerates the clouds, and anything at a higher frequency than that really will not penetrate the atmosphere. If you go on up to optical frequency you can see that it does not penetrate. You have to get down below ten gigahertz before your energy does penetrate. That stable frequency source is a key to all the satellite imaging systems.
You have mentioned a lot of military applications of radar, particularly in guidance detection, identification and that sort of thing, and now we have stopped at imaging. Any local TV station brags about their Doppler radar. Is that just show for TV, or has that revolutionized the weather meteorology use of radar?
I think it has revolutionized it. You are getting this information where before you just got noise. Now with a stable frequency source, you can convert that noise to information. If you did not have a stable frequency source you might get information but it might not be right. It is a step forward, certainly.
AESS research areas
You mentioned that stable frequency source is the main idea, but you need the memory space to store it and digital signaling processing. How come you didn’t join the Signal Processing Society? Does what they do overlap with what AESS does?
AESS includes signal processing, electron devices, antennas and propagation, microwave theory and techniques. The Vehicular Technology Society is going to sap away some of the stuff that has in the past belonged to AESS. Whether you are talking about GPS locating a UPS trailer or truck or something, this is still the sort of thing that AESS should be involved in. I think the Vehicular Technology Society has been established. For example, there was a Solid State Circuit Council, and I was the MTT representative to that back in the beginning. The Solid State Circuit Council was established by a professor at Stanford who was head of the Circuit and Systems Society. He felt that circuits and systems was being viewed too much as an academic society and that they needed to get into some of the applications, so he got this Solid States Circuit Council established. The Solid States Circuit Council ultimately became a Society.
It seems like with the Aerospace Electronic Systems Society you already have an overarching applications society. What makes Aerospace Electronic Systems Aerospace Electronic Systems as opposed to just circuits and systems or microwave?
We are looking at the overall systems aspect of it, which is applying the technology and techniques of these various other societies. In other words, a radar system makes use of microwave theory and techniques, aerospace antennas and propagation, electron devices and ultrasonic ferroelectric and frequency control. All of these technologies and techniques go into the system. Essentially we are trying to look at the bigger picture.
You mentioned now things are changing and we are in a much more connected global technological world now.
I chaired a TAB committee on electronic data. The idea was to electronically make available to society the financial information in the IEEE database, so that the treasurer or the president of AESS or any other Society could log on and download the latest financial information for his Society. We did this and I brought it before the Society presidents, and there were only two votes against it, and then they approved what we had done. Then the IEEE changed their computer system but the controller said that their computer system could not go back and pick up all this information. What we wanted to do was let the society go back and pick up electronically what their history had been the previous years before that. I was appalled that a society of electrical and electronic engineers, and the host of the Computer Society, would not be able to do a better job of computer conversion.
The Society has gone through a lot of name changes and mergers of professional groups and so forth. The decision was made to call it Aerospace and Electronic Systems. That applies that the interest of the Society is complex electronic systems. There is also Aerospace Systems. But is seems to me in the history of the Society that aerospace is really the thread that sort of held it together. Would you disagree?
It is really electronic systems. You have teledetection and telecommunication systems. A teledetection system relies on transmitting radiation and getting it back. Telecommunication is just one-way transmission and then they may transmit back but it is not the energy that you sent out. A GPS system is really a communication system receiving the energy that they are sending out so it’s really a telecommunication system being used for navigation. I would lump all of the systems, whether it is a reflection system or a one-way system. Then you put navigation, telemetry, and everything else under one umbrella.
I see, for example, GPS and also the iridium telecommunications system to complement cellular with low beam stable satellites. That seems to be of interest to AESS. But from the people that I have talked to, I do not see AESS talking about regular cellular. We just have a tower and a handheld unit, and yet that is a very complex communication system. The engineers working on that do not seem to be in the AESSS; they seem to be in the Communications Society, as far as I can make out. Looking at the history of Society, radar, avionics, satellites, and whatever, it seems to be aerospace industry involvement.
Particularly defense industry involvement. AESS has lost a lot of members with the cutback of expenditures in the defense industry. Certainly, the Communications Society has a more direct interest in cell phones and so forth as a communications medium as opposed to a system. It is more of a technology than a system, but really you could call it a system because it is a system. Bell Labs back in the ‘50s was working on the “smoke-ring-mode” wave guide. The big source of loss in wave guide is I2R loss. The smoke-ring mode used a circular wave guide. The mode was such that the higher you went in frequency the less the currents were in the walls of the wave guide. That dropped the loss. Then along came the ability to generate energy at optical frequencies and fiber optics came in, and so the circular wave guide went down the tubes.
You talked about this being able to do with stable frequency, increases in computer memory, and increase in DSP capabilities. Is fiber optics something that is affecting the field? Not radar because you are in optical range, but the way it is affecting the places that it is standard telecommunications?
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From a systems standpoint, in your question you mentioned SAGE (semi-automatic ground environment). Fiber optics allows you to transmit all this information among these various places economically. It is probably a more reliable way than doing it via satellite even though people can come in and blow up your fiber optic tunnels and so on. That is easier to protect from than satellite interference. You have to look at the economics of it and see which is more economical.
To launch a satellite or somehow get a fiber optic cable under the Atlantic Ocean.
Right. Fiber optics is so much cheaper than wire conductors becayse of its broad band width that I think it will be a good competitor for satellite communication. The ability to generate coherent optical frequencies efficiently and being able to build things a molecule at a time now are technologies that have evolved and have allowed us to move up into the optical frequency region, and not just up to the microwave region. Before World War I radio communication, Marconi, was low frequency. In World War II most of our communication was via the high frequency band. In Ceylon, we operated our transmitters at twelve megahertz during the day and then we would drop to six megahertz at night, because the sun is down and you did not get a reflection off the Heaviside layer so essentially you were using ground waves. All of that energy was being handled in these high frequency regions. As we got to the point where we could generate coherent microwaves, We went to microwave towers for transmitting coast to coast and took advantage of the broad bandwidth that we were able to get with microwave systems. When we were operating with five letter code groups of fifteen to twenty words a minute, all you needed was a couple hundred cycles bandwidth to transmit this information. For a TV signal, really you need a couple megahertz to get a good signal; five or ten megahertz is better. Now you have computers that operate at 350 or 400 megahertz whereas back in World War II you had nothing but vacuum tubes and were not able to do that. You had klystrons, which were vacuum tubes, and you had the magnetron, which was a very key invention. The cavity magnetron came to the U.S. from the University of Birmingham, England in the Tizard Mission in 1940. It was then produced in the U.S. and was a key element in our radar systems such as the SCR-584 which helped defeat the V-1 missile.. We generated microwaves initially with tubes and we were able to generate it very inefficiently with silicon-based semiconductors. We are able to generate it better with gallium arsenide, but gallium arsenide did not have the natural silicon dioxide insulating layer that you can generate very easily on a silicon chip. It was a matter of learning how to do the processing. All of this technology, the durability to produce stable frequency sources, gets back to our ability to manufacture these things. I mentioned that BAMBI project, if we had the memory and so forth back then you could have implemented it. Now the same technology that has improved the memory has also improved the basic infrared camera—you don’t have the defects in it. The defects have been gotten rid because of the improvement in manufacturing processes and being able to do things a molecule at a time. It is these manufacturing processes that have really improved everything because they allow you to get more efficient devices. It is still true that it takes three times as much mass or area to get rid of the heat as it does to generate it in the first place. The more efficient your device is, the better and smaller the system you can implement.
AESS roles in twentieth century history
Thank you very much. We have covered a lot of ground. Is there anything else you would like to add on the formal interview part?
One of the things I have done was to go through these 100 Events of the Twentieth Century. It was in the Washington Post. Gannett did the polling for the 100 greatest events of the twentieth century. The article says who they polled. I suggested to the MTT that we ought to do a similar polling sample, maybe poll the fellows, poll the senior members, and get their impression—see how the fellows or life fellows view things as compared to the senior members, associate members, or student members. I went through this and picked out those events that I thought were AESS or electronics related and were impacting. For example, the atomic bomb in World War II. The radar, navigation, and electronic countermeasures were really key to being able to drop those bombs where we wanted to. Jake Beser , who that worked for me at Westinghouse for about six months, was the only person that was on both missions. He was the counter measures officer on both the Enola Gay and the second plane and countermeasures were essential to the accomplishment of the mission!
Thank you very much, Warren.
- 1 About Warren Cooper
- 2 About the Interview
- 3 Copyright Statement
- 4 Interview
- 4.1 Education, industrial employment, and military service
- 4.2 Signal Company Aircraft Warning and Pearl Harbor
- 4.3 Communications, Office of Strategic Services
- 4.4 Post-war education
- 4.5 Airborne Instruments Laboratory
- 4.6 IRE and IEEE, Societies
- 4.7 Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society (AESS) leadership
- 4.8 Maryland Electronics
- 4.9 Westinghouse; vertical antenna array for glide slope system
- 4.10 Management roles, technical society involvement
- 4.11 Radar projects, 1980s
- 4.12 Landmarks in radar research
- 4.13 AESS research areas
- 4.14 Fiber optics
- 4.15 AESS roles in twentieth century history