# Oral-History:Amos Joel (1992)

Amos Joel as an MIT student, late 1930s.

Amos Joel was born 12 March 1918 in Philadelphia, but he soon moved to Atlantic City and then New York City. As a child, Joel became interested in mechanical and electrical devices, including electric trains and radio. It was Jostel’s curiosity about the dial telephone system and circuits, however, which would shape his later career in telecommunications. As a young man he became fascinated with reading patents, particularly in telecommunication switches, and in high school he enjoyed his mathematics and science courses. He even invented his own switching system in the early 1930s. Joel was accepted into MIT and received his bachelors (1940) and masters (1942) from there in electrical engineering. In 1940, Joel went to work at Bell Labs, and over his long career there he worked in many areas and projects, such as the accounting center, operator services, transistors, electronic switching system at Whippany, Stored Program Control, No. 1 ESS and Traffic Service Positions System (TSPS) to name a few, as well as becoming a director. He received many patents himself, and also many awards including the Kyoto Prize, and at the time of the interview Joel was looking forward to receiving the IEEE Medal of Honor and Patent Recognition Award from AT&T. Joel was also very involved in IEEE, including being a part of the formation of the Switching Committee (1947) which he eventually became a chairman of, head of the Nomenclature Committee at Bell Labs, chairman of the New York section, and president of the Communications Society. Joel also has numerous publications to his name, including books under the IEEE Press Book Series imprint. Joel’s retirement from Bell Labs in March 1983 did not stop his involvement in the engineering world, as he became a consultant for Bell and other companies, as well as continuing to write, teach and lecture about switching systems.

Amos Joel

This oral history covers Joel's career and achievements.  In this interview, Joel talks about his experiences both at MIT and Bell Labs. He discusses the program and people at MIT, especially the emphasis upon problem-solving and design over rote learning, which fit with Joel’s desire to be an inventor. Joel’s description of Bell Labs covers not only the projects and departments he worked in, but also the people he knew, the expansion and additions to the company – including the teaching program Joel helped put together on switching which he believed helped to spawn the Kelley College which held courses on many subjects important to Bell – and various important episodes in the company’s history, including a visit by Alan Turing, the early 1970s investigation of AT&T by the FCC which had as one of its focuses an electronic switch which made Joel involved in the process, and the divestiture of AT&T and Bell Labs in 1984, shortly after Joel retired. Joel also talks about the importance of teaching switching systems to engineers because he believed that, even at the time of the interview, switching systems were not well understood, indeed were often oversimplified. Even with the continued success of the International Switching Symposium, which Joel helped start in 1957, he still thought that switching was seen more as an ‘art’ than a true engineering subject, something Joel regretted in the profession. Joel also discusses what he saw as ‘hype’ in electronics in the early 1990s, and he talks about what he saw in the future of telecommunications.

See Amos Joel Oral History (1993) for Joel's discussion of the broader history of telephone switching and related areas.

AMOS JOEL: An Interview Conducted by William Aspray, IEEE History Center, 4 February 1992 and 18 February 1992

Interview # 137 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 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, IEEE History Center, 445 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854 USA or ieee-history@ieee.org. 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:

Amos Joel, an oral history conducted in 1992 by William Aspray, IEEE History Center, Piscataway, NJ, USA.

## Interview

Interview: Amos Joel

Interviewed By: William Aspray

Place: South Orange, New Jersey

Date: 4 February 1992 and 18 February 1992

### Childhood

Aspray:

This is the 4th of February 1992 in South Orange, New Jersey. An interview with Amos Joel. The interviewer is William Aspray. Let's begin by having you tell me about your early life. First of all, when were you born?

Joel:

I was born March 12, 1918.

Aspray:

In where?

Joel:

Aspray:

In Philadelphia. Mmmm hmmm. And where did you stand in the number of children in your family?

Joel:

I'm an only child.

Aspray:

An only child. Mmmm hmmm.

Joel:

An only child, so that was it. And I lived in Philadelphia for three years or so. My father worked out of Philadelphia. And we moved to Atlantic City after that.

Aspray:

Joel:

He was a traveling salesman. He sold wholesale menswear. And the company that he worked for manufactured in Philadelphia. So he went on the road regularly. And it was just as easy for him, even the times when he was home, for him to commute to Atlantic City from Philadelphia, so we moved to Atlantic City.

Aspray:

Joel:

No. She worked before she married, but not afterward.

Aspray:

And did your father keep that job during most of your...?

Joel:

He kept it up until 1929. He didn't lose it because of the Depression. But he made a job move at that time, which wasn't the best time to make it. But he made it in '29, and we moved to New York at that time, into the city.

Aspray:

All right. And what did he do then?

Joel:

He worked for his uncle--my great-uncle--who was the president of a company called A. Sulka, which is a haberdashery company. I don't know if you've ever heard of it.

Aspray:

I know the company.

Joel:

You know the company? A. Sulka is Amos Sulka, so that's where the Amos comes from.

Aspray:

I see.

Joel:

And so he went to work for his uncle and stayed on and became an executive vice president of Sulka just before he retired. That's why we moved to New York.

Aspray:

Joel:

Well, that ties in with my professional career because, you know, I was always interested as far back as I can remember as a kid with things mechanical and electrical. I used to really enjoy electric trains and erector sets and all kinds of stuff and crystal sets at that time. And in radio. And I played around with all that sort of thing and always sort of curious as to how they all worked. And liked to create things.

Aspray:

Joel:

No, they had no interest along this line at all.

Aspray:

Did they encourage or discourage you?

Joel:

Aspray:

Joel:

Oh, yeah. Well, I had the electric trains, and I used to always try to work out arrangements for controlling them. And I used to-- I had a great fascination with trying to make unusual track layouts and things of that kind. I used to draw them up and things of that kind. And I used to then try to figure out how I would put signals in and so forth. In a time of desperation a little later, it had some bearing on my career, a slight bearing. But I was always interested in railway signaling. I used to accumulate books on that subject at that time.

### Education; childhood interest in patents and telephone switching

Aspray:

Joel:

Well, I went to public schools in Atlantic City and later on in New York. And I don't think I was unusual.

Aspray:

Did you go to any of the special schools in New York?

Joel:

No, no. I went to-- In fact, I went to the--the biggest high school at the time was all boys' high school called DeWitt Clinton. It was a very, very large school. I mean, like there are 10,000 students or something there. It was a tremendous institution in the Bronx. I actually lived in Manhattan, and I used to commute every day. During the last year which you had to go from the same building. Annexes all over New York--all over Manhattan and the Bronx. But I went to annexes in Manhattan and then later on had to go up to Mosholu Parkway where the main building was. And it was a long commute on the subway every day--on the elevated. But you could do your homework and so forth on it.

Aspray:

What kind of student were you?

Joel:

I don't know. I guess I was a B+ something. I was not a top student. I was a member of what they call Arista, which was sort of an honorary society, but I didn't really have the top grades all along. I had good grades.

Aspray:

Joel:

Oh, yeah. Well, I loved mathematics. I really liked mathematics, and science, too. And so I specialized and I got good grades in those. The one I got bad grades in was foreign languages, things like that. It took me four years to pass three years of French [chuckling]. At any rate, I liked to do mathematics, and I took it as much as I could.

Aspray:

Were there teachers who stood out during that period of time?

Joel:

Yeah, I can remember a science teacher I had in public school, in sixth or seventh grade, in Manhattan, who made an impression on me. I don't even remember their names, but they were very good teachers. I don't know that I remember anybody who encouraged me in mathematics. It's just that I liked mathematics and so I just continued with that interest all the way through. Very early I got interested in this switching thing and that consumed a lot of my time after a while

Aspray:

Did you have peers who you did science things with or shared your switching interests?

Joel:

Well, I had friends who-- I lived on West 86th Street in New York from 1929 on. And so I had a number of friends there. One of the very interesting incidents was that during the early 'thirties, I set up a telephone system along-- Eighty-sixth Street, then as now, was made up of a lot of tall apartment buildings, you know, 15-story apartment buildings. And we all lived in these buildings. So I set up my own telephone system and ran wires down the back fences along West Eighty-sixth Street. [Chuckling] And had a little knife--used knife switches--for switches and manual switches. And we had a switchboard at one end and one at the other end of the block. We had wires going up the sides of these buildings. At that time I acquired telephones by going into empty apartments and taking them because the Telephone Company would leave them, and there were plenty of empty apartments during the Depression. So there were plenty of telephones available. One of the incidents that I remember the most, a friend and I were sitting in my apartment, and, you know, we weren't using the telephone system at that time. But the telephone system went to about eight people. And all of a sudden the telephone bell rang. We couldn't figure out who it would be. So I answered the telephone, and it came in clear and louder and clearer than ever before. And, you know, I immediately said, "Oh, it's never been this clear before," I told my friend who was sitting with me. And the man at the other end said, "This is the telephone man. Where are you located?" [Laughter] He didn't like the fact that we ran the telephone wires down along the cables in the back of the fences where the Telephone Company wires were.

Aspray:

I see.

Joel:

And then I think he also looked-- One of the switchboards was in a first-floor apartment in one of the buildings, and I think he noticed in there were telephones that belonged to New York Telephone that shouldn't be. [Laughter] So I think he wanted to re-acquire them. So we had to give our telephones back to the Telephone Company. [Chuckling] But we had a good time with that system. So I remember that. It was fun building it and trying to solve some of the problems.

Aspray:

Joel:

Yeah. I don't know whether the story was in the Kyoto thing, but what happened was that I pursued this business of how does the dial telephone system work. The New Jersey Bell, as I say, sent the usual literature which didn't really satisfy me at all because it didn't really tell me the electrical circuits and all that that I wanted to know what was behind it. And how the switches looked and so forth. In fact, as I remember, they didn't even invite me to go down to the telephone exchange at that time. But whatever, I continued to write. Like, I wrote someplace, they told me to look it up in the encyclopedia. Well, there wasn't very much in the encyclopedia. A little bit more, but not much. But then I wrote to--I don't remember exactly how it happened--but I wrote to AT&T. Not about the telephone system in Atlantic City, but about a newer system that I had heard they were working on which at that time was called the crossbar system. And I asked if they had any literature about the crossbar system. And I got a letter back from a gentlemen, whom I later met and got to know, where he didn't want to tell me very much. But he said, well, this is stuff that is all covered by patents. And here's a few patent numbers that describe them. And that's all he said. He didn't say anything about how to get copies of the patents or anything. So I looked into it and found you could--at that time I think it was a nickel a copy--you could buy a copy of a patent. And so I sent away to Washington and got copies. And, oh, this was great! I mean, this was just what I wanted because it showed actual circuits of things.

Aspray:

Could you understand these?

Joel:

Yeah. Yeah, I think I understood those particular ones anyway. There were only two or three--three, I think it was--patents. I don't know why he did this. I never found out from him why. In fact, he didn't remember the incident at all. But I don't know why he chose to send me these patent numbers. [Chuckling] They weren't his patents or anything like that. So it really got me on a kick.

Aspray:

About how old were you when you started this?

Joel:

I was about, as you say, 13, 14. Yeah.

Aspray:

Okay.

Joel:

And that really kicked me off because then I went down to the public library. I learned that there is a journal that comes out every week called The Patent Office Gazette, and in there they show one picture and one claim about each patent that was issued. And I started going back and looking through these indices and so forth. And eventually started to organize the information about them. I started to actually make little 3x5 cards on each patent and information about it and made a real business out of it. And I started accumulating copies of the patents. Actually I didn't really do that in a big way until I went to college. But in the meantime I started collecting some patents. And I eventually bought a set of patent indices for myself and things of that kind. Just to keep track of what was going on in the telephone field--particularly the switching part.

Aspray:

Now, did you have other interests that were as passionate as this one at the time?

Joel:

No, no. You know, I liked music. At that time I took lessons on the clarinet and saxophone--all during the time that I was in New York. I took lessons for four or five years. And so that interested me; music always interested me, and it still does. But I think those were the two interests I had.

Aspray:

Did you have a chance while you were still in public school to meet any of the people that worked for the Telephone Company?

Joel:

Aspray:

Are there other things that we should talk about from your early life, your public school days? Are there anecdotes? Were there any other components to your switching story that we haven't talked about?

Joel:

Well, yeah. Certainly in those early days, you know, my friends knew I was interested in this sort of thing. And they'd always have their little problems and things they'd ask me about. Electrical things in general. But the thing I remember the most now is that starting about 1931 after I started really learning something about switching, I decided, well-- First of all, it seemed like an inventor's--it was--an inventor's art. I mean, everything you read about it was always somebody inventing something about switching. That was certainly the approach I took because I was looking at patents. Those were all inventions. And so the natural course seemed to be, well, I'm going to go out and do my own inventing. I'll invent my own switching system. Which I did. This is 1932, '33. I started growing up my own system, which I called the Joel All-Relay Dial System. I still have some papers on this that I want to show. And then I said, well, I'm going to try to build this thing.

Aspray:

Well, what was its function, and how did it differ from others?

Joel:

I thought at that time--of course, I wasn't yet that knowledgeable about everything that was happening in switching--but at least at that time I figured that it was much better to try to design, like AT&T was designing, this crossbar system in which the moving parts were very, very small. They were very little. Very small motion. That it would be nice to design a system that had only relays in it that had very, very small motion and no special devices, that you'd use ordinary, general-purpose relays for the functions. So that was my idea was to try to use ordinary relays to do it. The problem was that when I went down to Cortland Street, which was the place in New York in those days where you got radio parts and electrical things, that the cost of relays then were, you know, like even then were a dollar apiece, which was an awful lot of money. And I needed a hundred of them or so just to build a little sample switching system. And there was no way I was going to accumulate that kind of money to go out and do this. I did get some relays and put them together and played around with various circuits. But I really never built the system. And I keep thinking back to those days when the device was fairly big. It cost a dollar apiece, and it did very little. And now, you know, you can get a little tiny chip that does so much more [Chuckling] of the same kind of thing for so much less. So the technology has really changed tremendously from those days. And the quality of the type of people. Everything's changed. And I'm glad to feel that I had some part in it.

As far as looking back at the school, certainly the people I--my friends at that time--you know, they knew I was into this thing. Perhaps thought I was a little crazy about it, but it was a hobby, just like anything else.

Aspray:

How much time would you spend a week, do you think, on this hobby?

Joel:

Gee, I have no idea, Bill. I mean, I had my schoolwork to do. And I used to go out and play with the boys, so to speak. I remember a lot of things I did. I used to like roller skating. I did an awful lot of roller skating. Not only playing games in the block there--86th Street's a fairly wide street with wide sidewalks, so you do a lot of playing on the sidewalk. But then on my own I used to do an awful lot of skating all over Central Park, which was great. We used to have a tremendous time and skate all the way from 59th Street all the way up to 110th Street. And I just enjoyed that, and so I did a lot of skating. That's about the only activity I really remember, you know, physical activity. I worked hard at schoolwork. At least, as I say, particularly on the trains going back and forth to school. I used to like to work in school, by the way. I remember being on a committee--they called it a committee--it was just they'd take out a certain group of people who were interested in this sort of thing, and they'd put them to work at doing programming. I used to--I guess for a year and a half--I did work at the high school where they'd figure out the-- You know, people would move from class to class, and everybody had different combinations of subjects they would take. And the idea was to fit all this together. So I would always interested in dealing with combinatorial problems like this. And so I worked at programming in this programming group. I remember the woman that had charge--she was a very strict disciplinarian because she had to be for that kind of stuff. Of course it would all be done on computers today. But in those days we had an awful lot for 10,000 students--to arrange their programs twice a year was a big deal. And that group that I was in was responsible for that. You know, they put the kids to work to do this. So I do remember that kind of work that I did at school. Then every week I had to go down for my lesson in saxophone or clarinet and practice that. I never became very good at it, [Chuckling] but I enjoyed it.

Aspray:

But would you say you'd never go a week without doing something in switching or--?

Joel:

Well, once I got this bug which, as I say, started in Atlantic City, and continued in New York--once I got that bug--I think I continually more and more tried to learn more and more about switching. And I had this bug, the curiosity actually, that was never satisfied. The more I'd learn about one thing, then I'd say-- Well, that would lead me on to something else. Particularly patents, as you may know, frequently have references to other patents. And I kept track of all that. And of course frequently that zeroed in on certain key patents. Now, they were key patents from a patent point of view. They may not have been key technology patents necessarily, but they were key from the standpoint of the corporate way of doing business. But, yeah, I think that stayed with me all that time. I kept always doing something in switching. Or at least trying to find out something about switching.

Aspray:

Do you think that that helped your overall education? Did you learn a lot of math and science from reading these?

Joel:

Not really, no. No, it was completely different. It was like moving my interest in erector sets and trains--although I continued some of that--but like moving from that to this other hobby of finding out about switching. By the way, the other thing I always had in my life, I've always-- It started in Atlantic City, I guess. This was an influence--of a certain amount--of my parents, my mother particularly. Being in Atlantic City at that time, most of the Broadway shows started there. They'd be on the road--

Aspray:

In previews there.

Joel:

--and preview in Atlantic City. And so I saw all the musicals. I used to love musical theater, and so I went to all the musical shows there. And then later on in New York to the movies and to Radio City. I used to go to all the opening shows there. And, you know, that was always a hobby. I'd always been interested in musical theater.

Aspray:

Something that's continued?

Joel:

Yeah. In the musical sense. Well, I go to all the Broadway shows that are musical shows. My wife tries to drag me to the other kind, but I try to stay clear of that. In fact, there was a great thing up in your area on Sunday. Rosemary Clooney played at the Morris Knolls High School. Do you know where that is?

Aspray:

No, I didn't know. I know where that is.

Joel:

Anyway, we went to see her. But we really like musical theater--or at least I do, and she does, too. So, at any rate, that started back in those days, and that's why I think one reason why I tried to play the clarinet and saxophone. See if I couldn't become a musician myself. But I never really acquired those good skills. I think, like a lot of people, you [Chuckling] try to do these things, but it takes a lot more skill than you may think you have. Especially when it takes a lot of practice on basics, and you're too anxious to move ahead and play the music from the latest musical show or something. And I still have that same problem with my organ playing. I don't spend any time trying to learn the basics. I just try to play the latest stuff that I like to hear. I don't do it very well, but I have a lot of fun at it. But at any rate, that started back in those days. I really, you know, between my school work and music lessons and going out with the fellas and so forth, I didn't have much time left for switching other than to put on it what any other hobby would take.

### Undergraduate education and master's degree at MIT

Aspray:

How well did your public school education prepare you for college?

Joel:

Well, I think very well really. I mean, well, look at things today. I think it was very good. DeWitt Clinton High School was not the top high school of the city to prepare you for college. I mean, there were better schools for top students particularly. And, you know, in those days, particularly the Depression, everybody wasn't slated to go to college. I don't know what percentage, but maybe 40, 50 percent of the kids went to college in those days from DeWitt Clinton. But I felt it prepared me well. It seemed like fairly early on--I just can't say what the date was, but certainly perhaps two years, maybe even three years, before I graduated, which would have been about 1933--I'd heard enough about MIT to feel that I would like to go to MIT. And the biggest worry at that time was whether my father would be able to afford it or not. In those days--as today--it was considered to be quite expensive to go there. And especially coming out of--or, we were still in--the Depression then.

Aspray:

Did you and your parents expect from when you were young that you would go off to college?

Joel:

Well, I don't know. You know, looking back, I would say, no. My parents did not go to college, and I don't remember anybody in their families going to college. So I don't know whether-- I just felt that, I guess, to do what I wanted to do, I had to have a college education.

Aspray:

Joel:

Oh, I think by that time I had really decided-- I knew when I went to school--to college--that I wanted to be an electrical engineer. I'm almost--I'm positive--at that time I already knew the type of engineering I wanted to be in. I don't think there was any doubt that, you know, I wanted to go into some other type of engineering. And so the formative years were probably the three years between 1933 and 1936. And of course culminating in my acceptance at MIT.

Aspray:

Did you apply anywhere else?

Joel:

I don't remember. We wanted to stay fairly close to home. I didn't want to go a long, long way. And none of the West Coast colleges at that time had that kind of a reputation like it has today--they have today. I don't really remember. I think maybe the University of Pennsylvania, but I'm not sure. Yeah, I guess so, because I remember thinking about the Moore School and learning about the Moore School and so forth. At any rate, I think I did apply to the University of Pennsylvania; I'm almost positive I did. I don't know. None of the local schools in New York attracted me.

Aspray:

Not Brooklyn Poly?

Joel:

Not Brooklyn Poly or Columbia. I don't know why. But I guess I had heard some good things about Pennsylvania. Frankly, I had heard--and I don't know where I heard it--but my interests seemed already to be in designing and inventing. That would seem to be-- I mean, I just naturally seemed to want to do that. And for some reason or other, I associated MIT with this, and when I got there, I found it was true. That MIT was more the kind of place where you go to do original work and that sort of thing, not just to study it and go on your way. That they seemed to emphasize more the inventive idea, the original thoughts and so forth, and promoting them. So that also attracted me to MIT at that time.

Aspray:

Joel:

There? Really, I took the standard electrical engineering courses. Of course at that time you also had to take some standard courses in English and a foreign language and a few other things. In fact, there's more emphasis on that today than there was even then. In those days the humanities were fairly minor. At that time also MIT had just--in the Electrical Engineering Department--had just come up with a whole new set of texts. They had done some work from about 1929 on developing new courses in electrical engineering. And they had beautiful new textbooks and things on electrical engineering, which were great. And then the other thing was that I met a lot of good professors that I enjoyed very much. Particularly one who was interested in the Telephone Company

Aspray:

Who was that?

Joel:

His name was Carleton Tucker. He, much later on, became-- Well, he had been class of '18, so he was already-- How old would he have been? Well, he was 45 to 50 years old. But he later on became head of the department. Of course they rotated the head of the department around. But he was always interested in the telephone, and he knew a little bit about switching and transmission--he knew a lot about transmission. In fact, they taught a course in transmission. And he had a lot of friends in the New England Telephone Company. He knew everybody there. And he knew all kinds of Western Electric products. He knew every code number and all that kind of stuff. [Chuckling] So he was a man after my own heart. And I met him fairly early on before I really was in the Electrical Engineering Department taking their courses, you know, as a sophomore. And we got along great. They had an old Strowger PBX in the department that wasn't working very well, so I got my hands dirty by trying to get that things to work. And I really got a lot of benefit out of playing with stuff at MIT, which I didn't have at home. And then through him I met people in the Telephone Company. Went to see--visit--central offices and things of that kind.

Aspray:

Let me come back to that.

Joel:

Yeah.

Aspray:

Pursue the education a little further right now. What other faculty members do you remember from electrical engineering?

Joel:

I remember a lot of people there--not all of them necessarily people I had courses with. But one I remember the most that I had courses with was Ernie Gillman, the very famous person in communications theory who wrote a whole series--well, at least two books--on the subject. And a very excellent lecturer in many respects. I had a number of good professors there. I can't remember all the names. But there were people in the department at the time that you could talk to. People like Edgerton and people like the servo guy--Ed Winer. What do you call it? I had a course--I had a math course--with Wiener, Norbert Wiener. And then the other guy, that became president of MIT. It was Winer, wasn't it? Yeah. Both Norbert Wiener and Ed Winer. Winer was from the EE Department. And there were a lot of-- Bowles was a guy I remember.

Aspray:

Joel:

Edward Bowles.

Aspray:

Since you had lots of contact with computing later on, did you have any contact with Bush or Caldwell at the time?

Joel:

I had no-- Caldwell, I did. Not Bush. But I had a lot of contact with Caldwell because it turned out later on when I proposed my master's thesis, that he was the natural one to be my thesis advisor.

Aspray:

I see.

Joel:

And also during a couple of summers, I worked up there on a differential analyzer that Caldwell was building for Bush which used electrical switching--used switching--to connect the various integrators and other active elements of the differential analyzer. It was called the Rockefeller differential analyzer. It was different than the earlier Bush mechanical one.

Aspray:

Right.

Joel:

And they had used crossbars, which is the--some very, very early crossbars--that came out of Bell Laboratories. And I had a lot of fun designing some circuits for that. And doing some work on that thing during the summer.

Aspray:

This was summers when you were an undergraduate or a graduate student?

Joel:

Oh, yeah. Well, I was never a graduate student on the campus. I took enough courses in the four years I was there to get credits for my master's degree, but the only thing I didn't have was a thesis.

Aspray:

I see.

Joel:

And I had planned to then do my thesis in non-residence if I could find somebody who would back me up. And I got Sam Caldwell to do that, so that was no problem.

Aspray:

Generally speaking, how did you do in your course work at MIT?

Joel:

Again, I wouldn't say I was summa cum laude or anything like that. But again, B+, that sort of thing. Most of the courses I did pretty well in. Most of the electrical engineering courses. The other kind of courses I didn't do so well in. But most of the electrical engineering courses I did pretty well in.

Aspray:

Did you have student acquaintances that became important in your career or lifelong friends?

Joel:

Aspray:

Who were some of those people?

Joel:

Well, people like Stu Miller--I don't know if you've ever heard of Stu Miller. Stu Miller was a very famous--and died unfortunately last year--in fiber optics, development of fiber optic techniques in the research area, you know, long before it became a commercial thing--back in the late 'sixties, early 'seventies at Bell Labs. And before that he had worked on all kinds of other transmission research projects. And a fellow by name of McWeegan, who died rather early; he died in the 'fifties--

Aspray:

What was his first name?

Joel:

McWeegan was.... Oh, gee, I should know it.

Aspray:

That's okay.

Joel:

Bill. I think it's Bill McWeegan, but I'm not sure. And I can't recall them all right now, but there were a number of classmates who went to work at Bell Labs. Of course I kept up to date with those over the years.

Aspray:

Let's come back and talk about this--the kind of education that MIT gave in electrical engineering at the time. Was it power-oriented? Could you do control engineering at all?

Joel:

Control engineering was just coming in. That was the big thing. Hazen was the guy--

Aspray:

Oh, yes. Right.

Joel:

Hazen as well as-- Who was the other one? Anyway, when I started at MIT as a freshman, there wasn't really very much in communications. But communications was starting. As I say, Gillman had a course for undergraduates. He also did a graduate course, too. But a communications option started, I think, just about in 1936--maybe '34. The communications option only started in that area. And then one of the other things, of course, I do remember this. I think I tried, but did not succeed, in getting into the cooperative course. McWeegan and Miller, I believe, were both in the cooperative course that they ran. The cooperative course at MIT consisted of, spending, like, two semesters at MIT and then going out and working and--something of that kind. It still is in place today. And they had several options--So they had several options in power, and I think at that time they had the first one in communications--which was at Bell Laboratories. And I tried to get into that and didn't succeed. I don't know why. I don't know what the problem was, but I guess my grades weren't high enough. I imagine for that you had to have straight A's or something. It was called 6A. [Chuckling] But really, I think grades were very important to get into the cooperative course. And I didn't get into it. I tried. But in any case, communications was just starting to become a more popular area than power at that time.

Aspray:

And how many of your-- Was it a significant portion of the student population or just a very few people who shared that interest with you?

Joel:

Who studied communications?

Aspray:

Who were interested in studying communications?

Joel:

No, there were a good number of people in communications. They were really interested in getting into radio and things of that kind. I wouldn't say any of them really shared the kind of interests I had--certainly nobody interested in switching. Switching at that time--as I look back on it--was an inventor's art. It was not the kind of thing that people with intellectual pursuits would say, you know, this is something--

Aspray:

There's something to this.

Joel:

There's something to this. Yeah. And the people that I later met at Bell Laboratories when I started were all great guys, but they were all inventors. You know, they were almost the kind of guy you'd see in the back room putting things together this way and that way. The only difference was that they worked for a big company. In fact, you had to work for a big company like that--it wasn't that big in those days, but it was big relatively--you had to do that to do this kind of thing. Switching is not really--a big switching system--is not something you can very easily put together on your own. It takes a lot of people and a lot of work. But the fellas that I knew-- Of course I had an unusual--when I started working there--very, very unusual situation. Because I came in knowing a helluva lot about the subject, you know, and they never saw anybody like that before, you know, in the whole time Bell Labs had been in existence. So that was very unusual.

Aspray:

Audio File
MP3 Audio
(137_-_joel_-_clip_1.mp3)

Let's try to wrap up your college education. What other stories or what other things can you tell me about that?

Joel:

Yeah. There's a lot of stories, a lot of things to talk about there. Because first of all my interest in-- By the way, in order to earn a little extra money and so forth in the Depression days, I remember working in a lunchroom--a lunch place--on the campus. And then I worked in the dormitory office. And that's very important because the dormitory office had a switchboard, and I ran the switchboard.

Aspray:

Ah hah!

Joel:

And of course I enjoyed that. Doing all kinds of fancy things like connecting people together that didn't know each other and what not. [Laughter] To show what you could do with a switching system. But, yeah, it was very good, and it was a chance so that you met people. You knew a lot of people. All the people living in the dormitory would pass through the office there, and you'd get their laundry for them and what not. Charge them for various things. So it was very good. And send their telegrams for them. But at that same time I used this money that I got from some of this to get more patents. By the time I met my wife-to-be, which was--she says Easter 1938--then I started doing this thing in earnest. I mean I really went back and looked at all the switching patents and put 3x5 cards on every one of them. And decided I'd buy certain ones that I thought were important enough and started accumulating a library of all these things. And learning about all the different things that people ever invented in switching.

Aspray:

So you had time to spend on this?

Joel:

Oh, I spent a lot of time on that at school. Yeah. And of course I had to do my schoolwork. But that was my major hobby there. And I remember then I was quite knowledgeable already in some of this. So I used to have these drawings all over. And of course I think stories that people like to hear is that my first date with my wife, they had an open house--my wife-to-be--you could bring your lady friends up to your room. It was called "open house." And so she came up, and the first thing I did was I pulled out one of these patent drawings. And they're tremendous. I mean, they're like 50 or 60 sheets. And what I had done is pasted them together so that it was one great big roll of drawings. I had to lay it out on the floor for her. And I explained to her that--it took like an hour or so--but I went through all this business. I said, "It takes all that to give you dial tone in this latest type of switching system." [Chuckling] Which was the latest crossbar switching system. She claims I took her later to a crossbar office in New England Tel. I think it was a step-by-step office, but that's beside the point. [Chuckling] At any rate--

Aspray:

Did she have a science--

Joel:

--she went home and told her father that I was crazy. [Laughter] But, I mean, I was into it that way. And I remember also the other thing I had in school. I had it on my wall next to my desk: the patent drawing of the coin district juncture of the panel system. Because people kept coming in my room all the time and saying, If you do this, can you get this call through for nothing? What will happen? And they had all kinds of ways, you know, but the most common way was you'd tilt the-- You had a protractor on the bottom of the telephone booth, and you'd tilt it so many degrees and put pennies in it, and they'd sound like nickels or something. [Laughter] But they'd ask me all kinds of, you know-- Could you do this, that and the other so the wires wouldn't get you? And I had this diagram there to keep referring to it. It was a diagram of a circuit that was up on the wall that took care of this. [Chuckling] So I was doing that kind of stuff at the time.

Aspray:

How did you meet your wife-to-be?

Joel:

Well, as I say, I worked in the dormitory office, and she came in with a girlfriend. The girlfriend had a date with somebody there. And asked to call up, you know, and I saw her. And I started talking to her and making eyes at her and what not. And then when he came downstairs, he introduced us. And then later on-- I said I'd be finished in a couple of hours or so, and I guess we went out that evening. And then later on we went out when we had open house. And one thing led to another.

Aspray:

I see. Was she a student in the area?

Joel:

Well, she had been a student at Simmons, which is a ladies' college in the Boston area. But she had to drop that during the Depression. But the main thing was she-- Well, she lived in the area. She lived in Revere Beach, if you know where that is.

Aspray:

Yes.

Joel:

And that was a great place to go to in those days because, you know, it was an amusement town and what not. And so I used to go out and visit her on the weekends. So I started accumulating this library of patents. And I guess as far a college goes-- Oh, the other thing that I touched on before, but I think it's important, is that this Professor Tucker had contact, a lot of contacts--as professors will--and he accumulated some switches of various manufacturers. You know, from IT&T and some other people. They weren't a switching system. They were just odd switches. So I got the idea of putting together a case of these, putting them together in a glass case, and having buttons that people could go along the corridor and push the buttons and see them operate. And so I built that thing. I remember building that. And they used it in open house and places like that. Eventually it became a fixture in the Electrical Engineering Department in one of the halls where you could play around with these things. And then, as I say, I worked on the department PBX. They were always having problems of some kind. I'd try to keep it working. But that was fun. The computer of the day.

### Ambition for Bell Laboratories career

Aspray:

Now during that time did you know you wanted a career with the Telephone Company?

Joel:

Aspray:

Ah hah! [Laughter]

Joel:

And so I then got on a train for New York instead of going back to Cambridge. And I had a date then with Bell Laboratories, and they took me out. I spent a day with them. And so I got an offer from both of them. But the offer from Automatic Electric was much better than the offer from Bell Laboratories. I think Bell Laboratories was offering, like $100 a month and Automatic Electric$130 a month.

Aspray:

Oh, so it was sizeable.

Joel:

A sizeable difference. And I told Bell Laboratories this. I said, "You know, this is where I really want to work. But I have a better offer." And they said, "Well, you know, $100 is what we've been paying bachelor's, but you're going to get your master's degree. You have all your master's credits except for your thesis, and we understand you're going to write your thesis after you come to work. And the topic, I think, had been approved--the thesis topic has been approved." In those days you had to do a thesis for your master's degree. And so they said, "Okay, we'll pay you as if you had a master's degree." And that was$130 a month. So that was it. So I started out with that.

### Master's thesis research; design of relay and switch circuits

Aspray:

Let's go back for just a moment and talk about your master's thesis. What was the topic?

Joel:

Aspray:

Was he of much help?

Joel:

No, not particularly. I wouldn't say he contributed very much. I don't think he really liked it. I think he just sort of reluctantly agreed to do this. And the thing he really perked up on was after a while, you know, this resulted in a course that we taught at Bell Laboratories. And I started this, I started the whole idea of teaching switching. So we came up with a book, a famous book, which Keister, Ritchie, Washburn-- I don't know if you ever heard of it. But it's the design of relay and switch circuits. And I was the originator of this. I didn't participate in the writing of the book because I was off on other things by then. But nevertheless, Caldwell grabbed a hold of that. He liked that at that time then. We're talking now about 1946, '47. And he went out and wrote his own book. [Chuckling] But at the time, which was a lot earlier--we're talking about 1940, '41--he wasn't that much enthused about the whole idea of switching circuits could be formalized and so forth and so on. I guess he had been Claude Shannon's master's thesis advisor also.

Aspray:

I didn't know that.

Joel:

I imagine so. I'm not sure, but I think so.

Aspray:

Besides working on the--

Joel:

By the way, because of that I didn't get the degree the first year when I finished it. They didn't give me the degree until 1942 instead of '41. I graduated with a bachelor's in '40, my master's in '42. [Chuckling]

Aspray:

Oh. In addition to the experience working on the Rockefeller differential analyzer, did you have any experience with computing while you were at MIT?

Joel:

No, no. In fact, the work I did on the differential analyzer was purely switching. And I didn't really fully appreciate what that was all about until much later. I did know, you know, that the integrators were sending these signals, but I really didn't understand the whole business of how you set of differential analyzers to solve differential equations. Which is fairly neat, you know. It's simple, and this thing gave it tremendous flexibility to do it with the electrical connections instead of physical connections. Anyway, a lot of things in your career, you have a contact with them at the time, and you don't appreciate the importance until later on. And that certainly was one of them.

### MIT's pedagogy and students

Aspray:

Joel:

Not really. No, you know, a lot of interesting lab work that I did that I enjoyed. The classes were fine. I liked mathematics courses and took a lot of extra courses like probability and things like that which were not-- Well, I guess I took-- Those were graduate courses. That's where I had Norbert Wiener, I guess, was in a graduate math course or something like that.

Aspray:

He has a reputation for being a terrible teacher.

Joel:

Oh, he was. Yeah. But a great guy to talk to. He'd fill the board with stuff and then just walk out of the room. [Chuckling] But really in those days--and, I guess, pretty much today--you were on your own pretty much to learn. The teachers could guide you and could help you. And you could go see them and discuss things with them. But they really weren't teachers in the sense that-- Once in a while, you'd find a great teacher. Ernie Gillman stands out in my mind as a great--was a great teacher. [Chuckling] I remember the most important thing was he'd come up with these equations, you know. He'd go through all this business of equations for filters and what not. And he'd give you a problem, and you'd go home and you'd solve this problem. And it turns out that the problem required I don't know how many variances of capacitance to do this. And you'd come to him and you'd say, Well, this isn't practical. You'd never build a filter like that. He'd say, "I don't care. That doesn't make any difference. The theory's right." [Laughter] If it works good and that's where it comes out, that's where it comes out. He didn't care whether you could build such a thing.

Aspray:

That raises a question in my mind. How practically oriented was MIT?

Joel:

Oh, very. I think so. Because I remember taking a power course where you had to sit down and you had to design this whole power line. Of course this was before the days of calculators, so you had slide rules that you could use. But, you know, they really had to calculate all the details of this power line and the losses and this, that and the other thing. It was pretty practical. On the other hand, a lot of the problems were always oriented toward solving something new that was different, not just going back over some ground that people had hashed over for years and years. So there was always this-- You got a feeling all the time of being in a creative atmosphere.

Aspray:

Problem-solving and design?

Joel:

Problem-solving, yeah. There are better ways anyhow. And that was good, I thought. And I think it set--at that time and even today--set MIT apart from some of the other kinds of places.

Aspray:

Students were good?

Joel:

Oh, the students were great. Yeah, yeah. All the people that you came into contact with--both the faculty and the students--were always just top rate. Yeah. And even in those days a lot of foreign students. I can still remember Wiener going across the campus always talking in Chinese with the Chinese students. But there wasn't as many Asians as there are right now. But nevertheless there were a lot of foreign students always at MIT. In the graduate program mostly.

Aspray:

All right, let's-- Do you want to take a break for a minute?

Joel:

No, no.

Aspray:

Okay.

### Career at Bell Labs

#### Description of Bell Labs facilities and work environment

Joel:

Do you want some coffee or anything?

Aspray:

Joel:

Oh, yeah.

Aspray:

What was it like? Where did you work?

Joel:

Oh, the Labs at the time I started working had only one location, which was 463 West Street in New York. It had been at one-time a Western Electric factory location, I guess, many, many years earlier. In 1925 the Bell Laboratories was formed. Prior to that then it was the Engineering Department of the Western Electric Company.

Aspray:

This is down sort of near where the Javits Center is?

Joel:

No, no. Further down. Between Broome and Banks Street.

Aspray:

Oh. Uh huh.

Joel:

On West Street, right on the river. Of course in those days you'd look out, and the piers were there and you'd see the boats go back and forth. The boats actually docked right across the street from the Labs. Oh, it was a terrific place at that time. You can look back, and I have lots of memories of Bell Laboratories at West Street. And today it's called Westbeth. It's an artists' colony. They sold it in 1963 or '64, something like that. But at that time it was the only Bell Labs location, and it consisted of less than 3,000 people. Probably at that time when I started working about 2500 people. So it's grown like ten fold [Chuckling] since then. And a great bunch of people, you know. There was a culture there. It was a mixture of all kinds of people. Most of the people, by the way, in the switching art in those days were not college people--not daytime college people. Many of them did go to college and got degrees at night. And anybody who got a degree at night at Bell Laboratories--who worked at Bell Laboratories in those days--was sort of looked down upon. For many, many years, a night degree did not have the same aura about it as a day degree. And many of these people, of course, started as technical aides and weren't engineers anyway until they became-- And it took a long time even after they got their night degree to become an engineer and be considered a member of technical staff. So it was interesting in that sense. But a great bunch of people. Of course they were still in the trauma of the Depression when I started in 1940. I started in July 1940. We were still working--I think we had one half day off a week. So it was four and a half days a week or something like that. The story goes that during the Depression they were going to lay off a lot more people. And Roosevelt heard about this and didn't like the fact that they were taking this very important national contributor, Bell Laboratories, and reducing--getting rid of--some of the famous people they had there. The team that they had there. And so they opted to keep cutting back the days that people worked rather than trying to reduce the size too much.

Aspray:

Before the war it had been a six-day workweek?

Joel:

At the time of the war we started a six-day workweek. It became six days, I remember that, very quickly. I don't remember just when. I don't think it was before the war.

Aspray:

I guess what I meant to say was before the Depression and the cutback what had been.

Joel:

Oh, yeah. I think, yeah. I think you're right. Before the Depression I think it was six days. And we went to six days fairly quickly when the war came. But when I first started there we were still not fully back to the regular schedule.

Aspray:

How were the Laboratories organized at the time?

Joel:

Aspray:

Now, was the research function divided up by specialty areas?

Joel:

Oh, yeah. I think so, but I really don't know that much about the research area.

#### Initial assignments to cable-wiring shop, frame building, and relay shop

Aspray:

Okay. Where were you placed?

Joel:

Well, that's another thing. Of course they didn't treat me any differently even though I had all this knowledge. [Chuckling] You know, I expected to be hired one day and the next day starting to design dial telephone systems. But they treated me like any other newcomer. And the first thing they do is to send you down to the wiring shop where you learn how to wire. Make cables and wire them onto frames. Bell Laboratories did all their own building of their own experimental models. So the same thing applied to the switching equipment. You'd build your own frames and stuff. You wouldn't have them built at the Western Electric factory.

Aspray:

Is this something you were already familiar with, had done this kind of handwork?

Joel:

Not really. I mean, how much did I do with soldering irons except, you know, when I tried to put these relays together that I'd worked on. But up to now I hadn't done much. But it was interesting to see how they put cables together. But I didn't feel I wanted to sit down there and do that for weeks and weeks, [Chuckling] but I was doing it. And I came to work-- When I was interviewed, I was interviewed by a man--several men--a fellow by the name of Matthies, who was under a vice president. He'd be the equivalent today of an executive director at Bell Laboratories. He took me to lunch with two of his underlings. A man by the name of Dow, who at that time was like a department head. And a man by the name of Scudder, who was at that time like a director. Not Dow's director, but another director. It turned out-- Matthies I knew by name because I knew he had some patents. Dow never had patents, as far as I know. And Scudder had a few very important ones. So they took me to a very nice, fine and fancy restaurant in New York. And then they sent me around the building to be interviewed by various people. But I do remember meeting them. And it was an interesting luncheon. They asked me all kinds of questions about what I knew about their things, and I'd tell them about their stuff. Later on, when other people in the building started hearing about me, [Chuckling] they'd come up to me and I'd say, "Oh, I know you." You know, I knew this patent and that patent and so on and so forth. [Laughter] After I'd been introduced. And one friend in particular, Bill Keister, who is a very good friend of mine now, he loved to take me around the building and introduce me to this one and that one to see their reactions. [Laughter] But it was fun--for me at least.

Aspray:

So how did you get out of the cable-wiring shop?

Joel:

Oh, that was tough. That was very tough. So this guy Dow--It turned out that Dow's responsibility was in charge of the laboratories: the building of the stuff--and he had the engineers working for him who tested it. In those days, the people who tested the designs of the dial systems and the various systems were not the same people who designed them. It was an independent force. They did their test-- They had them built and they had them tested. And then they'd send letters back and forth saying it didn't work--or why didn't it work. You know, what doesn't work. And it would be up to the designer to fix it. They couldn't fix it themselves. They had to have the designer send them an official drawing, which showed exactly how to fix it. So anyway, Dow-- First of all, these West Street buildings, in those days there was no air-conditioning. So the windows are open. Place is a mess. Incinerators blow smoke in there all day long, and the place is full of soot. You never could keep your desk clean. But at any rate, the day I came to work Dow-- I guess he had a feeling that I was going to be disappointed about not going to work designing switching systems. And he takes me over to the window, and he says, "You're going to go down there!" And he points down to a little building down below from the main building he was in, and he said, "That's where you're going to go. You're going to go down there to work." And I said, "What am I going to do?" And he said, "You're going to build these frames." And I said, "Well, I guess I can put up with it for a while, but I don't want to do it very long." And I remember after I was down there a few days, he came down to see me. And I said, "I don't like this! I don't want to do anymore of this! I've learned enough of this." [Chuckling]

Aspray:

And you were allowed to wander down there?

Joel:

Yeah. Nobody stopped me. And in those days you could; they didn't have passes or anything in those days. Nobody stopped me, and of course I started making friends in some of those places. Most of them were the wiremen and people like that in the wiring shop and the relay shop. But, you know, I met people, and it was good to go around. And of course I made friends like this guy Keister who took me around also and showed me. So this was my first contact with real, honest-to-goodness, live switching systems. And they had everything. It took me years to realize what I saw there, but I saw all the things that were in those patents. [Chuckling] So it was great. And of course the main thing in those days was crossbar. That was the big thing, and so people were designing crossbar systems of various kinds. So I had a chance to see them. I didn't really play with them, but I saw them at that time.

#### Assignment to crossbar systems testing

Joel:

After a while--after I finished the relay design group, which was another couple of months--they finally gave me an assignment, again, in Dow's group. All of this was under Dow. They gave me an assignment in the laboratory, which is in the natural course of things. I mean, normally the new engineer coming to work in those days, he didn't know anything about designing switching systems anyway. He didn't even know what a switching system was. And so everything--almost everything--was on-the-job training. So the natural thing would be to give him an assignment down in the testing laboratory. And so we went down to the-- So he gave me a job--yeah, I guess it was Scudder's group. Maybe Scudder was not the designer. No, I think it was in Scudder's group. Anyway, Scudder was responsible, I think, for the testing of crossbar systems. And these were big open places, you know. They weren't like today with the cubicles and so forth. Everybody had a desk, and there were five or ten guys in an office. And so I was given a job of testing out some circuits. You know, they'd assign them, and you'd go in the lab and you'd learn how to set up the circuit so that you could dial a number, and the call would go through those circuits, and you could check that they functioned the way they were supposed to. And find out why they didn't and what happened. It was interesting. I was really in my element now. All of a sudden I was really having a great time. And so I started--

So at any rate, now at last I had a chance to-- And by the way, now I had a chance also, not only to actually work with switching equipment for the first time, but also now I had a chance to meet the designers. Because, you know, you're working on the circuit, and it was designed by So-and-so. Oh, gosh, I know him from his patents. And now I could go up to his office upstairs and meet him and talk to him about his circuit and why it doesn't work. And one of the most interesting things was that these people had no idea what their circuits looked like downstairs. [Chuckling]

Aspray:

Is that right?!

Joel:

Well, yeah. In other words, you'd build it. You'd have it built. They never paid much attention to the physical aspect of it because to them it was just a circuit. You know, a very big complicated circuit usually, but nevertheless, a circuit. But anyway, here I met them, and it was great to meet them and see what kind of guys they were and what it was like. By the way, no women anywhere here. There were never any women in the process except in the library, in the typing. A few drafts-ladies, I guess. By the way, the services were great, too, at Bell Laboratories. You know, not only the library service, but when you became a member of technical staff you had a button on your desk. And so anytime you wanted a new drawing out of the file, you just pushed the button and a messenger came. You told them what you wanted or if you needed sugar or something, they'd go get whatever you had to get. A pack of cigarettes or something. I mean, you know, whatever. [Chuckling] And then, of course, they had outside messengers, too, who would take things outside when you had to. Who would do this outside. But at any rate, you'd meet the designers this way. And I guess I spent a good year at that.

Aspray:

At the testing?

Joel:

At the testing. So we're well into 1941.

Aspray:

And what would you say you learned from working in the testing, mainly?

Joel:

#### Assignment to cryptographic systems, Teletype design

Joel:

Well, I started working there--I don't know, probably in September or October, and the war broke out in December. And by February things had already been switched around. Everybody in switching was working on something different. So I was assigned to a group that was working on various cryptographic systems because they were all using the electromechanical relays and, you know, the--It was natural that switching people would be working on this kind of thing. And I guess also it sort of went with the territory that here's a bright young engineer. They're the kind of people we're going to put on these new kind of things that we don't even understand--you know, the supervisors. It wasn't like the old business where you had years and years of experience in how to design switching systems. So the young people were put on this, and so we really got a good opportunity to work on something really brand new. So we were associated first of all with designing improved Teletype, cryptographic stuff.

Aspray:

Now had Bell Labs done any work in this area before?

Joel:

Yes, the idea of an endless-code telegraph was started at Bell Labs not too long after the tape-reading Teletype had been invented.

Aspray:

And this code being--?

Joel:

This was back in the early 'twenties. A fellow name of Birnam [sic] designed this.

Aspray:

Oh, this is the one where you have--

Joel:

The Birnam Code.

Aspray:

--a separate tape.

Joel:

An endless tape. And you'd send a copy at the other end, and each end has a copy, and, you know, it can't be broken. That was Birnam that designed that. He got a patent on that, I guess, about in the 'twenties somewhere. But I don't think Bell Labs had done any other work. Now, as you know, or may remember, in the 1939 World's Fair, Bell Labs had demonstrated the vocoder, so-called, which was an attempt to telegraph speech to another and to do about what Alexander tried to do way, way back. Actually to try to break speech down and define it into parts, and find ways of reproducing speech electrically. And generating speech. They had demonstrated this vocoder idea. That was the kind of thing that came out of research. But along came a need for a voice encryption system. And there were some well-known techniques, you know--not necessarily invented at Bell Labs--that people had been working on in the government cryptographic agency, which was called Arlington Hall. It was then National Security Agency or something like that. Arlington Hall. What was it called? NSA, wasn't it? Or is NSA a current--?

Aspray:

Part of Communications Seesaw? Or-- I'm not sure. I know there was an Arlington Hall.

Joel:

There was Arlington Hall, and I've forgotten what the official name was. But anyway it was the National Security Agency or something. At any rate, they had been working on various speech synthesis things, speech encryption arrangements. Anyway, Bell Labs got one of these contracts from National Research Council to do this--to develop some speech. And right after that--very quickly after that--came the need for a foolproof speech system like the telegraph endless key for Roosevelt and Churchill to talk back and forth. And so they married these two, and they developed this encryption scheme using the vocoder. And having, instead of an endless tape, a phonograph record with the digital key on it. So they produced duplicate phonograph records. And so that was a separate group. That's not the group we were in, but we were very closely allied with them. My boss reported to the same people as the head of that group reported to. And so we kept up to date with that, but we were continuing to develop less secure speech systems that would not last as long as that. I mean, that was supposedly the foolproof system. But we were developing speech keys, speech systems that would have less security, but it would be 12 hours or something. Something that was good enough for battle situations and what not, where you didn't have to have complete, forever type of security.

Aspray:

And what would be the device of security there?

Joel:

Well, it would be applying some of these filtered types where you'd break up the speech into frequency bands and switch the frequency bands around, you know, that kind of stuff.

Aspray:

I see.

Joel:

Which was well known in those days apparently. And so we were developing the relay circuits for doing this kind of stuff. And after a while we started developing some fairly complicated ones, and we got a contract--and I really took charge of that--was to try to say, How secure are these various systems? So I built labs full of relay and switch circuits that would try to find the basic keys in these systems and find out how secure they really were. How long would it take a knowledgeable person who already knew how the system worked to find the keys. And so I had a whole bunch of people working for me. Unfortunately, we didn't have any computers to speak of, but we had some calculators. And so we had to do all this with telegraph equipment and things of that kind, which was, you know....

Aspray:

Why was computational work required in this thing?

Joel:

You wanted to look at certain things every 22 segments, you know, and divide these into various modal, mathematical cycles, sub cycles and things of that kind. And so we were looking for the key. So I got involved in quite a bit of this. And in doing this, I sat at the feet of a great gentleman. His name was Nyquist, Harry Nyquist.

#### Collaboration and networking at Bell Labs;  Harry Nyquist and Alan Turing

Aspray:

Oh, Harry Nyquist. Yeah.

Joel:

Harry Nyquist. What a guy! I'll tell you.... I'd go down and tell him my problem with something, you know. I'm trying to do this. And by the way, he's one of the people from the Research Department. And, of course, we met all these people after a while. And I'd go down and tell him what my problem was. And he'd say, well, now, what about this? And he'd be writing. By the time he asked you all the right questions, usually your problem was solved. Or at least you got a helluva lot of ideas. And he'd have a memo written describing what you were talking about, [Chuckling] all right while you were doing it. And then one famous day--we're talking now about two or three years later--Alan Turing came. He visited the Labs, and we all had a chance to meet him. I just met him briefly one afternoon kind of thing.

Aspray:

Why was he there?

Joel:

Well, he was there because he was working on this--what do you call it?--Colossus Machine in England and working on ciphers and codes and trying to break them, same as we were.

Aspray:

Was your group familiar with what he was doing before he came?

Joel:

No, no. In fact, I didn't even learn anything from him at that time. Most of the things I've learned about him have come since he's dead. But I didn't know anything about him then [Chuckling] except that I was introduced to him, at that time, as being well known in this area from England. That was all. I don't think Harry Nyquist knew, even. He introduced us to him, but I don't think he knew very much about Turing either. But at that time we hadn't heard about the Turing machine and algorithms and all that. In fact, I don't remember Claude Shannon being there at that time, but I'm sure at that same time he did visit.

#### Growth of Bell Labs and its facilities during World War II

Joel:

Well, when I first came the popular thing was, we're going to tear down that building across the street, and we're going to build a skyscraper there. And that's going to be the future Bell Laboratories. Well, I don't know who it is--I never heard the story where the idea came from--but.... Of course we did have a place out in Whippany, you know, where they did a lot of work. And they had a place at Holmdel at that time, where they did the radio astronomy work and long-wave radio antennas and things. And they had work out at Whippany where they did the work on motion-pictures and radio altimeters and other kinds of things. Specialty products. But somehow I got the idea that, you know, maybe the next laboratory shouldn't be in the city. We should really build a really good place out in the country. And as a result they decided, about the end of 1940 or '41, to build Murray Hill. And Murray Hill was finished just slightly after the war started--the first building. And it was mainly for research, so most of us had no contact with it. But at least the research people had. And I think Claude was out there very early on because I didn't see much of Claude after the first year or so. I mean, when he started really working on information theory and work on cryptographic stuff, I never saw him. As I say, when Turing was there, I didn't see him. Maybe he had another date with him some other time. But anyway it was an interesting time.

So that was a tremendous break when they built the place out in Murray Hill. Couldn't compare with building a skyscraper across the street.

#### Speech encryption and digitized speech

Joel:

Well, at any rate, where were we? So the cryptographic stuff got interesting. Well, I kept on doing that for a while. And out of that came some ideas for better devices to encrypt speech. The company applied for several patents on some of my work in this line. At the same time, well, several things happened. The group I was in got responsible for the cryptographic part of a new speech system that used digital speech--digitized speech. Everything was done with vacuum tubes. But they encoded the speech with a PCM kind of a thing. And we designed the key, the equipment for this. I designed some of the very basic ones, you know, and put my experience that I had had by then. And one of the things I got into was right away the synchronizing problem, which we didn't have before in digital speech. So I got a patent on that. I really think one of the first patents I had on the synchronizing of speech is really the same idea as what's known today as pulse stuffing. I don't know if you've ever heard of that. But to synchronize frames in T1 and T3 carrier, you stuff pulses in until you get the two ends to match up. Actually Mayo had the patent on that for T1, I think. But nevertheless, I think the idea that I used in this keying thing had that same idea in it somewhere. But the point is that I learned a helluva lot there because we had for the first time digitizing speech. I met some guys that could really throw digital circuits around like crazy, but they were all vacuum tube circuits. Terrific guys, though, they were really terrific. Just great designers. And of course I was still working with relays and switches. So I learned a lot about electronics there with them.

Aspray:

Joel:

No, not very much.

Aspray:

Did they teach you at MIT?

Joel:

Oh, at MIT I learned all the fundamentals. You know, I could design amplifiers and oscillators and that kind of thing. But not really inventing circuits. Here I had a chance-- I'd built a ring circuit of my own and some other things that I needed to do the job. And by the way, I got a patent--one of the patents that I got on some of the earlier jobs--was the very basic patent today of generating keys with prime numbers. Nothing ever came out of that. The patent wasn't issued by the Commerce Department until, like, 1973 or something.

Aspray:

Can you explain that in a little more detail?

Joel:

Yeah. In other words, you can get long keys by having cycles and sub cycles, each sub cycle being a prime number, so that you don't get any repetition until you get to the multiplication of the whole thing. And apparently, you know, there hadn't been any patent on that subject before that. In fact, I don't think anybody had really thought about that seriously before 1942 or '43 or whenever it was. And so they applied for a patent for it. But we never got--the patent number was never issued. You know, they held a lot of these patents in secrecy for many, many years. And it was not until 1973 that a lot of them were released. In fact, I think I saw one of them that still hasn't been released. It's still under secrecy.

#### Collaboration with Sam Williams and George Stibitz

Joel:

At any rate, that was one of the aspects of the work. And another aspect that I got into just about that time was to help a lone designer who was a very famous switching systems designer by the name of Sam Williams. He became one of the early presidents of the ACM.

Aspray:

Oh, yes.

Joel:

I don't know exactly why or how, but he did become. Sam Williams was a very excellent designer. In many respects he did like I did. He got jobs in the company and worked his way up in the company, but never liked those kinds of jobs very much. Which is what happened to me, too, if you know something about my background. So, you know, I wanted the design work, and I guess he did, too. So even though he was like a director level, he designed all kinds of stuff. And I guess when they had this very special job that came in from Arlington Hall, he was given the assignment of designing this thing. It was a very secret, secret, top, top secret job. He needed some help along the way, and I did some work for him on it. Met him. And it was great to learn from him and meet him and know him. I don't know how much he understood of this either--and I didn't understand anything about it--but we had to build this thing according to their spec. Now in hindsight, now that I know all about the Purple Code and know all the stuff that Freedman did--I don't know if you know about Freedman--but now I understand that this thing was the thing that was going, one of the ways they were going to use, to break the Purple Code. And we built frame after frame of this stuff. You know, all I knew was a way of batting it around and I knew what the spec was, but I really didn't know what I was doing. Now I understand completely how it worked, you know, having worked on that. But at the time it was just one complete mystery, and all I was doing was just designing some circuits for them. And he needed the help. Also, Sam Williams-- Well, first of all, we had Stibitz.

Aspray:

Did you know Stibitz?

Joel:

Yeah, yeah. Now Stibitz, back in '38, had designed this calculator, this--what do you call it?

Aspray:

Complex numbers.

Joel:

Complex numbers, yeah. Complex numbers. And the person who actually helped them in a lot of the relay work was Sam Williams. And of course they set up this demonstration. By the way, a lot of that kind of stuff was the same thing I had in my laboratory. They had this demonstration up at Hanover with the Math Society and what not. And, you know, in my laboratory--this is sort of interesting about patents--in my laboratory, where I had the crypto-analysis work going on, I had to have a lot of ladies working at teletypes. We had five or six of these same kind of things that they had in Hanover, working into this one machine. It was the first application, I think, of a multiple-access computer, you know.

Aspray:

What were these connected to?

Joel:

These were connected to the machine that I had that I was trying to solve the codes.

Aspray:

I see.

Joel:

And they would put in all these problems, and it would come out with the various solutions to it. At any rate, I submitted this thing to the Patent Department, and they said, Oh, there's nothing to this. [Laughter] So I never got a patent on that. But I thought it was one of the interesting things. As I look back, I say, You know, that was a patent I should have gotten. [Chuckling] At any rate, they didn't think much of it. Now one of the jobs I got somewhere--and I've forgotten chronologically how it came about--but Sam Williams had worked with Stibitz and came up with an improved calculator that was really the first programmable calculator, where you could make decisions and skip past the tape and go to various sections of the tape, depending upon the conditions. So you had decision-making in that, which you didn't have in the complex computer--it was just a complex calculator, that's all it was. It wasn't a computer at all. And Sam was working with Stibitz on this. I guess Stibitz got the patent on it; it was Stibitz's idea. Stibitz got the patent on it. But they had a lousy attorney assigned to it initially who really didn't understand it and didn't do a very good job of it. But somebody in the Patent Department said, You know, this is a lot more important than this. Let's get one of these young fellows in the switching area to rewrite this patent or at least do something to make it sound better. And they gave me the job, and I waxed enthusiastic about it. I thought this was great. And I rewrote that. It wasn't a big job. But I remember having that experience.

Aspray:

As they designed theirs? Not as they built it?

Joel:

As they designed theirs, yeah. Well, we never built ours. But these two patents--their patent and Sam Williams' patent--got into interference in the Patent Office in the late 'forties and dragged on well through the 'fifties and, I think, well through the 'sixties. And finally AT&T just gave up on it. And let Remington Rand have the claims. But for years they fought over these. I had nothing to do with this, but this is just an aside because of Sam Williams. But Sam Williams was a great guy.

#### Warren W. Carpenter; practical outcomes of moderately-secure system development

Joel:

While we're talking about people, another guy I met in the browser group was an idol of mine from the days I started studying patents. I used to study these patents, and I'd see all these patents with Warren W. Carpenter. And I said, Boy! He must be something. Well, it turned up that Warren W. Carpenter was assigned to this browser group, and he was not one of the regular circuit designers. He was not one of the guys that worked in the bullpen where they designed switching circuits. He was the kind of guy, all along, that just got ideas and kept getting patents on them. And he did a lot of work on his own. He'd go back home and build them. And he was the guy who invented the first AMA system, where they have this wide tape--I don't know if you ever saw 28-hole tape. There's no chad; it just punches through. He used a mechanism that came out of a switch that he built. He did it all in his home because they wouldn't do it at Bell Laboratories. They wouldn't agree with his idea. And when the war was over, that was the best way we had of doing AMA. And so it was adopted. He also had his own idea of a panel switch, which was a high-speed panel switch that he tried to sell. He didn't do that in his basement. That required some real good mechanical design. That was done at the Laboratories, and he worked on that for years and never sold the idea. But he was a promoter of switching systems. Hey, that's me! That's what I want to do! [Chuckling] He was a promoter of switching systems from the word "go." And I met him and learned about him, and he was quite a guy. But that's what he did. So, you know, I got to know him. He was never assigned to war work. And that's why he was able to do his AMA stuff on the side at home during the war. I don't know whether he was a Nazi sympathizer. They had a lot of problems with Nazi sympathizers at that time. People like Llewellyn and--not Llewellyn--what's his name? Very famous guy. There were several famous people at Bell Labs that they had to sort of keep off on the side. At any rate, the point was that I met people like Sam Williams and some idols of mine in the patent work. Warren Carpenter.

So what happened next--

Aspray:

Oh, let me ask one other question first.

Joel:

Aspray:

Out of the work on the moderately-secure system, what were the practical outcomes of that?

Joel:

Oh, those systems were built for things like tank radios--the little small things. We also built them for command headquarters. They used these so-called drum machines--they had various Dutch names for them. Helgen [sic] machines. The drum machines that have the alphabets wired through each of five drums. And the way you control them-- Well, we developed some methods to control them very sophisticatedly with relay circuits. Rather than just have them themselves decide how they're going to move, we decided how they were going to move with a complicated relay circuit. Anyway, those were used at the command headquarters. So we developed a number of practical products that were made for this. Oh, and we applied it to voice. We applied it to voice. So all the stuff we did was voice, except the very early. So that was the main contribution of this group, that they actually designed some voice security systems.

Aspray:

And this voice security system actually was put into use?

Joel:

Yeah, they were put into production and used in various places. They were cheap and dirty versions of the endless key kind of things. Many of them used--well, they all used--the vocoder because it wasn't until later when we started doing the digitized speech. That was toward the end of the war, and that was the last job I worked on, on that, was that digitized speech keyer. And the last thing I did.

#### Postwar development of transmission and switching systems; invention of the No. 5 Crossbar

Joel:

Well, what happened now was the war in Europe came to an end. The guy that I worked for his name was Al Bush; he was my supervisor. He had been a famous designer of crossbar systems back before the war. And he was highly considered. He was a very bright guy, and he was highly considered by the people there. And, oh, all during the war--well, I shouldn't say all during the war, but toward the end of the war in Europe--the Vice President, by name of Clark, A.B. Clark, was a visionary looking ahead at what the future was going to be for the Bell System in development of systems for transmission and switching. Because he had both responsibilities. And he could see coming--and there were studies being made by the Systems Engineering people and so forth--of nationwide dialing. But by operators first and then maybe later by customers. Numbering plans and so forth. All that sort of thing was being thought about. And I wrote a memo, and I caught his attention about the idea of teaching switching. I guess he knew about me, but up to that time I don't think I'd had any contact with him. But when I wrote this thing, I guess, you know, again, I said, With the war coming we've got to teach people how to switch. We've got to get a new kind of people in here, college graduates. You know, treat this as a real technical subject and so forth and so on. It can be done, and there's a lot to be done. And that attracted his attention. So I met him, and I guess we got along pretty well. Some of the other people didn't like that, of course, because it was out of the line of organization.

But at any rate, the upshot was that Bush was assigned to work on the new dial system, which had been agreed upon, that they were going to design a new dial system for use in the suburbs. Because they felt that people were going to start moving to the suburbs. And rather than build step-by-step systems for the suburbs, which didn't have the ability for nationwide dialing and all that kind of stuff, they needed a new kind of a system, and that would be the No. 5 Crossbar. So Bush was designated-- Well, in fact, Bush actually developed, he designed, he planned the No. 5 Crossbar while he was still working on war work. And of course everybody bought this idea, including Clark. So when it came time for Bush to go off and start this project, you know, I was anxious to get on this project. He knew that. And with the war over in Europe, they assigned me to the project, and I was assigned to the best part of the system--the marker, which is the brains of the whole system. I don't know if you know what the marker is.

Aspray:

No.

Joel:

The marker is the central control part of a crossbar system. Every call goes through it. All decisions about what you've dialed and so forth are all carried out in the marker. And so I was assigned that. And, oh boy! This is a great opportunity now for my functional design of switching circuits and all that sort of thing. And so I started on the job. I was on it two or three months. And all of a sudden the draft board caught up with me and heard that I was not on war work anymore. And they said, Well, you know, there's still a war going on over in Japan and so forth and so on. And unless you get back on war work, we're going to draft you. So I lost my opportunity to design the marker. [Chuckling] Another good friend of mine worked on it, but he didn't like the ideas that I had. He didn't like my functional breakdown and what not. So they didn't do that. [Chuckling]

At any rate, the upshot was that I got assigned back to--not back to--but I got assigned to Andrews' department, a place on the relay computers, because that was a war job. And I was given a job on the last big computer they designed--the Model 5 or 6 or whatever it was. To design their most complicated circuit, which had to do with logarithms, block-hunting on tapes--called BLT. Block-- The L was logarithms. T, I guess was Tape. I don't know. Anyway, it was an odd circuit. It was not a standard general-purpose circuit. Like it had memory and so forth. It was not a regular arithmetic unit or anything like that. Somebody else designed that. But I got this bastard circuit design, and I did it, the design on it. And that was part of that system. And then the war came to an end. And since I had been designing computers, they said, Well, heck, we need computers for this AMA system that we're putting in with the No. 5 Crossbar in Philadelphia. The accounting center for it. And so I was immediately assigned to that. I designed a couple of circuits there. And, as you know, I got the biggest circuit they ever had and the biggest patent, I guess, for the circuit. And the guy ran out of time to write many more claims. I don't know, they had 400 and some odd claims. They just kept going and going and going on making claims. So that's how I got onto that work.

#### Description of AMA and crossbars; telephone accounting and billing practices

Aspray:

Maybe you should step back for me and tell me about AMA and maybe about crossbars. A brief tutorial.

Joel:

Aspray:

I see. Uh huh.

Joel:

At any rate-- That's all explained in my book, by the way. I don't think the RDA part is in there, but the part about the early offices and so forth are all in this book that I wrote on the history of science and engineering of the Bell System.

Aspray:

Right.

Joel:

Mmmm hmmm. Yeah. At any rate, so that's roughly how the crossbar system came about. And of course it solved a lot of other problems that they'd had. Problems in big cities where even the accesses that you could get with a panel switch weren't adequate for large PBXes where you have a large number of trunks going into Con Edison or department stores and things like that. So it solved a lot of PBX hunting problems and gave some flexibility to operator dialing of various special long-distance calls. There wasn't too much. But later on, of course, after the war it was certainly the switch to use for expanding the system for eventually customer dialing.

Aspray:

What difference did it make in terms of the scale of expansion?

Joel:

Well, not too much. You mean as far as making bigger systems? Larger offices?

Aspray:

That's it exactly.

Joel:

Not too much. The panel system was ideally suited for very large cities. It was built for that purpose. The step-by-step system could grow into large systems, but it took an awful lot of space and was not very efficient--very inefficient on trunking. Because when you get into large cities, you've got a lot of calls, and you have a lot of trunk between offices. And to use them efficiently, you want switches that can access as many as possible. And the step-by-step system didn't do that. They had various artifacts to do it. They had things like rotary out-trunk selectors and all kinds of other things. But really, it didn't help. So you didn't build step-by-step offices in New York City, for example. Of course London tried to do it, and London had to use the gadget that we used in the panel system to convert from the numbering plan that the customer dialed to control the switches more efficiently. We tried to sell London on the panel system and failed. But it went through Parliament and everything else. Very interesting story about that in one of the books that somebody wrote--a fellow by name of Robertson wrote.

At any rate, the next thing that happened is that we developed the crossbar system then for the No. 5. They developed the No. 1-- The No. 1 system was the one that went in 1937. The No. 2 system they developed in the lab before the war, and then they dropped it. No. 3 was developed-- No. 3 was never really developed until after the war--much, much after the war. And No. 4 was the toll system, the toll crossbar system, which had the advantage that because they used relay-like contacts, you could have more than just two or three contacts. You could have enough contacts so you could have a path for transmission in each direction. Which fitted in much better with carrier transmission systems because those were built with separate paths in each direction. You know, that when you talk across the country then you don't talk on the pair of wires. It goes out on one pair of wires and comes back on another. The carrier systems were built that way. So the switching systems matched the transmission systems much better with the crossbar, four-wire switching, as it was called. The first office of that went into service just before 1942, just after the war. And it was the mainstay for the postwar development of the toll switching. And as I said, the No. 5 was for the suburbs. It was not originally intended for downtown offices, but later on they started killing us with kindness with so many features and neat things like that that it became necessary to put No. 5 crossbars in downtown locations where they needed a lot of special capability that No. 5 had that No. 1 crossbar never could have. So anyway, that's a brief history of the various systems at least that the Bell System used. Now around the world there are hundreds of other apparatuses.

Aspray:

Right. Okay.

Joel:

So, at any rate, the No. 5--I missed the opportunity to work on that directly--but I worked on the accounting center. Oh, the accounting, as I said, was the mention primarily of--what's his name?--Carpenter. He invented the whole system. From the making of the tape in the central office to the idea of how you would sort the tapes separately in the accounting center.

Aspray:

Now how had accounting been done before?

Joel:

The only way accounting was done before--there were two ways. Well, one is in large cities, where you didn't want to charge for individual calls that were dialed, you'd have a meter. And so as you talked the meter would spin, and you would take photographs of the meters once a month and subtract them from the previous month's readings. And find out how many units you used. And that, by the way, is the basic way in which telephone calls are charged all over the world: pulse metering. And very few cities in the United States ever had it. Most of the cities in the United States, local calling is flat rate. You can make as many calls as you want--at least until we start developing more sophisticated systems. For the toll it was all operator-handled, so operators wrote tickets on every call. They wrote a ticket. They had a gadget that would stamp the time at the beginning and the time at the end. And then somebody would interpret that, and it would get into your bill.

Aspray:

Were the bills at least sorted by some sort of equipment?

Joel:

We tried to build systems that would make IBM cards or Remington Rand cards--either one--for toll tickets, but they never were very successful. In fact even in the 'fifties we still were monkeying around with these gadgets where they'd use punched cards. In other words, once you pulled down the lever, what time it was for the beginning of the time called and the time at the end, you would punch the card with the time. She'd still have to write on it the number that was called. So until AMA came along, it was never automated. But there wasn't that much calling either. A call from New York to San Francisco, you know, might cost you 15, 20 dollars, so you didn't do it very often.

Aspray:

Right.

Joel:

So, I mean, nowadays it's unbelievable the tremendous volume of calls in the networks compared with those days. But at any rate, we developed switching systems in those days to meet almost all the needs that you could visualize. So I came out of the war-- I worked on the--The immediate job I worked on was computers because I had been working on them during the war. Only this was quite a computer. It had to sort the tapes that came in from the offices by telephone number and all that. And then get all your telephone calls for a given customer together. And then process them. Then put them out on another tape, which you then compared and reprinted. So it did all that in one job. Prior to that we had developed separate machines for a lot of different stages, and this one machine did everything. That's why it was so big and complex.

Aspray:

And why was it built inside rather than going outside to somebody else to build it?

Joel:

#### No. 1 ESS

Joel:

We just took it out of service in Succasunna last--a couple of weeks ago. I don't know if you saw it in the papers.

Aspray:

No, I didn't notice.

Joel:

Yeah, Succasunna was cut over. That was the first No. 1 ESS. So what else.... So we started designing that system and put all that into production. Of course now we're spending money like it was-- But I think by then we'd pretty well convinced all the top brass that this really was a viable thing, and it was going to really revolutionize. They started believing some of our advertising, you know, how flexible stored program control was going to be.

Aspray:

Tell me, in hindsight just what were the advantages? How does one measure the advantage of the electronic switching system?

Joel:

Well, I think there's no question you can measure-- I mean, we had a long list of things that we said were going to be the advantages when you get it. We had a lot of problems with this when it came to the FCC investigation of the Bell System. But there's certainly no question that one of the first things on the list was the space savings--they were tremendous. I mean, when the Telephone Company started really installing electronic switching--and I don't care if you're just talking about No. 1 ESS, let alone many of the other generations that have come since then--that they started having real estate for sale all over the city. It took so much less space. There's no question about it. Now some of the other things, you know, it was never half cost. But it was a lot cheaper to maintain because these systems you couldn't maintain them with a pair of pliers and all the other things you needed for electromechanical systems. And you had very sophisticated stuff built into the system that led the craft people to the trouble. Told them, you know, pull this package out and put another package in its place, and the system will be back in service. You know, they couldn't do that before. So it took a lower-paid, less trained, less skilled--

Aspray:

Less skill requirements for that.

Joel:

Yeah. I used to go around the country lecturing about nurses and doctors. We needed nurses now instead of just doctors. Sure, we needed some doctors, but even that we'd mechanized. We had arrangements built in around the country so that all the trouble reports came in and were automatically put in databases. And whenever something happened, boy, immediately we'd go to the data base and say, Oh, they had a thing just like that somewhere else, and this is exactly how you fix it. It was very easy to do all that. So the maintenance and the space. The flexibility was there. There's no question that the software could easily be changed, and we did it many times, changed the software to make the system function differently or add new features. The problem was it took a heck of a lot of people, you know, design people to do it.

Aspray:

So what would be a typical kind of change that could be accommodated by this system?

#### Applications of ESS, business implications; leaving the ESS project

Joel:

Well, one of the changes we liked to talk about in those days was the coin situation. When the 911 situations came up on coin phones, it became a big problem. Because up to that time, you couldn't dial a number in a coin phone without putting the nickel in--or dime or whatever it was then. And we had to deal with the fact that you had to start arranging coin phones so that you could process calls without coins but then decide later on whether you needed a coin before you completed a call. But we just went in then and made a few changes in the software to do that. To do that in an electromechanical system would require a heck of a lot of circuits to be changed--and not just one circuit, but those circuits are replicated throughout the office, and you have hundreds of them to change. But we just went in and changed the program. So, you know, that's just one example, but there are many, many examples. The problem we had to learn was you lease the software, you don't sell it. You had to learn how to deal with the fact that every office didn't need all the software. There are a lot of problems in software we haven't solved yet. As I said earlier--remember I told you earlier? --that the switching system has to do so many things, and that's growing to the point where we're almost getting bogged down in it, and it just keeps growing. And you very seldom get rid of it. You don't get rid of very much. You get rid of some things over time, but not a lot. At any rate, I think, looking at all the objectives we had, even now the costs are way down. They weren't initially. I mean, initially there was a real struggle to prove in on a first-cost basis, an electronic office against an electromechanical, in which the costs have been beaten down over generations. And we hadn't beaten them down. Now that we've beaten them down over generations--we've gone through generations of electronic systems--the costs are down, too, now. I mean, nowadays you go out to a factory--they're made in automated factories and whatnot. But initially they weren't that way at all. Think of poor Tom Flowers saying, you know, at the cost of transistors in those days, how can we build a system?

So at any rate, the ESS really proved itself in as a tremendous accomplishment, and it gave the Telephone Company something. I mean, even today as they install the latest of technology, which is time-division and digital stuff. Many people attribute things-- You know, we're installing the latest thing. It has this, that and the other thing. The things it has are the things that No. 1 ESS had, not something just attributable to time-division digital exclusively. It's the stored program control that they frequently attribute their great gains to, and not because it's time-division digital. And it's the same thing with the space and all. Of course they're even less space now with the time-division--even less than the original. The service was better. The number of customer complaints was down. We could find troubles in anticipation of customers' complaints. We could do a lot of things that were better. We could give faster service--as change telephone numbers faster and things like that. A lot of things were improved. We completely changed the way telephone companies did business. And also the billing part of it. It's just so many things that improved as a result of using electronic switching. And, you know, when I started in the business, although I saved patents-- In those days I remember I had books of patents of electronics applied to switching. There was nothing in the cards those days that would look like they were practical. The most frequent thing you saw back in the 'thirties, patents on the use of cathode-ray tubes with targets in them that would act like a rotary switch of some kind. And they wouldn't have hundreds of targets either. They couldn't get that many in the glass. So that there was very little in the way of practical electronic switching. And I think that we accomplished something by showing how to do it. We took a lot of ideas from other people, too. I mean, sure. As I say, the research people had some good ideas. But we persevered, and we turned every difficulty, it seemed like, into another advantage. [Chuckling] One way or another. And I imagine that this is true in any good new project that's breaking new ground in technology. That frequently the solutions to the problems you have make it something worthwhile. Make it even better than you thought it was going to be.

Anyway, it was a great era. That was the 'fifties, the late 'fifties. And I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time, which is important, too. It turned out that throughout that period, as I look back on it, for some strange reason I was about the only one in that Lovell laboratory that developed ESS that really knew switching. You see, all the people that worked for me all came in after the war. We trained them all in our school. All of us except Ketchledge, who came about the time I did--and he was a transmission guy and didn't know switching-- [Change to Side B of Tape] Okay? Can you hear me? Is everything all right now?

Aspray:

Yeah, it is now.

Joel:

Okay. So if you put yourself back at that time when we started this, the people were either people we trained, brand new people-- Nobody came over from the electromechanical business except a couple of mechanical designers, people who design equipment frames and things like that, not electrical designers, not systems designers. The people who design frameworks and packages and all that kind of stuff. I had a couple of those people who came over from the electromechanical side of the business. But none of the electromechanical circuit designers or systems designers came. First of all, many of them sort of boycotted us. They didn't believe us and thought we were going to take their jobs away from them.

Mrs. Joel:

Can I get anything for anybody? [pause]

Joel:

So, you know, the people aspect is very interesting when you put yourself back at that time. And I really, right from the very beginning, I knew that I was about the only guy that knew anything about switching systems. And this is we're talking, like, 15 years after I started working there. Which was different than the previous generation of people. And all the people working for us, even my supervisors, were all brand-new people, all postwar people. Most of them had never worked on electromechanical systems either. Or they worked on some small trivial part of it, and, anyway, never put a system together. Neither had I. I mean, in my mind I had for years. And I knew all the systems they had, but I missed that opportunity to work on No. 5 and then never worked on anything else. But I was really the principal system architect from, you know, a detail point of view. And the same thing on No. 1 ESS. I got out all the details. I told them exactly how every black box was going to work and everything was going to do its job before I left the job. Because I left the job in 1960, I guess it was there--'60 or '61; I've forgotten now. I left the job before the first Succasunna cut over. I left the job after we had laid out the plans for the No. 1 ESS, gotten the initial money for the development. Again, the big disappointment of the brass because, I mean, we started out with $50 million, and it went up to$500 million, and it was the most expensive project they ever had. They couldn't get over what the cost was. But nevertheless, they backed us, and they got the money. And I think overall the Bell System, you know, was benefited tremendously by it. In fact, it's only when you look back and you think of the amount of money that was spent that you really get scared. [Chuckling] At the time you're spending it, you have a lot of arguments about it. But nevertheless, you know eventually you're probably going to get it. And having gotten this far, you're not going to stop the project.

Now there's another aspect to the project that is worth talking about at this time. That up until we got committed to developing No. 1 ESS, there was a competition from the PBX area. PBX people were also looking at electronic switching. They had postulated various things. And in fact, in order to sell my remote concentrator job that I had back in the exploratory days--remember I mentioned that--

Aspray:

Yes.

Joel:

So anyway that gets us up to really the time when I got off the project.

Aspray:

Is this an appropriate breaking point, do you think?

Joel:

Yeah, it would be a good time to break--

Aspray:

Okay.

Joel:

--because after this I got off and went other ways and got off this particular thing. But up to this time the No. 1 ESS is well on its way, and Ketchledge is pretty much the prima dona of this thing. They decide to move the-- First of all, Bush had been the executive director over Lovell all this period. And Bush not only had responsibility for the electronic, but the electromechanical switching. And by this time they started to decide that they ought to have a separate executive director for electronic. So they brought another guy in and took it all away from Bush. And so that's how I sort of got off of this thing, because Bush brought me with him to his new assignment. Which frequently happens. So that's a good place to stop. But at any rate, the new man came in; he became-- And Lovell retired, and Ketchledge took his place. So Ketchledge got a promotion out of this. Which I never got. Well, I became a director. Well, that's all he-- He became a director at that time. Later on I became a director when Bush took over on the other stuff.

Aspray:

Okay.

Joel:

Okay, good.

#### Position as director in charge of local switching systems development

Aspray:

It's the 18th of February 1992. This is the second interview with Amos Joel in his home. Let me just check to see that this is taping. [pause] Okay, why don't we continue the story of your career then.

Joel:

Aspray:

Excuse me for just a minute. You say you were appointed to director level. What level was that in the company?

Joel:

In Bell Laboratories it's the third level down--fourth level down. There's president--well, there's executive vice president and vice president--and then there's executive director, then director. I don't know. In a company like Bell Laboratories at the time when they had, like, 15,000 employees, they'd have about 125 directors, something like that.

Aspray:

Okay.

Joel:

So usually a director had at that time responsibility for anywhere from a hundred--depending upon what kind of a laboratory it was--a hundred to two or three hundred people in the laboratory. And oh, this group had responsibility for switchboards and, as I say, for a lot of other things. Moving over there, I felt because I was primarily, you know, from the electronics--I loved this new stuff that we had been working on on electronics--I felt it sort of an obligation to say, Well, gee, maybe I can move this laboratory into electronics and get away from all this electromechanical stuff. You know, what can I do with this? What can we come up with? It turned out that we were able to. Of course we had the electronics in the Touch Tone and that sort of thing, but that was minor. I was thinking in terms of electronic switching systems of various kinds. And there were some projects on the books where some electronics had been introduced, but they weren't very big projects. Some of them were fairly far along. For example, this laboratory had been committed to putting common control--centralized control--into the step-by-step system, which is a very primitive original dial telephone system in order to deal with various problems in some large cities. It was a modest project, but we tried to put electronic controls in for the common control, but we couldn't sell it to anybody at that time. Everybody wanted to meet the schedules and didn't want to spend a lot of money on the development. And they knew how to do this and do it well. And all these people I was bringing down there from West Street were not electronic-minded kind of people. They were all old-timers who had worked on electromechanical-- In fact, I lost a lot of them because they were just too old to come down; they retired. Which is good because then when I got down to Holmdel, we were able to hire a lot of new people who were electronic-minded. And it turned out to be very good in the long run. So that group did its job and moved on with various improvements in electromechanical systems that they were responsible for. Until we came up to a point where we had to introduce operator dialing into the step-by-step system that we were responsible for. There was a version of the step-by-step system that was used that had centralized AMA recording in it. You remember the automatic message recording?

Aspray:

Mmmm hmmm. Yes.

#### Stored Program Control operator system, Traffic Service Positions System

Joel:

Had that in it. And one of my department heads, a fellow by the name of Dick Jaeger, who, by the way, has been a director in IEEE--I got him started actually in IEEE--he and I put our heads together and said, you know, we both had this idea that we'd like to get some of these young people involved more in electronic switching than the old electromechanical switching. And so we came up with this idea of a stored program control operator system. The outgrowth of that was the so-called Traffic Service Positions System, which was an electronic switching system using stored program control taken from the--actually we used the control taken initially--from what was a version of the No. 1 ESS. Only we couldn't use exactly the same technology because there were some problems in connection with frequently changing tariff tables and some other things that we had to do. And we used a different kind of memory. In fact, we broke ground by using a new kind of memory known as the "twister." The permanent magnet twister was used in the No. 1 ESS, but we used a piggyback twister, which was one that you could electrically write. Whereas the one in the No. 1 ESS you had to have a special machine that made magnetic cards that were used as the permanent memory in that system. In any case, we came up with this basic idea of an operator system that could be used universally. Whereas up to that time each laboratory working on electromechanical switching was trying to design one for their own system. If it was a No. 5 crossbar, they were out designing one. For a No. 4 crossbar, they were out designing an operator system. Each was getting a different operator system to work with the future dialing plan of the country, which involved dialing zero plus the number for operator-assisted calls.

So we came up with this idea that you could have a universal system of electronic switching as the main way of doing operator services. And after a lot of hard battles, you might say--with just because of the ingrained nature of most of these other people wanting to go ahead with their projects which involved the use of electromechanical switching--we finally convinced everybody that this was a darned good idea. So we started down the track of taking this new young laboratory, with relatively young people now--almost all new people--and switching them over to developing the Traffic Service Positions System. Now along with that-- And we did; we started that project and moved ahead so that by-- Of course we didn't get approval for this thing until about 1964; I've forgotten what the date was of the patent, but somewhere in that area, the mid-'sixties. And we had the first TSPS, as we called it, that was cut over in Morristown in fact, in 1969. In the meantime, I also had in my laboratories some people working for years trying to improve the directory assistance. And we tried and we tried to find ways of improving this service by using microfilm and microfiche and all kinds of other techniques of getting quicker access to directory information. None of which worked out very well. None of which could pay for the equipment that you needed. And computers, of course, were then starting to come in, and we started looking at computers and did all kinds of simulations of computer-operated directory assistance. That work got started in this laboratory, and eventually-- Well, it was not something that Bell Labs developed. We came up--Bell Labs did--but not in my shop, in what's called the Human Factors Area of Bell Laboratories. The people there--one particular person--came up with the idea of making it very easy to type information into a computer, just a very minimal amount of information and coming up with a rather restrictive list of stuff from the directory on the video screen in front of an operator. And that's the method used even to this day where you don't type out the full name and address of somebody before you get the telephone number. But you just type out the first letter of the street address and the first letter of the name--the last name--and like-- We call it a combination of details of three or four characters. And you restrict it fairly quickly to maybe a list of six or ten items. And it's easy then for the operator with a light pen to pick out which one it is and that's the one that gets announced to you.

Aspray:

I see.

#### AT & T and IBM in computer business

Joel:

Well, anyway, we were involved in trying to make this kind of thing work. We didn't get very far with it, I don't think, because eventually outsiders like IBM and others developed the actual computers and the databases and things of that kind. But we did develop the interfaces that had to work with the existing switching systems.

Aspray:

Was AT&T doing most of its computer business with IBM at this time?

Joel:

Not really. Well, I shouldn't say that. I guess in the accounting area, in the controller's area of the telephone companies--not AT&T itself, but the telephone companies, which were of course, were subsidiaries of AT&T--they were working mostly with IBM people, with IBM computers. In fact, one of the projects we had in that group was to convert AMA paper tape into IBM magnetic tape. And we worked closely with IBM people on that. I might also say this was an era where IBM was having some success with electronic computers, of course, the 701s and the 709s and so forth. And they were looking around for better fields to conquer, and they thought they could develop electronic switching systems. Around just about the time we came out with the first electronic switching system in 1965, they came to the top management at AT&T and tried to sell them on the idea that they could do a better job of developing the memories and all the other things you needed for in an electronic switching system. That we should use their equipment and so forth. But that never was thought of very seriously by AT&T or Bell Labs management, and nothing ever became of it. It did arise later on in some legal action but not seriously.

#### Mechanization of number interception; Automatic Number Identification

Joel:

Aspray:

When it's called. Sure.

Joel:

So I got a basic patent on that and described it to various people. And we eventually went in and arranged these various switching systems--the electromechanical switching systems--so that they could do this. Of course the electronic systems you could do this from scratch, and the same way with Automatic Number Identification. You can do that from scratch with the electronic systems. But the electromechanical systems, you had to build equipment to do it.

Aspray:

Was it a difficult problem?

Joel:

Very difficult, yeah. Yeah. You mean to turn this thing around--

Aspray:

Yeah.

Joel:

--so it identified the call? No. The same equipment was there. I mean, after all, the call lands on the terminal, the same terminal that you identify when you send a call out from it. So it's just a matter of saying, look, when this calls up on intercept, you then send out this signal to look for the identification of this line and send that. The main thing is that you had to develop a little thing to send it out over the intercept line to the central bureau where the computer was located. Where previously operators had punched this information into the computer, now it was coming in over the same line that the announcement was going to come back on. And we did that. And it became a very successful-- Well, successful in the sense that we did have an automatic intercept system in service also again about 1969--'70 I guess it was. And of course you didn't need very many of them. Like the whole state of New Jersey only has two systems like that even today. So there were only about 30 or 40. It's interesting that this is a kind of a product that since divestiture you couldn't justify. Nobody could afford to spend the millions that it cost to develop this system because you couldn't make the money on the product. You make the money on saving the operators. But the telephone companies, you know, normally today wouldn't have the money today to invest--wouldn't be allowed to invest--in developments like this. So, you know, it's a different world today.

Aspray:

Do you think that means that certain kinds of advances are just not going to come true?

Joel:

Oh, that's true. Yeah, there's no question about it. Certain things that you couldn't afford to do under a monopoly situation, which may be not benefit one part of the business but could benefit another part, you can't easily transfer today when you don't have that monopoly power. So that was another invention of mine, and that was something that really got the-- In fact, it was a great improvement in the service, too, because this thing told you exactly what number you reached, not the number you thought you'd called. And frequently people would get their calls intercepted only because they had dialed the wrong number. So, as you know when you make these calls and you get this operator, when you get this announcement that comes back to you, it says: "The number you have reached is" so-and-so. Not the number you have dialed because you could easily make a mistake. You know, there are still problems with this. It doesn't solve all the problems. For example, the partnership of Jones & Riley breaks up, and they have now two new numbers, it can't give you the two numbers. You have to go through an operator and tell her which one you want. [Chuckling] But it does solve most of the problems, and so it's cut way down. The number of intercept bureaus and operators is very, very small today--if it existed at all. So that solved that part of the operator problem. Then we were gradually making some progress here in dealing with the future operator needs of the telephone system.

Aspray:

Do you have any sense of--can you quantify--savings in operators?

Joel:

Well, we estimated at the time that the savings in the TSPS alone to the Bell System was over a billion dollars in, you know, over a 10-, 15-year period. Something like that. It was a tremendous savings. But it wasn't all due to the TSPS. It was due to the fact that the customers were now dialing their own operator-assisted long-distance calls. Whereas previously they would dial zero, and the operator would have to do everything. You know, write the tickets, and keep track of the accounting, and all the rest of the calls. Which they didn't have to do anymore. Now you dial the number, and then the operator would come in only at the appropriate time to make sure the party you were calling would accept the charges or whatever it was that was involved in the call. Take the credit card number. And we did some wonderful things with credit cards in the system. We could have access to a database, and we could-- In fact, we even built right into the system the ten or something hot credit card numbers, and immediately it would show up as soon as somebody gave that number. But we could do it for large numbers of credit cards. We can do a lot of things now that we could never even have possibly thought about before. And all this due to the fact that we decided to do it with electronic switching and not continue with electromechanical the way some people had wanted to do it at the time. So having come over from the electronic switching area into this, I brought those kinds of ideas and concepts with me. So it was a good plug.

But something happened around this time and changed my whole career.

#### Independent research, patent on cellular mobile system switching; transition to consultant position

Aspray:

Before you go to this new--because this looks like a transition--

Joel:

Yeah, it is. Yeah.

Aspray:

You've told me what your group did. What did you do on a day-to-day basis?

Joel:

Aspray:

Did you have a patron in the company that allowed you to do this?

Joel:

Well, my vice president at that time. His name was W.H.C.--William H. C. --Higgins. He had taken over the vice presidency of this electronic switching area. In fact, the whole area. He had been at just about the time I left electronic switching, he became the Executive Director of Electronic Switching. And during the time that I was working on TSPS and all those other things as the director of that laboratory, he was somewhere in there promoted to vice president of all of the switching work. And so I didn't know him that well. He had come in from military work. He was not a switching man. But he had looked through all the earlier basic problems we'd had with electronic switching. And by the way, I was able to spend time as a gadfly [Chuckling] and tell the electronic switching people what I thought they ought to do with some of their problems that they were having and how they ought to solve them. I don't know as they listened to me very much, but this was one of the advantages I had now. I had really a great job, I thought. Anyway, he sort of protected me and allowed me to do all this.

Aspray:

Were there other people by this time in the company who had this kind of position?

Joel:

No. In fact, even for the remaining time that I was at Bell Labs, which was I guess 17 years, 16 years, something like that, I don't think anybody at that level was a consultant. There were supervisors that I know of who were sort of put on the shelf as consultants. But they didn't operate the same as I did. I mean, I was really an operator in some respects, [Chuckling] you know. I took advantage of things. But that was what I liked to do. I liked to work that way, and I like to be free to look into all kinds of things that I thought I had some ideas on. And sometimes they were good, and most of the time they were bad. But at least, you know, that was great. I got some patents out of some of those things.

Aspray:

What were some of the other positive results?

Joel:

Oh, I used to tell people how I thought they ought to design processes for electronic switching systems. Well, there were other projects. I remember one project in particular. I had it in my craw that you shouldn't, when somebody makes a call to this intercept system and they get a new number, that their call--we ought to give them the option of letting the call go right through automatically to the new number. Of course in some cases people wouldn't want to because it's a toll call, you know, and they don't want to make the toll call that's involved. That was one of the things that-- I also--what was the other one? Well, the directory assistance, same thing. When you looked up things in directory, I always wanted to say, Well, look, after they got the number and we've got the number off the computer and you'd announced it to the customer, why not give the customer the option of letting the call go to that number that they looked up. Of course they may not in all cases, but in many cases that's just what they want. Right now--just within the last two years or so--that sort of service is starting to be introduced in some places. It's taken all that time. But anyway, these are the kind of ideas that I liked to play around with.

Aspray:

I see.

#### Research in signaling, electronic switching, and electromechanical switching

Joel:

Oh, I worked on-- At that time, for example, signaling was the big thing. People were very active in trials around the world, as Bell Labs was, on what is known as common channel signaling, where you no longer send signals over the individual paths over which you set up connections. But you set up separate signaling networks and pass the signals about the telephone calls over data links. And that became--has become--the primary way of doing signaling. But at that time it was for international purposes primarily. And we had people who were very active in studying this for eventual introduction into the AT&T network, which they started in 1976 to do. And so I was always interested in the signaling and trying to get ideas as to how you might improve this process. I don't know that I can point to any contribution I ever made there--inventive contribution--but I was always interested in that type of thing. But then we come to another phase. I was having my fun for four or five years doing this sort of thing, and all of a sudden AT&T gets hit with an investigation by the FCC.

Aspray:

Joel:

I believe it was 1971 or '72. It took place over Christmas. A very famous situation, where I guess the FCC said they weren't going to do anything, and Congress was out of session. And when they came back they raised hell because the FCC did not pursue this investigation, and they had to change their mind. I forget exactly; it was some kind of situation like that. But eventually FCC ordered a full-scale investigation of Bell System practices and the monopoly. The same kinds of things that had been brought up in 1938 and 1953, each of which had resulted in a consent decree. So now they were going to go after us again and say, you know, aren't you impeding progress and this, that and the other thing. And it turned out that they picked on electronic switching as one of their big issues, you know. You took too long to develop the No. 1 ESS. You spent too much money. And so forth and so on. And so it was natural when they look around, they say, Oh, here's Amos. He's not doing anything. We're going to [Chuckling] put him to work worrying about what has to be done to work with the lawyers and the other people involved in this process. You know, I'm not the only one, but at least I know where all the bodies were hidden. I'd worked on all this stuff. [Chuckling] And so it was quite natural that I was chosen to be very active in this area. Not 100 percent of my time, but a large percentage of my time. And in fact it got to the point where within a few months that I recognized I needed a lot of help. So they started assigning some people to me again. But just a limited number of people.

At any rate-- And I worked-- Of course I got help from all the various organizations. So we pursued all the various matters that they kept bringing up. They brought up a lot of switching items, some of which dealt with electromechanical switching. They didn't all deal with electronics. And this went on for several years--I guess until '75, '76, something like that. And then that turned into the anti-trust case by the Justice Department. So therefore I just had to continue working on all their accusations, which were almost the reverse. [Chuckling] Why didn't you introduce digital switching faster? And all that sort of thing. Why did you have to introduce all this space-division switching so early? Anyway, I was involved in it again in helping get information together for that, although it was much broader--the technology was broader and a lot of things. But there was still a big section of switching. It's been claimed by some people, if I hadn't worked on these two things over the last ten years or more of my career, think how many more patents I might have gotten. Which is probably true because I did spend a good deal of time on this. And I still have lots of ideas that I wished I could have pursued and didn't have the time to. At any rate I still kept up my interest in evaluating what was going on in switching around the world. In fact, even more so now because sometimes we contrasted what we did with what other people did in things of that kind. And I put out some books, as I think I said. I put out two books in the IEEE Press Book Series about what people were doing around the world in electronic switching.

#### Retirement; Bell divestiture

Joel:

So that was the main thrust of my career at the end of my career, you might say, until I retired in 1983, which was just at the time they announced that AT&T had agreed to divest themselves of the Bell operating companies beginning in 1984. Now I retired in March of 1983. So I retired before divestiture took place. But it had been announced in January. That was when the agreement had been reached, in January of 1983. So I got out just about the time the old Bell System monopoly was broken up.

Aspray:

Was the decision yours to leave at that time? And did it have to do with divestiture?

Joel:

No, no, no.

Aspray:

This was standard practice?

Joel:

Aspray:

After you retired, was there somebody in the company that had the same kind of knowledge that you had who could fill some of those functions that you filled?

Joel:

Not in the same way. The people that I had reporting to me--even when I was still a consultant--they continued on. One of them continued to help the vice president put together stuff. He was the kind of person who, in effect, I'd trained so that he could do some of this kind of thing. He knew where the sources were that I used to use and all that. And by the way, I put out, starting in 1976 I think it was, I started to put out a book that was very useful within the company about all the switching systems around the world: what they were (including our own, but all the others). It was called Non-Bell Switching Breeds. The idea was to put on a page or two all about all the things you could know about the various products that other companies were making. Of course at that time they weren't considered competitors. In fact, we had patent licensing agreements with most of them. And we had access to information from them. It was very good, and I used to keep track of all this, put it all together from a technical point of view. Not only technical but also deployment--you know, how many systems they had put out and where the first ones were and, you know, all that kind of stuff. And people found this book very, very useful, and it was distributed widely in the company. And I kept reissuing that book up until the very day I retired, that last edition I put out. And that was all on the database I built up over time. It was very useful. And these other people who worked with me continued to use that and keep it up to date. Until divestiture came. Then it was a whole different situation.

### Consultant work, teaching, and publication during retirement

Aspray:

Joel:

About two years later--in fact, two years later--we agreed to continue with a contract because there were a lot of people still looking for my services at Bell Labs, but it wasn't any longer an exclusive contract. And I started then offering my services to anybody that wanted them. There were a lot of opportunities. I didn't advertise or anything, but people heard about it. And I did work for IBM and for Continental Telephone. By that time Bell core had been established for the seven Bell operating companies. Also down the line a little ways, it got to the point where some of the telephone companies were working on ideas that they didn't want Bell core to know about it. [Chuckling] And they were looking for somebody like myself to help them on that and evaluate what they were doing and things of that kind. Or where they would hire outsiders to do development work for them, and they wanted somebody to check on the development they were doing with these. And then they didn't want Bell core to know about it at that time. So there was some of that. And I did work at Bell core--primarily teaching. Now teaching is something-- As you remember, I started the training of switching people way back. So I always liked to lecture, and I always had various ideas about courses. During the early 1970s when I was, you know, a consultant, I set up a course called "What's New in Switching?" that was very popular. I used to have guests come in from all the various organizations that I knew and tell about what they were doing to a class, and we'd keep it up to date. It was very, very well received. But what we were doing was primarily within Bell Laboratories. In fact, I also started at that time a thing that's become very popular and continues to this day, which is known as the Holmdel Technical Talks. One noontime every month the auditorium is open for people to come to hear a lecture on some latest technology thing that's going on in the company. And that still continues, but I started that back then. So there's been a lot of things of that kind going on.

Aspray:

You told me off tape you'd also worked for some venture capital people?

Joel:

Well, both in-company and out-of-company, people would have new ideas, and they'd want them evaluated, either by people wanting to put money into the project or the company itself, whether the company wanted to put money into some project. It's not unusual, apparently, in a lot of companies where groups go off and come up with ideas, and then they try to sell it to their management. And their management says, Well, we don't know how to evaluate this, but we'll call in somebody who can. I did that several times, and I also worked for venture capitalists who had similar people coming to them with way-out ideas, usually, that they wanted to evaluate, to see whether it was worthwhile putting their money into. And I also did a lot of work--a lot, I mean, you know, five or six times--with people, lawyers, law groups, come to me where they were involved in patent suits of various kinds. Usually patent suits. Although I guess there was one lawsuit that was not a patent lawsuit. But there were several lawsuits that I was involved in. The most memorable one was a case where the Home Shopping Network sued General Telephone, claiming that they didn't give them good telephone service and that's why their stock went down. And they couldn't tell their stockholders they were going to make so much money because the telephone service was poor. So I was deposed in that case, and I was going to help them out. And I worked on a number of different things like that.

And then I did teaching. Did some teaching at IBM; I did some teaching at Bellcore. Gave lectures around the country for various occasions. And around that time we started to give a course at the University of Maryland and UCLA. This course was put together by a man by the name of Jack McDonald who, I guess, just before that worked for Continental Tel as a-- Well, worked for a company called Vidar, which was later bought up by Continental Tel. But he started the idea of having a course on digital switching. And he asked if I would join him and do some of the teaching. And he would do some, and then we got some other people. So there were about five of us started teaching this course at these two universities. And from the notes of that course we put out a book--he put out a book of which he's the editor. We've gone through now--We have a second edition that came out a couple of years ago. So we taught that course quite often in quite a number of places--oh, at least ten times. So I was busy with that. Then I gave individual lectures at various places around the country--companies that had a need to hear what was switching all about, just wanted to know the fundamentals or people wanted to know about the latest technologies in switching. Whatever it was that they wanted to know something about switching, I'd be happy to be able to talk about it. And the same thing in Bellcore. They had me training in switching that they didn't want to use their own people for. And in fact I did some work for one company who had a contract with Bellcore. So at the same time I was teaching at Bellcore, I was also working for another company that was also teaching in Bellcore.

So I did all kinds of work during this nine years since I retired. I've been doing a lot of things. And then around this time I started writing a book with a Frenchman by the name of Robert Chapuis, which we finally called the book-- He had written a book called A Hundred Years of Switching, mostly about electromechanical switching. He was a very good researcher, and he did an awful lot of work. He worked for the CCITT, which is the international body of telephone and telegraph. So he'd done a lot of research on his own and written a history of electromechanical switching which he called A Hundred Years of Switching, and manual switching--not very much on that. He asked me to write the preface of the book, which I did. I'm sure if I'd written the book there were a lot of other things I'd like to have put in it, but unfortunately I wasn't the author of that. But he then came up with the idea that maybe he and I should write a book together about the history of electronic switching. Which we did. We started about 1983, just about the time I retired, and it took us a long time to get it out. Let me say that if you ever work with a foreign person as a co-author, both of you should have fax machines. He didn't have a fax machine. We did trade diskettes back and forth all the time. Well, I could have done that with him. So at any rate, we finally published this book called Electronics, Computers and Telephone Switching that was put out by North Haarlem Elsevier in 1990. So that was another effort that I went through during this nine-year period since I've retired.

Let's see, where does that bring me? Well, I continue to this day-- Oh, just recently, within the last year or so, I put together a brand new course on switching which I call "Switching and Networks in Perspective," which tries to look ahead. There's a lot of new things going on in switching, like photonic switching. And the things that are popular right now are frame relaying and SMDS, which is Switched Multi--Mega-Bit--Digital Service. There are many things going on, you know, broadband ISDN, ISDN itself. All of which sort of portend something about what the future might be and taking my experience over a long time, trying to project that as to what this means in terms of the future. So I've been putting a course together, and I did that last year and taught it three times. I'm looking forward to revising it right now and doing it again this year. But combining so much nowadays--particularly in the United States and eventually around the world--involves not just the technology itself. You see, through my career I was able whatever we wanted to do with the technology we could do it. We just had to prove to our bosses it was the best thing for the whole Bell System. And in most cases it was, and we could make money at it. It was just a question: Can this project--spending this much development money--make more money for the Bell System than some other project? But they were all good projects to work on, and they were decisions that we could make ourselves. Now, of course, it's so much political and so much competition and other factors involved that it's no longer your own-- You know, your decision is influenced by so many outside factors. So I'm trying to get that into the course, to say, you know, What is the future of photonic switching? It's a wonderful thing from a technology point of view, and I can have a lot of fun describing all the various things going on in photonic switching. And there are great strides being made, and I can see lots of other things that people might eventually come up with. But the question is, you know, how does this fit into the future? What might it portend? So that's the kind of course that I'm trying to put together. One that brings all these other factors in. Because it's no longer a world where just the technology and the decisions about the technology you can make yourself. And that's gone very, very well. I'm very pleased with the way that's been accepted. And the people running the course say they keep getting calls every day and want to know when it's going to be given again. [Chuckling]

Aspray:

That's nice.

Joel:

Yeah.

### IEEE and AIEE

Aspray:

Let me go to one short topic after another, and I'll ask you to comment. We'll go as long or as short as you want to define these things.

Joel:

No, I don't care. Sure.

Aspray:

One of the things that I'm keen on asking you about is your affiliation with IEEE and its predecessors--IRE, I guess, in your case probably.

Joel:

No, AIEE.

Aspray:

You were in AIEE?

Joel:

Yeah, I was never in IRE. IRE was primarily radio people.

Aspray:

Right, okay. Can you tell me about your membership, your activity? I know you were president of--

Joel:

Well, I don't know whether I mentioned it before, but I think I did. When I went to college and I learned about transmission and learned, you know, starting with things like Heaviside and Maxwell and going all through more practical things--I can still remember the book, K.S. Johnson on telephone transmission--and so forth, all these things in transmission had been reduced to an engineering basis. They weren't science, you might say. I guess Maxwell and Heaviside were sort of science, but there was some mathematical basis on which you could evaluate things. You could predict, you could set limits, you could do all kinds of things. And I felt, you know, and all the other things I was learning in college, all were in that boat. And here switching was not. And I always said, Gosh, that's what we need. We need some way of putting things into switching where we can measure switching. Measure its complexity, measure something about it. Measure the combinatorics that are involved. And that was always in the back of my head: How can we do something like that? And I really am ashamed to say that although, you know, I've worked a lifetime in switching and I believe I have a lot of training--I'm sure there are people with even more skills than I have in mathematics and other things could perhaps have done more--I still don't see what I'd like to see in switching. And that is something other than a cost evaluation of something as the only way you can compare switching systems. I mean, we can go off and write a lot of prose about it--and I do as part of my evaluation of profits for vendors and things--to say this switching system is better than that one on my judgment for this, that and the other reason. But that doesn't mean a darned thing. Wouldn't it be nice if we had some mathematical way of saying that kind of a design is better than this kind of a design. But we're not in that boat. And I've always, through my whole career, wanted to do that.

Well, I certainly felt that we should do something professionally as much as we could in the switching area. I was always--ever since I was a kid--discouraged by the fact that you couldn't find information about switching. There was very little--places that you could look it up. As you know, I went and looked at patents. I got a lot of bum steers there, but I learned a helluva lot about switching. The point is that the few papers that I said that were written on switching were written by the bosses and one per system, and that was about it. And so, you know, you can put into one binder almost all the papers written up to 1938 on switching that appeared in AIEE Transactions. Or transactions of any other professional society. So I liked to see a change in that. And I therefore in about 1946, '47 when we started working on postwar developments--and there were a lot of them, lot of new switching developments going on--I was very much interested in seeing us start a-- Well, it wasn't called a society or professional group, but it was a committee at that time in switching as part of the communications area of AIEE. And we did, we started one. I won't say that I was the prime motivator. I was just one of the people who was excited about the possibility and went to all the meetings, and eventually became chairman of the committee, of course, and so forth. But I was very much interested in that. And also I was always interested in professional activities, you know, because I thought that was a good way to exchange views on these kinds of things. And you especially needed it in switching because about the only way you could exchange views was to talk to other people working in the field.

Aspray:

Were there people in many other companies in the U.S. besides AT&T?

Joel:

Aspray:

How important was--and how important is today--those AIEE or IEEE opportunities to communicate? You just mentioned a non-IEEE group.

Joel:

Yeah. Well, that meeting is a floating meeting. It runs around the world, and the local professional society puts it on. So we've had it here twice. We've had it here-- Well, we had it more than twice. We had the early ones when we first started here at Bell Laboratories. And then we had one in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1972, and we had one in Phoenix, Arizona in 1987. So we've had two of them in the U.S. But otherwise other professional societies around the world have run the others. So it's a floating thing. I think it's done a lot. I mean, I'm really amazed. I go to a committee meeting now, which is held as part of ICC or GlobeCom or both actually--they have a committee meeting at each one--where they discuss what the papers that they're going to put together are offering from the various companies for the future meetings. But nevertheless, you know, it's great to see these people. It's one of the only times you see these people getting together and talking about switching as such. Of course there are many standards meetings. That's a different body, and those people are all pushing various company viewpoints. Whereas here they're discussing, you know, What would be a good topic to hear about in switching? First. And then they decide what their company might be able to contribute. Whereas in these standards things it's more, you know, What is our company's position with respect to the standards that are being discussed here?

Aspray:

I see. Did you get actively involved in standards?

Joel:

No. My only activity related to that has to do with nomenclature. For years I was a bug on nomenclature, saying, you know, we ought to define things better in switching. We ought to give good names to things. We have a lot of very poor names that are given to things in switching. If you let people go free, they come up with some of the worst things that really don't adequately describe. So I've tried to change that, and we did have a very strong Nomenclature Committee in IEEE and in AIEE before it, trying to bring about industry names for things. It was somewhat successful. And I also was head of the Nomenclature Committee in Bell Laboratories. [Chuckling] So I had it both ways. In any case, that's another aspect of the kind of thing.

By the way, in addition to ISS, which is this floating international meeting on switching, there's others that have sprung up. One on software for electronic switching systems. Separate meeting just for that alone. And that's held, like, every three years in various places around the world. And there's the International Traffic Congress which started in the 1950s which is basically switching. Most of the traffic you can have is really for the switching systems. And that's grown to be very, very prestigious. Almost more prestigious than ISS because it's highly academic. There's a lot of professors and people like that who are involved in that. So at any rate, my feeling is that I've always hoped that this could become a real academic-type of science kind of thing, and it hasn't. But there's been progress in, you know, in things that have been very pleasing. It has gotten it out of the mystique, you might say. Switching is no longer a mystery. There are plenty of people around the world, who know what switching's about, and the principles are well pronounced and people understand them. Most of them. I mean, I could tell--ask--a lot of people today what's the difference between distributor-controlled and distributed switching, and they wouldn't have any idea. To them distributed is distributed, and that's the end of it. But I make a distinction between these things, you know, there's fine lines. But as far as the general knowledge, around the world there's certainly a lot of people who know what the heck's going on in switching.

And you asked about the other companies. That's been one of the things that's been very interesting because all the companies around the world have always done as much as they can to interchange information--not from a patent-licensing point of view, but just to have meetings to learn what the other fellow's doing. I have never been disappointed in going into other companies, and I find that from the executives all the way down, the people can tell you about what's going on in switching--in the world, I mean, not just their own company. Bell Labs has been one of the few places where it's the other way. And it's been very, very hard, and we're just only succeeding in the last few years to get the executives and other people so that they're at least somewhat knowledgeable in what the competition is doing and what they're about. And also the engineers. The engineers in these other companies all know--they can all tell you about--AT&T's No. 5 ESS. They can all tell you what it is and how it works. But go into AT&T's 2,000 people I mentioned that are working on electronic switching and ask how many of those can tell you about the IT&T 1240 system. Very, very few. There are more today than there was when I retired. It's changed a lot, and it's changing more and more every day. But it's taken an awful lot to do that. But this was always true. I mean, if you go back to before electronic switching started, you could find lots of people who could tell you about how the No. 5 crossbar worked in Automatic Electric Company. But, well, of course, we didn't have to look too much at the step-by-step equipment that they turned out, though. I guess we didn't have to worry about it. But go over and find out how many people in the United States in 1947 could tell you about the new German system that was then just starting to be developed because they lost everything during the war. Very few people. But their people knew what we were doing. And the Swedes knew what the Germans were doing and so forth.

Aspray:

One last question about IEEE affiliation: I noticed that you were the editor of IEEE Frontiers and Communications series. Can you tell me about that?

Joel:

[Chuckling] Yeah. That's sort of a fiasco. [Chuckling] We started out about six years ago--five, six years ago--in the Communications Society to put out a series of books. We had a very successful publication called Selected Areas of Telecommunications, JSAC, Journal on Selected Areas of Communications. And it's a very, very good publication. Each issue has editors who zero in on a particular topic, either invite papers or get papers together, and it's been very successful. The thought was that many of these issues are very--it would be a good idea if we could archive them and really have them put out in nice form, like a book or something. And so that was the basic idea for this Frontiers series. Could we eventually get to the point where the editors of these JSAC issues could say, Well, we know we're going to put out a book eventually on this subject, and so after we get the journal out then we'll concentrate on getting the book out? Well, so far it's been very hard to get anybody interested in this sort of thing. We've put out about three books, I think it is. It's been very discouraging to try to get the editors interested right from the beginning. I mean, they're so busy just getting their papers together and making sure they meet their deadlines, that they could care less about what's going to happen to it after it gets out. So it hasn't really worked out. And also you question, if people really want these publications, they have them, they keep them. They don't have to have them with hard-binding and so forth. The idea was that we'd write bridging material, you know, and do a much better job perhaps in bringing this stuff together than was done in the JSAC issues, but it didn't work out that way. And so right now I sort of consider that a sort of defunct activity. Unless somebody comes up with some better ideas.

Aspray:

Okay.

Joel:

I wanted to mention one other thing while we're talking about--

Aspray:

Sure.

Joel:

--IEEE activities. I not only was very active in the Switching Committee from the standpoint of technical things, but I was also interested locally in what was happening with professional people in the New York area where I was located for a good number of years. And so I became active in the New York section. That was interesting because there we had a cross section of engineers in all kinds of disciplines, not just communications. And the meetings I had been going to-- AIEE meetings--were all communications meetings. But here I had a chance to mix with power engineers and lighting engineers and all kinds of others. It was very good fun, and we met a lot of interesting people and got to know them over the years. And eventually became chairman of the New York section. So I'm both a chairman of the New York section and eventually I became president of the Communications Society. I guess the second president. We changed over from what had been the group to a society. At any rate, so I'm both a section president--chairman--as well as a society president. And I still go-- The New York section still has a meeting every year where they honor their fellows, and I still like to go to their meetings. I still see a lot of friends there. So that's one of the advantages of professional work.

### Presidency of IEEE Communications Society

Aspray:

Can you tell me what your duties were as president of the Communications Society? What kinds of issues came up? What kind of direction did you take it in?

Joel:

Well, the Communications Society was quite new when I took it over. Of course I had been going through the ranks, you know, in earlier jobs in what was then the Communications Group, I guess it was called. And so I had been in charge of technical activities and meetings and conferences. Most of this work we were doing in those days in the Society was to get our bylaws straightened out, and getting our manuals--various kinds of manuals of practice, and things of that kind. Getting our-- We've always had problems with publications. There's always been the question of how many pages of publications can you put out within your budget? And whether or not--to what extent--the authors and their affiliations should pay for some of this? And academic versus industry papers, problems of that kind. Lot of budget problems. And also the direction. We spent a lot of time--today as then--looking at, What technology should we be setting up committees for and looking at to stimulate conference papers and sessions in various disciplines? Or even should we have special workshops and so forth? During the early period of the Communications Society we were setting up these procedures for working this out, having workshops and how we'd pay for them, and that kind of thing. Of course for a long time we got bogged down with so many things at our Board of Governors meetings, which were held like twice a year, that--and it's a big committee with so many different people involved--that it took so long to get through the meetings that eventually we, right from the time I was president, we set up an Operating Committee which met more often. A small group where we could discuss policy things and then bring them before the Board of Governors. Let's see, what else did we do? I guess that's all. Even today they've streamlined the Board of Governors. They have to. There are so many issues; there are so many things that have to brought up on the agenda.

Aspray:

As president do you feel that you left your mark in some way or other?

Joel:

Not particularly. No, I don't think anybody remembers anything I did as president. [Chuckling] I guess you remember the first president, maybe, more than anybody else--of the Society--because that was a big change. And that was Dick Kirby. Dick Kirby went on to become the head of CCIR in Switzerland. Good friend of mine. Well, you don't remember-- I mean, I know who all the presidents were in there, but I don't know that I can say that each one of them--[Chuckling]--what they contributed.

### Approach to engineering

Aspray:

Okay. Let me turn to a different question then. Throughout your career at Bell Labs, do you feel that there was some sort of engineering style that characterized your personal work? Historians are interested today in understanding how people approach and attack problems. What would you say your engineering style was?

Joel:

I think, as I mentioned earlier, I seem to be motivated--I've always been motivated--by wanting to invent, wanting to create something new. I always wanted to do something different. I've never been satisfied, you know-- Somebody would describe something to me, and I'd say, Well, would I do it that way? Or how would I do it? That's the way I like to--used to like to--think about things. [Chuckling] It would grate on some people, you know, because they'd say, That's not my responsibility. Frequently you got into arguments about that, you know. Somebody's working on some new processor for an electronic switching system, and I'd say, Well, I think you ought to do this, that and the other thing. And, It's none of your business, it's mine. This is my project; I'll do it the way I want to do it. But, you know, that was always my approach. I always tried to say, How would I do it? And I liked to think that I'm sort of an inventor. Well, I guess I can be considered an inventor. I got over 70 patents so I certainly must be an inventor. But, you know, that's my first thought.

Aspray:

Did you have a stock of tools that you used over and over again?

Joel:

No, I had no tools. I had no one approach or anything that would kick me off. Ideas come to you in all different ways and different conditions. But in switching it's usually combinations of things that trigger you off. You think about--and I think this is why it's so important for people to know about history--because sometimes just thinking about the history of something, you say, Hey, he did that way back, you know, a century ago maybe--or something like that. Using that with modern technology may not be a bad idea today. But I think history's a very important thing. Of course, as you know, having written about a lot of history myself, I really feel history is important. And I stress that even in my classes that people should always look back. Because it's not really re-inventing the wheel that you worry about, but people do tend to get certain things from re-looking at old ideas with new technology. It can make a big difference. In other words, it may not just be the wheel, but, you know, getting a rubber tire on it and a few of those things that make it really worthwhile to have a wheel. [Chuckling]

### Technical History Series, Volume 3

Aspray:

Well, maybe this is the point to ask you about Volume 3 in the Technical History Series. We've hardly touched on that at all. How did you get involved in that?

Joel:

Oh. Yes, that's right, we didn't talk about that. Well, Bell Laboratories with the approach of 1976, which was the centenary of the telephone, decided that a good way for us to recognize this centenary would be to put out a set of books that would talk about the history of telecommunications as seen by Bell Laboratories and AT&T--but primarily Bell Laboratories. And so they commissioned the idea of a set of books. It got off to a flying start by saying, Look, up to the time that Bell Laboratories was formed, which is 1925--that's just about fifty years--and so therefore we'll knock off the first fifty years by putting out one volume on the first fifty years. And hire or get one of our people to spend full time at this who is well-known as a writer and so forth. And so they got Mort Fagan--I don't know if you know Mort.

Aspray:

I don't him.

Joel:

Anyway, Mort Fagan to write this book on the first fifty years. And he wrote, so-called, The Early Days. And he tried to cover all the period before then--with the help of people around the Laboratories--and I spent a great deal of time with him on what I thought was important in the switching part. And he's got most of that in there. I think he went too far, myself, in connection with some of the panel stuff because it really was beyond 1925. He and I had a lot of disagreement on that. But nevertheless, that was it. And so then they planned the series from there on to be really the next fifty years that took place between 1925 and 1976. And so they broke down the work more or less along the disciplines that are common to the telephone plan. The transmission, the switching. And they recognized very early on that, you know, the Bell Labs had contributed a great deal to national goals and things like that. Such things like the work of BellCom, which was the company that they set up to help with the space program. With Sandia which they helped with the nuclear armaments. And many other things that we worked on during World War II. You know, the gun director and the various radar systems and all kinds of things. And going back, radio altimeters. You know, a lot of things. And I guess even I don't know how much we have in that volume, but in the 'twenties--from 1925 on--we have the period of the phonograph records and the sound on film, all of which Bell Labs was a big contributor and first to do most of that stuff. Even early television--not with the tube but with a revolving disc. [Chuckling]

I have written an epilogue, but I never published it. I haven't written it completely. I've really outlined an epilogue. I've got a lot of stuff up to divestiture--up to '83. Things I didn't get in the volume that I-- You know, a lot of details, which probably nobody's interested in. But I would like to have written that and now write beyond the divestiture what's happened. The technology people are after me for this course. Want to know what I'm going to do about that--if I'm going to write a book on that. I don't know. I don't think so because the stuff I put in this course that I'm working on now changes from day to day. I mean, right now the FCC just put out a document last year on what they think should be the rules for Caller I.D. You know, where you get the number of the people calling you. Well, you've got 30 states that have approved it, and, I don't know, 18 states that don't want to have anything to do with it. So you don't know what the future of this thing's going to be. It's going to be a struggle between the states and the FCC for a long time. So you can't say what the future of this kind of thing is going to be. So I don't know whether I'm going to write a book on that or not. I might give this course outside of AT&T. My contract allows me to do that, provided I take out of the course those things that are proprietary. There isn't much anyhow that's proprietary.

Aspray:

Joel:

I never got very much feedback from it. You know, it was looked upon, well, you know, this is the next volume in the series. I really never got any comments on Volume 3. Nobody's ever walked up to me and said, Hey, that was a great volume, and I enjoyed reading it, and so on. I don't think I've ever had anybody say that. I've had people ask me for copies, you know, that sort of thing. You know, it's just one more volume in the series. [Chuckling]

Aspray:

Well, I found it very helpful.

Joel:

Is that right?

Aspray:

Yeah, yeah.

Joel:

In what respect?

Aspray:

Oh, just to understand what was going on.

Joel:

See, I think maybe people look at the volume, and I think there may be too much detail in it. Which is my tendency in writing. I tend to put too much in. In fact, I bet you I had in there about those early crossbar switches going up to the Rockefeller differential analyzer. I don't know.

Aspray:

I don't remember that part.

Joel:

I don't remember it either, but I wouldn't be surprised that kind of detail's in there. But there's a lot of-- No, I guess I wouldn't put that in because that wasn't strictly Bell System. But at any rate, there's a lot of that kind of detail in there. I remember there's a little paragraph and a picture even about the so-called "call announcer" which was used in the very early systems where we had to bridge calls between dial systems and manual systems which were still in big deployment throughout the metropolitan areas. It was not all of a sudden everything became dial systems in one day. So to go between one and the other, we eventually automated the announcing from the dial system side to the operator side--announcing the number to the operator. Rather than displaying it on a set of numbers in front of her. We did that for some time, and we developed it using the motion-picture technology. [Chuckling] We developed two things. Nowadays you do that on a half a chip or something. [Chuckling]

### Balance of engineering and management at Bell Labs

Aspray:

All right. Okay. I know you've talked in telling me about your career about how you consciously chose to make an opportunity to continue your engineering work and not do management. But can you talk about the engineering versus management tension at the company? Did other people find it in their career path and so on?

Joel:

Well, you know, when I was at Bell Laboratories--during my career at Bell Laboratories--it was a benevolent company, very benevolent. There wasn't that much stress between the management and the members of technical staff. I take it that's what you mean by the engineers, the members of technical staff.

Aspray:

No, that's not. I guess I asked the question incorrectly. I mean, a career path for a promising engineer is to do engineering for a while but then to go into management.

Joel:

If you want to make more money, that's what you had to do. Not a lot more money, but there was a difference.

Aspray:

But in so many American companies today, you end up in management rather than doing engineering. Whereas supposedly the Japanese model has a parallel tier of engineers.

Joel:

Aspray:

What can you tell me about your time as a manager of groups of technical people? Did you have a managing philosophy?

Joel:

No, I guess the closest I come to that is that you're looking for reflections of yourself, and therefore I tended to push and to compliment and so forth people who had new ideas, good ideas, things that I liked, you know, in the way of ideas, that sort of thing. Of course I had to recognize people who were good plodders, too. Who turned out a lot of work in a short time and so forth and met their schedules and all the other things. But I guess I tended to more aggrandize the kind of people who had better ideas.

Aspray:

Was there a Labs' way of managing, in a sense? Were you inculcated with some sort of principles?

Joel:

### The role of marketing and hype in technical research

Aspray:

Joel:

Oh, yeah. [Chuckling] I take it most of the stuff I've been telling you is in agreement with what's in that.

Aspray:

It's in agreement. There's a section in there labeled "Hype."

Joel:

Oh, yeah, yeah.

Aspray:

Could you tell me about sort of product announcements and marketing and how they related to technical people?

Joel:

Oh, yeah. That's a favorite topic of mine. I just wrote a letter, in fact, to a friend of mine who wrote an article about that in some magazine called Network Management. What's happened is there's never been a period like this. Well, I shouldn't say never. The period about 1910 to 1918, in that era, maybe a little earlier, there was a period when the independent manufacturers of equipment--not Western Electric particularly, although I imagine they were guilty in their own way [Chuckling]; but the other manufacturers--were out there, you know, extolling the virtues of their latest manual switchboards. And if they happened to have an automatic one, they were doing the same for that. But even as I look back now on the stuff that was published, it wasn't that bad as it is now in terms of the fact that people--ad writers--are dishonest, don't want to know the facts--don't bother me with the facts. This is the way I want to tell the story because I want to sell this product, make our product look different than everybody else's product and so what.... Well, since the divestiture and the introduction of this great amount of competition in the selling of switching equipment, there's so much hype involved now. People struggle to say that they were the first with something or other in the field. And as a historian, I know damned well they weren't any more first than anybody else. That they've found some little niche that they want to say that made them first.

Aspray:

Put enough qualifiers on anything, and you can be first.

Joel:

### Procedures for patents at Bell Labs; Patent Recognition Award

Aspray:

Could you talk briefly about patents? What role did they play in the company for the technical staff? Were you encouraged to patent? What was the procedure for patenting?

Joel:

That's interesting. First of all, you know that the day you come to work at Bell Laboratories, they used to give you a dollar for all future patents. They don't even give you the dollar today, I understand. I don't know what it is you sign today. But you sign something, they don't have to give you anything for signing it. But in my day--I don't know where the dollar is. I didn't save it. [Chuckling] I got so little pay I guess I had to spend it. I remember we used to talk--my wife and I--I wouldn't consider getting married unless I was making \$150 a month or so. It took a long-- Uh, no--until I got on the monthly payroll. That's what it was. I wanted to get on the monthly payroll, and until I got on the monthly payroll I wasn't going to get married. And that was a struggle, but I finally got on the monthly payroll. Otherwise every week the guy would come and give you the money in an envelope. [Chuckling] But the point is that as far as patents go, I never felt in Bell Laboratories there was a real push on patents. I've seen other companies where the first thing you should think about is, I've got a new idea. How do I get a patent? Should I get a patent on it? And shouldn't I start pushing to get a patent? None of that goes on at Bell Laboratories. Never in my day, and I don't think even today. Until you get down to some critical time when you're putting out a product and you want to make sure you're adequately covered and you're not infringing and so forth and so on, the patent doesn't become an issue. As a director of a laboratory, you have to make sure that when you are to that point on a product that you certainly inform the Patent Department that you're going that far, that you're going ahead with this, and what is the patent situation? And they might write back and say, Well, who invented this thing you're putting out? What have you got to show for it? And so forth. But there's not a lot going on where everybody that's working is looking to say, Well, what can I get a patent on? The only time that happened--and that wasn't really with respect to patents--was when the transistor was invented. We all got together in the auditorium, and they said, Go out and do what you can with this. But they didn't say, you know, Go out and get patents on it. They just said, Go out and see what you can do with this, to apply it to your discipline.

Aspray:

Was the writing of patents-- Was it a way of getting credit within the company?

Joel:

Well, not really. I don't think so. You know, even today--First of all, there was always the problem of finding time to work with the Patent Department to help them get their patent out. That took time away from the job in some cases, and people were sometimes reluctant to do that, and you had to get after them. I don't think that patents played a big part in the evaluation of people. I mean, you couldn't point to one person and say, Well, he's got 25 patents and this guy has none. Therefore, you know, he ought to get a higher place on the merit ladder than somebody else or something. It was more down to what can the person as a whole do? Not just whether he can get patents. And I don't think in my career even, even though I had all these patents that very much ever came of all the patents that I've had. Until just recently I got this notice that AT&T's going to give me a Patent Recognition Award, whatever that is.

Aspray:

Oh!

Joel:

Did I tell you about that?

Aspray:

No.

Joel:

Oh, yeah. Starting this May, right after I get the IEEE Medal of Honor, the same week, I'm going to get an award from the Chairman of the Board of AT&T. I guess what they have done, starting last year, they pick out, like, 20 people that they want to give Patent Recognition Awards to. I don't know whether that zeroes in on a particular patent, which in my case I think it may be the cellular mobile patent. Or whether it's for broadly all your patent contributions. Or whatnot. And I'm surprised because I didn't know they were going after retirees. I thought, you know, it was primarily for-- But I'm very pleasantly surprised by this. So there's going to be some kind of an awards ceremony, and the Chairman of the Board of AT&T is going to give out these plaques or something.

### Assessment of patents' significance

Aspray:

Well, that's very nice. I have sitting in front of me what you sent me of resume, and it lists here some of the key patents in your opinion. I'd like to hand you that, and can you just talk about some of those. What the contribution was?

Joel:

We didn't talk about this particular one. I have a patent that was first used--I guess the office was first cut over in Phoenix in the early 1980s--but they put it eventually into all the TSPS's, so that not only could you normally dial a call and have it charged to you in the usual way on your bill every month, but you could also make a call from a coin telephone and that could be any kind of a call that required more than the initial deposit. So that you could make a call across the United States, it would cost a dollar and a half, and it would go through the TSPS system, and the TSPS system would rate the call. And it would say, All right, this call is going to cost a dollar and a quarter for the first five minutes or whatever. And arrange so that automatically it told the customer how much to put in and counted the coins as they were being deposited. And did it all without any operator, so we didn't need any operators for the calls. Now this shows you how inventions happen. I invented a similar scheme with older technology back in 1946. I got a patent on it. At that time we were interested in calls to the suburbs out of New York--coin calls out of New York--and tried to find some way to automate them so these 15-cent, 10-cent calls from coin phones, where the basic charge was a nickel, could be handled automatically. And I got a patent on that. But this patent--this one on using TSPS--is basic because what it does is put into every coin phone that when you deposit the coins, the coins send out signals that are machine-detectable. I mean, prior to that the only way you could tell was the operator could listen to see whether it was a quarter or a nickel or a dime by the sound. Now we put gadgets in there that automatically, you know, oscillators that automatically sent out signals that went to this equipment that could count the coins as you were depositing them. So that's part of my patent. That's basic to my patent.

Aspray:

I see.

Joel:

And that was used in a large way. In fact, all the coin calls now in the Bell System and AT&T are handled that way. I see there are two patents on that, and I imagine one has to do with the telephone and the other has to do with the equipment in the TSPS to do it. Give out the announcements and all that. By the way, that required a whole new-- It shows you what you get into. That kind of an invention requires-- You see, you have to have a lot of knowledge about the system. You know, some outsider can't come along and invent something like this. This required a whole new kind of database. Because up to this point, all the calls that were rated in that system were either rated, you know, in the accounting office-- When you made a call and you made a credit card call or you made a call and charged to a third party or a collect call or whatever kind of call you made, it went on the tape--in this case magnetic tape--and it would be processed in the accounting center. And we'd figure out how much the charges were because it was an operator-handled call. And we'd have a charge for the operator-handled calls. However, when you bring coin phone calls in there, you've got to do it in real time. So we had to put a new kind of database in the system. And it had to be a database you could change readily. Because it isn't-- Here's the way it was--and I guess maybe it still is to some extent--the AT&T in their great wisdom all of a sudden decides that as of midnight a month from now, they're going to change all the coin rates. And we've got to go within a month and go to these 155 sites and change the tables in all these machines. And you've got to find a way of doing that. And these patents include all that kind of stuff.

And then there's one of them here on this automatic identification for automatic intercept that I've described to you, so that you know what number you reached and not what number you think you reached. And do it automatically you don't have to have any operators. By the way, you'd be interested to know that since I retired, I guess I did have two ideas. One of them is still pending in the Patent Department, but one of them I've already gotten a patent on, on photonic switching. Switching with light beams. So I continue to get patents. And there are people at AT&T and Bell Labs that still think I'm going to come up with some more ideas. [Chuckling]

### Assessment of publications

Aspray:

For the scholar who wants to go back and look at your career and would like some guidance on your publications, could you pick out maybe a half dozen of your publications from this list and say that these are the important--most important--ones to look at?

Joel:

Well, you're talking about importance from the technology or importance of seeing the variety of the things that I did or what?

Aspray:

Well, I think probably the importance of the technology is what these would be read for.

Joel:

Well, it's hard to say. These are all publications. I know that No. 6 here, the "Communications Switching Systems as Real-Time Computers," I know that that's importance because it's been brought up in several lawsuits. Because I predicted it in that paper, the growth of the stored program control idea and the importance it's going to be. And that was in 1957. In '56 I wrote this important article, the No. 5, that describes the first stored program control calls going through a system and how they went and so forth in the pre-Morris laboratory. And, you know, if you're interested in broad kinds of things, then even No. 7, "Telephone Switching: An Old Field With a New Future," where I'm talking about what the future of electronics might be. That's in January 1958. Well, there's so many of them here. There's two articles here about Morris, "An Experimental Switching System Using New Electronic Techniques," September 1958. Oh, I wouldn't say encyclopedia articles. I wouldn't include them. Here's one, No. 13, "On Permutation Switching Networks." Shows my interest in switching fabrics, as they're now called; they're now called switching fabrics. But I had a great interest in that and have done a lot of work with that. My interest in history is shown in No. 17, "Twenty-Five Years of Switching System Innovation." Of course what the Traffic Service Positions System is about--the two of us that are joint inventors of that-- is in No. 18. No. 20 is a favorite topic of mine also. It deals with the classification and unification of switching system functions. And attempt, again, to formalize stuff about switching, which is, you know, a favorite topic. And occasionally I see this referred to by other people, trying to nibble at this problem. So it gives me a lot of satisfaction when I see somebody quoting [Chuckling]--referring to--this. Again, I wrote another thing about networks--nodal networks--as No. 21. Twenty-two, again, points out the fact that the stored program control idea was more important than the electronic switching idea. That paper I gave in Munich in 1974--22. Of course we celebrated the history of Bell Labs again under the 50th Anniversary issue--No. 23.

One thing that's interesting in looking over this thing, you see a lot of these encyclopedia things. In fact, I just turned in a thing the other day to an encyclopedia reference volume about ATM switching. The interesting thing is that as a child, I wished I had all these encyclopedias I could have looked at, to find somebody who was knowledgeable about the subject, you know, to write about it. There wasn't anything like that when I was a kid. And boy, maybe I would never have been interested in switching if I'd read enough of these articles. [Chuckling] Well, of course, the books like the Press books, they've sold fairly well. I think they've sold about 8,000 copies of each of them. They're pretty well used. And by the way, I mentioned to you that I was involved in lawsuits, and one of them was a patent interference recently that came out. The jury ruled against AT&T. But in that trial, our witness was asked--was shown--a table from one of these IEEE Press books. And this is the Vice President of AT&T was the witness, and they said, "You know of a Mr. Amos Joel?" "Oh, yeah, he's world famous" and so forth and so on. You know, they built it up to big fare-thee-well. "Well, he has this table." And he gave him the table from one of these IEEE Press books and said, "See, doesn't this show that you've been infringing--?" and this, that and the other thing. And the Vice President looked at it very carefully. He hadn't seen the table before. But he saw all my notes. I had a lot of legends down on the thing. He looked at the legends. And the legends said all these other systems were field trials. Ours was the only real system that was in production. [Laughter] And he let the guy have it right then and there. He said, "Oh, Mr. Joel says right here that these are all field trials." [Chuckling] But that gives you an idea of the kind of stuff I used to do, you know. I spent a lot of time on that, and nobody else did.

A good general article was the one that appeared in IEEE Proceedings in September '77. That's it for one article. And another history article under 30. Seems like I've done a lot more writing toward the end of my career than the beginning, doesn't it? [Chuckling] Does that mean anything? [Laughter]

Aspray:

I think that's common.

Joel:

Yeah? More recently, of course, we have the history books of the--Bell books. And the Chapuis book. I thought that the work I did in this No. 48, this Ingles Handbook--McGraw-Hill Handbook on Electronic Communications--I wrote a chapter in that. I thought that was a pretty good chapter, myself. Never heard anybody else say so, but I thought it was pretty good. And of course the McDonald books on digital switching, which I always like to preface with the fact that I personally don't agree with the title because I don't believe there is such a thing as digital switching. It's a misnomer. That's why I'm so fussy about nomenclature. But there is no such thing as digital switching. There's a switching of digital signals, but from a switching principles point of view--and I like to emphasize switching principles--there's only space division and time division. There's also the possibility of frequency division, but I can prove that that's not a very viable thing. But there is no such thing as digital switching because you can have both space and time division of digital signals. But people won't recognize that. They just brush it aside and say, The latest thing is digital switching. Anyway, those are not too important, I don't think.

### Awards and recognition

Aspray:

Okay. Thank you. We haven't talked at very much length, anyway, about your awards.

Joel:

Oh, yeah.

Aspray:

Now, I have a list of them right here of some of right here in front of me.

Joel:

[Chuckling] Well, those are replicas. If I can get a replica, I have them mounted and appear here on the table. But if I can't get a replica, for example, of the Kyoto Prize of some others, I don't have them here. And I have over on the other side right near you-- My daughter doesn't want to be necessarily outshone by me, so whenever she gets an Emmy, she sends me a plaque to commemorate her Emmy that she wants to put next to her father's awards. [Chuckling]

Aspray:

How nice!

Joel:

She hopes to get an Emmy again this year.

Aspray:

Uh huh. I didn't have any idea.

Joel:

She's a set decorator for The Young and Restless soap opera.

Aspray:

Are there any stories you want to tell? Or any comments you want to make about any of the prizes?

Joel:

Well, you know, I certainly appreciate receiving all these proofs of recognition. And I guess you're most surprised when you get the first one. [Chuckling] They seem to build after a while. And of course I was very surprised about the Kyoto thing. I just never expected to get that. In fact, I didn't even know what it was really [Chuckling] 'til I got it and heard more about it. But, yeah, it's interesting that some of them zero in on specific things, like the-- New Jersey keeps-- I guess we got an award for--a patent award of some kind--because of the invention of the TSPS and how it's important to the industry and so forth. Those are sort of interesting. I like those awards because, you know, they really recognize you for something specific. The Kyoto was a broad thing about your whole career, contributions as a person. So, I guess, was the Medal of Honor of the IEEE. Same kind of thing. The Alexander Graham Bell Award, which I shared with two others, was really zeroing in on something important. That was the ESS itself. By the way, it's interesting that that prize we got, of course, for our contribution to making ESS viable-- But they took pictures of us. And we had pictures in the various books, the same picture of the three of us. I guess we had it also in the Chapuis book. And the interesting thing is that the place where we took the pictures was Succasunna in New Jersey where the first No. 1 ESS was put in service, May 30, 1965. It was just taken out of service a month ago in Succasunna and replaced with a No. 5 ESS. And that frame that we're standing next to has been shipped to the Smithsonian. They're going to use it for something; I don't know what. I don't know if they know the whole story or not, but that's part of the story that goes with the medal. We had the picture of the three of us taken there.

Aspray:

The Curator of Electricity at the Smithsonian sits on our Board, so I'll make sure he knows the story. Finn--Barney.

Joel:

Oh, yeah, I know. I know Barney.

Aspray:

Barney.

Joel:

Yeah, I know Barney very well. I don't know whether he's familiar with what we did. [Chuckling] In fact, I'm sorry-- You know, as you get involved in various things, there are many things you look back on your career and you say you wished you'd had more time to spend on some things. And that was one of them. There was a time when I guess Barney Finn asked if I could help in-- They were going to revise the whole area there in the Telecommunications, which they did. I wanted to do something more about electronic switching. I would have liked to have gotten into it, but to get into it would have required more than just the technology. They wanted the social implications and all the other things, and I would have liked to have tried my hand at that. But I never had time to do that, and I'm sorry I didn't. Because, you know, I look back and see that kind of thing that went on with the early switching systems--dial systems--where it had big social implications. I mean, for the first time in many communities people were able to get telephone service 24 hours a day, which they couldn't get before that. Things of that kind, which were very interesting. I am sure we could relate similar stories. I can still remember today working-- We worked on Morris, and we cut it over in November 1960. And we put on a big show out there for the AIEE and local townspeople and all kinds of other things. And we had a stage, like, and on the stage we had telephones, and we demonstrated Call Waiting and Three-Way Calling and so forth. And today I look at those commercials on television, and I see these same demonstrations for the first time. It's taken all this time since 1960, when we first invented this stuff and showed how it could be done, until now when you can universally offer it to people and to demonstrate it and try to sell it, actually, and promote it on television. So that's like 30 years--32 years. And it's sort of interesting because it's the same dialogue. It's the same [Chuckling] example. Of course, they have really good actors and actresses. We did our own. We even took our secretaries there to help us demonstrate them. [Chuckling] So at any rate, I'm sorry that I haven't been able to--For example, I put out this document--I think I mentioned to you; maybe I gave you a copy of it--about the history of the panel system from birth to death.

Aspray:

No, I haven't seen that.

Joel:

You haven't seen that. Anyway, I have it. I'll give it to you. That story is interesting because it's one of the few really important switching systems that served, you know, millions of lines--millions of telephones--that was born and died as completely taken out of service up to now. There are not any other large serving switching systems that are in that state. I mean, step-by-step is still in service in many places around the world. And so are many of the contemporaries of the panel system, like the Swedish system and the rotary system, that grew up with the panel system. They're still in service in many places in the world. So there are very few systems that are completely dead, and that's one of them. Of course, all the manual switchboard systems are dead. But automatic systems, that's one of the few--at this time. Of course, hopefully, in time we'll see a lot more of them die.

### Career challenges, philosophies, and contributions

Aspray:

In a way to begin to wrap up, first of all, can you tell me what you thought were the greatest engineering challenges you confronted in your career? And whether you succeeded or not in achieving what you wanted?

Joel:

Well, the greatest engineering challenge is not the specific inventions which, as you know, I have many. But the greatest challenge to me has been--is to try to fit together the state of the art of switching, as it's evolved, and to make something of this. A pattern of this--either in terms of what we certainly accomplished by teaching it and what not. We were able to show there are certain principles that can be taught and that we can explain to generations--succeeding generations--what switching's all about. And as new switching techniques evolve, we can continue to do that. So I think we've put the framework down for doing that. Of course, as I've said before, my big disappointment is we haven't been able to formalize it any more than that. We haven't been able to formalize it to the degree of putting some mathematics with it or something of that kind so that we can evaluate the various architectures and things. But at least I think people now understand the principles pretty well--which they didn't. When we first we started out--when I first started out--there was no such things as principles. I couldn't go to the vice president or even the engineer that had been working the longest on switching systems at Bell Labs and say, you know, What kinds of switching systems are there? He'd tell me there was step-by-step and panel and manuals, but he wouldn't be able to tell me the principles upon which they were based. And I think we've done an awful lot over the period of my career to make that understood by people. That you can indeed classify the technologies that are used in switching.

Aspray:

If I wanted to tell a young engineer in just a few sentences about your career and your accomplishments, what sorts of things should I tell him? If you wrapped up the major accomplishments?

Joel:

I don't think it's something new, but I think that what you should do is to find something very early in your life that you think is something you'd like to do, that is of interest, and learn as much as you can throughout your life about it. And stick with it. I think, you know, that you have a better chance of succeeding that way than to know a lot about--a little about--a lot of things instead of a lot about one thing. And certainly for me I believe it's worked, that knowing a lot about one thing--namely, switching--has paid off and has been a very-- I think I've accomplished something with it. And that I would recommend that to anybody. Particularly today when there's so many distractions and so many things--paths--that people can go down. It's good to have a firm root in one particular thing.

Aspray:

But setting modesty aside, tell me what three or five or ten technical or organizational or political or social accomplishments that you'd like to be remembered for.

Joel:

I don't think there's anything. Just that here is someone who spent a lifetime being interested in this subject and that there had not prior to him been anyone who took this kind of interest and looked at it as broadly in this way. There have been--like him--many people who invented things in this field, but I don't think that there's been anybody that has looked at it in the broad sense that I have. And, you know, I'd sort of like to be remembered for having started that. I hope there will be others to continue this way of doing things in this particular-- It's a very important part. I don't see any way we're not going to have switching with us for many generations. It's essential if you're going to have person-to-person telecommunications. So therefore, hopefully, there's a lot more progress to be made. Not just in the invention of systems of switching, but in understanding the philosophies and the way in which switching systems can go together. And I hope that, you know, I've done a lot to start this kind of thinking. Probably haven't done enough to advertise it.

### Family life and hobbies

Aspray:

Joel:

Yeah. I'd be happy to. My family life has been, I think, a very important contributor to my ability to do the things that I've done. I think that's important. Because it's been a very tranquil family life. We've had no tragedies. We've had no very great upheavals of any kind. Things have gone along, for the most part, the way they should. My wife and I are celebrating our 50th anniversary this year. And we've had, you know, a very good life together. The children-- Our son will be 45 years old this year. None of our children are married, or ever have been married, which is sort of interesting. Much to the dismay of my wife in particular. And my father was very unhappy that none of them had any offspring or anything like that. But our son is 45. He studied mathematics. He didn't get his Ph.D. at MIT. But he got his mathematics degree at Princeton. Then almost got a Ph.D. at MIT, but then gave up on the thesis. He's now into other things. He spent almost 18 years with Mathematical Reviews, and so he's now out doing other things in the publishing area. Our daughters are twin daughters. They'll be 42 this year. They've been a joy. Well, they've all been a joy--all our children have been a joy. Plus there's been no problems. They've never given us anything to be unhappy about or given us any pain or any sorrow or anything. Except for not having offspring--at least that bothers my wife. And they have their own careers that they're doing. My daughter in New York-- They're on both coasts: One's in New York and one's in California, but they keep the telephone company in business communicating, especially twins. They have a great affinity for one another. One of them works for Wiley, the book publisher. She's the manager of advertising. And the other one is a set decorator for The Young and Restless, so she has a very exciting job. The soap opera--CBS. So that's exciting. They're a great joy to us. We have good times together when we can. We can't get together very often.

Aspray: