Oral-History:Gunther Karger

Gunther Karger was born on 16 March 1933 in Schmieheim, Germany. In 1939, his parents sent him on a transport of children to Sweden to escape from Nazi Germany. He was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust and after World War II he was sent to the United States. After graduating high school as valedictorian, he enlisted in the United States Air Force, where he worked on radar systems. After leaving the Air Force, he enrolled in Louisiana State University, where he graduated in 1958. Karger held positions at Boeing, Bell Labs, and Eastern Airlines, and was involved with IEEE in several volunteer positions, including editor for the IEEE Communications Society Newsletter, member of the Executive Committee of the IEEE North Jersey Section, and chair of the IEEE Canaveral Section.

To read more about Gunther Karger's role on the national security team during the Cold War, visit his First-Hand History.

GUNTHER KARGER: An interview Conducted by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, 1 June 2021.

Interview #856 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

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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:

Gunther Karger, an oral history conducted in 2021 by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, Piscataway, NJ USA.

Interview

INTERVIEWEE: Gunther Karger

INTERVIEWER: Michael Geselowitz

DATE: 1 June 2021

PLACE: Virtual

Geselowitz:

Thanks again. I really appreciate you spending the time, and I know you've been interviewed elsewhere and so forth. Just a reminder – I'd like to focus on your technical career, and also any interactions with IEEE, but I am going to start with the early stuff, ask you about your childhood because we're very interested in when you first became aware of technology and engineering as a profession. How you got involved and interested in that, and any teachers that were formative. That that kind of thing. The other part – your role as a Holocaust survivor—of course, is fascinating, incredibly fascinating, but my research suggests it's been covered in other interviews, so I think we can, we can lightly go over it. But I also don't want to cut you off, so please tell whatever part of that story you want to tell so that the IEEE audience will understand where you came from and how you came to do what you came to do.

Geselowitz:

Okay, so do you have any, any questions before we start officially?

Karger:

Yes. What, what do you do with these recorded histories?

Geselowitz:

So, we have them transcribed. We keep the audio visual as a back-up in the archive, but we have it transcribed. You get a chance to edit it any way you like to make sure that your words were captured correctly and you said what you wanted to say, and then we post the transcript to our website, to the IEEE Oral History Collection. And then, I'll send you a release form for you to read at your leisure and sign which basically says that it makes it available to researchers and others, but we protect your rights and so forth.

Karger:

Who, what kind of people actually access this material, generally?

Geselowitz:

So it depends on the interviewee. I think a lot of the visitors are just other members, other engineers interested in the past of engineering, but we do get researchers, historians, doing historical research on a particular technology, let's say the history of the transistor and the work at Bell Labs. We have some key oral histories there. Also sometimes filmmakers who are doing documentaries, again, usually on the history of technology, like we're doing the history of television. Our earliest oral history—in fact, it's completely audio; there's no video tape—is with Zworykin, Vladimir Zworykin of RCA. So that tends, that tends to be the two sides. On the one hand, historians and history documentarians. On the other hand, just interested engineers and so forth.

Karger:

All right, thank you.

Geselowitz:

Does that make sense?

Karger:

Fine. I was just wondering.

Geselowitz:

Yes, and I'm looking forward to this because you have a very fascinating career so it may interest a lot of folks. It certainly interested President Land when you communicated with her. She got very excited about your career. So, any other questions?

Karger:

Sorry. No, not at all.

Geselowitz:

So, I'm just going to introduce us and then ask you the first question, and we'll just run from there. There's no set of questions. This is your chance to tell your story, or in this case, this other aspect of your story, your technical career aspect of your story, in a little more detail. I know you, you've told your childhood story, which is really amazing. I was looking at it. So, anyway, I'll start. This is Michael Geselowitz from the IEEE History Center and I am here, remotely interviewing Gunther Karger, an IEEE Life Senior Member, about his interactions with IEEE. I am sitting in New York City, New York. And Gunther, I believe you're in Miami?

Karger:

In the Miami area. Specifically, Homestead is the name of the city.

Geselowitz:

Okay.

Karger:

Homestead is a city 30 miles south of the city of Miami considered as “Gateway to the Florida Keys”

Geselowitz:

Terrific. So, all right, so Gunther, I would like you to tell us me and our audience a little about your childhood, with a focus on how you got interested in technical fields.

Karger:

Right actually, I got interested rather early. When I was six years old, I was, well…let me backtrack. I'm a Holocaust survivor. When I was six years old, my family, my parents sent me away to Sweden from Germany. I'm from Germany, a small town in the Black Forest, southwestern part of Germany close to Switzerland, actually, and that was on the last transport of kids out of Germany, late 1939. Early, I was sent to live with a farming family in Northwest Sweden for five years. During this time, I came across a comic strip, Captain Frank, which is the equivalent of Flash Gordon, which is a science fiction type of thing. There also was another one called the Brain, which is, somebody extremely smart and dying and the scientists harvested the brain, put the brain in a robot, and that became the leader of the world, telling everybody what to do while the brain was moving around in a robotic fashion. I became fascinated with this and as a kid, let's say seven to eight years old. I wanted to be in that business. I wanted to work in the space business. I wanted to work with communications, the technical part of this sort of thing. And that was the beginning of my in science.

Geselowitz:

So, just one quick question. Did you learn to read Swedish? Did you read these comic strips in Swedish or in German?

Karger:

I lived in Sweden seven years, and when I arrived to this village, I was the only one who spoke German. My foster parents did not know German, so the only one who knew any German at all, sparingly was the church priest, who helped translate a few letters from my parents , while they could still write letters. And, so I learned Swedish immediately, because if I didn't do that, I couldn't communicate, and so Swedish is what I learned. Swedish is what I spoke, and then seven years later on, in 1946 when the war was over, and I was sent over to the United States, the only language I knew to speak was Swedish.

Geselowitz:

So did you get any education while you were working on the farm in Sweden?

Karger:

Yes, a very good education. I went to school, grade one through six, actually. And in Sweden, the education system at that time was very strict. You had to work hard to make good grades. You couldn't wing it. School was five-and-a-half days a week, half days on Saturday. The teachers were highly qualified to teach, well respected by the community and the students aren't like what I observed over here. And so I did learn a lot, and the one thing I learned above all else is I learned how to learn, which helped me later on because I went through multiple careers, not necessarily preceded by formal education in those subsequent careers beyond engineering. And I was able to do that by some ability, perhaps inherent, perhaps somewhat learned in the school system, with learning how to learn, learning how to analyze, learning how to look things up. Learning how to find things out. That was the basic learning that I learned and that helped me tremendously later on.

Geselowitz:

So, after the war, where were you sent in the United States?

Karger:

Pensacola, Florida.

Geselowitz:

And what did you do there?

Karger:

There, I lived with another foster family for four years from ‘46 to ‘50, four years. Within two weeks of arriving, knowing no English and only Swedish, , I was given a job and working in a supermarket as a bag boy and a shelf stocker and plus going to school. I went to first the sixth grade. I was able to skip the seventh grade, after I learned English fairly rapidly, so I skipped the seventh grade, went to the eighth grade, and worked while I went to school.

Geselowitz:

Okay, and was there much science or math in that curriculum?

Karger:

In school, not necessarily. However the town where I lived in, which was Pensacola, was sort of scientifically oriented. Pensacola is the U.S. Naval Aviation Training Center. They train pilots there, so they had a lot of aviation type things going on in that town.

Geselowitz:

Okay and when and how did you leave Pensacola?

Karger:

In 1950. I didn't get along that well with my foster parents. The gentleman there of the house basically thought I was worthless, that the most I could do is become a farm hand and so they threw me out at about that time, I had a half-uncle who came from South America—Uruguay—to New Jersey, where he bought a chicken farm, so they put me on the greyhound bus and sent me up to up to New Jersey and told me to tell them I'm there on a two-week vacation, with my suitcase, which is what I had, all I had. Of course I explained to my half-uncle that, no, I'm not going back. What you see in the suitcase is what I have, and what you see in me is me. I'm not going anywhere. So, I made a deal with the guy, if I can work on his chicken farm, cleaning his chicken coops, could I stay there and finish high school. I had one grade left. That was grade number 12, so we made the agreement. I did it and, and that's what I did.

Geselowitz:

Okay. Um, and did you notice a difference between high school in Pensacola and high school in New Jersey?

Karger:

Well, the one in Pensacola was larger. It was a fairly big school. The one in New Jersey only had 52 people in my graduating class, so it was a small school, so people knew each other a little bit better. You knew the teacher a little bit better. It was a more socially compact school.

Geselowitz:

So what happened when you graduated high school? What did you do?

Karger:

Geselowitz:

I’m sorry to interrupt. Where, where are the courses held?

Karger:

Excuse me?

Geselowitz:

Where were the courses held that you took?

Karger:

The courses were Air Force courses held on the base given by air Force instructors.

Geselowitz:

Which base was that?

Karger:

The first one, I'm sorry, was Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Geselowitz:

Okay.

Karger:

Geselowitz:

Now why did you choose Louisiana State University?

Karger:

A couple reasons. First of all, it had very low tuition which was a concern. And second of all I had developed some medical problems along the way and I got a 10 percent service-connected disability. That gave me access to Public Law 550, which was equivalent to the World War II GI Bill, which paid for everything. And third is my wife and I got married , before I got out the Air Force, and she's from New Orleans.

Geselowitz:

OH, okay.

Karger:

There was another reason. And then last, but not least LSU at that time had a very strong, basic electrical engineering department and with two avenues. One was electronics. The other one was electricity, power generation, so it all fit rather nicely, and they had cheap veteran housing on the campus, for $32.50 a month, including utilities, so there was a number of reason for going to LSU. Geselowitz: Okay and so two related questions. Did you focus on any particular aspect of electrical engineering and electronics when you were there, and second of all, how long did it take you to graduate, given you already had such a strong background? Karger: Well, I applied for and got credits for some of that work so I didn't have to go through the whole thing. It was basically a five-year program and I finished that in three years. In between, however, I went to school for two summers, as well. The third summer, I was invited to go to IBM up in Kingston, New York which was the development site of the Air Traffic Control Computer System and so we went there for the summer for on the job training and then came back and finished the last semester and that was very heavy on courses. I was taking, I think 22 to 24 semester hours per semester. I did not work while I was going to school. My job was to go to school. My wife had a job and so besides getting a few dollars from the VA and the government and having free tuition and free books; we made out all right and but I did go to IBM for that one summer. That was also in my view good, good training, both from a technical standpoint and a management concept standpoint. Geselowitz: So, what, what year was that? Karger: That was in 1957. I graduated 1958. Geselowitz: So, when you graduated, did IBM make you an offer? Karger: No, IBM did not extend an offer. But I actually ended up having a whole bunch of offers, maybe seven or eight different offers, and offers from RCA Electronics up in New Jersey, from Boeing Aircraft, from the government Civil Service in Mobile, Alabama and a couple of other places. It was about seven or eight different place, oh, and Bell Laboratories. I had an offer there, as well, so but my interest was space oriented and Boeing had aviation and h rockets , so I took the Boeing job. Geselowitz: And what was that job? Karger: That job was in engineering, on the Bomarc project, Bomarc was the Boeing cruise missile program, which is basically the first cruise missile there was, surface-to-surface, and that didn't last too long for a variety of reasons. I didn't like the environment. You had a desk among hundreds of people in the same room. I don't like that. I can't think well that way. The second thing is, they paid for the move, furniture and everything else, and on the way, the van carrying all our things fell down the mountainside outside Seattle. Geselowitz: Oh, no. Karger: And most everything got broken up, and so it was delivered to the apartment that we rented and the company wasn't very good in getting it restored, so I had a letter of introduction from one of my professors who had a friend who was a vice president at Boeing, and he said you should introduce yourself to this person when you get there, so when I had these problems, I did. And I knew that if I introduced myself, the man would say, how are you getting along? And I told him, and this got back to the, my boss and the personnel department, and I was told to shut my mouth, or it wouldn't help me out, but the thing is, I still had some offers, so I made a phone call to Bell Labs and I said, is the offer still open? It was. I said, I accept, so I gave Boeing notice. That was after about three months, so I don't really count that as a job, but that was the first job. Geselowitz: So you had, you went all the way from Louisiana to Washington State, and now you're going to go back to New Jersey? Karger: Not quite. After I accepted the job, I got a notice at there's been a change in in assignment, and Bell Labs wanted to assign me to a place called Twentynine Palms, California, which is the Marine Corps Desert Training base, where they train the Marines in desert operations, and there were starting a surface-to-air missile program, the Terrier Programs and needed somebody to train the Marines in how to operate it and how to maintain it. So I had the training experience in the Air Force, both technical and operational. They thought I would fit in well, so that's where we went, so we went from Seattle, Washington, to Twentynine Palms, California, which is in the middle of the Mojave Desert, about 150 miles east of Los Angeles, so that was that was the that was the initial assignment through Bell Labs, and it was actually in with Western Electric. I was re-assigned to Western Electric in their field engineering department in that assignment, which was part of AT&T. Geselowitz: And so how long did that assignment last? Karger: That lasted about nine months. It's kind of lonely out in the desert and they I was a, there was a I was the only college graduate on the program, and I was kind of on the young side, compared to some of the old timers .That was actually somewhat of a problem, and my wife was kind of lonely. One day, I came home from work and I heard voices in the living room and I found that she was communicating with the sofa, which was answering her, so I said it was time to leave. I put in a call to the supervisor that I was reporting to, and I explained that the time has come to leave. It's time to go back to the original assignment in New Jersey, at the real Bell Labs to do some real work, so what have you got? So, that's what, what we did. So, I was assigned to go to Bell Laboratories in Whippany, New Jersey. Geselowitz: Okay, before you tell me about your work at Bell Labs up, I’d like to ask, until this point, had you encountered the IRE, the Institute of Radio Engineers, the predecessor of IEEE? Karger: I, when I was at LSU, I joined the student chapter. At that time, it was AIEE-- Geselowitz: Okay. Karger: LSU was primarily a power type place and so AIEE was the chapter, so I had joined that. I also joined when I graduated, the IRE. I was a full-fledged member of both. These were student chapters. Geselowitz: Okay. Karger: And I maintained a membership through, from the beginning, from a student to member to full member status and so on. Now, when we got to New Jersey, I continued that, but at that time, that was the time when the two organizations merged and became the IEEE. Geselowitz: Right. Karger: Then, I as IEEE member, I became actively involved with the IEEE North Jersey Section as a member of Executive Committee. Geselowitz: Right. Like, in fact, I know that you are, you received one of the 50-year pins that was handed out in 2013, to recognize the 50th anniversary of the merger, that was given to anyone that had already been a member of one or the other of IEEE and IRE. Karger: Well, that's news to me. I never received that. Geselowitz: I saw you on the list. I'll look into that. Let me make a note. Karger: I may be on the list, but I never got it. I never even knew there was such a thing. Geselowitz: That's cause you travel around so much. Okay, I will look into that for you. Karger: I got several pins. I have the I have the IRE member pin. I have the AIEE member pin. I'm also a senior member. I have that pin. Geselowitz: Right. Karger: I also have the gold pin, where I was the section chairman at Cape Canaveral. But that's the IEEE, but I don't remember anything about a 50-year anniversary. Geselowitz: Okay, I'll look into it and I'll get back to you. Karger: Okay, thank you. Geselowitz: Yeah. So okay, so that's great. So you're already active in the section, the local, North Jersey section, and you're working at Bell Labs. Tell me about your technical work at Bell Labs. Karger: Okay, the initial assignment to Bell Lab was in their magnetics laboratory where there was development going on for the magnetic computer storage, cryogenic storage. We don't hear too much about that anymore, but at that time, that was a thing under development to increase the speed of computer, transactions, memories, access and retrieval at cryogenic temperatures, using magnetic loops. There was a whole laboratory dedicated to that. And I was in a development lab doing that work in Whippany. So, that was the initial assignment. Then they I got an invitation to join ITT laboratories, which was in Nutley, New Jersey in Nutley, New Jersey on a program doing satellite work. That was one of the early days of the satellite business. I had an assignment to do the Courier 1B satellite telemetry—the up-down link and so I accepted that invitation, and I was one of three engineers that actually did that work for the Courier 1B. Are you familiar with the courier 1B? Geselowitz: Yes. Karger: Oh, you are? Geselowitz: The first active repeater communications satellite. I’m interested in the diversity of your career, from radar to cruise missiles to magnetic memory storage, and now all of the sudden you're in, you're in early satellite work. It's interesting. Karger: Right. Well, versatility is my bag, and as I mentioned, what I learned in Swedish schools, I learned how to learn, and I also took courses, extra courses, to supplement the need of doing new things, but the Courier 1B, just for the record was, as you said, the first active communications satellite. The first communications satellite was the AT&T Echo, which was nothing more than a mylar balloon with silver coating. You bounced the signal off it. It was basically like a radar. You send something out, it comes back. The Courier 1B was active, and it was an experimental satellite with an active transponder. You send a signal up, and the transponder receives it, processes it, and returns it. A transponder— that's what 1B was and that's what we worked on. So, in conjunction with that, I was sent down to the launch at Cape Canaveral. That was the first time I participated in an actual rocket launch, there and that re-activated my initial interest in the space business. Geselowitz: Right. Karger: Which I actually always had, but I was diverted. And so that was the first assignment at ITT. There was another assignment after that. This was in the early 60s, like 61, 62, and this was during the height of the cold war and the concern was national security, what would happen to the United States if the Soviet Union actually initiated a nuclear attack and what preparedness the United States had. How would it react? How would it reconstitute remaining forces and launch counterattacks? That was a, a big problem, and no one organization focused on that, problem, and so what was created was, an entity called ICS which stands for ITT Communications Systems. Have you ever heard of this? Geselowitz: No. Karger: Okay. There was a small group—a new entity—consisting of some people from ITT, and some people from elsewhere: Hughes Aircraft, RCA Electronics, senior government people, and some people from the CIA and the NSA. The head of it was a lieutenant general from the NSA. The director of communications was the associate director of communications for the CIA. These were the people that I was invited to work with. I was assigned to develop the communications for this project to enable the general command post, and the airborne command post which is an airplane that was at that time a Boeing 707 converted to an airborne command post with a general in charge, and he would be the ultimate command authority in charge of the country if it was attacked and the president was killed or had to go underground. And from that airplane he would command the remaining forces. So he would have to have the capability of sending orders to the submerged submarine North Atlantic fleet to order the launch of Polaris missiles and designate targets in the Soviet Union and those kinds of things. So that was the first communication requirement. The second requirement was to allow the general to communicate with emergency operations on the ground to coordinate the assignment of remaining forces and so that was a different requirement entirely. So, that was my assignment. There was just me, and a group of consultants, Booz Allen Hamilton was one consultant. There was some people from the MITRE Corporation. I'm sure you've heard of them. Geselowitz: Right. Karger: They were on the consulting team. I was the project leader of this, and the guy that was supposed to formulate the concepts, and so that's what I did and we actually did it. I came up with a system that would have worked and there were two components to it. Are you interested in this? Geselowitz: Of course. Karger: Okay. The two components to this. First is the emergency network. At that time, they weren't operating satellites. So you couldn't use satellites. So, I assigned C130 aircraft that became airborne transponders servicing a VHF network; there were five of them orbiting at around 25,000 feet elevation and that would create a network with each aircraft servicing an approximately 500 mile radius on the ground, and so five of them basically covered the transcontinental United States, and to some extent south, and that became a network. And the communication part had been a narrow band. Those days, those were the days of narrow band. There was no such things as broadband. It was a three-kilocycle bandwidth circuit. And the signal was configured as a digital, as a digital transmission and each designated ground location and ground operator was given an address, and what we used was something that was developed at the Army’s Signal Corps Laboratories at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey Geselowitz: Go on. Karger: And what it is, is each person or operation on the ground that was part of the recovery system would be given an address, a digital address, like a telephone number. If A wants to call B, if New Jersey is A, California is B, if A wants to call B, he has an address book, telephone directory, would call up that number and would generate a digital signal using a speech compression techniques—it was the very early days of that because of the three kilocycle restriction. Every receiver would receive it, but only the designated one would hear the phone ring. It was basically a cellular network, and, in the early 60s, 20 years ahead of the time when anybody heard of cellular networks. That's basically what it was, or what it would have been. So I put the whole thing together. I was the one that went to the Pentagon to sell the program, and the money was allocated, and that was part one to the recovery system. The system of reaching the submarines was completely different because to reach submarines, which are submerged, you have to use ELF. ELF penetrates very slightly the water and which was important as you don't want submarines to surface during that kind of scenario. Geselowitz: Then, using ELF, you need very long antennas, though, don't you? Karger: Right, right, that was another unique requirement. So, what I did was I, I concocted up a system with what basically was an underground facility, self-sustainable for at least six months, and in this facility was a platform with an electrically energized helicopter. Now, there was no such thing available anywhere in the world, but I remember reading some German literature, some designs and tests that had looked at some electrically energized helicopters. So, I used that concept and the helicopter was on this platform, and the opening would be at, at the surface, which was a heavy, reinforced, hardened steel plate, which would survive any nuclear detonation within a mile radius of the facility. And during, activation, the cover would retract. The platform would rise. The helicopter would be activated using underground power, and the cable carrying the power to the rotor also became the antenna, so if it rose up 1,000 feet, that became sufficient antenna length to drive the ELF signal and reach the Atlantic submarine fleet. That was never built, but that was the on-the-shelf concept that would have been deployed, and so that was my assignment. That lasted about three, four years, and then the group was disbanded. this group was working with the Air Force systems command and was reporting to the Secretary of Defense, which at that time was McNamara, Robert McNamara. There was also an office in the White House that was responsible for national security, so I was working with all these entities, and I was the youngest one in the group. I was only 29 years old. I have to give some credit to the IEEE on this because I became very involved with the IEEE in northern New Jersey. Initially what you then had were professional groups. Today you have technical societies. Geselowitz: Right. Karger: They had a number of professional groups, and I was appointed to the section Executive Committee in charge of coordinating professional group activities, so I put a lot of effort into this thing. I always believed in people working together. So, I even created a newsletter and, in that area, and I became active in the communications professional group. And technically, I worked with people involved with that the people who actually designed and developed today's networks. I remember one of the people on the committee was Alan Dumont and he was the inventor of the color picture tube. There was Bill Packard of Hewlett Packard, he was on the committee. We had a guy from Varian Associates who he did the klystron tube. Alan Culbertson , the multiplex guy from Lenkurt Electric. I worked with these people. To me, that was part of what I dreamt about when I was a six-year-old kid in Sweden, moving forward in technology that would eventually reach out in space and you need communications to do that. And so I guess I did more than the average. I'm a very focused person, and some people don't like me for that because I make them nervous, but I try to get the job done. So there was this guy. He was, he was the retired chief engineer of RCA Communications. I'll never forget this guy. His name was Roger McSweeney. He was a very tough person, but he somehow liked me and he was the one who arranged for me to get invited to this ICS team because he saw how I worked. McSweeney s was responsible putting a telephone system all through South America and Cuba. And he was an old telephone guy but he kind of got me into this sort of thing. Another guy I met who, who was the chairman of the section, his name was George Anderson. George, he was a PhD type of person. He was also the president of Edison Laboratories. And to me, that was a great thing to be able to communicate with somebody who actually worked in the same building that Edison did all his work in, in Orange, New Jersey. Have you been to that thing? Geselowitz: Yes, I have. It's now, now it's a museum, actually. Karger: Yeah, and George Anderson. You ever heard of him? Geselowitz: Yes. I think he went to Bell Labs later. Karger: Well, he was the president of the Edison Laboratories then, and we sort of became friends, and so meeting all these people in industry did something for me given what I came from because that part of to me, it's important to never forget where you come from and, and the opportunities a new country offers if you, if you're willing to dedicate yourself and work hard to take advantage of them. And so I have to give credit to the IEEE for some of these professional assignments. And I wanted to mention it. Geselowitz: We appreciate that. Karger: This is the IEEE, and I still, anytime I can, sell the idea of professional involvement, even though I'm not really involved anymore. The last time I had anything to do with the IEEE was in 2010, when I was invited to give a talk on the history of cellular communications. The meeting was held here in Miami, so I didn't have to travel anywhere, and since I've been working on my own for, since the mid-80s, I don't have a corporate sponsor to pay for my expenses, and it's not cheap to go to conventions these days. But I gave the talk on this cellular system that I concocted up for the Cold War, and I call the first cellular system conceived 20 years ahead of the tests that Erickson ran in Stockholm, which was, became the first real cellular system, when you have a big box in the back of a truck. I don’t know if you remember that or not. Geselowitz: Yes. Karger: Yes, that was the last time I had any involvement. I did go to one or two local section meetings long, long ago, but it was mostly University of Miami people, but the problem was that I felt like I was in a foreign country. I don't know Spanish. I know Swedish. I can do Norwegian and some other things, but I can't do Spanish, so I never went back. It was a Spanish group. So I've basically been out of IEEE all these years, but the IEEE, I've got to give credit for giving the opportunity of doing a lot of technical work, and I have to if you allow me, move forward, because when ICS disbanded, when the work was finished they had a very strong group of about 200 people. The company was sold to Computer Sciences Corporation, and it was moved to, I think Arlington, Virginia—some place around the Washington area because they mostly do government work, and I could have gone there. But, the thing is, had I gone to, down to Cape Canaveral a few times on these Courier shots, and it's nice and warm in Florida during the wintertime and the wife \ kind of liked it, so I got offered a job at Radiation Laboratories which today is L3Harris. Radiation Labs was beginning to do space-oriented circuit work, and so we got moved down there. Word had preceded me. I was involved with the IEEE in New Jersey, and the Canaveral Section needed help, basically was kind of an archaic organization, so I became the secretary, and then they put me on as the vice chairman and then the I became the chairman down there, and as such I reorganized the whole thing. We had several professional groups. I was able to hire an editor and publisher of the section newsletter, paid for with ads, and they had organized an annual space congress that still happens, is happening down there, and I met all these space people, including Werner von Braun You ever heard of him? Geselowitz: Yeah, so I was wondering, I was going to ask you, if you didn't bring him up, since you got involved in space, if you ran into von Braun, because he didn't die until 1977, and I was wondering how you felt about that meeting, given your background. Karger: I’m sorry. What was the question now? Geselowitz: How you felt about someone who was the lead German rocket scientist, who then came to work for us, given that you were a German Jewish Holocaust survivor. Karger: Well that's a, that's a good question, and that actually was a problem. For, the first thing I learned along the way is I always kept my personal background out of my professional life for that reason. I was very sensitive to this particularly with that group, to them, I'm a German person. I have a German name. Gunther is a German name. I am from Germany and so I never publicized this thing. I never hid it. I never declined it, if asked, but I just never promoted it and so when I was nominated chairman of the section the, the, the treasurer, his name was Horst, H-O-R-S-T, and that's a solid German name. It's also a solid Nazi name because of the Nazi, Horst Wessel, who wrote the Nazi anthem. I don't know if you ever heard of that or not. Geselowitz: Oh, yes indeed. Karger: So his name was Horst and, he knew I was Jewish, and so when I got nominated to be the chairman, he went the petition route. You can petition, also, to be nominated. So he organized a petition for himself. It had a committee going door to door, in the Cape Canaveral area asking for, asking for signatures to put him in as the as the nominee for chairman and there was a headline in the local paper saying Engineer's going crazy over the election of the chairman. I was the nominee. I offered to resign, but the nominating committee refused my resignation. So I get elected and so that was the way it was. However, the question you could ask is, who won? I get elected. I'm the chairman. Did I win? I think I did. But, in reality, did I? And here's why? Within a month after being elected, my whole department that I was working in gets laid off including me, so now I'm a chairman without a job, the job I need to get paid by it, I have two kids, . I have a wife and a house. I've got to get paid. Who's going to pay? So he had something to do with that and, so it did have some effect but everything works out okay in the end because by that time, the space industry was declining. Apollo was coming towards the end. A man had already reached the moon and so I was already looking around outside the area for, for something else, and so…Eastern Airlines. You do remember Eastern Airlines? Geselowitz: Yes, of course. Karger: Some people no longer remember Eastern Airlines, believe it or not, but they had an engineering department and, so I did some, some research as to where I could go, who could, who could use my capabilities to organize, re-organize, rejuvenate, move forward, something, and I realized that Eastern Airlines Engineering Department needed to be moved forward and reorganized. It was operating in an old way, in a past age. So I sent a letter to the president introducing myself and, and offering to do just that. And I get invited, and I get a job to do it. So we moved down to Miami with Eastern Airlines. Where Frank Borrman, who was the guy who went to the moon, who took the astronauts to the moon, to the orbit. He never went to the moon, but he was the commander of the lunar orbiter, he came the CEO of Eastern Airlines and so I ended up at Eastern Airlines with a job of re-engineering the Engineering Department. Geselowitz: Interesting. Karger: Which I did, and then when I finished doing that, I got the assignment of being in charge of selecting future aircraft which I did. One of the assignments was to look into VSTOL, , vertical and short take off aircraft. That was, that was the days when there was a big focus on noise pollution and getting close to downtown and they had, conceptually, downtown airports. (STOLPORTs) . They even had a port designed on paper for right next to the New York Port Authority, where aircraft could land on a 1,500-foot elevated runway with a 100-passenger aircraft and I was basically the industry leader on that effort, on behalf of Eastern Airlines. And then the US SST project came on, the Boeing Supersonic transport design, with, I think it was 225 passengers and I got the assignment to evaluate that and I did. And I recommended against it. I caused a lot of problems for that, but the problem for that was, it was economically non feasible. Passenger wise, the Concord was only 90 passengers. It was economically not okay, but it worked out because government support it, But the SST in the US couldn't fly over land because of the sonic boom, so it limited the utility. It became un-economic and was killed. That was one of the reasons it was, it was killed, so I got involved on that. And I finished that, and then I had an offer to move back up north. I had a friend of mine who became the director of telecommunication policy in the White House. He offered me a job to move back up north and but the thing is that we kind of got used to the warm weather, and so we didn't go. Eastern offered me another job—they did whatever they could for me not to leave, so they offered me the job of developing a computerized forecasting system, and to forecast revenue for the company. That has nothing to do with electronics, nothing. Nothing to do with engineering. It has everything to do with corporate planning and strategic planning and computer modeling. What I did was, the system I had developed, at ICS for the Cold War program, it included this network, and I got involved with some of the early government networks for data and voice, the beginning of the ARPAnet, AUTOVON and AUTODIN, the beginning of what we know as the internet because I was involved with that, what I was involved with is the early beginnings because of the random access discrete access concept. You have a pipe, and your access was going through the pipe through unique codes and addresses, and this is basically what you do on the internet, and I came up with a concept of using that concept and applying that to air transportation. Communications and air transportation have similarities. In communications you have bandwidth. You have trunks. You have a narrow/wideband band. Today you have your giga bands. You have all kinds of things. It's like a plumbing system with different sizes of pipes, and then you have switches, where things get transferred, hubs. They’re called hubs in transportation, called switches in communications. A lot of similarities, and so I took those similarities and transposed them to air transportation and developed a model for forecasting revenue. I'm not a programmer, so what I did was I sold Control Data on the idea. At that time Control Data was a big, big mover in the time-sharing business. If they did the programming then the company, Eastern Airlines, would use their service to do the operations, so the, I had a couple guys do the programming and they came up with an operational system. I designed the system. I designed the reports, the transactions, the computations, but someone else did the programming, and I was the manager of that for 15 years at Eastern Airlines. As I said, it had nothing to do with electrical engineering. It has to do with forecasting revenues for a$4 billion corporation and working with 125 station managers to get them to agree to their local forecast because it has to do with the top-down corporate forecast and the bottoms up, each station. The two have to match. They can't be different, and so I learned how to get people to work together. I was always within about two percent of the forecast on a $4 billion base. Then came the time when the business wasn't so good and it was the spring of 1987. Eastern was a publicly owned company. You have to have meetings, board meetings and Executive meetings. to work up the revenues and the expenses and the earnings, four times, each quarter, so this was the spring 1987 quarter review meeting. The vice president of finance looked at me. I'll never forget this, he looked at me and says your revenue's too low. You've got to raise it. I said, I can't because it's not there. I can do a couple of percent, maybe, but I said to fudge it to meet the expense is just not feasible. I said, what you've got to do is you've got to cut your costs to the business, to what the business is capable of delivering, and with the business there. The economy, the traffic, the passengers, the cargo. That's what's there. So, the boss, at that time, was the astronaut Frank Borman. You remember him? Geselowitz: Of course. Karger: Frank Borman, nice guy, but he was a poor manager. He should have stayed as a colonel in the Air Force. She should have stayed in that, in the piloting business, should have stayed in the space business. As a manager, his total experience was being sent to a six-week Executive Development course at Harvard. That was the beginning and end of his managerial training and it showed up in his leadership. He looks at me, no, you've got to raise the forecast. I said, Frank, by how much? He says, whatever the banks need. The banks need to see a number or, or they're not going to support the loans. I said, well, you're looking for$600 million, 12 percent, it's a 12 percent shortfall. Where's it coming from? It's not your business. Frank said. I said, it is my business. I'm responsible. I have a fiduciary responsibility not only to you as, as the head of this company, but also to the shareholders who are the public holders of, of shares of this company. And then I have third responsibility to my wife. My job is to put food on her table and pay the rent on our house, and keep me out of jail. That my responsibility. He said, well either you raise the forecast by whatever the banks need to see, or there's the door. I said, Frank, I'll take the door, and I walked.

Geselowitz:

Oh, wow.

Karger:

I basically got fired and financially that almost ruined me, but I had certain ethics to observe, and that was one of the lines I wasn't going to cross. Because six months later, the banks were looking for the revenue that wasn't there, and the company went out of business, went bankrupt, as you know. That was one reason.

Geselowitz:

Right.

Karger:

One of the reasons. That was one reason. In the last book I wrote, I actually have four chapters on how this evolved, the detail of this. The thing is, that had nothing to do with engineering, nothing to do with IEEE, but what it had to do with indirectly is what I learned, and people working together, honest people, people who have some integrity, and in the technical world, I found you have more people with integrity than you have in the business world and but that was how the thing at Eastern evolved. That was over 20 years, but I took what I learned in technology and translated that to business and the corporate world, and I actually managed that for 15 years and but I've got to give IEEE the credit for that because without having the opportunity for some of the work that I did, which was made possible through people in the IEEE, I probably wouldn't have been able to do that kind of work. Now, it goes forward. After this, what I did was, I got interested in investments on Wall Street and that that part of the world and ended up being a broker. I actually went to all the training and all the licenses. I found a newsletter called The Discovery Letter in 1982 or so. My wife and I did this together, focused on technology companies, mostly communications, computer type companies. I visited the companies. I checked them out. I evaluated the finances and the technologies. I learned a great deal and this led me to conclude that a big part of that world is corrupt and, and having that experience at Eastern Airlines, I always look for the corrupt side of things and, like the Good Book says, seek and you shall find. I was looking, and I did find, and I ended up becoming the compliance officer of one of the brokerage firms and also teaching the broker's licensing course for that firm for the state of Florida. And then that led me to another thing. I was invited to become an arbitrator for what's called the NASD, which is now called FINRA. Are you familiar with FINRA?

Geselowitz:

Not really

Karger:

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Before it was called the National Association of Security Dealers. It's a regulator of all brokers of the entire financial industry, so they are a dispute resolution board that settles disputes between brokers and the investment public. Somebody files a complaint. Instead of going to court, it has to be heard by an arbitrator. I became an arbitrator. I was the only non-lawyer arbitrator doing this kind of work. So there was a case that was appealed, that I heard and I settled, and it was appealed, and it went up the line, all the way to the top, to the CEO of the NASD, and it was a woman, Mary Schapiro. She ruled against me, but in the process, she got to like me. She, she liked the way I did business. She liked my ways and my rationale and we kind of got to be friends, and so, when, when Obama became president in his first term, she became, his first chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and I became her personal advisor on Wall Street fraud, and when this Madoff thing comes up I evaluated the whole system. How could a fraud of that magnitude be possible? So I came up with a new system and I recommended it to the SEC, and they actually implemented some of this and using the some of the techniques I had developed before, back to my engineering days, back to the revenue forecasting days. If you have all these transactions having to be recorded, banks have to record it, brokerage firms have to record each transaction, the data is available. You put all this in a massive data warehouse and you put the data through heuristic programs and set thresholds, and if something comes out of the ordinary, you look at it. It’s like a pip on the radar screen, it shows up. You look at it to see if there's something abnormal. So, I came up with that. It goes back to my engineering days now, but from a concept standpoint. And so I never really got away from it. It keeps coming back, but it's a technique, how they design it. I was never good at designing circuits. That just wasn't my bag. I was a systems man, who put things together, but that was that was the thing that I got involved with. I ended up writing books. I wrote a book called Thieves on Wall Street, one example. That book I sent a, a complimentary copy of that book to Elliott Spitzer, who at that time was the, the Attorney General of New York. You might remember him.

Geselowitz:

Oh, yes.

Karger:

And he circulated this book through his staff, and it was out of this book came the famous mutual fund case. When a client goes into a bank with a maturing CD, a $10,000 CD, the teller directed the, the customer to the investment desk, which then recommended that she convert the CD to a mutual fund. What they forgot to tell the client was that the mutual fund was managed and owned by the bank. It was a conflict of interest thing. It turned to be a huge scandal. I don't know if you remember it or not. Geselowitz: Interesting. That came out of my book being circulated in that office, but it was all based on what I learned putting pieces of things together into an operable system, the systems, the systems approach and that's just my bag. Anyhow, I'm digressing. I don't want to take your time away. Now, full circle, I never really left the space business. At Cape Canaveral, I got to be familiar with some people. One of them, his name was Clifford E. Maddox. You would never have heard of this guy. This guy, he became a friend of ours. He was a little on the older side. He was part of the U.S. Army Intelligence Team that was sent to Germany right after World War II to von Braun and his rocket group and he was the one who got, who got me involved with the, with the Canaveral section of the IEEE and I kept sort of in touch with some of the folks up there. They have meetings. They have conferences. We sometimes go up there and, and visit and show up. And so about a year ago, that, I guess I got re-discovered in a little different way. We have the pandemic. The group is called the Missile Space and Range Pioneers. That's a group that was founded back around 1959, 1960 and I was part of the founding group. Von Brown was part of that. The Maddox was part of that. General Bernard Shriver, who you might have heard of, he was part of that. This was part of the original, he was in charge of the ICBM Program. That was his part of that. And they have two annual meetings, two banquets in some hotel up there. What are you going to do? You can't have meetings, so here am I, and I tell them about Zoom. That's what we're doing here, you go, you go into the virtual world, and so I introduced them to that world beyond the local area and we have monthly board meetings on Zoom, starting last year, and now we have monthly, virtual lectures by some noted expert in, in their field and all on Zoom and we have streaming on Facebook. We had last week a space photographer, taking pictures of launches and space shots and things like this. The time before, we had the guy in charge of the rocket fueling operation, how do you put fuel into these massive tanks and how do you, how do you deal with these things. Another time, we had a woman who was in charge of the fabrics department. I bet you've never heard of that, fabrics, space fabrics. Geselowitz: Well, some, I mean, someone's got to make the astronaut suit. Karger: Yeah, astronaut suit, insulation blankets that wrap around the rocket motors because it gets freezing outside and hot on the inside. And so forth. You have to have insulation! You need special blankets, so they had this seamstress give a talk on the fabrics in space. We had a guy giving a talk on how the space industry is being rejuvenated through, in the Florida area. We have these every month we have somebody speak, and I'm the one who showed them how to do it. I don’t even live up there. We live down here in the Miami area, and, but the thing is, they put me on the board now. I'm on the board now. I'm the only one in the organization who doesn't live up there. And at these meetings, I send notices out. Around the world, we've had people in Australia, Germany, France, Sweden. We have a regular guy from Canada showing up at these meetings. He's a retired detective superintendent of the Royal Mounted Police. Has nothing to do with engineering, but thing is, he likes space, so he can join in. Geselowitz: Right, a lot of space fans out there! Karger: So, the groups has expanded now, so I never give up, but that's what I'm doing now. Geselowitz: What's the name of the group again? Karger: Excuse me? Geselowitz: What's the name of the group again? Karger: Missile, Space, and Range Pioneers and the website is www.missileers.org. I'll send you the link. Geselowitz: That'd be great, yes, I appreciate that. Karger: And they so I'm still involved in the technology side here, and now what we're going to have, a first ever, it was my idea, yes, Space Pioneer's Day at Cape Canaveral, Florida. There's some people up there who are kind of well-tuned into the local governments, so they have some county support, and I know the major of Miami Dade County pretty well, and so Miami Dade County is going to be a co-sponsor of this thing here. I'm trying to elevate the interest in, in space. They never had a holiday in space program before—a holiday program for Christmas or Hanukkah or whatever, whatever you want to call them. So I said, let's have one on Zoom. So I have to organize it. The program was, there's a school for the gifted in Palm Beach County, run by a guy who was an Einstein scholar and he has a class who's in K through eighth grades, young, young people and they design, developed and build a cube set, you ever heard of the CubeSat program? Geselowitz: I think so. Karger: CubeSat, with the association of SpaceX, after he launched two years ago, and it worked. So he, he's not involved with the group, and so, we're trying to involve younger people. I mean, with the old timers, they come and go. I’m probably the only one left. I'm 88 years old, so I don't know how long I've got to go here, but we wanted to have the people who are working in the business. The president of our group is a woman, about 32 years old. She's a program manager of the Orion Spacecraft that first goes to the moon, then goes to Mars. So, she's the president of this group and now we're trying to involve the students. So, into future generations, it would, so you've got pioneers going forward and pioneers looking backward and that's where the group is now. So, I've been helping them along. Again, using what I learned, how to, evolve and the IEEE organizations, and then become sort of a leader in my local areas. Unfortunately, I had to resign from its board as the pandemic was ending summer, 2021 because the president decided to restart in person meetings on the Space Coast which made it impractical for me to attend. It seemed to be reverting to a mostly social group which was the opposite direction I had led it into. Oh, I forgot to add one thing here. Back to the IEEE. When I was in New Jersey and I got involved in the professional groups I became the chairman of the communications group in New Jersey, which is now the communications society, I was the chairman. So, I was asked to serve as the editor of the IEEE Communications Society Newsletter globally. I did that for five years, so that's basically it, but the IEEE has been a big a big part of my personal and, professional life and I appreciate that opportunity. Geselowitz: Hey, that's fantastic. So, let me just ask to, to round out your professional story, would you say that after you left, when you were doing the SEC work, that you had transitioned to be a consultant? Would you, would you, that's how, was that how you would categorize yourself or? Karger: After I left what? Geselowitz: When you got to the when you finished doing the arbitration for the broker association. Karger: Okay, well no. I never left the business of working for myself. I learned a great deal about the investment business, how it works, and so we basically created our own hedge fund with our own money. I borrowed, actually, a great deal of money and with that as seed capital, I evolved into managing a personal portfolio, which still I still do. Every day, I work at my desk trading stocks, accumulating investments. Now, but in a very special way. Focused on what I know, going back to my technology days. For an example, out of three investments, two out of those three are Israeli companies. Geselowitz: Interesting. Karger: One of them is a satellite company doing ground-based terminals and the other one does the infrastructure to the cellular communications, and is today the world's leader in 5G infrastructure systems. What I do is, I get to know management. I made recommendations. Sometimes they don't like that, but they find that a lot of times, I might be right, so they actually listen sometimes. So, by doing this I know more than the public, which, in a way, you have to be careful about cause you can't know more than the public or you violate SEC rules, which I never want to do, but the thing is, that enables me to know what not to invest in. it enables me to know what to stay away from. For an example, we publish reports, occasionally. Two weeks ago, I published a report on cryptocurrencies and bitcoins, basically saying at some point, it's going to collapse. If you don't understand it, don't do it. I haven't found anybody who understands it, including me, and if I can't understand it I don't think it's worth doing and so I had the former SEC chairman write me a personal note on this telling me if she was still the chairman of the SEC, bitcoin wouldn’t exist. That's what she thinks of bitcoin and, and so I don't charge for this. I do this as, as a public service, but the thing is, I do my stock trading, every day. Just to give you some feel for this I accumulate the stocks when nobody wants them, when they're down to nothing, to a sizable institutional size holding.] Then, as I got older, I realized the time horizon could be beyond my life, I've got to generate cash flow so we can live, so we can go on trips, take our cruises, and put food on our table, cause that's my job. I started trading daily for cash flow so over the last three years, when I converted from 100 percent long-term to partially current cash flow. I've been generating over$100,000 dollars a year, bottom line after taxes after expenses so we can live. So, I consider myself still to be working. A lot of people don't make that working full time, and I do this right from the desk where you're looking at me right now. And so I still work, and that's not as a consultant.

Geselowitz:

Right, okay.

Karger:

And that's, as an operator, operating a business. And, sometimes I get questions and I answer. There was also a three-year period when I was invited to give lectures on board cruise ships. I was during 2002 to 2006 period or so. I went on cruises a lot. I gave lectures, all on Wall Street Fraud, having nothing to do with engineering. But the thing is, I learned how to speak at this Air Force Technical Instructor course, remember? That's what I mentioned early on in this interview.

Geselowitz:

Right, yes.

Karger:

And that's where I learned how to speak. If you ask my wife, I used to be a, a super introvert. I didn't talk to anybody. I'm not that person anymore. I've evolved to something else.

Geselowitz:

Right.

Karger:

And that course helped me, helped me to do that and going on speaking tours. I've given commencement lectures at schools. I don't get paid for that. I’m listed on the speaker's bureau that would charge a lot of money, but I don't get any assignments from them. I'm not a Bill Clinton, who makes millions doing this thing here. But the thing is, I still do this type of work. Some, I do for money, and that's my trading. Some I do for public service and I don't get paid for that.

Geselowitz:

Right.

Karger:

So I don't consider myself as a consultant.in the sense of consultancy where you have a task and you get paid for it.

Geselowitz:

Right.

Karger:

I tried to do that, but it just never worked out.

Geselowitz:

Now, it's interesting, because you mentioned the cryptocurrency. About two weeks ago, Paul Krugman, the Nobel Laureate economist and New York Times columnist had a New York Times column lambasting cryptocurrency.

Karger:

Yes, well-known economist.

Geselowitz:

He's also a very smart guy.

Karger:

The word economist, that's triggered something I forgot to mention. When I worked at Eastern Airlines in this function, my title was, was Director of Economic Planning and Forecasting. That was my title. But Airlines are publicly oriented . They get involved with, with civic matters, and so the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce had at that time a, committees, and the local areas, I was on that, some of those committees and also there was an organization called the South Florida Business Economist's Association. I'm an electrical engineer. I did take some business courses. I took a two-year course in business. I did that, but I'm not an economist, so I was invited to come to a couple of meetings of this group, and I went, and I ended up being the president of that whole group. Most of them are PhDs in economics. There's one guy I became friends with. He was the chief economist of one of the banks here, and he became the chief economist of Bank of America later on. These are the kind of people who were on my committee, and I was the president. So, the question could be asked, why would I be on that committee? Why would I be involved on that team? These people, they all have doctor's degrees in economics and they speak their own language. They speak to each other, but few of them know how to translate what they do into practical terms. They figure out, I knew how to do that, I knew how to apply some of these forecasts, economic forecasts and principles, to the business of running business, which few of them ever learn how to do. They're in the wrong world, and still are. But it was my systems approach in engineering that helped me to do that. And I never un-learned that. I just learned more of it.

Geselowitz:

That's interesting. At the IEEE, the Society that deals with aerospace—it used to be a professional group back in the day—is actually called the Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society because in aerospace everything has to be a system. It's not the components, it has to be a system, so that background serves you very well. So, this has been a really fascinating, fascinating interview. Thank you so much. Your background is incredible. Is there anything we missed that you'd like to add?

Karger:

Yes, there's one thing that comes to mind, that I mentioned to IEEE President Kathy Land. See, the way this came about was, I get this email inviting me and everybody else to this Region III online event featuring Kathy. So I registered, signed up, and I went, and when the time came for questions and answers, I pressed the raise your hand button, but nobody ever came to me, so I took it upon myself to look up her email address and introduce myself and make a few comments. And one comment I would have made, which I'm going to make now, is the trend I've seen is toward specialization. Everybody has to be super specialized and the business of systems has become a specialty by itself, but the world is getting more globalized. In my book, I actually have a whole area of the book called the Rising Global Society, and I'm going to send this book by email, as a PDF attachment.

Geselowitz:

Oh, great. That'd be great.

Karger:

Which is, it's a 300-page book. It's the full thing. And so, what, I mention this because the world is becoming more globalized. Systems are becoming more integrated, or they should become more integrated, and people who design these things should become more aware of the interfaces, how things fit together, as opposed to being too much focused on their piece. And unless I'm mistaken, there's too much focus on specialization and not enough on integration. I don't know if I'm right on that or not, but that's my, the way I perceive things, when I see articles, when I see comments made and I hear specialists talking to each other. How do people, how do things fit together. I think the vehicle, the, the self-operated vehicle is an example. It has to, it has to run itself. Somebody has to design it in such a way that it actually works by itself without the hand on the wheel. I think that's an example of what, that has to happen to everything that's being designed. Somebody has to put the thing together and more individual things are going to be done by computers. They're going to be done by artificial intelligence, and so it's the business of fitting things together. For, for an example, the way I was able to do this job for ICS, put this national security system together. I didn't have any staff. I was the staff, except I had these consultants, and I used to read heavily science fiction. Certain kinds of science fiction, and what separated science fiction of the past with science fiction of the present is that in the past, the science fiction was of things technically possible but not available. Today, they call science fiction things that are fantasies, not possible, and I don't like that kind of stuff, but in the olden days, you had authors like Isaac Asimov, for example. Are you familiar with him? Have you ever heard of him?

Geselowitz:

Yes, I read all his stuff. I'm a big fan.

Karger:

All right, his Foundation series has to do with a thing called psychohistory which has to do with this mathematician that was able to project things and make, make future, actual influence the future. That was set into society 25,000 years into the future, but then there's a concept to this. Then, you have a guy by the name of Dr. Myron S. Allen, who is an industrial psychologist. I don't know if you ever heard of him or not. Have you heard of him?

Geselowitz:

I'm not sure. I don't think so.

Karger:

Anyhow, he was involved. He was noted in the 1950s, 1960s, involved with systems design, and he came up with a thing called morphological creativity, which involved the creation of a multi-dimensional matrix. I put these two things together, Asimov's psychohistory together with Allen's morphology and matrix to create a multi-dimensional matrix that evaluated requirements. What is the requirement? One dimension, technology, available today and tomorrow and 10 years from now. Each period is a dimension. Economic viability, is money available? Political acceptance, environment acceptance. I have all these dimensions, and you put them into a matrix, and see where if at all there is an intersection. If there's an intersection, that's a solution. That's how I found, figured out the solutions to this system, which by the way I call AFSACS, A-F-S-A-C-S, Air Force Survivable Airborne Communications System, and I had flip charts through the hallways of Pentagon, presenting this thing here, and I have the original view graph that I drew it up myself, and I will email it to you as an attachment. I still have it.

Geselowitz:

That'd be great. Can we post that?

Karger:

Sure. I actually presented it at Globecom 2010. And, the thing is, it's this matrix that allows me to find the intersections and figure out and identify these solutions to the requirements. People told me, you can can’t figure this out. That’s maybe why they gave me a job that was impossible, they thought was impossible, but my ideas, there's no such thing as impossible. You can always do something. If you do the best you can, you're going to have something coming out of it, but if people usually say it's not possible, they don't even try, and it's the old story, if you don't send the boat out of the slip, it never comes to harbor. It's the same story, but anyhow, it's that concept and I describe that in detail in the book, how to use it, which is really a method of systems design. And I use this when it comes to complex problems, like in the early 70s, when I was on the Miami Dade County transportation committee and there was a Philadelphia consultant that submitted a plan for Metro Rail. This was a rapid transit throughout the whole county. I was on the committee that evaluated this thing here, and I used these concepts to put this thing together, and today, you have a rapid transit system running through the county. Now, some of the stuff was used. Some of it wasn't used, but you've got to be able to fit the whole thing together. Most people don't do it, don't know how to do it, don't even want to learn how to do it. They don't have the mind for it. You've got to have a brain to be able to assimilate these diverse concepts. I somehow have the facility to do that. I don’t know why I have that, but I guess I do. I’d better shut up now.

Geselowitz:

No, that's fascinating. I look forward to seeing the book.

Karger:

I will send it to you today as an attachment.

Geselowitz:

Yes, that's the beauty of the internet age. You don’t need a post office.

Karger:

You can get it hardcover, too. It's available on Amazon, actually, but it's free on, as an attachment to my email.

Geselowitz:

We'll start with the attachment. We may order it for our library at the IEEE History Center. So, great. I mean, that was really amazing, amazing career. Everything came back around and came together.

Karger:

If I may, another concluding comment here…

Geselowitz:

Sure.

Karger:

…my wife she's not here, she would remind me on this, so I'll remember it myself. The work I did on this national security project, the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce designated me as outstanding Young Man of America. Now, that was in the late 1960s. When I was involved with the ICS group, I was involved with quite a few IEEE conventions. One of them was the, was the NatCom, the National Conference on Communications, which typically was held up in Utica, New York or Rome, New York. I don't know if you've ever heard of those, or not.

Geselowitz:

Well, I'm in New York state, so I know where they are.-

Karger:

And I was actually a program leader on one of them and I did some presentations to this thing. I got a certificate that says Outstanding Young Engineer of the Year, but by NatCom. That's some year. I got some recognition in those days. For me, coming from nothing a family that was totally murdered and set afloat at age six to the world, going through four foster homes and one orphanage, to me, that means a lot to get some of this recognition and most of all, to be able to do some of these things, to see some good happening.

Geselowitz:

Also, to speak to the community, to your lectures, your cruise ship lectures and your other lectures…and to be recorded, I think this oral history will be very inspirational to young engineers, if they watch it or read it.

Karger:

Well…

Geselowitz:

Quite impressive.

Karger:

I still do actually give talks to school groups. They invite me to talk about the Holocaust, and I do, but most Holocaust survivors, when they do that, they focus on the darkest of days, the concentration camps, the bad days. I focus on what happens thereafter. What a person does with what's given to you and that's the motivational part. And because that, to me is what means more. How people react to problems. A couple times, I was invited to talk to AAA groups, Alcoholic Anonymous. I'm not a drinker. I never, never, hardly ever drank. I think I may have gotten drunk when I asked my wife to get married, I think I was drunk that night, but the thing is, my story, sometimes it motivates people who do take to drinking when they have no reason or business to start drinking. They have everything. Some of these people come from well-to-do homes. They, they don't have lack of, they don't lack anything. They have too much, actually, sometimes. I had nothing. I never took to drink. Never took to drugs. That's the message to these people.

Geselowitz:

Wow. Amazing. Okay, well, Gunther, thank you so much. As I so I'm going to actually stop the recording here.