Art Fong, "Father Of Microwave" at HP
It is with much sadness that we mourn the passing of Art Fong, "Father Of Microwave" at HP.
Art was 92, and passed away on May 17th 2012.
Art's contributions benefit us all. We will miss him.
Glenn Robb, and Kenneth Kuhn, who have had like me the honor and privilege to be hosted by Art and Mary during our last trip to Palo Alto in June 2007, join me to express all our condolence to Mary and all the great Fong and Wong families.
Arthur Fong Obituary, February 11, 1920 – May 17, 2012
A memorial celebration of his life was held on Wednesday, June 6, at Agilent Headquarters, Santa Clara CA.
Arthur Fong passed away peacefully at his home in Palo Alto, following a brief illness. During his last days, he was surrounded by family and friends. He leaves behind his wife of 69 years, Mary and 4 children; Sheryl Wong (Bob), Wendy Fong (Dave Arruda), Kevin (Michele Fong), Darice Koo (Paul). He is also survived by 5 grandchildren; Christopher Wong (Siam), Kelly Naylor (Dan), Michael Fong, Wesley Koo, Lauren Koo and 2 great grandchildren: Asher Wong and Mia Wong. Predeceased in death by brothers, Sam and James and survived by brothers, Ben, Tommy and sister, Helen.
Art was born in Sacramento, California and graduated cum laude from U.C. Berkeley in 1943, with a degree in Electrical Engineering and completed his Masters in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University in 1968. He went on to a distinguished career, starting at the famous MIT Radiation Laboratory where he worked on the development of RADAR during WWII. In 1946, after the war, he was recruited by founder William Hewlett to come work at Hewlett Packard. During Art's early Hewlett-Packard years, he developed signal generators and the industry's first calibrated spectrum analyzer, both indispensable tools of electronic test and measurement. In 1964 he was awarded the title of Senior Staff Engineer, the company's highest technical title. He was a recipient of the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers Life Fellow Award and the U.C. Berkeley Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award.
Because Art was able to complete college with the help of scholarships, he and Mary established scholarships for Engineering students at UC Berkeley, and then went on to establish fellowships at both Cal and Stanford. They were widely known for their philanthropy at these universities, as well as the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Stanford Hospital, Lucille Packard Children's Hospital, Avenidas in Palo Alto and a host of other organizations.
Art enjoyed fishing, camping and hiking. He loved to travel, and managed to find a Chinese restaurant in nearly every place he visited, including Siberia! He was an avid skier, who learned the sport later in life, and skied up to the age of 82. Most of all, he loved his family. He will be missed by his family and friends.
|The Agilent headquarters auditorium at Santa Clara served as a very appropriate venue for Art's service.
Archivist Devon Dawson set up a display of Art's key contributions, outside.
Art Fong Memorial, by Kevin Fong
Thank you for being here, it truly honors my father. This is a bittersweet day, or as my father might joke, because he liked Chinese food so much,: "Sweet and Sour." I'm honored by the opportunity to speak about what my father meant to me and my family but challenged by the enormity of the task to do him justice because he accomplished so much.
Many have spoken of his professional and personal achievements. Being the first of his family to go to college. Meeting my mother at Berkeley. Going to MIT/ RAD Lab to help the war effort and RADAR development. Developing FM Radio. Going to a little Palo Alto tech startup called HP. Being an accomplished fisherman, skier and outdoorsman.
My Father in a nutshell
I think what kept my father young was his adventurous nature, and his undying curiosity and creativity. He always thought there was a better way of doing things. Whether it was a faster driving route to get from our home in Mitaka to YHP in Hachioji (as Dick Love would attest to) Or, in the late '50s building an aluminum frame backpack from scratch which would be lighter than the WWII surplus steel frame packs available at the time. And of course it had storage in the frame to protect his fishing rod.
I grew up in a house full of opportunity and challenge, surrounded by my father's creations. Or as my mother would call them "kluge's" or in the vernacular of you old time HP guys, "g-jobs." He was very adventurous and loved the outdoors. I spent many hours at my father's side fishing, skiing and backpacking together. When you're a kid you never appreciate the things you're doing at the time, it's only later in life that you begin to enjoy the journey and be present at the time. Later in life I would revisit many of those places, maybe bringing my own children and feel comforted by going back to those activities. I will always feel at home at Echo Lake and the Desolation Wilderness. I'll always cherish those memories of the HP Rod and Gun Club and those times fishing in the Sierras with many of you who are here today.
At home, even while Dad was at work, there were plenty of reminders, lessons, and opportunities for a young boy. His tool bench was a veritable play land for me and gave me insight into how he thought and worked. Around the family and even to this day we joke about his "organized piles of junk". For me what I'm grateful for is that I learned how to use those tools, and he taught me how to build houses, fix things and passed on the skills to figure out how things worked and the desire to make things better. Much to the chagrin of my wife I have taken on his love of tools and building things. I also found the perfect profession that enables me to explore and collect all types of gadgets.
Stories to highlight
The other side of my father was his humor. Everyone who came into contact with him felt his gentleness and his humor. To understand this side of my father is to gain insight into the relationship he had with my mother. Among the many tasks we've undertaken since his passing, you come across hidden gems that are precious. Two things I discovered were two letters written by my mother that Dad had kept for 58 years. It was October 1954 and Dad spending a week away at an IRE conference in NY for HP. The letters were full of fun and jokes and missing one another. I had to put myself back into those times; no emails nor fax, LD phone calls were expensive and Mom was dealing with 2 kids (my sisters) and a 8 mo. old baby (me, the "Lil bum" as she referred to me in the letter), and house construction. In many ways 2 simple but sweet letters, but it's curious why he chose to keep those two after all these years. Mom was truly the love of his life and he always felt he was lucky that she agreed to marry him. His famous line was, "In 1943 every other guy was drafted, I was the only guy left."
The other side of Dad's humor was his mischievousness. Michele and I took our parents to Paris for New Year's 2001. For those of you that know Paris the George Cinq is quite formal. We celebrated New Years' at a black tie dinner at the hotel. At first it seemed we were surrounded by some pretty stuffy Europeans but then Art discovered that in the Swag bags they put in straws and tissue for spit balls! Imagine: New Years eve, the formal George Cinq Paris hotel, black tie, 5-course French meal and this impish Chinese man shooting spitballs at a proper looking French gentleman at the next table. I think it took 3 or 4 shots but soon he smiled and everybody joined in on the action. It was hilarious and one of our best times.
Dad was also a very simple guy; he knew what he was and what he wasn't. You've all heard the story about how he didn't ask about his salary when Bill Hewlett recruited him from the RAD Lab until he showed up from work. But I think this other story illustrates it as well. One day Ed Van Bronkhorst (HP's VP Finance) came by Art's desk and asked him what he did with all the HP stock they'd given him. He proceeded to open his standard gray steel desk drawer and showed him the certificates piled up inside. Ed remarked, "Art, you're supposed to sell it". And Dad just smiled. Dad later told me that HP was the best investment he'd ever made (and he never liked stock brokers). The veracity of that story and the punch line to this story can now be told. Now I'm a venture capitalist, and I deal with stocks and securities all the time. And these days we almost never deal with actual certificates. But when going through my Dad's personal files I found the largest stack of HP and Agilent certificates I'd ever seen. I guess he never heeded Ed's advice. For my mom's sake I can now safely say they're with a broker.
Some of you know that I also worked for HP for a time. And there was a special program that existed for employee's kids in the '70s that I will always be thankful for. I was in engineering school and HP had a summer intern program. I was 19 and my first job at HP in 1973 was working in manufacturing line at SPD. Of all things I was building the 8552 Spectrum Analyzer. Although it was the one that replaced the 8551, that summer's experience gave me an appreciation of what my father did. Not only did I get to work and see what he did for a living but I was given a special appreciation for what it meant to work at HP. Being the son of someone well known often means trouble on the floor but I was greeted with open arms and treated like anyone else. I'll always be grateful to HP for that program and that experience.
The Last Night
I was lucky enough to be in town the day before my father passed. More fortunate that I got to spend some alone time with him after my mom went to bed. Dad had had a bad day and had trouble keeping food down. Sheryl was there and Mom had already eaten so I was bringing home Chinese food for the 2 of us. But by the time Sheryl and I sat down to eat we found both Mom and Dad chowing down on the food! We had a wonderful dinner talking about old times. After dinner Sheryl left and Mom was walking to bed when she stopped and turned around and said she had better kiss Art good night. It was very tender and cute and I was able to get a picture of it. At 89 & 92 it took quite an effort but there were big smiles on both their faces. I sent the pictures to my sisters it was so touching, and later that night when I was talking to my wife, Michele I told her how it looked like they kissed like it was the last goodbye kiss.
Around midnight my Dad still had a lot of energy and we were talking a lot. At this point it was rare to get him when he had the energy to be mentally alert and when it was only him and I. I will always cherish that conversation because I said, "Dad, you're dying and I don't like it, and it sucks!" And at that moment he became the wise father again, and I became the son, because he gave me that knowing grin and said, "awww Kevin", like I should know better about the inevitable.
Art Fong Memorial,
by Sheryl Wong, Art and Mary’s eldest daughter.
You’ve heard about some of the creative and exciting work that Art did while he was a HP. He was always interested in how things worked, and was always thinking about a better way to do things, which is what made him such a great scientist and engineer.
But to us……..my siblings and me, he was just OUR DAD…… Perhaps only Kevin knows the true significance of his work. Dad’s famous attenuator is currently sitting in a mail basket at the foot of the stairs. His great grandson, AJ thought it looked like a train, so wanted to play with it. It will be a toss up whether to let him have it, or give it to Anna Mancini, the HP archivist! Just kidding.
What I wanted to speak to you about today, are some things you may NOT know about our Dad. These are not family secrets……..just another side of the man, you knew as Art.
He was reliably LATE. What I mean by reliably is that you count on his being late. Why was he late? Most likely he was working on some project and just forgot the time. Or he knew he needed to be somewhere, but would say…”just let me finish this last thing”. If he were coming to this memorial today, he’d have been on time, but just barely!
He was cheap…….let’s say frugal. The family joke is that he’d drive 50 miles to 5 different stores to save $5. An example…..the day after he got out of the hospital, in mid-April, he got his caregiver, Hina and Wendy’s husband, Dave to drive him to Fry’s to buy a laptop that was currently ON SALE, but would soon to go back to regular price. He had a number of unredeemed gift cards to use as payment. If he has any gift cards left, they probably went with him to heaven, just in case there’s a Fry’s there!
He was forever loyal to HP. He still counted his fellow HP colleagues among his closest friends, and was so proud of being associated with all of you. We had Dad do an Oral History a few years back, and he wanted to tell more about his work with HP, while we wanted more about his family history. Al and John, thank you for doing oral histories of Dad’s work at HP. With our history, it tells the complete story of Dad’s life. Talk about loyal……..remember the laptop from Fry’s…..you don’t have to guess, to know that it’s an HP Laptop.
He loved Mom. He counted himself the luckiest guy. He’s a self professed engineering nerd who captured the heart of one of the most popular Chinese girls on campus. When Mom was hospitalized down in Southern California for an operation and some weeks of recovery, he managed the household on his own with the help of friends and neighbors. It was the first time I ever saw my Dad cry, because he was so scared he’d lose her.
He was a sentimental guy. We’ve been “sorting” out his office, and I’ve come across saved birthday, Father’s Day, and other cards from us, kids and grandkids. He saved Christmas cards and notes from overseas friends. He corresponded regularly with a number of people he met over the years.
And he was cheap, I mean frugal……..His motto was, “Never pay anyone for something you can do yourself”. ….and Dad could do it himself. Finding the time to get around to it, was the family frustration. When he did get around to it, he could fix almost anything, because I think he has every tool imaginable. If he couldn’t find a tool he needed or didn’t exist, he made one, himself! My husband and other brother in laws soon learned, if you needed a tool, ask Dad. I remember my husband, Bob telling me……”your Dad has a steering wheel puller”. Even though I wasn’t sure why we’d need one, I was suitably impressed!
He was generous. He was able to continue on to his Senior year at Berkeley without leaving school to work, because he received a Levi Strauss scholarship at the end of his junior year. Because of that, he and Mom started the Fong Family Scholarship for deserving students, in need, who are completing their Junior year in Engineering at Cal. Later he and Mom would extend their philanthropy with fellowships at both Cal and Stanford, Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, Avenidas and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, to name a few. He understood the need to “give back”.
He loved Chinese food. When he and Mom began traveling internationally, he always looked for a Chinese restaurant wherever they were. When the family came home from their stay in Japan, they traveled via Russia and Europe. Stopping over in some town in Siberia, they found a Chinese restaurant and wouldn’t you know, the owner’s last name was Fong. Closer to home, if Dad took you to dinner, it was probably to his favorite restaurant …….China Wok. He was such a good customer, when he became ill, and it was hard for him to get out, they delivered to the house! Thank you Linda and…..
Today, you’ve heard about all Dad’s considerable accomplishments, and the contribution he made in his field. Not bad from a poor kid from Sacramento, who spent hours in the library to learn about things. The day before Dad passed away, I had a few minutes alone with him. Dad’s mind was sharp to the end. I told him….”Dad, you’re the smartest person I know, and I know a lot of smart people”. He smiled, but didn’t say anything. He would have appreciated all the accolades he’s been given today. Thank you for your kind and generous words.
Lastly…..My Dad loved his family……us kids, his grandkids and most recently, his great grandkids. He was proud we never got into any trouble (well any major trouble!) and had made good lives for ourselves. He made a special effort to attend his grandkids’ college graduations, and would be sorry to miss Lauren and Wesley’s. He loved his great grandkids, though he thought they’re a lot noisier than his kids were……..time does dim some memories.
That was our Dad! We loved him! He was a Dad to be proud of……despite foibles and eccentricities. We’d say, “well, that’s just Dad, being Dad.” And now we understand what we’ll miss most…….”Dad being Dad”. We love you Dad, and we’ll miss you forever.
Art Fong Memorial,
by Christopher Wong
As the oldest of the 5 grandchildren, I wanted to just bring up a couple of special memories for me about Grandpa, and how he really connected in ways beyond his work and intellectual life.
One of my best childhood memories was also one of the most different. It was Christmas on a cruise ship. Now, Christmas has always been a fun family affair, but it is usually held at my mom’s house and features the traditional Christmas themes. So when I heard that Grandpa was going to take the family and celebrate Christmas on a cruise ship, you can imagine how thrilled all the grandkids were. Warm Caribbean weather and being out on the open ocean, all you can eat buffets and late night desserts galore, and running around all week with my cousins getting into all sorts of mischief. It was pure bliss. Of course, the only down side to having Christmas on a ship is that we all had to cram into Grandpa’s tiny room on the ship to celebrate Christmas! At least we had a mini plastic Christmas tree to decorate!
Grandpa also was a great fisherman. He taught me how to fly fish when I was a teenager, and we took trips out to the sierras to fish at various lakes. I remember this one trip, where we stayed at his friend’s cabin near Echo lake. We slept out under the clear night sky staring up at the stars, excitedly talking about everything from tying fishing knots to casting angles and speeds, as I tried to learn as much as I could before my first fly fishing experience. When morning finally arrived, we had to hike in probably a good 2-3 miles with the inflatable raft to the upper lake, and I remember thinking to myself, “ugh, this isn’t anything like the movie A River Runs Through It”. It seemed like forever but we finally made it, and once we got out on the lake everything just fell into place. Peaceful and serene, it was only the two of us with the sound of the fishing rods gracefully slicing the crisp morning air and the occasional “I got one!” breaking the otherwise tranquil mountain silence.
Fate also has a strange way of working things out. Grandpa, as it turns out, also was a match maker of sorts. Through his connections at HP, I was given the amazing opportunity to work with Zena Fong at HP labs as a summer intern, and this lead to me discovering my future wife Siam, who was another intern with HP labs. Grandpa was actually the first of the family members Siam met, and of course, they immediately hit it off. Talk about two social butterflies! They connected so well and so quickly that he would shortly end up helping Siam with temporary guest housing, so that she wouldn’t have to stay with her current landlord, the crazy cat lady, any longer! But I’m almost positive he also did it because he enjoyed the new company so much.
The last memory of Grandpa I wanted to share with you all was one summer Siam and I spent with him in Tahoe a few years back. We went up to their cabin in north Tahoe with them over the long memorial day weekend to relax, visit Reno, and help him attend a board meeting for the condo association. During the trip back, we decided to head to interstate 80 via north shore road. For those of you familiar with the area, it passes by the Northstar ski area, and there’s a steep, straight line section of road before you reach the freeway. Grandpa was “coasting” probably around 75-80 miles per hour down this stretch, and sure enough there was a highway patrol officer waiting at the bottom to catch us.
After stopping us, the female patrol officer walked up to the door and asked grandpa, “Hi sir, do you know how fast you were going?” to which he responded innocently, “I don’t know officer, but it was probably a little fast.” She pulled out her radar gun and it showed his speed limit easily being over the 45 mile per hour limit for the road.
He smiled. “Hey, did you know I helped invent radar?” he said very matter of factly to her.
She looked at him skeptically, “yeah, I’m sure you did.” Well, this was grandpa’s cue, and he launched into his back story about his time as a young engineer at MIT in the midst of WWII working on secret projects, complete with details, all while she started to write him up a ticket. She nodded courteously as he went on with the story, but clearly she wasn’t buying it as an excuse out of the ticket. As he wrapped up the story, she handed him the ticket, she said, “That’s a nice story sir. Here’s your ticket. You’ll receive further notice of instructions in the mail in 2-3 weeks.”
“What, you don’t believe me?” my grandpa replied exasperatedly.
“Uh, no. But I wrote you a ticket for speeding for 50 in a 45 rather than 75 in a 45 since you were so entertaining.”
Grandpa certainly knew how to live his life to the fullest and that’s one thing I know I’ll try to live up to and to pass down to our kids. His memory and his legacy will continue to positively influence and nurture us as people, and his bond of family and friends will keep us strong as we move forward together without him. I am lucky to have had him as a grandpa, and he will be missed.
Art Fong Tribute, by Alan Bagley
Today we are here to celebrate Art Fong’s life. We are also celebrating our great fortune in having been some part of it.
I have been lucky. Art and I were friends for 64 years. We met at HP as engineers, and soon found we had lots of common interests. One was hiking in the high Sierra.
We began fishing every year. He was eager to get up there just as soon as the season opened, which was OK if you didn’t mind having to hike in the snow sometimes.
When you were going to go fishing with Art, usually you got a letter with a reminder list something like this:
Several size 12 hooks, Salmon eggs, 5 or 6 swivel joints, 2 or 3 super-duper lures, insect repellent, sunscreen, two pair white sox, one spare long-sleeved shirt, sweater …etc.
Father Fong took good care of you.
Shortly after you arrived at a lake and tried to fish, you were reminded that you were not exactly a fellow-fisherman with Art Fong. He was so good It was more like a performer-observer relationship - something of a spectator sport. A few of us learned to bring along a little something to sip on while watching the master fish. Art's skill was outstanding. He was the best fisherman I ever knew and it was always a pleasure to fish with him.
Barney Lake, out in the Eastern Sierra, was one of our favorites. I still have pictures of many of our trips there, including those with our sons - his Kevin and my Robert.
Our families were close. Art and I even compared ancestry.
He said that I could tell if my ancestors had really crossed the Bering straits, because if they did, my kids would have little colored Asian spots on the lower back when they were born. They didn't, so the family stories about Europe must have been true.
Throughout the Hewlett-Packard Company, it was known what a helpful guy Art was. Once, when I was thinking about getting a new Television set, I was told I ought to check with Art. When I did, he brought in a worn copy of a recent Consumer Reports Magazine on the subject. It was particularly useful, because in red ink, Art had put in corrections to some of their misguided ideas about TVs, and he proved to be right.
Bill Hewlett was once visited by President Eisenhower's scientific advisor, Dr. Eugene Fubini, who said he had admired the contributions of HP in the electronic measurement business. Bill was pleased and told him he should take the time to visit Art Fong. After seeing what Art was doing that day, Dr. Fubini came back and told Hewlett: "In my entire career, I have never seen such brilliant, creative work." Bill was proud, but not surprised.
At HP, Art was not only HP's most brilliant engineer, He was the most productive. His track record was outstanding.
I was at the management meeting where Bruce Wholey was forecasting the size of the Spectrum Analyzer market. He wanted to show that Art's new instrument would be very profitable if it only reached 40 percent of the market.
A year or two later, HP had reached 300 percent of that market. What Art had done was redefine what a Spectrum Analyzer was. The Hewlett-Packard Company had to form a new division to handle the business.
Art was undeniable proud of that achievement, but, as our wives used to tell us, that's enough about HP.
Art Fong was truly a great person. Down deeply in his heart, which was very big, nothing could come close to being his greatest pride - except - the one love of his life – his family.
Mary, Sheryl, Wendy, Darice Koo, and Kevin – very sincerely - our hearts are with you.
We thank you for letting us share a few memories.
Art Fong Tribute, by Paul Ely
It has become my practice to speak only from cryptic notes large enough to see from a little distance without glasses. The headings in bold were my notes to speak from and the text following each is my best recollection of what I said
Art Fong...Changed my life...met 52 years ago
I explained how I first met Art in 1960-61 at IRE meetings. How surprised I was in 1962 when Art phoned me in Florida to invite me to CA for interviews. My wife and I loved living in Florida and for the first time I had an enjoyable assignment at Sperry Gyroscope Company. Nonetheless I went.
Art as Host...guidance, interviews, offer
When I arrived, Art was my host for the next several days. He explained the rather comprehensive HP interview process. He introduced me to the 5 people who would interview me and alerted me to Barney Oliver's brilliance, and who would be the last in the interview process (gulp, shake-shake). He toured me thru the microwave lab and division expelling and illustrating the "HP Way" as we went - a company built on trust and integrity. Wow, I survived (barely) and was told by Art that I would receive an offer from Bruce Wholey shortly. After discussions with my wife back in Florida, we accepted. Art Fong in choosing and shepherding me had changed my life in more ways than you can imagine. I owe him a great debt and am pleased in some small way I can honor him here today.
Art still host >> hike to island lake
When I reported for work that year Art continued as a host, guiding my first few months at HP. The next summer Art invited my son and I to accompany Kevin and him on a hike to a high lake in the Sierra for fishing and camping. It was wonderful, unlike anything we had ever done before. We went again the next summer and continued to enjoy the many wonders of CA from then on. Art's impact on us went well beyond my life at HP.
Two examples showed Art’s character
There were many more than the two I cite here.
Art >> calm determination...Spectrum analyzer
Not long after I started, Art, as leader of the most complex and high impact product HP had ever developed was facing some very difficult issues. The product was the 8551 Spectrum Analyzer which was being readied for release. There were a few serious issues threatening the project. What so impressed me was Art's approach to this problem - no panic, no searching around for someone to blame. Art simply displayed just calm and determination to solve the problems in an orderly way. In fact he led the project team to do just that. The product at introduction had been fully tested, did what HP had said it would do and achieved wonderful success in the market breaking all records. Art knew what was expected of HP products and made very certain the 8551 met those expectations and more.
Next >> still calm, determined also showed perseverance >> quiet courage...Mary
The second example I will cite is something I think of often and has influenced me throughout my life. I am not quite sure of the year but I became aware that Art and Mary were facing a serious problem. Mary had been diagnosed with what appeared to be an inoperable brain tumor. That was not something Art was prepared to accept. Calm and determined as always, he set out to find a solution. I checked with him frequently and almost everywhere he went the diagnosis was the same, he had not found anyone who would operate that he could trust. Art would not give up. After quite a long search he found a surgeon at UCLA. Art took Mary down to UCLA for the surgery. The surgery was successful, a credit to the skill of the surgeon, but it would not have happened without Art's quite courage and perseverance.
Sent to Cupertino…helped there by Art’s examples
Art never changed >> integrity, trust, HP Way Bringing peace and calm to all around him
Art never changed, he never seemed to age. Throughout his life he continued to exemplify integrity, trust and the best of the “HP Way.” Art brought peace and calm and yes laughter to all around him. There is no wonder that he was so widely admired, I could never repay the debt I owed him.
He had many technical achievements but countless people were influenced by his example and character, including most in this room
Art Fong Tribute, by John Minck
Thank you Mary, Kevin and family for asking me to say a few words about my friend Art.
What words come to mind when I think of Art Fong?
Quiet, modest, intelligent, self-assured, successful, determined, cheerful, generous, with a delightfully wry sense of humor.
As many of you know, in my later years, I have written a LOT about Hewlett-Packard and its people and its work culture. Actually, with reflection, you come to realize that HP's people ARE its work culture.
It was those endless legions of employees which made HP such a delightful and fulfilling place to work. It was engineers like Art who made our marketing jobs so wonderful, all those remarkably successful instruments like Art's blockbuster 8551A spectrum analyzer or the magnificent 606A signal generator. Each of his product inventions seemed to contain just the right performance features to beat the pants off competition, and make the technical life of our customers a LOT easier and more confident.
About 5 years ago, I began nagging Art to write up his life memoirs. He kept putting me off, but finally fell back to the observation that most of his history was already in interview form, and if I would simply Google his name, the first couple pages of Search results would already have all of his history there in the form of multiple printed interviews. I took him at his word and sure enough, from many sources, I was able to compile about half of his life story. I then added what I knew of his HP career, for a rough draft. He then helped me refine, re-write, append, and finish. Believe it or not, we just got the completed memoir up on line just about 2 months before he died. Whew! His mind was keen to the end.
His life story is remarkable. 1943. WWII is raging. A brand new Berkeley EE, (and brand new wife, Mary) on the honeymoon train to the legendary MIT Radiation Lab in Boston, for WWII radar system development. They built 6,000 radars for our military, saving tens of thousands of GI lives from aerial attacks with radar controlled AA guns, and many more different types. It is ironic that today is D-Day, the 6th of June.
One fascinating coincidence of his life stunned me. I had become aware of a WWII era scientist named Alfred Loomis, who made his huge wealth on Wall Street, but whose avocation was science. It was Loomis who knew physicists from all over the US and Europe, and it was he who expedited the atom bomb research and preparation of the Rad Lab buildings with his own money. I asked Art if he knew Loomis, and he noted that on his first day arrival at the Rad Lab for work, there was Loomis to welcome him.
The coincidence? It was Loomis who recommended to Art that he go to work in Frank Gaffney's Group 55 for instrumentation engineering. Here is the kicker. What if Loomis had assigned Art to work on the radars themselves? As a system designer, he would never have been invited by Bill Hewlett to come to HP and spend the rest of his eminently productive life here in PA.
You should read Art's charming Memoir.