Re: So how does this hobby work now?


Greg Muir
 

Gordian,

A very refreshing story indeed about your international venture and unexpected cooperation from the Tektronix people. Both Tek and HP were the true companies of past willing to help people with whatever they needed.

I experienced a couple of events when working with a National Science Foundation offshoot back in the mid 80’s. One was working on development of CCD sensors to be part of a high dispersion spectrograph for stellar astronomy. The entire unit was built in-house. The CCD arrays turned out to be a real challenge to meet necessary low light level detection specifications (finally resulting in having only 10 electrons read noise) as they operated in their cryogenic environment.

After a considerable search I happened upon TriQuint Semiconductor – a child of Tektronix at the time located on the Tek campus in Beaverton. At that time they were developing some very esoteric CCD arrays for military uses. A simple phone call to their engineering people resulted in an invite to visit their facility and discuss my needs.

Upon meeting with the engineers I laid out the design specifications to be met that included no cover on the Kovar housing to prevent spectral shaping and flipping the silicon die over on its back so as to minimize the travel of the spectra through the material to minimize fringing. And I was surprised to receive the answer “no problem.” These people were willing to do what was necessary to meet the customer’s specifications.

One of the memorable parts of the trip was wandering through the Tek facilities. I was invited on a tour by the TriQuint manager I had met. It happened that corporate had squeezed the (then) small TriQuint operation in one of their CRT manufacturing facilities. I remember when going to their offices I had to duck under the continuous stream of unfinished CRT glass envelopes traveling on the overhead conveyors on their way to final assembly. It was interesting to take in all of the busy employees as they diligently worked to produce their top quality products.

When the trip was coming to a close I was invited out to dinner with the TriQuint manager. Expecting simply a good meal and conversation I was astounded when He offered a position in their organization. But unfortunately the timing was not right given the complex task I had presently been involved in. An opportunity missed that still haunts me to this day.

We always had visiting researchers from countries all over the globe. In the early 80’s we had one particular colleague from Poland who was working in a research project and came to our organization to use our advanced computing facilities. At that time the personal computer was still somewhat evolving from its infancy and he did not yet have such machines to use in Poland. Obviously he was quite impressed with the (then rather crude) processing power contained in a small desktop box and immediately started to develop programs for his project on it.

Later in the year it was time for his return to Poland. He decided to purchase a PC to take back with him then found out that the US State Department had placed restrictions on international shipments of PCs and could not take it with him. But after some “creativeness” from our management the PC became classified as “scientific support equipment” and he left a very happy and thankful person.

With respect to your comment regarding reaching retirement age surprisingly quick – aren’t you aware that the speed of time increases exponentially with age? For me at this age simply traveling from the ground floor to the lab in the basement seems to take an hour or two.

Best regards,

Greg

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