Transcript of Interview with Harold F. Elliott (PER 239.72, Tape 8)
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Preferred citation: "Title of transcript," Perham Collection of Early Electronics: Sound Recordings, 2003-38, History San Jose Research Library & Archives
Transcribed by Catherine Mills, History San Jose, July 2013
Transcript PER 239.72, Reel-to-Reel Tape #8
Interview with Harold F. Elliott
Date: July 1968
Length: 41 min
Note: This interview was originally recorded on reel-to-reel tape. It was digitized to audio CD in July 2013, and transcribed from the digital copy.
Rasmussen: Morning, everybody. This is Irv Rasmussen talking to you from the living room of Mr. Hal Elliott --
Rasmussen: Harold Elliott. In Westridge, California, July 29th, 1963. We are privileged this morning to again meet and visit with one of the early pioneers of wireless, or radio, communication. Mr. Elliott, you were telling me that you were born and raised in Colorado. Would you like to pick it up from there, and tell me some of those early stories?
Elliott: I was born in Durango, Colorado, but we moved away when I was only two or three. After a brief time in British Columbia and the state of Washington, a little time in Los Angeles, we moved to Prescott, Arizona. I spent all my grammar and high school days in Prescott.
Rasmussen: That would be, of course, right around the turn of the century. Tell me something about Prescott. I’ve been there. Has it changed a great deal in the last 50 years?
Elliott: Well, at the time that we moved there, they had just a big fire and burned down the central part of the town. One reason dad went there was he was a builder, and it looked like a good opportunity to get established. We stayed there, and he became the town’s leading architect.
Rasmussen: Well it’s interesting to me, because I had several chances to visit in the last 10-15 years. I recall a square there particularly, and maybe perhaps because it didn’t burn down several times, is why it’s such a nice square today
Elliott: Yes, the plaza in Prescott is very nice. It was a grand place for kids to grow up, because it had this beautiful country all around us. We could take hikes out into the hills and have a very nice time.
Rasmussen: That should have been good hunting and fishing country.
Elliott: Well, pretty good, though I never got into that. My [chuckles] distinguishing activity as a high school student was taking the parts of one the first single [sounder rails?] and one of the first [sounder ramblers?] and re-assembling them into a car we called the PDQ. [chuckles] We wandered all over the hills in that thing. That kept us busy and out of mischief for years on end.
Rasmussen: Well, I remember going down to town there was one big hill that I came down through the middle of January, and it was snow from one end to another. It was a beautiful sight, but quite a hill to go down. We weren’t sure we’d get up and down. Well, from Arizona, where did you move next?
Elliott: I came over to Stanford in fall of 1912, and took the mechanical engineering course. Graduated in mechanical engineering in 1916.
Rasmussen: Well, from 1916, when you got out of school, that was where you first became part of the Federal Telegraph Company. It was only the difference between a telephone call that you tell me decided you in favor of going to Federal. Will you tell us about that?
Elliott: Well, Guido (?) Marks recommended me to his nephew as someone who might enter the service of Federal Telegraph Company. They needed a mechanical design engineer with the objective of becoming the chief draftsman if it worked out. I had just accepted this, when I got back to the campus and the telephone was ringing, and it was another job offer to test airplane engines for the Russian government at the Hall Scott Company up in Oakland. So it was the difference in telephone calls and I got into electronics [laughing] instead of automotive field!
Rasmussen: When you went to Federal in 1916 they were already producing, and had been producing, arcs and building wireless stations worldwide. What department did you enter, and tell us about your experience with Federal.
Elliott: My first job was designing a -- what we called a wave changer -- for a 200 kW Poulsen radio transmitter for the Navy.
Rasmussen: That’s what we’d call our frequency shift keying device nowadays, isn't it.
Elliott: Yes, in those days it was frequency shift, and the keying was one of the real problems. That was a field in which I became very interested. They had quite a laboratory. Things were, as you say, well established at that time. Dr. Fuller and Roman Marks had worked out all the characteristics of the magnets for these big arcs, and they built arcs up to 100 kW. They had a contract for a 200 kW transmitter for San Diego, and a 500 kW one for Pearl Harbor, and a 500 kW for Cavite in the Philippines. So, it was the mechanical side of the design of all this stuff that I dropped into. It was already pretty well worked out electrically.
Rasmussen: Your shifting frequency had some pretty substantial powers. Just what was the limit that you could handle and key?
Elliott: Well, as I said, the keying was one of the real problems. As soon as I got access to the laboratory I became interested in that. Dr. Fuller arranged that I could come into the lab on one or two of the others, in the afternoon, and play with this stuff at night. We’d learned enough about it not to kill ourselves off by that time [laughs]. He let me have a 300 ampere thermocouple ammeter, and a hotwire milli-ammeter. Which had a carbon lance as a voltage divider, you see. [chuckling] Made a pretty good voltmeter. We were working with powers high enough that if the voltmeter consumed an ampere it made no difference, because we were working with currents of hundreds of amperes.
They had developed for keying this San Diego transmitter a system in which the keys were coupled to the main inductor. The inductor was 10 or 12 feet in diameter, and another 10 or 12 feet high, a cable as big as the earth. By coupling the keys to this, and dividing the voltage by having sectors, they could couple 20 or so keys to this thing, and key it pretty well. The currency of the keys was in the order of 100 or 200 amperes. I set up a miniature one of this, a model, in the laboratory. With this big ammeter and this improvised voltmeter, measured the current and voltage through the key, and discovered that the first key that opened got about twice the load it should have if you divided it equally, because the current from the adjacent sector spilled over into this first one...and so the keys were only about 50% efficient.
One of the first developments I made for the company, and one of the first patents I was granted, was for coupling the keys to the big coil individually, each with its own individual loop, and the loops overlapping in such a way that the loops were not coupled with each other, but were coupled with the main coil, and that way we got 100% efficiency out of the keys. Each key would handle -- let’s see if I can remember the figures -- each key would handle about 9000 volt amperes; you could either have 150 volts and 60 amperes, or 60 volts and 150 amperes. Well, it was better to run them at the 60 amperes and 150 volts, so that was the load that each key would handle.
Rasmussen: Well, now keying, of course, never stopped being a problem --
Elliott: That was frequency modulation [laughing].
Rasmussen: It was actually frequency shift keying as we using it in teletype today. We shift what is it, 600 cycles -- and you were shifting even more. I wonder, though, how much was was the frequency shift? I remember listening to arcs in the background just a little ways off.
Elliott: Yes, just enough to give a good readable signal.
Rasmussen: Actually, I wonder what it was in cycles, anyone have measurements in those days?
Elliott: Yes, but I can’t recall just what it was.
Rasmussen: Actually, you could drift, you could key off 3000 cycles and get a nice clean key, and still -- it couldn’t be too far --
Elliott: I can’t remember what frequency shift we worked for it. Of course, these big stations operated with anywhere from 15 kilocycles up to --
Rasmussen: Whenever you used the word kilocycles, to begin with, we’re talking about meters. 25 to 35,000 meters down to, well they had trouble with arcs below several thousand meters. Quite a problem.
Well, you know, years later when the government insisted that you have a complete break in power, I understand at that time a lot of work had continued to be done on keying, and it was possible to completely interrupt that arc. Did you ever hear or know about that?
Elliott: Well, yes, I had a lot to do with the development of what they now call amplitude modulation. The Navy thought they wanted that. There again, I was pretty well along in the laboratory. We had devised various ways of setting up a local oscillating sector parallel with the main oscillating circuit on the antenna. In other words, the antenna that came from the arc to the big loading coil to the antenna, and from the arc to a local loading coil, and a tank condenser. And you could switch back and forth from one to the other by introducing resistance in either circuit, either by a key directly in the circuit, or a key coupled to the circuit. I installed this sort of a system in the 200 kW transmitter down in San Diego one summer. It was after the war, but maybe not very much after.
Rasmussen: What was the largest arcs that Federal built?
Elliott: 1000 kilowatts for the station at Bordeaux, France. I had a lot to do with the design of those.
Rasmussen: I understand that at the end of construction there were several 1000 kW forms left. One was sawed up over there at Stanford, and the other was given to the University of California, from which they built the first cyclotron. You ever heard that story?
Elliott: Oh, yes. Yes, Dr. Fuller had become connected with the University of California, head of Electrical Engineering I think. He had become acquainted with Lawrence. Lawrence had this problem in building a cyclotron, and I think he had a miniature one. He wanted to build a big one. Fuller arranged for the leftover steel castings [chuckling] to be given to the University of California and that started the first full scale cyclotron.
Rasmussen: Well, the first thing that amazes me is the tremendous amounts of power being handled nonchalantly. Secondly, was in looking over this apparatus -- this generation particularly can’t help but feel that they had little regard for money; when they wanted to build something, they just couldn’t build it fine enough. I was talking to one of the Old Timers and he said, well, they had some precision machinists and watchmakers working for them, and when they wanted to build something they built the best money could build. I said, “Well didn’t you have any budget?” “No, they were selling stock fast enough to give us all the money we needed!”
Elliott: [Laughing] Who was it told you this story?
Rasmussen: It was this fellow from New York that I was trying to remember his name...The one that dropped into the Stanford reunion.
Elliott: Well, the stuff had to be well engineered and well built. We had a crew of very fine machinists. The engineering, I think, was a lot better in those days than it is now. What we did was take our knowledge of 60 cycle and apply it to 60,000 cycle. The same general principles applied. You had to build it right in the first place. One of these 1000 kilowatt arcs -- you couldn’t built an experimental one, and then if it didn’t work, why build another one [laughs], the way they do now with most of the apparatus. It had to be engineered so it worked the first time. If it wasn't properly engineered right, the whole thing just ended up in smoke.
Rasmussen: Well, that was a tremendous amount of engineering. I saw some of the final formulas laid out for design of the arcs. It was a tremendous amount of work. Tell me, later on, you got out into the field in China for a while. What country trips did you get with Federal?
Elliott: This trip to China was in connection with a contract that Federal had to establish trans Pacific radio communication. They had a grant from the State Department. Hughes, who was then head of the State Department, gave the president of Federal, Mr. Shereen (?), a grant of $50,000 to see if they couldn’t get a contract to establish trans Pacific communication by Federal Telegraph Company with the Poulsen arcs. The idea was so that Americans doing business in China would have their own communications system and would not be subject to the delays that always occurred with the English and Danish cables.
I was one of a party of about five that went over there, Ralph Beal was one, and a chap by the name of Marsh, and a chap who’d been chief engineer for Southern Pacific -- Waltz -- and we were to search for sites for big stations. It was to be a 1000 kW one, with six masts 1000 feet high to handle the Shanghai end, and then another one at Peking, and another one -- Hong Kong I believe was to be the other one. So I was over there with this party for nine months and we selected a site near Shanghai and for the Peking station.
Rasmussen: Were the stations actually built?
Elliott: No, this was ‘22 and ‘23. The Chinese government was already showing instability. The Radio Corporation of America, which had been established by that time, thought they’d like to do it themselves. Shareen finally worked out a contract with the RCA in which they established the Federal Telegraph Company of Delaware to carry out this construction. But it was never carried out because of the instability of the Chinese government.
Rasmussen: Now it seems to me that along about that same time there were some stations built in the Philippines, weren’t there? What about Cavite?
Elliott: That was built for the Navy. That was a 500 kW station put in by Federal. That was one of the first designs I was in on, in 1916.
Rasmussen: That early?
Elliott: It may not have actually been installed until ‘17 or around there, but at that early date. These big arcs -- and then we put in the 1000 kW in Bordeaux in the middle of the war -- that went in about 1917 or ‘18 -- you could hear that station anywhere in the world, anytime day or night.
Rasmussen: That was a lot of power. Our worldwide communication’s going right back to those odl frequencies again, as you know. Big Jim up in Washington is operating on 15, 20 kilocycles. They built that I guess to get submarine communication. They pumped I think a megawatt into the antennas up there.
Elliott: Well, that is the the first station that has come up to the powers that we used in those days. And of course, your currents were hundreds of amperes, and a couple hundred thousand volts on the antennas.
Rasmussen: That intrigued me. I got to asking questions on voltages, because if they were driving arcs with voltages in the neighborhood of 1000 volts, to get the power they’d have to have a tremendous amount of amperage -- and of course they did. I got curious about cable sizes, and things to handled them, and cool and feed them. They were real engineering problems, believe me!
Elliott: Oh yes, the big inductors had cables 2 1/4 inches in diameter, made up of strands of about no. 30 wire. It was so stranded that each wire got to the surface so we didn’t have these eddy current effects. Spiral strands. They handled 500 amperes beautifully. The resonance in the antenna built up a couple hundred thousand volts. We had a high voltage lamp on which they could get 450,000 volts. Where we tested all these insulators and that sort of thing.
Rasmussen: I’ve seen pictures of those tests.
Elliott: That’s where these tubular insulators were developed. The Lap Insulator Company developed these porcelain tubes, 6 or 8 inch diameters, maybe 5 or 6 feet long.
Rasmussen: Well, you have some of them down in the Perham Foundation collection, you know.
Elliott: Well, that was where the original tests were made. They were able to build them and nobody else could, because they developed the vacuum process for making porcelain.
Rasmussen: Oh, I didn’t know that.
Elliott: Various others had tried to develop vacuum porcelain, but they always tried it with the clay. The Lap solved the problem by running the slip -- mixture of water and clay -- over a cylinder inside of a vacuum chamber, and that would take the air out of it and that would give them porcelain that did not have the entrained air and dissolved air, and then it would not warp.
Rasmussen: Well, that’s rather interesting. They’re stories behind every one of these things if you can dig deep enough.
Elliott: I got to know John Lap quite well.
Rasmussen: How long were you with Federal?
Elliott: From 1916 to ‘24.
Rasmussen: Later on in the 30s, of course, they moved their operations to the east. During these years, did you ever become acquainted with Colin Kennedy, a one-time radio operator?
Elliott: No, I met him afterwards, when he had his receiver factory in San Francisco.
Rasmussen: You mentioned earlier that he also attended Stanford.
Elliott: Not Kennedy, as far as I know.
Rasmussen: Not Kennedy. Oh, I thought that was one of the questions.
Elliott: Maybe you’re confusing me with Rappan (?).
Rasmussen: Maybe I am. Because Rappan was with Kennedy in that operation. Well that’s a separate story that we’ll try to get from Dr. Rappan. Well, 1924. Where did you go then?
Elliott: Well, by the time I came back from China in ‘23, radio as a home entertainment had become quite active. So I decided, on my own, to see if I could develop a radio receiver that was more suitable for home use than the various ones [chuckling] that were then on the market. I started experimenting on my own with radio reception, applying the principles I’d learned building transmitters to receivers, and spent a couple of years doing that. In 1927, I had one that was really good. A really good single dial-controlled receiver that a woman could operate. [Chuckling] One of my former associates arranged for me to go back and show it to the Victor Talking Machine company. That was early in the winter, about February 1927. They took an option on the patents that I’d applied for, and arranged to have 25 of these receivers of mine bulit in their own shop.
Well, they were tied up with a contract with RCA to purchase all of their receivers to be line with their photographs from RCA. They got quite a substantial discount on this exclusive purchase contract, and that had five years to run. They were afraid to manufacture their own while they were tied up by this contract [laughing]. In 1929, the receiver had been developed to the point they wanted to start manufacturing. In the meantime, RCA had arranged to buy out the Victor Talking Machine company, which gave them factories that they hadn’t had before.
Rasmussen: Did RCA utilize your patents, or license anything?
Elliott: They wanted Victor to manufacture a receiver which they had developed in their own laboratory. But to put the two in competition -- mine was far ahead of theirs. Victor decided to go ahead and make mine, with RCA’s consent. Then they bought out my patent. I’d originally had an agreement whereby they would have an exclusive license, and I would get royalties. When RCA took over, they insisted that the patents be purchased outright, so I got a nice six-figure check. [Laughing]
Rasmussen: Well, that wasn’t too bad. Now tell me, in the Victor people, I’m interested there because this goes down another road -- all roads lead to Palo Alto or Menlo Park -- the inventor of the spring motor of the Victor Talking Machine was supposed to be a fellow by the name of Douglas.
Elliott: That’s right, Liam Douglas.
Rasmussen: And the guiding light in the company was another gentleman. What was his name?
Elliott: Johnson. Johnson was the one who really started the company, I think. Eldridge Johnson. His son was Fenimore. I met the old gentleman and got to know his son quite well.
Rasmussen: Did you know Mr. Douglas?
Elliott: Yes, he’d moved out here in the meantime. Had this lovely, big home in Menlo which is now owned by the Menlo school, the grounds.
Rasmussen: I happen to know his a son, that’s the reason why. He has the original picture of the dog nipper (?), and his name, by the way, he was named after Eldridge Johnson -- Eldridge Douglas -- who lives in Menlo Park today. I originally loaned him a Victor phonograph to make some public engagements, and he’s giving a talk on the history of the spring motor and Johnson and all the rest. I’ve known Doug for some time; he’s a radio amateur, that’s the way I got acquainted with him. Well then, of course, after you collected the check, you came back to California, and lived on your -- should I say -- ill-gotten gains or your --
Elliott: Hard-earned gains! [Laughs] It was a lot of fun. I stayed on as a consulting engineer for a year and a half, or two years, but this you see brought us into the Depression, so I came back here in ‘31.
Rasmussen: I’m trying to remember then -- I was under the impression that Elmer Cunningham became president of RCA in those years. You must have known him. Did you know Cunningham?
Elliott: No, I met him on one of my trips east. I came back here and continued development work, on devices I figured would make home radio more convenient. One of those was a push-button control deal, and a pre-selected clock. So you could set up your program for 24 hours just by dialing the time and the station. I went east in Spring ‘36 I guess it was, with this, and I think it was then that I met Cunningham. I’m not positive, but I think that was it. They wanted to play with the thing for awhile. So my wife and I took off for Europe for a four-month trip while they fooled around with this thing. But nothing ever came of it.
Rasmussen: Actually the idea became commercially practical some years later.
Elliott: I developed a further model. And these models were built in Charlie Litton’s shop, in the hills of Redwood. I went east in ‘37 to show it around again, this improved model, and one of the ones that saw it was Paul Galvin, the father of Motorola. Motorola then was about 800 people total, in a new little building which had recently been built for them. Paul Galvin wanted it not for the clock, but for the push-button tuning portion of it for automobile radio. So he agreed to take an exclusive license for the use on automobiles, and a non-exclusive for home use, on the push-button part of it, on the tuner part of it. So I spent the rest of ‘37 and part of ‘38 helping him get started on that. When they got that rolling, he wanted to tackle the clock too. So I spent some more time helping him tool up the clock, which came out in ‘38. That was built in ‘38, ‘39, ‘40, and home radio sets with this pre-selected clock. The war stopped that when they shut down on materials.
Rasmussen: Where did you go during the war years? You were still full of ideas.
Elliott: When Fred Terman was selected to start a radar countermeasures laboratory, he shanghaied me and took me east [laughing] to help get this thing going. So I arrived on the scene there -- there were 5 others on the scene including Dr. Terman when I arrived -- so I was badge number six of this countermeasures lab, which started in MIT and then moved to Harvard and which ultimately had over 1000 people. I spent the war years, from early ‘42 until the war was over in late ‘45, at radar countermeasures, with badges at both MIT and Harvard, and got to know a lot of people connected with both radar and radar countermeasures.
Rasmussen: At first MIT had a tremendous [?] on radar during the war. It must have been the seat of a lot of activity.
Elliott: When I arrived there in February of ‘42, there were about 350 in this -- what they called -- radiation laboratory, which was the radar laboratory in MIT. Ultimately had 4 or 5000. Filled up just during the war.
Rasmussen: I never knew Terman was connected with that and was back east during those years.
Elliott: He spent the war at MIT and Harvard, organizing and directing the radar countermeasures.
Rasmussen: You know, one thing surprises me. With your association with radio, and you never became interested in ham radio. What’s your explanation for that?
Elliott: Well, several times I started to learn the telegraph code, and would get up to about 5 words per minute and then would get so busy with other things I had to drop it. I just didn’t have the aptitude to be a telegrapher. [Laughing]
Rasmussen: You should have done like de Forest did. He never could learn the code, so he invented the radiotelephone.
Elliott: [Both laughing] Well, I was in the telegraph end until I got into the radio receiver business.
Rasmussen: That’s a rather interesting sideline. It didn’t stop you. Your curiosity was still as great as it ever was.
Elliott: Well, this association at MIT and Harvard was perfectly marvelous. I think without any doubt, the work that was done there was one of the things that turned the tide in favor of the Allies. Because it was nip and tuck there at times. Any one of dozens of things had gone the other way from how it went, the Germans could very well have won. So it was a perfectly fabulous experience. The countermeasures lab did a tremendous amount of good, in that it made it feasible for our fliers and the Royal Air Force fliers to go out with these countermeasures that had been developed at MIT and Harvard, and various places in England, and with greatly reduced losses. One of the jobs on which I worked on was chopping up the aluminum foil to confuse the enemy radar with a stuff we call chaff. I had charge of a group that developed machines for manufacturing the stuff, in the quantity that we required, which was a billion pieces a day.
Rasmussen: I understand the sizes of those were very precisely calculated to do the job of countermeasures. Is that true?
Elliott: Yes. The chaff which they manufactured with the machine that I developed was made of aluminum foil. Ultimately we used just straight aluminum foil, 8 tenths of thousandth of an inch thick, in other words, 8 10,000 of an inch thick, and 16th of an inch wide, with a fold down the metal, so it wouldn’t just curl up in the air. The length was determined by the wavelength of the German radar.
Rasmussen: It was resonant, in other words.
Elliott: It was a dipole. In other words, we were making a billion dipoles a day. They finally sent it out in packages of assorted lengths, which covered the whole range. With that, they figured -- some men got into Germany right after the war was over and talked with everyone from the generals down to the GIs -- they figured that this use of chaff cut the RAF losses and the American Air Force losses in half of what they otherwise would have been. And that the combination of that and electronic jamming cut it to a quarter of what it would have been. I got a trip over in the middle of things, helped the Royal Air Force start using my machine.
Rasmussen: Well, that’s amazing. You’d hear these little stories, like I heard the one about precision. At first, we read about them, during the war, that they just dumped a bunch of aluminum sheet out, and had no conception of what was going on. After the war the stories came through that they were a precise device. Your story gives us the whole side of it.
Elliott: Well, yes. The first experiments were just dumping sheets of the stuff out. They printed propaganda on it. It looked just like propaganda leaflets dropping out of the sky, you see. They found out this would confuse the radar. The Royal Air Force coated very thin aluminum, about 1/3 thousand thick, onto paper, and cut that into strips of 3/8 in. wide and 10 inches long. And packaged those. One of those thrown out of a plane would make an echo on the radar just like a plane. But each one of these weighed about 1 8/10 pound, and it gave them enormous relief when they lost it. It really messed up the Gerry radar all right, but it forced Germans to change their tactics. They found by changing tactics they could overcome a lot of the confusion caused by this, and the English could not manufacture many times what they were manufacturing, they’d be worse off than when the started. So they were desperate, and needed me to somehow make more of it. This machine which we developed at Harvard, which used only a 16th inch wide instead of 3/8 wide, and much lighter in every way, made their material go about 9 times as far. So an arrangement was made through one of their liaison people to ship over some of these machines we had made at Harvard, and to ship me over to help the RAF start using it.
Rasmussen: Well that trip across, did you fly it?
Elliott: Yes, I had a very deluxe trip on Pan Am. [Laughing] I was a very important person for the moment at least, the British so desperately needed it, the whole arrangement was made in just a couple of weeks. I was over there, and the machines were over there. The thing just went click click click.
Rasmussen: How long were you at MIT/Harvard? When did you come back?
Elliott: When the war was over in ‘45 we came back home. I spent the winter at Motorola. They wanted to put this clock back on the market. We had one all designed, and everything was all set. But it’s...it’s hard to remember now how difficult it was to get back into civilian production. You couldn’t get tools and dies, you couldn’t get materials, you couldn't even get cabinets to put sets in. So it was put on the shelf for some time. Then television all of a sudden just clicked with the American public, and all hands and the cook had to turn to make television sets and get them working.
Rasmussen: Now, in your association with Galvin, did you ever become acquainted with Andy Harris?
Rasmussen: I’m surprised you didn’t. He’s lives in Chicago and Woodside. He’s with the Harris Trust Company, and they’re one of the financial backers of Motorola for some years. Andy is certainly a rabid ham. The Harris family has run that business for some years. Andy came out here in 1925 or ‘6 and bought this ranch he has at Woodside. I think he was to retire the 1st of June of this year, and just about now we should know if he’s going to spend the “happy years” of his life in California. He’s always wanted to come back and forth. One of his friends is Galvin. When I say he’s a rabid ham, I mean it. He has four receivers and transmitters here in California, and four of them back in Illinois and Wisconsin. Wherever he goes he’s got a high-powered transmitter/receiver right in his palm. If gets back out here, I’ll see that you meet him. He’s a lot of fun.
Now, after the war you came back to California. Television had come in. What impresses me is, with your curiosity, you must have a workshop around here where you still fool around.
Elliott: [Laughing] Yes, I’ll show you. You wanted to interrupt this long enough to go examine it?
Rasmussen: Well, we’ve just come back from the workshop, and like our other friend that you’ve listened to, Mr. Charlie Litton, Mr. Harold Elliott is another one that has a gift of his hands and he does some beautiful precision work. I guess theoretically you’re retired.
Elliott: [Laughing] Oh yes, theoretically I retired when I got my nice check from Victor. But I’ve been busier than ever ever since.
Rasmussen. Well, I know. But that’s the way it should be. You have the choice today, if you want to go downtown you can, you can stay home if you want.
Elliott: I’ve done quite a little consulting work, principally for Hewlett Packard. Late in November ‘53 Dave Packard called me up and propositioned me to come and join their forces as a consultant. He said if we have you around, we’ll get things done we wouldn't otherwise get done. [Laughing] They wanted a combination of my experience, fresh outside viewpoint, resourcefulness, and devising new ways for doing things. I’ve been putting a lot of time in there for the last 6-8 years. It’s tapered now because they’ve built up their own resources.
Rasmussen: I’m trying to make arrangements to get some of the story of the Hewlett Packard company. Who should I talk to there?
Elliott: I should say Bill Hewlett.
Rasmussen: Because we’ve got most of the large big electronics companies and people like that, but we don’t have Hewlett Packard, so that’s what I want to get into. Well, this has certainly been an interesting hour. It’s now gone into 2 hours. I want to thank you very much for giving us the privilege of bringing us into your home and visiting with you. May I suggest that when you’re down towards New Almaden, stop in and look in on the museum down there. The plan is to move the electronic parts of that museum some place in the San Jose/Redwood City area by the first of the year. We’ll have our own housing for the property at that time. Keep us in mind. Thank you very much.
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