Oral History – Gene Weckler
What types of customer
requests were you getting?
Counters, power converters,
pulse modulators, cross points, even audio generators for electronic
organs. The list goes on and on. I
can remember one little altimeter we were doing for, I think, Bendix. It called for a 75ns wide pulse for a
magnetron they were using in the altimeter – a radar altimeter. I can still remember getting across the
600V power supply. In 1959 a 75 ns pulse was extremely
fast. Hard to believe that
today. As I previously mentioned,
I wrote the first Mil Spec for a 4-layer diode – to 19500C. I did that with the help of Clevite
after they acquired us. At that
time I didn’t even know how to read a Mil Spec! Early on, I was also helping some of the people in the
R&D lab, with instrumentation.
I just wore a lot of different hats. I did some testers for production, life test data - for being
right out of school, only a few months out of school, I was given an awful
lot of responsibility. But I had
Rudy Biesele there, who was kind of a father type. He helped me and guided
I’ve read that the production
process for the 4-layer diodes was demanding.
Yes. Very sensitive to everything from the chemical dicing (if you
black-waxed the wrong side, you had the slopes on the chip in the wrong
direction to support the fields.) Any moisture (these were mesa structures)
would wipe out the high voltage units.
The 200V units were at one time assembled in a flame to keep them
Oral History – Gene Weckler (Continued)
We probably had a wide range
of performance and would sort out the units with tests.
I have a couple of Shockley
diodes that are glass bodied, with axial leads. I think the earliest ones were metal cased.
Yes. The first were metal, then we went to glass. Later, I think there were power
units (TO9 case) metal, with stud
mounts. I don’t remember when this
happened, but we got a lot of glass technology available to us when Clevite
acquired us. Some of the people
that came from Hughes to Clevite were really very good industrial
engineers, but the assembly of 4 layer diodes never made it back to Waltham
(after Clevite acquired us).
Were the 4-layer diodes
made in production quantities?
Yes. There were 1000s made – I don’t know the total. Shockley’s objective, when he started
the 4-layer diode program, was to replace all 2 billion contacts in the
Bell System. These were all stepper
switches, at the time, which have long since disappeared, although the
cross-points are still used. I built a breadboard of a cross-point switch
using the 4-layer diodes while at Shockley.
To Weckler Oral History, Page 5