Oral history of British science
Bird, Raymond (Part 3 of 15). An Oral History of British Science
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Computer Hardware; Electronics
Interviewee's home, Newbury
Bird, Raymond, 1923- (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 3: Remarks on playing as a child: Meccano, Hornby, model aeroplanes, building trolleys from prams found in dumps. Comments on father being a practical man, quantities surveyor and builder of radios. Remarks on becoming interested in building radios at university and on crystal and valve radios. [mic noise] Short description of intermediate frequency strip and negative feedback. [06:20] Remarks on mother buying Meccano and toy steam engine from auction sales. Remarks on importance of being a self starter since birth and how this combined with his inventive nature. [mic noise] Remarks on first encounters with electronics on electrical engineering at university under the Hankey Scheme. [09:15] Story about a cousin, Thumbwood, who built a Baird mechanical television. Mentions on learning about electronics at Woolwich Polytechnic. Further remarks on early impression of television as just a toy and thinking similar about world wide web. Remarks on a trip to the Science Museum South Kensington as a boy with his mother. [13:45] Remarks on technologies that interested him as a child, Hornby and Meccano. Comments on reading 'The World of Wonder' article on atoms. [17:10] Comments on science at Caterham School, its Carmichael and Young laboratories named for their sponsors, supportive chemistry and physics teachers but not being so interested in biology and arts subjects. [short pause] Comments on science teaching at school, the curriculum, opinions on contemporary education, practical classes. Mentions being taught to drive Fordson tractors in war. Remarks on doing well at school, being stimulated by clever friends, losing touch with people due to the war. [23:40] Mentions finishing school in 1941 and living near RAF Kenley. Remarks on wartime atmosphere, rationing, Utility furniture [mic noise], being frightened in air raids, having a searchlight operator billeted in their home. [27:10] Remarks on family being split by war, father at Admiralty at Bath, RB at Woolwich Polytechnic, mother becoming Volunteer Aid Detachment nurse. Mentions cycling home from school, later travelling home from Woolwich Polytechnic every few weeks by bus. [30:10] Remarks on wanting to be a pilot before being recruited by the Hankey scheme, school results, wanting to go to university to do research. Mentions electrical engineering choice decided for him. Describes course content: strength of materials, structures, electrical machinery, electronics. Further comments on limited facilities for electronics, Avo valve testers, voltmeters. Comments on the importance of Cossor Oscilloscope and digital electronics. [37:00] Comments on being impressed by IEE postwar lectures on wartime electronics: Oboe, GEE and H2S. Remarks on recent news that Germans may have been on radar development, with reference to Watson Watt and Bawdsey. Remarks on being disappointed he didn't get to work on radar. [39:30] Discussion about using Cossor Oscilloscope, its importance, training at Woolwich Polytechnic. [45:45] Mentions having no choice in being sent to Woolwich and radar being secret. Remarks on career path as a signal officer, types of signal officer maintaining aircraft radios or ground communication networks. [48:30] Description of Woolwich Polytechnic: part of London University, provided practical training for industry and sandwich courses, redbrick Victorian building, bomb damaged, facilities, living in a hostel. [53:20] Remarks on atmosphere at Woolwich, emphasis on practical approach and coursework. Description of working with electrical machines and a load test experiment. [57:50] Remarks on broad scope of course and electronics content. Short story about his course work going down aboard a ship sunk by a U-boat. Remarks on benefits of his sandwich placement with various companies. [1:00:40] Remarks on social life at university. Remarks on option to take commission at end of first year due to personnel shortages. [mic noise] Short story about visit to the course from an early leaver who joined navy.
Interview with electrical engineer and computer designer Dr Raymond Bird.