Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation

Willis Humphreys begins the interview by describing how he came to work at National Technical Laboratories (NTL) on 31 March 1938. Before joining NTL, Humphreys worked for a small company in Pasadena, California, but was laid off due to lack of work. He was referred to the position at NTL and began there lacing cables. The company was still quite small at the time; Humphreys could recall only about 15 employees working there. Humphreys had little day-to-day contact with the management of NTL, including Arnold O. Beckman and Howard Cary, but what contact he had was positive. Humphreys worked on the electronics for many of the company's instruments including the Helipot, Model R pH meter, and others and remained with the company during its moves to new facilities in South Pasadena, and then Irvine, California. The need for instruments during World War II led to an increase in production and the development of new instruments. Although Humphreys was eligible for the draft, company executives helped him to get a deferment by arguing that he was doing work essential to the war effort. Humphreys remained with the company throughout his career. Although he did rise to supervisory positions, he surmises that he may have risen further if his interest in working hands-on with electronics had not distracted him from office politics. Humphreys concludes the interview by reflecting back on his career and the changes in electronics technology.

Max D. Liston begins the interview with a discussion of his education. After graduating from high school in Fort Scott, Kansas, Liston attended the University of Minnesota. In 1940, he received a B.A. in electrical engineering with an option in communications. He was hired at the Chrysler Corporation that same year; and he participated in the Chrysler Institute, receiving his M.S. in mechanical engineering in 1941. After transferring to General Motors in 1942, Liston developed the breaker-type DC amplifier while modifying a submarine analyzer developed by Charles Kettering. With the assistance of Morris Reeder, Liston also developed an innovative vacuum thermocouple. In 1946, he was hired at PerkinElmer as the chief engineer. While there, he incorporated the breaker amplifier and vacuum thermocouple in to his designs for the Model 12 and Model 21 spectrophotometers. In 1950, Morris Folb and he formed the Liston-Folb company, which later became Liston-Becker. Together, they developed three atmospheric-analyzer models for the US Navy's submarines, and the Model 16 capnograph. Beckman Instruments acquired Liston-Becker in 1955. When Beckman Instruments consolidated their assets three years later, the Connecticut-based Liston-Becker plant was closed and Liston moved to California to become the corporate director of engineering. One of his most significant projects at Beckman Instruments was the development of automobile-emissions analyzers for smog tests in L. A. Liston is currently the president of Liston Scientific, a company he formed in 1975. His numerous accomplishments since its founding include the development of the Paramax, Digital-Alpha technology, and chemical-luminescence instrumentation. Liston concludes the interview with a brief discussion of his perceived influence on the field of spectrophotometry. 

Arthur Rock begins the interview with a discussion of his family and educational background. In 1944, Rock joined the United States Army. After World War II, Rock attended Syracuse University, and then continued on to Harvard Business School. After his schooling, Rock began to work on Wall Street and discovered that he had an interest and affinity for business in technology. At Hayden Stone and Company he worked in the corporate department to establish technological companies such as General Transistor. In the late 1950s, Rock received a letter from Eugene Kleiner that sparked his interest. He met the “Traitorous Eight,” from Shockley Semiconductor and the wheels of venture capitalism were set in motion. Rock's ambitions for the group were so radical that thirty-five companies declined them financial backing before Sherman Fairchild invested what was needed to start Fairchild Semiconductor. Afterwards, in 1961, Rock moved from his home in New York to San Francisco, where he formed Davis & Rock, a firm that lasted for seven years, with Thomas Davis. This pioneering venture capital firm met with great success, creating other semiconductor firms, such as Teledyne Technologies, Inc. Rock reflects on the growing connection between semiconductors and computers and then the decision of Robert N. Noyce and Gordon E. Moore to leave Fairchild in order to form Intel Corporation, of which he was the first chairman of the board of directors. Rock concludes the interview by reflecting on his own innovations. 

The interview begins with Wilbur I. Kaye describing his early interest in science, and specifically, instrumentation. He discusses his decision to study at the University of Illinois, and his own academic experience there as a PhD candidate in chemistry. Kaye met his wife, Virginia (Ginnie, who sits in on the interview) at Stetson University, where they studied as undergraduates, and married her prior to his last year of his graduate studies in 1944. Kaye was then recruited to Tennessee Eastman Company, where he set up a physics laboratory, by Dr. William Hincke. Initially, a PerkinElmer spectrophotometer was the sole piece of instrumentation in Kaye's lab, but he soon procured more instruments, such as a Baird Corporation Model AB2 and Beckman Instruments, Inc. DU spectrophotometer. Having joined the Tennessee Eastman division of Eastman Kodak Company near its inception, Kaye relates the history of the company to the explosion of instrumentation research, and analysis in scientific research. Near the end of his tenure at Tennessee Eastman, Kaye was one of the first scientists to publish work in the United States on gas chromatography. Kaye began modifying the DU spectrophotometer while at Tennessee Eastman, and took this work with him on his move to Beckman Instruments. Kaye's modification to the DU became known as the Beckman DK spectrophotometer, which contributed to the competition and friction between former employee Howard H. Cary and owner of Beckman Instruments, Arnold O. Beckman. Amid shifting management and company organization, Kaye continued to improve upon his instruments, as well as develop new instruments while at Beckman. Kaye discusses the difference between DK1 and DK2, the DU and the DK, and addresses the Beckman line of infrared spectrophotometers. During the company's shift into clinical instruments, Kaye developed a glucose analyzer, which James C. Sternberg continued work on once the company withdrew support. Kaye developed the DKU, which combined aspects of both infrared and ultraviolet instrumentation. In addition to pointing out some of the history of Beckman Instruments in the second half of the interview, Kaye describes the interface between administration and research components of the company. A true scientist with an innovative mind, Kaye decided stay in the research laboratory, improving and developing new instruments, rather than join the management scheme of Beckman Instruments.

Robert J. Manning begins the interview with a brief sketch of his educational background. In 1948, after graduating with a M.S. in chemistry from the University of Missouri in Kansas City, Manning spent time in the United States Navy researching rocket fuel. From there Manning obtained a position at Beckman Instruments, Inc., where he remained until his retirement in 1986. Working in the application engineering department at Beckman, Manning gravitated toward infrared instrumentation, and eventually became the national president for the Society of Applied Spectroscopy. Having spent thirty-three years at Beckman Instruments, Manning has a valuable wealth of knowledge about nuances in development of landmark instruments from Beckman, which he details throughout the interview. In 1960, Manning moved his family to Chicago where he started an applications laboratory at Beckman's offices there. Manning moved back to California in 1963 to enjoy his new position as product line manager of ultraviolet instruments, before returning to the laboratory, where he would spend the rest of his career. Education and information sharing were paramount to Manning, and he traveled the country educating people about spectroscopy, via workshops, lecture series, and summer courses at various universities. Manning concludes the interview with reflections on his career and home life. 

Paul A. Wilks, Jr. begins the interview by discussing his early years and family life in Springfield, Massachusetts. After graduating from Springfield Technical High School, Wilks went to Harvard University, where he majored in engineering. In 1945, he began working at Perkin-Elmer, Inc. (now PerkinElmer). Wilks worked as an assembler before becoming marketing director in 1952. In 1957, Wilks left PerkinElmer and, with Charles W. Warren, founded the Connecticut Instrument Company, a company that manufactured accessories for the infrared industry. Wilks and Warren sold their company to R. Bowling Barnes in 1962. After working for the Barnes Engineering Company for a year as commercial products manager, Wilks left to form the Wilks Scientific Corporation. This company manufactured a variety of spectroscopy products. Wilks hired Anthony C. Gilby, an infrared spectroscopist from England, who helped in the development of these products. This company was sold to the Foxboro Company in the 1970s, and Wilks managed the Wilks division of the company until 1979. After leaving Foxboro, Wilks founded the General Analysis Corporation to market products that monitored workspace environments. The company was unable to create a market in this area and changed its focus towards producing products for other industries, such as the beverage industry. Wilks decided to retire in 1993 and General Analysis was eventually sold to OI Corporation. Although theoretically retired, Wilks started another company in the 1990s, Wilks Enterprise, Inc. This company continues Wilks' efforts to produce applicable products based on infrared spectroscopy and other technologies. Wilks concludes the interview with reflections on the state of infrared technology and thoughts about his career.