Early Technology



Our town was the Movie Industry capital of the U.K.

I could walk to MGM Studios (Ivanhoe 1952, Inn of the sixth Happiness 1958, Anastasia, 2001 A space Odyssey 1968) , Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC) (The Dam Busters Moby Dick, The Avengers, The Saint, and later Star Wars Ep IV) I was on the sound stage for the filming of Tommy the Toreador, and he winked at me, and that particular take is in the movie. Some of my friends had fathers who worked there. Here is the main gate to ABPC. The Director lived in a big house on the property, that's where we rested up after driving around the lot in my car.
The Director of ABPC was the father of a school friend, and another friend's Dad was the sound director at MGM.  I had an Uncle who was horse-master at MGM for Ivanhoee – he had been a Royal Canadian Mountie. So, with all these connections I should have gone into Movies.

I was much more interested in following in my father's footsteps - electronic technology. Here is me and Dad in 1944 and 1943

During those first ten years, my life was a whirlwind of exciting experiences. Grandfather put on a play twice a year: Puss in Boots, Jack and the Beanstalk, excerupts from South Pacific, ballets, and other musicals I can't recall.

My first job, which I took in order to be paid for work and college – a National program of the IEEE to develop engineers that were desperately need in the U.K. – was to design an ELT for the RAF. This was an Emergency Location transmitter (ELT) that would be worn by an Airman and activated if he dunked in the Ocean.

The only ELT at that time used valves and was attached to the aeroplane. My task was to make a small battery powered device using transistors that could be worn.

No knew how to make transistors work at high frequencies in 1962  The RAF used 243 MHz frequency for emergency communication, and commercial pilots used 121.5 MHz. I had to design something that would transmit on both frequencies. The problem was that although valves could operate into the K-Band (TACAN) transistors maxed out around 50 Mhz in normal circuitry. I spent the first two months in the Company Library learning about transistors. The prototype was just a small rectangular aluminum box with two oscillators, but it put out 100 milliwatts of RF at the two frequencies. It was the beginning of the ELT put into production in 1969 after I left for Canada.

Click on these symbols at top of page
to move forwards, and this
to move backwards