Bob Mendelson joined RCA in 1953
with a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering. He spent the next six
years in the Methods and Process Lab (M&P Lab), responsible for the
hydrogen furnaces, electroplating, and all chemical problems. He fully
retired from RCA in 1989. During those 36 years, Bob had the unique
opportunity to work with several key RCA technologies, including germanium
transistors, silicon transistors, integrated circuits and Nuvistors. He
has authored numerous books and articles, continues as an active ham radio
operator (W2OKO), and has been issued two U.S. patents.
This is a scan from the front cover of the Spring 1965 RCA Ham Tips
publication, highlighting a construction project and article by Robert
Mendelson in that issue. The Two-Meter transceiver designed by Bob used
both silicon transistors and Nuvistor tubes, combining the best of both
technologies. Bob authored several articles of this type, building on his
RCA work experience with these technologies as well as his interest in
Oral History – Bob Mendelson
This Oral History was taken
in Dec 2001.
I started at Purdue University in 1942, then on to the Navy from 1944-1946. I then returned to Purdue and
earned a BSChE in 1947 and a MSChE in 1948.
My first job was at Stauffer
Chemical Company for 6 years in a pilot plant making carbon disulfide as a
raw material for tire manufacture. In 1953, I earned my Professional
Engineering License and joined RCA, where my first assignment was with the
Methods and Process Lab (M&PL).
In 1959 I was transferred to
Nuvistor production at its start. At that time the yield was only 5 to 10
percent. Over the next year we raised the yield to 90 percent. Here I
worked on chemical problems as well as electrical such as burn in of the
finished product. I stayed there till 1963 when I went to the Somerville transistor plant. I came to Somerville with no experience in transistors. My
first assignment was a step backwards to Germanium from the latest Silicon
every else was on. It seemed that India wanted more Germanium transistors
like the ones they had previously bought. Politically RCA was required to
make them. With help from the foreman we did manage to manufacture, but
there was a big problem with final test of the quality control parts. I
developed an improved test where the pins were contacted in a predetermined
sequence so as not to burn out the transistors.
To Mendelson Oral History, Page 2