An Interview with Edna Carpenter

Edna Carpenter


EC = Edna Carpenter
GAM = George Michael




GAM: Today is April 18, 1995, and I'm interviewing Edna Carpenter, who, when I first met her, was Edna Vienop. Edna, why don't you start by telling us where you came from, and when you got the job at the Lab, and so forth.

EC: My home was up in Napa, and I'd gone to school at UC Berkeley. And I was looking for a job.

GAM: What were you majoring in at Berkeley?

EC: I majored in mathematics.

GAM: That's great.

EC: I had worked one year in Washington, D.C., but I'd come back out here to California. So, I went up to the Berkeley Radiation Lab on the hill to apply for a job. They said they had no jobs, but that the Lab in Livermore was just opening, and I should go apply out there. This was about September or October of 1952, the year the Lab opened up. They had to describe to me how to get out to Livermore. I'd never heard of Livermore!

GAM: I don't blame you. Where in the hell is Livermore?

EC: That's right. The directions were, you know, "you go through the tunnel, and out through Walnut Creek." So, I came out here one day, and I was interviewed by Dave Judd. And I think the other one was Bob Mainhardt.

It turns out I never saw Dave Judd again after that initial interview until we had that reunion. Do you remember—up there in San Ramon?

GAM: Oh, the Sid Fernbach Memorial Seminar.

EC: Yes that's it. Dave was there, and I said to him, "I think you interviewed me." And he said, yes, that he had. But, after I came to the Lab, he had left immediately and gone back to Berkeley.

GAM: Yes. Dave Judd is in physics up there.

EC: Yes, and I think the other person was Bob Mainhardt, but I don't remember for sure. I'm pretty sure he was out here at that time. There were two of them who interviewed me, if I remember right, and they probably interviewed me for about fifteen or twenty minutes. They went off into a corner to discuss all this, and said, "Okay."

GAM: Now, while you were at Berkeley, did you work with Joe Brady?

EC: No, I didn't know Joe Brady then. I met him out here at the Lab. Anyway, I started at the Lab on November 10, 1952. I remember that date because we got paid on the tenth of the month, if you remember, in those days. So, I had to wait exactly a month to get a paycheck, and then it was only a partial one. So it took a while to get back on my feet.

I started out working under Ken Ellsworth here. My first office was in Building 218, upstairs, about where the main Division office is now. They gave me some IBM manuals, and set me at a desk, and that was about it.

GAM: IBM manuals in '52—for what?

EC: They were about to get the IBM CPC. It wasn't in yet, but they were expecting it any day. So that's what we were supposed to be learning. It arrived very soon after I did—maybe about a week or two later. They set it up in Building 161, in the northeast corner. They had two offices that were in an uncleared area. The remainder of the building was a green area.

GAM: Yes, I remember that. I got here in April of '53.

EC: Of 1953? Oh, okay. We were in that little cubicle there. I think the first real job I had was doing hand computing for Ken Ellsworth, because they were working on some of the physics code. They were doing all the calculations by hand, you know—to check the calculations, to make sure the machines were working correctly. That was a terribly tedious job. I didn't last very long at that.

GAM: I agree, yes.

EC: Then I was given the job of writing a program for the CPC when we'd gotten that set up. If you recall, that was just a card program. Did you work on it, George?

GAM: I used it; I didn't work on it. Bob Pexton helped me use it.

EC: Okay. Yes, each card had one instruction on it, and you could save the answer or not save it, or use the answer in the next instruction. There was some numerical method of solving a differential equation. Luckily, I'd gotten some help from Jack Rose—otherwise, I wouldn't have the slightest idea how to do something like that. Larry Lasnik and I worked together on that first CPC program.

Then, the next thing I remember was they'd gotten a new set of diagrams for floating point computations. The programs came from Los Alamos, because they had them on their CPC. They needed someone to wire the board. Do you remember they had the boards that had the wires?

GAM: Yes, I remember them.

EC: I volunteered to do that, because I had done some board wiring in my previous job. So, I took that job on. And I kept doing that job for a long time, because I was the only one who really understood the boards! In fact, there was one time when I really wanted to get off the IBM 650. I think it was probably about the time the IBM 701 had arrived. I wanted to go to work on one of the bigger machines.

So, I went to Sid and said, "Couldn't I work on the 701?" You know, I wanted to. And Sid said, "Why, sure, that's just fine." But, shortly thereafter, Joe Brady came running in the office, and said, "You can't leave! I can't do without you!"

GAM: Recognition in one's own lifetime, hmm?

EC: So, I never did get to work on the 701. Anyway, that leads up to why Joe felt sorry for me. And so he let me program his astronomy codes. You know, they were going to give him some free time on the machines. So, he asked if I would code his astronomy codes for him—I think I started those on the 704.

GAM: Well, that would make it just slightly after 1954, because that's when the 704s got here. I've been checking all the chronology.

EC: Yes, I've long lost track of the dates then.

GAM: That's a while ago—forty years ago.

EC: Yes, it is, isn't it? I hadn't thought of that.

GAM: So, that's how you got hooked up with Joe?

EC: Yes. Well, he was the Group Leader for the whole CPC group then. The first Group Leader was a man named Bob Oeder.

GAM: Yes, I remember him.

EC: Now, he was only here about a year, and then he went back to Los Alamos, I believe. And then Joe took over the group.

GAM: I hadn't heard that name in forty years.

EC: Yes, because he really wasn't here for that long.

GAM: I remember him, though. Did you have anything to do with Tom Wilder?

EC: No. Tom Wilder worked on the UNIVAC. And that was one machine I never worked on at all. You see, when I arrived here, the UNIVAC crew was already back in Philadelphia. And so all the new people who were coming in were being put on the CPC. They needed people to start working on that, because that machine was about to come in. So, I missed the UNIVAC completely. It kind of disappointed me.

GAM: Well, it's maybe a good thing—I don't know. Tom Wilder came here on November 4, 1952—Just a little ahead of you. I had a lot of fun interviewing him. I went to his bank in Graceville, Florida. I was there for another meeting, and I just detoured and talked to him. We had quite a time.

EC: Yes, he probably remembers lots of things.

GAM: Well, yes, but so do you. It's the same thing—you have a beautiful corporate memory, you know; it goes back a long, long time. There weren't very many people here before you.

EC: No, the Lab was pretty small then. In fact, the first day I came to work, I drove in and parked in front of where Building 113 is now, in front of the hangar there. The main entrance was in front of the hangar, and I parked my little car right in front of the hangar. So, that was the parking lot. But that only lasted about a week, and then they had opened up the west parking lot.

GAM: Yes, I remember that. So, you started on binary computers, the stored-program type—the 701 or the 704?

EC: I started on the 704.

GAM: Do you remember the codes that you produced for it?

EC: We produced the codes for Joe Brady—THEMIS, as we called them.

GAM: Yes, THEMIS, the famous THEMIS.

EC: So, we put THEMIS on the 704, the 709, the 7090, the 7094, and the STRETCH.

GAM: Did we get it up onto the STRETCH?

EC: Yes, because by the time the STRETCH came along, I was assigned to work on it. So, I put it on as kind of a test program, to kind of get used to it.

GAM: You were a very rare person. They wouldn't let mathematicians do much programming. I don't know why. Well, we had George Evans here and Ralph Kiersted, and all those others.

EC: Well, I was not in the same category as those people.

GAM: You were a mathematician.

EC: Yes, but not their type.

GAM: Well, just younger, that's all, Edna.

EC: I was younger, and I hadn't done all that well in math. You know, it was one of those things—you get into these programs and it's, "Okay, finish it up, and get a degree, and then worry about it if you're going to deal with it." I really didn't want to work in math that much, but I loved to program.

GAM: Really?

EC: Oh, yes. I mean, that was my niche. So, I gave up the math, essentially, except what I'd remembered. Programming was just perfect for me.

GAM: Great. Did you know Leota Barr?

EC: Oh, sure.

GAM: She liked programming, too.

EC: Yes. She was here before I came. She was one of the people who were back in Philadelphia when I arrived—she and Doug Gardner. Those are the only two I remember right off hand.

GAM: So, here we are on a 704, and your supervisor is still Joe Brady. But now you're writing THEMIS on the 704. Did you use this in assembly language?

EC: We had assembly language, yes. And then at the same time I was also working on the 650. The CPCs had been replaced by the 650s about that time.

GAM: Yes, I remember seeing you over there. In fact, you worked up SOAP. Nice going— congratulations!

EC: Oh, thank you.

GAM: It was a nice piece of work. I used it.

EC: Did you? That was a fun project. Anyway, I was on the 650 for a long time, and then I was kind of doing Joe's program on the side. It was kind of a research program. Anyway, we were on the 650.

Now, I remember things like their upgrading the 650 and getting things like index registers, and it was just a real improvement—and getting floating point arithmetic on the machine, you know, things like that. It was just a little machine with 2,000 words of memory.

GAM: It was a very interesting machine, and, in a sense, friendly, because you could touch it.

EC: It was a very friendly machine. It had a drum memory, 2,000 words, and a card reader. Everything went in on a card. But it really was a very friendly machine. It was easy to use. It was all decimal rather than binary. That helped a lot.

GAM: That was why I went after it, yes.

EC: Yes, it was much easier to use than the binary one.

GAM: Well, I can't imagine that anymore, but then I could.

EC: Yes. Of course, now they're binary, but it's transparent to you. But in those days it wasn't nearly as transparent when you were working in assembly language.

Then, after the 650 group kind of broke up, and things started to change at the Lab, that's when I went to work under Clarence Badger on the STRETCH. I don't know what they called me then. I was supposed to help other people get their codes going—so I was kind of a troubleshooter—on the STRETCH. I also did some work on the input/output (I/O) routines on the STRETCH. I'd say that's when I put THEMIS on the STRETCH just as an exercise to kind of get to know the product, how to program for the machine. Of course, somewhere in there FORTRAN did come into existence.

GAM: FORTRAN came in 1956.

EC: Yes. We probably didn't put THEMIS in FORTRAN right away. I really don't remember just when we did that.

GAM: Well, you were working on the STRETCH around 1960 and forward. The FORTRAN arrived here on the 704 in 1956.

EC: Okay, I think the first time I used FORTRAN was on the 3600—one of those earlier ones.

GAM: But you were programming on all those machines?

EC: No, I missed a few. Except for doing a little FORTRAN program, I didn't really get on the 1604 or the 3600. I really started with the 6600, when I went over to the CDC-type machine. That was after the STRETCH kind of disappeared and then I worked on the 6600.

GAM: Yes. The STRETCH didn't last very long, did it?

EC: No, it didn't. There weren't that many users on it. There were a few big weapons codes on it. Each user had his own system tape, so there really wasn't that much work to do on it.

GAM: The machine was more difficult to use.

EC: Yes, it was, but I enjoyed working on it. It was very different.

Anyway, then I went on the 6600 and worked under Ed Schoonover. I started in as a troubleshooter.

GAM: Ed was big on helping users.

EC: Yes, well that was my job under him. Ed was the one who started that user group, and, since I had been kind of a user-helper on the STRETCH, I got into his group. By then the STRETCH was kind of out anyway. I started working on the 6600, and I took over from Barbara Schell. They had a system called CHIP that was written by CDC. So, I took over the I/O routines for CHIP, and helped the users with it.

GAM: Well that was a neat job.

EC: Yes, it was a very good job. It wasn't a popular system. I think it had a lot of users but, as everything else goes at the Lab, unless you were using the Lab system you were not recognized, you know. You were sort of off in the background and you didn't get the recognition. So, it wasn't the most popular thing to work on, but it was interesting, very interesting.

Then, fairly soon after that, the IBM 7600s came in, and we did a lot more work where we kind of combined everything together so that there was one combined system instead of the two systems. The name of that system was ORDER. Most of it was written by the Lab, and it ran on the 7600. I think I've still got the I/O routine manual for it.

GAM: Oh, well that would be something neat for the museum if you don't want it, you know.

EC: Yes, I could give you that.

GAM: We're trying to save all that old information.

EC: Among some of the old work-related things I've saved over the years are some original user manuals for IBM machines, and some copies of a monthly magazine published by IBM, going back to the 650 days.

GAM: Yes, those would be interesting, too. I don't remember them.

EC: We used some of the routines written up in this magazine. I think they were coming out with service routines in them, you know, like cosine routines. Some of these we copied; I have notes in them that I had written. So, I was on the IBM 7600 for quite a long time.

GAM: The 7600 came in 1969, and it was here for almost twenty years.

EC: Yes, it was here for a long time. So, I probably worked on it for two or three years. Then I got discouraged working under Ed Schoonover. I left system programming and went back into application programming, and went down to H Division. I was only down there for about a year, maybe even less than that. And I became pregnant, and that's when I quit for four years.

GAM: Going back—there must be, in all the time you were here, some high points that you remember—you know, the best program you did, or it was fun to work with this guy, or you didn't like that supervisor, or whatever? You were always such a gentle, kind person, I can't imagine you didn't like anybody.

EC: Well, I did have a run-in with Ed Schoonover.

GAM: Having arguments is normal: He was busy being "Hans Bruijnes, Jr."

EC: Yes. And so I did finally get so mad I just said, "Okay, I quit." And I walked out! That was one of the few times I did that.

GAM: Good. Ed is very gentle, you know. He was just doing what Hans wanted, and maybe he didn't translate it the right way or something like that.

EC: Well, it was during the years when they thought everyone should kind of be working under someone; you needed not only the Group Leader, you needed a kind of a project leader. You know he was developing this great hierarchy in this little ten- or twelve-member group.

GAM: Absolutely worthless—that's what you meant? You're quite right.

EC: That's what I got very upset about. When someone I had worked with, you know, just worked next door to me—who didn't have anything to do with what I did, came in and told me what to do one day—that blew the whole roof off.

GAM: Good. Well, I think you behaved properly in that sort of situation. Professionals aren't supposed to put up with that kind of stuff. It's counterproductive. Let me go back to a particular memory of yours: What did you have to do with a big Sputnik adventure here?

EC: Well, they used the THEMIS code, then, to track Sputnik. I didn't do much of the running of the code. Joe Brady was the one who came in at night and would do all the Sputnik runs.

Edna Carpenter
GAM: But he didn't write all the code.

EC: No, I had written most of the code—I think probably all of the code [1]. And then Joe was the one who had gotten the data and predicted when it was going to come down. Do you remember that? And he did it fairly accurately as I recall

GAM: They missed by half an hour.

EC: Real close, yes. And then, also with that code, he did the...

GAM: Planet X?

EC: We did the orbit of Mars first so we could do Halley's Comet predictions. Well, Halley's Comet came later. So, we worked on that. That was really the longest project. Sputnik kind of just came in the middle as this big burst, and then it was finished. [ed: See the references for Joe Brady and Edna's publications on Halley's Comet.]

GAM: Yes. Just as an aside—you, I think, would enjoy reading the interview I did with Joe Brady, because he gave a lot of detailed stuff about that.

EC: Yes, I'll bet he did, yes.

GAM: Well, it was fun, you know.

EC: Yes, the other person that worked with us on that a lot was Dick von Holdt.

GAM: Oh, yes? What about Nevin Sherman? I thought he did, too.

EC: No, Nevin was kind of always off on the side doing his own little thing.

GAM: Yes, well, one of Nevin's great, great triumphs was the discovery of a logic error in the floating point unit of the LARC, because it didn't agree with his calculations.

EC: Oh!

GAM: The last digit of a 12-digit number didn't quite agree. And it just annoyed him. And he tracked it down, and found a logic error! Well, I think that's great, you know?

EC: I think it's amazing that anyone has that determination. And only Nevin would do something like that.

GAM: Well, you're not so bad yourself, you know? Yes, I think that's great. Anyway, on the Sputnik thing, yes, you wrote the code, but certainly you were able to enjoy the vicarious pleasure, having done something that all of NASA didn't do?

EC: Oh, yes! We got a tremendous amount of recognition from that—I mean articles in the paper. I'd kind of forgotten all those things. I think I've got a lot of it stored away, you know.

GAM: Yes, I understand that. But they're now of historical interest. And if you've got them around, well, that would be fun, you know. We could put them into your transcript.

EC: Oh, okay.

GAM: What else? Before THEMIS, was there a code that stood out in your memory?

EC: One of the things I remembered doing on the CPC was helping them calibrate the Cyclotron that was over in the hangar. Every day they would take off all these readings and punch up cards with the data. And we would run them through this little program which I had written, and get some new calibration numbers. And they would adjust it, and we'd start again the next night.

GAM: Oh, they were calibrating the sensitivity of detectors, or what? Do you remember?

EC: I'm not sure. All I remember is something to do with the Cyclotron. So, I don't remember what the application was about. That was one of the things that I remember. What else?

GAM: You showed your own spunkiness by buying a Mercedes. A convertible, no less! Nice going, Edna!

EC: That's one of the things that I'm very glad I did, you know. It's not very often I do things out of the ordinary. But that was one of the things I had done, and it was very good for my ego. You know, every now and then you have to do something out of the ordinary.

GAM: Well, I thought it was great. Did you have anything to do with people like Bob Jastrow, or Edward Teller, or E. O. Lawrence, or any of those guys?

EC: Well, not really. But one day, soon after I started here at the Lab, and the CPC had just come in and I and two or three other people were kind of playing with it, you know, putting some boards in and some cards through, or whatever. I'm not sure what we were doing—we'd maybe written some simple program. We were just fiddling around, and this man came in. It turned out to be Edward Teller who was asking us all these questions about this machine that we really couldn't answer because we didn't know that much about it ourselves. We were just learning. And I don't think, at the time, that I even realized who he was. Someone that was there certainly did and made the comment later that that was Edward Teller.

GAM: You lived a very sheltered life!

EC: Yes. So, that was my only, one and only contact really, with Edward Teller. And most of those other people—no, I didn't work that much with any of the famous people.

GAM: Well, when you went to H Division, what was the kind of work you were doing there? Who was in charge of H Division then?

EC: Al Holt. He's back at the Laboratory again. After I quit down there, he quit the Lab, and went up and opened a hardware store in Crescent City or something like that.

GAM: Wow, what a transfer—from the East Avenue hardware store to the Crescent City hardware store!

EC: But, anyway, he came back here as a physicist again maybe about ten years ago. My memory's a little bit fuzzy there.

GAM: Well, would you say that the work in H Division was serving the engineering groups or other people, other than the weapon divisions, or what?

EC: No, it was some kind of weapons work. I worked on some large code down there; it was used to help the weapons work. And one of the reasons I took that job was because they were going to get in a PDP-1 or 2.

GAM: We got a PDP-1.

EC: Yes, but H Division was buying one too.

GAM: Oh, I don't know what they bought.

EC: I don't remember just what number it was, but I thought that would be exciting. I was anxious to work on a machine like that.

GAM: Yes, they were nice machines.

EC: Yes. Actually, I never worked on one until after I came back to work, maybe about '78 over in the machine shop. I finally got to work on it—by then it was a PDP-8. They were very interesting machines.

GAM: Well, the PDP-8 is one of the more classical architectures that have come from the past—a very interesting machine. I don't think I like it as well as I like the 160, but it was a 12-bit machine. They certainly sold a ton of them.

EC: Yes. Anyway, that was my interest in going down to H Division. That would have been about 1970 or '71, and the Lab was just starting to let other divisions buy the original PDP machines; that is, groups other than Computation.

GAM: Oh, no, no—1961 is when we got the PDP-1 here.

EC: Okay, maybe here, but do you remember there was kind of a break about '71, where everyone started to get their own machines?

GAM: But they weren't buying PDP-1s then. They were buying 7s, 9s, and 15s.

EC: Yes. I don't remember the numbers.

GAM: I can understand that.

EC: That's right. I'd forgotten about the PDP-1s over here.

GAM: That was our "Romper Room" over here.

EC: Yes that's right!

GAM: We had a lot of fun with it.

EC: That was part of the 7090s.

GAM: It was everything. We worked out the original ideas of the OCTOPUS typewriters on there, and worked out the ideas of graphics. It turns out that all the really interesting stuff on graphics was done on the bigger machines, you know, except the EYEBALL (a flying spot digitizer). That was interesting. But all those machines you could touch...

EC: Yes, and even in those days we still had our decks of cards, and we would read them in, because the PDP-1 connected up the card reader and all the other peripherals.

GAM: We had a 1401 card reader on it, yes.

EC: Yes, it was the way we got our programs in to the 7090 in those days. Do you remember they still had the card files where we stored all our card decks over in the machine room, in 113?

GAM: Yes.

EC: We'd take this big drawer full of cards and read them in.

GAM: For computer work, I haven't touched a card since about 1970.

EC: Well, I came back to work around 1977. Of course, when I left, everything was on cards, so I felt—I mean, this business of just leaving stuff on the computer scared me to death! I was sure it wouldn't be there the next day! So, for a long time, I still kept all my little programs on cards, just for a safety factor. People started making fun of me, and I finally had to quit doing it.

GAM: Oh, well.

EC: I finally gained a little confidence in the machine.

GAM: As machines got more reliable, you could do that with some safety, yes.

Well, you know, you were a pioneer, a real pioneer. You must have some memories or angers or things like that from the past where you weren't being treated correctly because you were a woman or this or that, no? Do you have anything that bothers you yet?

EC: Oh, I don't think it really bothers me. There certainly were things. One of the things I always remember—and now, I mean, it just wouldn't be, I mean, they wouldn't even think of doing it—was when Sid would come by and say, "Well, we're giving out the raises this year. Well, you're doing great work, but we really can't give you a raise. You're a woman, and we have lots of men with families. And we feel they deserve the higher pay." And, in fact, one time they told me that very thing—I think it was while I was still on the 650. You know, they had only a small amount of money to give away for raises. And, since everyone else was a family man in the group, you know, I got the small raise. In those days, you just kind of said, "well, that's the way it is".

I think, you know, I was kind of a pioneer, and usually I was often the only woman in these groups. And probably my pay did suffer because I was a woman, but people did treat me very well. I mean, I really don't have any complaints.

GAM: Now, what people? Do you mean the management?

EC: Oh, management. People like Joe Brady—he was especially protective of me.

GAM: Oh, he is a prince.

EC: Yes, he really is. But, also, even Sid was very considerate of the women who did—I mean, he may not have been able to pay us what he did the men, but he was considerate of us in other ways. And he always watched out for the women that were working under him. So, I never felt that I was mistreated. In fact, I always felt that they kind of were guarding us or something.

GAM: Well, I think that's a nice thing to say about Sid. Just to get the record back down on the ground, though, you know, do you remember Edna Stevens? She was here when I got here in April of '58—big Edna Stevens?

EC: Oh, yes, I remember her! Yes.

GAM: He wouldn't let her become a programmer.

EC: Well, she didn't have a degree.

GAM: Yes, she did. She had a Master's degree in mathematics from the University of Oklahoma!

EC: She did? Well, I didn't know that. She did hand computing.

GAM: Yes, that's right, but she had a Master's degree in mathematics, and she wanted to be a programmer. Sid effectively told her, "Look, you don't have the right personality for it."

EC: Oh, for heaven's sakes.

GAM: Anyway, she left and became the chief programmer for Convair, in Ft. Worth.

EC: Oh, for goodness sake.

GAM: So, I think that's nice, too. But, I was very fond of Edna. She was a great, great person.

EC: Gosh, I hadn't thought of her in years.

GAM: I often wonder what happened to her. You know, just as a matter of interest, she had five or six brothers and sisters. The family was orphaned, and she went to work and put them all through school, and then she went through school. So, she was, so to say, "older" than a typical college graduate. And I think that may have worked, I think incorrectly, against her—she was an explosive, garrulous sort of person. And I guess Sid felt that you can't be a programmer if you're going to be that way.

EC: Well, maybe I had snuck in before him, see? I had snuck in as a programmer before he really took over.

GAM: That's true. He was back in Philadelphia, wasn't he?

EC: That's right. And he didn't take over Computations right away. I was trying to think of who was in charge.

GAM: There wasn't anybody.

EC: Well, maybe there wasn't anybody in charge.

GAM: No, there wasn't anybody. Computation was sort of a part of Theoretical, and nobody was in charge of that. But then after Mark Mills was killed—in 1958 I guess it was—Sid became the acting Director of Theoretical. And they split Comp off, and he became the Director of Comp. He was the head of Comp before that, but it wasn't a department.

EC: No, it was just a group within Theoretical, that's right. Let's see, I must have been working on the CPC under Joe Brady about that time. And they kind of put, I thought, Sid in charge of the little computation group at that time. Now, that might have been 1956 or so. Maybe Sid was just in charge of a part of Computation. My memory's failing me.

GAM: All I can say is, when I got here in '53, among other things I was assigned a hydrodynamics program. There were four of us—Bob Lelevier, Mike May—you remember those guys—and Sid Fernbach, and me.

EC: Okay.

GAM: And man, I was the junior in that section, I'll tell you that! And we, you know, developed this particular design code. Then Dana Warren came along, and I worked with him. And we really elaborated it, and then we went on to other codes beyond that.

Sid, meanwhile, sort of drifted away. The only real interaction he had with the machines was with he and Frank Bjorkland were fooling around with the so-called liquid drop model of the nucleus, with Frank doing most of the computer modeling. But they published a few papers before Frank died. I don't know what happened after that. It's a long time ago.

EC: Yes, indeed.

GAM: Long ago and far away.

You know, Sid liked to go to the picnics, and I thought you were there, too.

EC: I did go to a few. I remember going to one over by Danville somewhere one summer. I remember Sid and Leona were there and the Bings. Do you remember the Bings? It was someplace where there was a swimming pool. I remember that. Let's see, I probably went to a few picnics, but I don't think I went to that many. And they certainly don't stand out in my memory.

GAM: Well, okay, what stands out in your memory, then?

EC: I guess the things that stand out in my memory are the things we did more locally here, with just little small groups. I can remember Bob Schaffer and Bob Carpenter were part of it, and I think Ralph Kiersted and myself. I'm not sure just who else. We used to go over and play volleyball at the back of the Fifth Street school once a week or so. I remember that as being a social thing. And then we might go down to Granucci's afterwards and have a couple pitchers of beer.

I remember being on a bowling team. I did that for a long time, as a member of the bowling team. And we used drive over to Hayward Bowl.

GAM: I never went to Hayward, but I did bowl.

EC: Yes, I remember your bowling at one time.

GAM: Yes. No one took much care to take notes or anything like that, so I don't remember exactly when that was. Well, every Friday, there was kind of a rush to leave here and get to Granucci's. I remember that pretty well.

EC: Yes, I remember that. I didn't participate in that very much. I mean, once in a while I probably went down there.

GAM: Well, while you were here, did you go to a lot of meetings, travel a lot?

EC: Oh, no. I did get to travel once down to Los Alamos. Joe sent me down there to do a double-precision board on a system that had down there. That was on a CPC. I think I was down there for about a week. It was close to a week. So, that was a big thing. I did get a trip to the Nevada Test Site one time. We saw a balloon shot. Bob and I went, and Leota Barr—the three of us.

A couple of times I got to travel back to Endicott, New York, for the 650. I guess before we got the first one here, I went back and we did some programming on the one back there. And then when they came out with a revised, updated model, we went back a second time and did some work back there on it, on the second one. But other than that, I think that was the only traveling I did at the Lab. And I didn't even take part much in the computer conferences and things like that. Once in a while I would go over to San Francisco, if there was one over there, mostly to visit and socialize.

GAM: Well, I remember being with you over there once. Initially the computer conferences were really very useful for everybody.

EC: Oh, yes.

GAM: Now they're getting to be real big show-and-tells, you know. It's not so clear they're valuable any more.

EC: Yes, and during those early years, it was always nice to go to those just to see people that had left the Lab—you know, the old timers—who'd left the Lab and gone elsewhere, to see how they were doing. Do you remember Tom Dewey?

GAM: Yes, I remember him. Well, I think this is fine, let's stop here.




[1] Hans Bruijnes and Frank McMahon wrote a simplified version of THEMIS that ran much faster. That code was used to do most of the predicting of Sputnik. This code was later used for the n-body calculations.




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