Alumni Hall of Fame 1999 | SRI International

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Alumni Hall of Fame 1999

Richard Foster

Richard Foster joined SRI in the early 1950s and in his 30-year career provided leadership and expertise that created high prestige and international visibility for SRI. Foster brought together experts in economics and technology to better understand and develop national strategy. This team developed into SRI's Strategic Studies Center (SSC), which worked closely with the Engineering Research Group. SSC’s multidisciplinary strengths gave it an advantage with high-level Washington clients.

Foster’s first assignment was to provide support to the US Army's Operations Research Office at Johns Hopkins University. SRI's contribution grew and the Army decided to support SRI directly. Foster’s work led him into increasingly important programs that brought him into frequent contact with senior level Army staff. He received the Army's Certificate of Appreciation for his “...pioneering effort on the critical problems of the US air defense, strategic deterrence, and national survival.”

Foster's work in air defense led to new assignments in the defense against ballistic missile attack. His group received contracts to study overseas deployment of air and missile defense systems, which entailed extensive investigations of Soviet capabilities. This work was considered so important that its oversight was transferred directly to the Army's Office of the Chief of Staff. The success of this program brought new clients, including the Department of State, CIA, and the Atomic Energy Commission. SSC’s multidisciplinary knowledge also led it into increasingly controversial work, including the proposed Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) defense program (Star Wars). Foster was invited to develop and manage a seminar at SRI (the Teller Symposium) where experts could debate the issues of the Star Wars program.

Richard Foster continued to lead SSC into important areas of research that focused on the ability of our government to function during war. With the breakup of AT&T, Foster's people recommended establishing the National Strategic Telecommunication Advisory Committee, which is still an important part of the National Infrastructure Protection program.

Under Richard Foster, the SSC gave SRI a reputation for being an important contributor to the development of national policy and strategy that continues to be widely recognized today.

John V. N. Granger

After receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1948, Dr. Granger joined SRI in May 1949. His first assignment was to recruit staff, then organize and manage a new engineering labóthe Antenna Lab. He collected a group of excellent researchers, many from Harvard, some from Berkeley, Stanford, and USC. Some of his top recruits were Dr. Jack Bolljahn, Dr. Seymour Cohn, Dr. George Matthei, Dr. Tetsu Morita, and Dr. Edward M. T. Jones.

Granger established strong relationships with the defense research funding sources, including the Air Force Cambridge Research Center, Rome Air Development Center, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. As the Antenna Lab grew in size and reputation, Granger continued his promotional activities, developing contacts with commercial organizations such as Douglas Aircraft, North American, and Lockheed.

Granger's laboratory was very successful in developing new ECM antennas, new log-periodic antennas, and a high-frequency (HF) sounder, which could be used to explore the ionosphere for telecommunications transmission. The large demand for these devices led Dr. Granger to spin off from SRI and establish Granger Associates in Palo Alto in the early 1960s.

In the late 1950s, Dr. Robert Tanner invented a simple device for discharging the static electricity that builds up on flying aircraft. Granger and his staff, including Tanner and others, developed a procedure to design the optimum array of static dischargers for any particular aircraft configuration, thereby minimizing the effects of radio interference. Tannerís patents were licensed to Granger Associates for manufacture and marketing. Eventually all high-speed aircraft, including the "new" Boeing 707 used these devices.

At SRI, John deserves much credit for attracting outstanding staff and providing technical leadership during the period of rapid expansion of SRI's engineering operations. John was a very outgoing, friendly, and technically capable leader. He was especially encouraging to young engineers who joined the growing group. The laboratory that John Granger built became the core of the Electronics and Radio Sciences Division, which eventually peaked at about 500 members.      

Melba Harrison

Melba Harrison joined SRI’s expanding staff as a switchboard operator in 1961. Her career progressed rapidly through a series of positions, culminating in the title of Senior Supervising Receptionist, with a staff of six reporting to her.

As the lead receptionist at the main entrance, Melba was often a client’s first impression of SRI. Many organization theorists have written about the importance of such front-line communicators as Melba Harrison, describing them as the most important link to company business in the organization. In Melba’s case, this proved to be true. In fact, the title receptionist was a misnomer, for Melba created and redefined this role.

To be responsive to her clients’ needs, Melba became familiar with the complexities of SRI’s research in many diverse fields. Her knowledge of SRI’s research combined with her extraordinary memory for names and faces made clients feel welcomed. She was appreciated by clients and visitors from all parts of the world. Her response to the thousands of varied personalities that approached her desk was unfailing helpfulness, knowledge, and cheer.

Melba considered changing careers only once. In the early sixties, she told a vice president she was considering getting into the field of computers because it seemed to be a growing area. The vice president told her, No, computers were just a passing fad.

From her beginning days in 1961 to her retirement in 1995, Melba Harrison touched the world with integrity, wisdom, and kindness. Melba represented SRI under six SRI Presidents, beginning with E. Finley Carter. Three of these presidents attended her farewell party, and others sent messages. Dr. William P. Sommers described her performance this way:

Melba was much more than a receptionist. Clients and visitors spoke of her as an extraordinary person who went out of her way to make people feel welcome. Melba Harrison’s legacy is a wealth of goodwill toward SRI.

Richard C. Honey

Dr. Richard C. Honey made numerous fundamental technical contributions in his career at SRI, which began in 1952. He is an internationally known scientist of great integrity and creativity. His achievements have contributed greatly to SRI's reputation, mainly in antenna design and laser applications. Working with Dr. Ted Jones, Dick developed and patented the first wide-band omnidirectional antenna for direction finding applications. This Honey-Jones antenna is still used today in signal-intelligence applications. Later, the Honey array became the first leaky-wave antenna for practical applications.

In the early 1960s, Dick's interests turned to the new laser technology and how lasers could be applied to solve problems important to society. The first useful development was LIDAR, that is, light radar. Dick's work built a strong reputation for SRI in exploration of the upper atmospheric and in oceanic applications of laser technology. He has always been known for strong theoretical skills, but was noted particularly for his hands-on approach. When it came time for someone to do the deep dive to verify some undersea experiment, Dick was always the first to volunteer. Many of his contributions cannot be discussed in detail, even today, owing to national security implications.

In the late 1960s, Dr. Honey began to apply his knowledge to biomedical applications of the new laser. With a group of ophthalmologists from Stanford University and the Palo Alto Clinic, Dick and his people examined the use of the laser in retinal surgery. Using monkeys as test subjects, Dick and his lab developed the first standards for laser retinal exposure. He served on the first American National Standards Institute (ANSI) committee for establishing eye protection standards. When Dick's boss, SRI VP Don Scheuch, suffered a detached retina in a tennis accident, Don Scheuch became one of the first to benefit from this procedure.

For the past 40 years, Dick Honey has been considered one of the finest professionals at SRI. He is a very kind and gentle contributor, and we all enjoyed working with him and learning from him.

Ralph Krause

Ralph Krause was influential in establishing the character of Stanford Research Institute even before it was formally created. During WWII, he was a young Navy officer serving as Scientific Adviser to the Secretary of the Navy. He helped create a Naval Office of Research and Invention, later to be called the Office of Naval Research (ONR). After the war, while Krause was Commander of the San Francisco branch office of ONR, Drs. Terman and Tressider invited him to Stanford to consult on the possible character of a new organization they were planning, Stanford Research Institute. Krause informed them that ONR would “look favorably” on the creation of an applied research facility, thus tipping the decision in the direction favored by Terman.

At Jesse Hobson’s invitation, Krause joined SRI as Director of Research in June 1948, a position he held through three Director/Presidents. From this position, he would again have influence on the character and development of SRI. He was a part of Hobson’s five-person long range planning team and thus helped write the first Five-Year Plan for SRI. He brought in Tom Morrin from ONR to head the new Engineering Department. Together, Morrin and Krause brought in many of the staff from the Radio Research Lab at Harvard, one of the big laboratories built up for the war effort. Krause also brought in Raymond Ewell from Shell Development to head Chemistry and Chem Engineering, Larry Richards as head of Chemistry, and Jack Gordon as head of Chemical Engineering. He also hired Paul Cook, who initiated the Radiation Engineering Lab.

Krause not only brought key people to SRI, he also used his contacts from years in ONR to open doors to projects in many parts of SRI. For Engineering, he brought in projects on Single Sideband Generation from the US Army Signal Corps, on Electronics Miniaturization from ONR, and Antenna Studies from the Air Material Command. For Chemistry, he brought in a project on Aqueous Bubbles and Project “Rabbit” from ONR as well as a project on Chlorella from the Carnegie Institute. For Economics, he brought in Aircraft Engine Studies from the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics. His travels opened up research possibilities in Europe, Indonesia, Pakistan, and India.

Ralph Krause left SRI a legacy of strong leaders and a broad client base.   

Thomas H. Morrin

The establishment and growth of SRI's Engineering organization were due primarily to the leadership of Thomas H. Morrin. Tom Morrin joined SRI in 1948 as the very first member of what would become the future Engineering Research Group. Based on his extensive Naval Engineering career during WWII and his early postwar association with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Tom Morrin was given the responsibility to build a new Engineering capability at SRI. Morrin attracted leaders, such as Dr. Jerre Noe, Dr. John Granger, Dr. Donald Scheuch, Mr. Lucien Clarke, and others that he had worked with during his ONR days of overseeing the work of the Harvard Radio Research Laboratory, which had contributed significantly to the development of radar during WWII.

Over the next 15 years, as Vice President for SRI’s Engineering Group, Tom Morrin provided the appropriate environment for bringing important and significant government defense and commercial projects to SRI. In 1955, with support from Dr. Fred Terman, Provost of Stanford University, Tom Morrin convinced Dr. Allen Peterson to add to his university professor role and in addition become a senior scientist at SRI. This new relationship created a bridge between Stanford and SRI, which in turn further caused the organization to expand its involvement in important areas.

Morrin also sought out commercial clients that he felt would benefit from innovative technological advances. Morrin worked with Southern Pacific, which established a Basic Ordering Agreement, from which several now-familiar projects emerged, such as the grade crossing computer and the hydrocushion shock absorber coupler technology for cross country transports that is still considered an industry standard.

Morrin had the ability to build a team to meet an objective, then get out of the way and allow it to work. Due in large extent to Morrin's efforts, Engineering grew from a staff of 1 when he arrived in 1948 to 150 when he left in 1963, laying the foundation for a growth to over 1000 later on. He also helped create its outstanding reputation for quality with many parts of the US government and with many important commercial companies worldwide.         

Jerre Noe

Jerre Noe joined SRI as one of the original group that came to SRI from Fred Terman’s Radio Research Lab (RRL) at Harvardóthe group that formed the first Engineering activity here in 1948.

Jerre Noe, who served as Director of the Information Sciences and Engineering Division for many years, was the prime mover to establish SRI's position in the newly emerging fields of computers and information engineering. He set up new laboratories in computers under Byron Bennett, control systems under Fred Kamphoefner, and several other areas that were undergoing rapid development in the 1950s and 1960s.

When Hoot Gibson, SRI's Executive VP, introduced Bank of America President Clark Beise to Tom Morrin and SRI's engineers, it was Jerre Noe who responded with the proposals to B of A to develop a highly automated banking system, including new high-speed check-handling hardware and associated computational systems. The ensuing project, called ERMA for Electronic Recording Machine Accounting, became the largest commercial project at SRI in the 1950s and continued for seven or eight years. The Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) system developed in this project is used today to process billions of bank checks all over the world.

Jerre Noe continued to build his Division capabilities, supporting strong projects in new television technology, electron devices, graphic sciences, and a new lab under Charlie Rosen called Learning Machines, which evolved into the Artificial Intelligence Center and is continuing strongly today.

Jerre reflected the strong background and values of the Harvard group, just as Fred Terman and John Granger had done. He was always a strong technical leader and a friend to all his staff. He was particularly encouraging to the young engineers who joined his Division.

He was an avid sailor and skier and an accomplished musician, playing the flute in some local groups. In 1970 he left SRI to join the University of Washington as the Chairman of the Computer Sciences Department. He now lives in Seattle.

Allen Peterson

Dr. Allen Peterson—"Dr. Pete" to his many associates and "Pete" to his close friends—divided his time between his responsibilities at Stanford University and at SRI (presumably 50/50 but probably more like 100/100). Beginning in 1958, Dr. Pete became a bridge between Stanford and SRI in his fields of interest: high tech computers, digital signal processing, VLSI design, communications systems, radar systems, and remote sensing systems.

Dr. Pete's early responsibility at SRI was as Manager of the Communications and Propagation Laboratory. When the Laboratory grew to about 150 people, Dr. Pete turned over management of the Laboratory to Ray Leadabrand and Ray Vincent so that he could work hands-on with the engineers and scientists on urgent technical problems of the day. He was well respected in the military science and technology community, particularly in radio physics and communications. He contributed to the planning and implementation of the International Geophysical Year.

Dr. Pete had a long involvement with the physics of atmospheric nuclear explosions and their effects on the ionosphere and on radio-wave propagation. He organized SRI's participation in the atmospheric nuclear tests in the summer of 1958 (TEAK, ORANGE, and ARGUS) in cooperation with the then Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory. Later, Dr. Pete attended the atmospheric nuclear test-ban-treaty negotiations in Geneva shortly after the ARGUS test as technical advisor to the U.S. Delegation to the Geneva Conference on Discontinuation of Nuclear Tests. In the early 1960s, he worked on the FISHBOWL atmospheric nuclear tests in the Pacific.

Dr. Pete was a persuasive negotiator both within Stanford and within the Government. After helping get approval to build the 150-ft parabolic-dish antenna in the Stanford antenna field, he helped use the SRI dish and a university transmitter for the then new field of radar (and some radio) astronomy. Dr. Pete used a similar antenna in Scotland in one of the first U.S. satellite-communications experiments.

Throughout the Cold War, SRI was squarely on the map because of Dr. Pete's efforts. His outstanding engineering and scientific knowledge had a huge influence on SRI programs and on the technical development of all who worked with him.

Lorraine Pratt

Lorraine Pratt joined SRI as an Assistant Librarian in July 1948 and was appointed Librarian in 1950. During her tenure, she met the challenge of providing support to a research institute staff whose disciplines ranged in diversity from economics and engineering to the life and physical sciences. Lorraine was not only instrumental in building a collection of books and journals to support the staff, she also provided services such as literature searching, purchase of publications, and borrowing of books and journals that were not in the library collection. There were few projects at SRI that did not include support from the library.

In 1953, she established branch libraries in Economics, Engineering, and Life Sciences to provide better local and professional support. In 1954 she established an Atomic Energy Commission depository at SRI. A Documents Center was established that included classified and unclassified documents. After this was disbanded, Lorraine assumed control of the Records Center, which included SRI reports and an archives program.

Lorraine's early recognition (1973) of the value of online database systems as a research tool resulted in a savings of both time and money to SRI researchers and consultants. She also recognized automation as a means of streamlining operations within the library. In 1980 she initiated a private file of 55,000 records of SRI reports on DIALOG.

Lorraine recognized the unique character of the library and aligned herself with librarians from Battelle, A.D. Little, SDC, and Rand Corporation. They met annually, sometimes at SRI, to discuss similar challenges within their libraries. She was recognized within the library community and was active nationally and internationally.

Don R. Scheuch

Don Scheuch was one of the first recruits from the Radio Research Lab (RRL) at Harvard. When Tom Morrin joined SRI in 1948 as the Director of the first SRI Engineering effort, he encouraged several of the more talented and experienced staff at RRL to come west to the newly established SRI in California. They came to Stanford and to SRI to build a regional center of electronics capability (later to be known as Silicon Valley). Like several others at RRL, Don Scheuch saw this as an opportunity to take on a new responsibility at SRI and, at the same time, to continue his work toward a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Stanford.

Scheuch joined SRI in May of 1949 and organized SRI's first Systems Analysis activity, attracting many young engineers to the area. Later, he was asked to serve as Vice President for the Electronics and Radio Sciences Division, which made up about 60% of the Engineering Research Group. The laboratories under his direction gained national recognition for providing pioneering work in support of the national air defense and ballistic missile defense efforts.

In the 1960s, Dr. Scheuch became the Engineering Group Director and later Senior Vice President for all of Engineering. The Group grew to more than 1000 staff. Under President Charlie Anderson's Office of Research Operations (ORO), Dr. Scheuch was appointed as chief of all of SRI's research activities. Don was a friendly and outgoing manager. He was particularly supportive and encouraging to the more junior people who were being recruited at that time of rapid growth.

Following his retirement from SRI in the early 1980s, he joined a local venture capital firm to offer his technical expertise to their investment skills. He still makes his home in nearby Portola Valley.

Ronald Swidler

Ron Swidler was the first chemist to be hired at SRI's new Southern California Labs in 1956 and he helped build the South Pasadena labs. He developed long-term client relationships that kept him busy for many years. After Ron transferred to Menlo Park in 1970, he managed the Organic Special Programs Department. After several years, he decided that management didn't suit his skills and that he wanted to stick to chemical research. As an independent researcher, he could promote and direct his own projects and lend support to other ongoing projects that needed his creative skills.

One outstanding success was Ron's invention and development of Ankaphast, a new class of dyes developed under a contract with Burlington Industries. The dyes were stable to light and laundering and were much easier to manufacture than other dye systems. For other clients, he developed and patented processes for making permanent press fabrics, fire retardant coatings for fabrics, and new inks and toners for color printers.

In 1975, Dr. Swidler joined the project sponsored by Savin Business Machines, which was the largest commercial project at SRI at that time. SRI was developing a completely new line of office copiers for Savin, using a newly conceived liquid-toner approach. The project was set up in the Engineering Group, where experts in electronics, electrostatics, optical imaging, and mechanical design were available. Ron Swidler brought to the project a complete understanding of the chemical requirements for such an undertaking—the chemistry of the photoconductive drum, the toner development materials, and the entire exposure process. The Chairman of Savin, Mr. Paul Charlap, told us that the results of our work produced more than $100 million in new copier sales.

In his 32 years at SRI, Ron worked with all three SRI business groups and with researchers in many disciplines. His thirty patents and numerous patents pending do not fully reflect the range of his creativity in fields such as fatty acid chemistry, dye and pigment chemistry, cellulose chemistry, textiles processing, boron chemistry, and electro-photography. Ron Swidler's legacy is an outstanding example of how we can work across divisions in interdisciplinary teams to succeed on complex projects.

Oswald "Mike" Villard

Mike Villard was one of several SRI staff members hired by Fred Terman to work at the Harvard Radio Research Lab in the early 1940s. At the end of the war, Mike and others received graduate assistantships at Stanford University. After receiving his Ph.D., Mike undertook research at Stanford in communications and propagation. Through mathematical analysis and laboratory research, Mike led the development of a new way of generating high power SSB at the final amplifier. Around 1949, the Army Signal Corps placed a major contract with SRI, in collaboration with Stanford, to pursue this important topic.

Around 1970, Mike brought his over-the-horizon (OTH) radar staff and skill base to SRI. He continued and extended basic research, previously conducted at Stanford, and developed important engineering applications, often anticipating national defense needs.

At SRI, Mike developed advanced techniques for canceling target return signals from radar and sonar that resulted in reducing aircraft and submarine detection. This work led to important active and semiactive stealth technologies. Mike and his SRI associates directed the design and construction of important state-of-the-art measurement equipment that extended crucial experiments to higher frequencies.

Mike devised an inconspicuous antenna technique for nulling out communications jammer signals. This technology permitted people in oppressed countries to receive HF and MF Voice of America radio programs in spite of efforts by governments unfriendly to the United States to block that information. Later, Chinese students in this country, outraged by the Tienniman Square student killings, translated into Cantonese Mike's write-up for the antenna design. Mike received many requests for the paper from Mainland Chinese relatives.

Mike was practical, inventive, and intuitive—good at designing the decisive, definitive experiment. His vision, anticipating national defense needs, his imaginative solutions to critical problems, and his SRI leadership brought national recognition to him, his associates, and the Institute.