Looking through filing cabinets crammed with 50 years worth of magazines can bring back memoriescertainly, at least, for the three decades that this editor has been associated with Microwaves & RF. Coming from a background in mathematics and physics, it took some time at first to digest the many different uses for microwave-frequency electronics products; back in 1981, I had no understanding how microwave signals could be generated, amplified, filtered, or even measured. Over these past 30 years, it has been a privilege to experience the introduction of hundreds (if not thousands) of exciting new products and technologies, and to watch as some things once deemed impossible became possible.
But more than technology, or products, or even the births of companies is the remembrance of the people of this industry over the past 30 years. In looking through old magazines to remember efforts that went into writing about different products, companies, and technologies, there were the vivid images of special individuals who took the time to explain their technologies or their designs to an unpolished young editor who had much to learn about microwave technology. Before Agilent Technologies, for example, there was Hewlett-Packard Co. and its many different instrument groupsincluding in Palo Alto, CA, Santa Rosa, CA, Santa Clara, CA, Lake Stevens, WA, and Spokane, WA. This is a company that was special when it was HP and is special now as Agilent, mainly because of its people. People like its highly intelligent and personable Marketing Communications (or Marcom, as HP called them) Managers, such as Al Thorne in Santa Clara, Janine Whitacre in Spokane, and Ben Zarlingo in Lake Stevens. A visit to one of the divisions and to these folks to learn about a new product was like a visit to an old friend, with much laughter and joy.
Even among HP's special group of Marcom Managers, two stood out as exceptional people and engineering professionals: John Minck in Palo Alto and Dean Abramson in Santa Rosa. In looking back at those two relationships, there is no way to repay all those invaluable lessons in human nature, in competing fairly, and even in microwave electronic technologies that they've imparted over the years.
In some cases, people in this industry became memorable for a simple kindness, such as when Irwin Jacobs agreed to take time away from his companyQualcomm, a company that was hot at the time and getting hotter for its CDMA technologyto be Keynote Speaker at a totally unknown technical conference (the first-ever Wireless Symposium & Exhibition in 1993) simply because I asked if he would. Or all the times that an obviously busy Harvey Kaylie of Mini-Circuits would take a break in his schedule to explain various performance aspects of RF and microwave mixers to a clueless editor.
Obviously, one meets many fine people over 30 years of working in an industry, and it would be impossible to name all those who merit a mention. But in looking back, it is the people who are most memorable, beyond any technology, test instrument, or software program. And it is the people who make this industry special to this day.
The RF/microwave industry has never been on the flashy side of electronics, such as in large-screen televisions or high-speed computers. It is more closely associated with typically covert applications, like military systems. Cellular communications has help raised the industry's visibility, but this continues to be a unique industry, filled by unique people who came to it by choice or by accident. But, like this editor, once they find this industry, they know they are home.