Saturday, December 11, 2010

You Can’t Go Home Again, a Requiem for the Holmdel Bell Labs

Arial view of the Holmdel Bell Labs, possibly taken in 2007.

Photo taken on 12/7/2010

My company holiday party / quarterly meeting took place this past week at the Robert B. Meyner reception center at PNC Bank Arts Center x116 off of the garden state parkway.

Just around the corner from the former Holmdel Bell Labs.

Where I had the best summer job ever as a Senior Technical Associate, the summer after my junior year in college.

So of course I drove over for a visit.

It was so sad.

I knew that after the breakup of AT&T, Bell Labs as it was then, no longer existed, but I did not know what I would find.

The place was deserted. I drove up to the building which had been the labs. The one guard let me in to tell me I couldn’t come in. And he wouldn’t let me take a picture. But I did get a good look.

Even though it looked like a ruin, I remembered the atrium clearly. (As opposed to my recent visit to CCNY which mostly didn’t even look familiar.)

Amazingly, I do not have a single picture from when I worked there. Back in those days I did not have a blog so I did not walk around with a camera surgically attached at the hip like I do now. Also, back in those days, you used to take a picture on "film" and you sometimes didn't get the picture developed for months because it sat in the camera until you finished the "roll".

But here are some pictures of the atrium I found on the web.

This is how it looked back in the day:
and this is how it looked last week, but without the trees.

It turns out that the building was in use until 2006 by Alcatel-Lucent, when it was sold. Developers were going to raze it to build an office park, a housing division, or some other piece of NJ style junk. A public outcry was able to stop the building from being razed and the rest if the area from being "developed". The site seems to be in limbo now.

Not only did I remember the atrium, I remembered the duck pond in the photo on top.

I did not remember the "transistor" water tower.

More info on Bell Labs from (Don't bother looking for my name. It is not on the list.)

Researchers at Bell Labs have received numerous awards, including seven Nobel Prizes in physics, nine U.S. national Medals of Science, seven U.S. National Medals of Technology, two Draper Prizes, an Emmy, a Grammy, and an Academy Award. Our scientists and engineers have played a pivotal role in inventing or perfecting most of the key communications technologies in use today, including:
• the transistor, which ushered in the digital age
• the charge-coupled device (CCD) which made digital imaging and portable video possible
• the UNIX computer operating system, which is the foundation of the Internet
• the C computer programming language
• the laser
• communication satellites
• cellular telephony
• IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem), the new architecture for converged communication networks and services

Internationally recognized as the world's preeminent industrial research facility and as a center of scientific and engineering excellence, few institutions have had as great an impact on modern society as Bell Labs. Our scientists and engineers have earned thousands of awards, including:
• 7 Nobel Prizes in Physics shared by 13 scientists
• 9 U.S. Medals of Science
• 12 U.S. Medals of Technology
• 2 Draper Prizes
• 1 GRAMMY® Award
• 8 Marconi International Fellowship Awards
• 7 C&C Prizes shared by 12 scientists and engineers
• 28 IEEE Medal of Honor winners
Nobel Prize in Physics
Thirteen researchers have received Nobel Prizes in Physics for work done while they were at Bell Labs. The Nobel Prize is the world's most coveted award in intellectual achievement. Categories for awards are physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, peace and economics. The awards honor Alfred Nobel, the Swedish chemist and philanthropist. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry since 1901.
• Charge Coupled Device (CCD) (2009): Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their invention and development of the charge-coupled device (CCD), a technology that transforms patterns of light into useful digital information and is the basis for many forms of modern imaging.
• Fractional Quantum Hall Effect (1998): Horst Stormer, Robert Laughlin (now at Stanford University), and Daniel Tsui (now at Princeton University), were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery and explanation of the fractional quantum Hall effect.
• Optical Trapping (1997): Steven Chu (now at Stanford University), shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics. He was cited for developing methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.
• Radio Astronomy (1978): Arno A. Penzias (now retired from Bell Labs) and Robert W. Wilson shared the Nobel Prize in Physics. Penzias and Wilson were cited for their discovery of faint background radiation remaining from the "big bang" explosion that gave birth to the universe billions of years ago.
• Improved Understanding of Local Electronic States in Solids (1977): Philip W. Anderson shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for developing an improved understanding of the electronic structure of glass and magnetic materials.
• Transistor (1956): John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain and William Shockley received the Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing the transistor in 1947.
• Wave Nature of Matter (1937): Clinton J. Davisson shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for demonstrating the wave nature of matter. His fundamental work is part of the foundation for much of today's solid-state electronics.
Four scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physics who once worked at Bell Labs:
• 1996: Sir Harold Kroto of the University of Sussex shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Rice University professors Richard Smalley and Robert Curl, who in 1985 discovered the forms of carbon now known as buckminsterfullerenes, fullerenes, or just "buckyballs." Kroto had a one-year postdoctoral assignment at Bell Labs in 1966-67, before he did his Nobel-winning work.
• 1996: Douglas C. Osheroff, a Bell Labs researcher for 15 years, shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for work he did at Cornell University as a graduate student on the behavior of helium at extremely low temperatures.
• 1981: Arthur L. Schawlow received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his "contribution to the development of laser spectroscopy." Schawlow invented the laser with Charles H. Townes while at Bell Labs in 1958.
• 1964: Charles H. Townes shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with A. Prokhorov and N. Basov of the Lebedev Institute in Moscow for "fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics which has led to the construction of oscillators and amplifiers based on the maser-laser principle." Townes invented the laser with Arthur L. Schawlow while a consultant at Bell Labs in 1958.
National Medal of Science
The National Medal of Science was established by the United States Congress in 1959. The medal is awarded by the U.S. President to individuals "deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, or engineering sciences." The awards, administered by the U.S. National Science Foundation, have been awarded to nine Bell Labs researchers.
• C. Kumar Patel (1996) for his invention of the carbon dioxide laser, which led to numerous scientific, industrial, and medical applications.
• James Flanagan (1996) for bringing engineering techniques and speech science together to solve basic problems in speech communication.
• Alfred Y. Cho (1993) For his pioneering work in the development of molecular beam epitaxy, which revolutionized thin film growth making possible atomically accurate structures for electronic and optoelectronic devices, and for the study of new quantum phenomena.
• William O. Baker (1988) For pioneering studies of the complex relationships between the molecular structures and physical properties of polymers, for his distinguished record of leadership in the combined disciplines of science and engineering, and for distinguished service to government and education.
• Solomon J. Buchsbaum (1986) for his contributions to national science and technology policy.
• Philip Anderson (1982) for his fundamental and comprehensive contributions to the theoretical understanding of condensed matter.
• Rudolph Kompfner (1974) for his invention of the traveling-wave tube and for major contributions to communication satellites and to optical communications.
• John R. Tukey (1973) for his studies in mathematical and theoretical statistics, and for his outstanding contributions to the application of statistics to the physical, social, and engineering sciences.
• John R. Pierce (1963) for outstanding contributions to communications theory, electron optics and traveling wave tubes, and for the analysis leading to world-wide radio communications using artificial earth satellites.
National Medal of Technology
The National Medal of Technology is presented by the United States President to individuals, teams, or companies, for accomplishments in the innovation, development, commercialization, and management of technology, made evident by the establishment of new or significantly improved products, processes, or services. The medal, administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce, has been awarded to Bell Labs as an organization and to seven Bell Labs researchers.
• Herwig Kogelnik (2006) for his pioneering contributions and leadership in the development of lasers, optoelectronics, integrated optics and lightwave communications systems.
• James E. West (2006) for co-inventing the electret microphone with Gerhard Sessler while working at the Bell Labs.
• Alfred Y. Cho (2005) for his contributions to the invention of molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) and his continuing work to refine it into a commercial process. MBE ‘grows’ ordered materials one atomic layer at a time, allowing engineering of the highly precise semiconductor components needed for advanced electronics and photonics.
• Arun Netravali (2002) for pioneering contributions in digital image and video compression technology.
• Kenneth Thompson and Dennis Ritchie (1998) for creating the UNIX* operating system and C Language.
• Richard H. Frenkiel and Joel S. Engel (1994) for their fundamental contributions to the theory, design, and development of cellular mobile communications systems.
• Amos Joel (1993) For his vision, inventiveness and perseverance in introducing technological advances in telecommunications, particularly in switching, that have had a major impact on the evolution of the telecommunications industry in the U.S. and worldwide.
• W. Lincoln Hawkins (1992) For his invention and contribution to the commercialization of long-lived plastic coatings for communications cable that has saved billions of dollars for telephone companies around the world; and for his leadership in encouraging minorities to pursue science and engineering careers.
• John S. Mayo (1990) for providing the technological foundation for information age communications and for overseeing the conversion of the national switched telephone network from analog to digital-based technology.
• Bell Laboratories (1985) for contributions over decades to modern communications systems. It was the first institution recognized with this honor.
Draper Prize
The Charles Stark Draper Prize, awarded by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, recognizes outstanding engineering achievements that have contributed to the welfare and freedom of humanity. It is considered the world's highest engineering prize.
• Willard Boyle and Dr. George Smith (2006) For their invention and development of the charge-coupled device, or CCD, which transforms patterns of light into useful digital information, The CCD is the key enabling technology in many forms of modern imaging including its universal use in digital cameras, video cameras, endoscopy, astronomy, bar code readers, and image scanners (e.g., copy machines)
• John MacChesney (1999) for his invention and development of the modified chemical vapor deposition (MCVD) process, a world standard for optical-fiber manufacturing.
Marconi International Fellowship Awards
Eight Bell Labs researchers have won the Marconi International Fellowship Award. The Fellowships, based out of Columbia University, New York, N.Y., are granted to individuals who have made significant contribution to the advancement of communications or knowledge transfer through scientific or technological discoveries or innovations.
• Andrew Chraplyvy and Robert Tkach (2009) for their insights into how information is transmitted over optical networks and for finding innovative ways to significantly increase the speed and capacity of optical fiber communications systems.
• Herwig Kogelnik (2001) for his work as a pioneer in the development of fiber optic technology - work that has revolutionized modern telecommunications.
• Izuo Hayashi (1993) for his pioneering contributions to optoelectronic technology, including the first room-temperature continuous-wave semiconductor injection laser with double heterostructure, highly reliable lasers for optical communication, optical memory, and many other applications, as well as for his life contribution to communications science.
• James L. Flanagan (1992) for his contributions to the development of signal coding algorithms used in telecommunications, voice-mail systems, and techniques for automatic speech synthesis and recognition. In addition, Flanagan invented autodirective microphone arrays for use in teleconferencing and pioneered the use of computers for acoustic signal processing.
• Robert W. Lucky (1987) for the invention of the adaptive equalizer while at Bell Labs. This invention is a technique for correcting distortion in telephone signals, and is today used in all high-speed data transmissions. Lucky also is well respected for his popularized writings about public use of communications technology.
• John R. Pierce (1979) for advances in space and satellite technologies relevant to improving world communications. Pierce was the first person carefully to evaluate the various technical options in satellite communications and its financial prospects. While at Bell Labs, he designed and was responsible for the launch of the first active communications satellite, Telstar I. His work has resulted in the theoretical development of the possibilities of communications satellites and of broadband digital transmissions via pulse code modulations and multivalent signals. Pierce is well known for his many books that explain clearly the science and technology of communications.
• Arthur L. Schawlow (1977) for his research in the fields of optical and microwave spectroscopy, nuclear quadrupole resonance superconductivity, and lasers. Schawlow, along with Charles H. Townes, invented the laser in 1958. While working at Bell Labs, they succeeded in extending the maser principle of amplifying electromagnetic waves into the shorter wavelengths of infrared and visible light. Schawlow won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1981.
C&C Prize
Twelve Bell Labs scientists and engineers have been honored with the C&C (Computers and Communication) Prize, awarded by the NEC Corporation. This award recognizes individuals who are pioneers in the field of computers and communication technologies.
• George Smith and Willard Boyle (1999) For their invention of the charge-coupled device (CCD), a light-sensitive integrated circuit used in a wide variety of uses, primarily in imaging.
• Arun Netravali (1997) For pioneering contributions in digital image and video compression technology.
• Alfred Y. Cho (1995) for pioneering development of the Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) crystal growth process, a technology that is revolutionizing high-performance optoelectronics and electronics for computers and communications.
• Jack M. Sipress (1991) for leadership in the development of high-speed digital fiberguide systems that span the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, thereby making possible global digital connectivity over high-capacity optical systems.
• Dennis M. Ritchie and Kenneth L. Thompson (1989) for creating the UNIX* operating system and C programming language.
• John S. Mayo, Eric E. Sumner, and M. Robert Aaron (1988) for pioneering contributions to establishing a basic technology for digital communications by developing the world's first practical commercial high-speed digital communications system, T-1.
• Izuo Hayashi and Morton B. Panish (1986) for conceiving and developing the first room-temperature continuous-wave semiconductor injection laser with double heterostructure.
IEEE Medal of Honor
A number of scientists who were associated with Bell Labs during the course of their careers have received the IEEE Medal of Honor. Each year, IEEE awards the medal, which is the highest honor in the electrical engineering community, to an individual who has made significant contributions to the field. The recipients associated with Bell Labs include:
• Herwig Kogelnik (2001)
• Alfred Y. Cho (1994)
• Amos E. Joel, Jr. (1992)
• C. Kumar Patel (1989)
• John Wilder Tukey (1982)
• Sidney Darlington (1981)
• William Shockley (1980)
• H. Earle Vaughan (1977)
• John R. Pierce (1975)
• Rudolf Kompfner (1973)
• John Bardeen (1971)
• Charles H. Townes (1967)
• Claude E. Shannon (1966)
• George C. Southworth (1963)
• Harry Nyquist (1960)
• H. T. Friis (1955)
• Ralph Brown (1949)
• R. V. L. Hartley (1946)
• Lloyd Espenschied (1940)
• G. A. Campbell (1936)
• J. A. Fleming (1933)
• G. W. Pickard (1925)
• M. I. Pupin (1924)
• John Stone-Stone (1923)
• Lee De Forest (1922)
• R. A. Fessenden (1921)
• E. H. Armstrong (1917)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kyoto Prize recipients omitted.