BIOGRAPHIES Charles Howard Vollum Charles Howard ... - vintageTEK

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TEKTRONIX: THE ENTREPREWEURIA'H-PERl'bD, 1946*4954

PART 1: BIOGRAPHIES

Charles Howard Vollum

Charles Howard Vollum was -born- dn:::May~:31^1§^^ He ' *V:CC':N' :•:'!-• )':r"^£.Y • graduated from St. Agatha's Sch6ol":ahd-.St. . Stephens-. (now,^e;D;fera^ y^pft-Sshool); ^ and he attended Columbia Un1yer54tyr(nb^f.^he-:yn-!ve^§1ty^Qf Portland) fb.r two years.

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Legend has it that he -built .hi sf first ^'seiJIlpscope while -at Columbia " '-'"''

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University.

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An early acquaij9;tascev:^^3nk,.H0od3:.-:r2m^mber.s:vOn,i8 of- those early

instruments as looking like a^-VbjFeaidb'b^v^Ramfned with^p^rt&iwxth" K;f>:iad;erOf sewer pipe on top" (the sev/e;r p-jpa wa^lohsH1;^:1el1-,.the display froin-vithe; earth's magnetic field).

Legend also has it that Howard -tfie^-tp-- transfer',%or Oregon 'State but/ was turned down for lack of he than 'stook^liis .oscilloscope -ovsr to . credentials; * ••*..' Reed College, where he was accepted/ :-

Reed College at the time had some ex-traordjina-ryj^cl^ators-tin Its department, i n c l u d i n g Dr. M^rGUS $J,'payiyand Or; A* A. Know)-ton*

Dr*. -Knpwlton :

" *& " " , . . ' . particularly was noted for the^'quality of stude^fe- h&-trained w^nch resulted, :

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in Reed College ranking ahead o|:(c"oneges;.sucj3; as . S^nfof.d^i^ numbers of . " • ;._••, . --i'-pj- • j- -_ %

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graduates listed in American Men- of Science.during..thevl930 l sf....-. 9r. Knowlton

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published a textbook in 1928 which revolutionized college physics instruction by approaching physics from a humanistic rather than purely technical standpoint.

Dr. Knowlton was also noted for his fierce and lifelong espousal of

academic freedom.

He taught at Reed College for 33 years.

Dr. Knowlton

consulted for industry and found, for example, a method for solving the problem of static electricity blotting out airplane radio reception.

Howard's senior thesis in physics at Reed was "A Stable Beat Frequency Oscillator Equipped with a Direct Reading Frequency Meter".

The thesis

reflected Howard's determination to design instruments that would, as Frank Hood remembers that Howard said many times during this period, "produce not qualitative readings, but quantitative readings."

In fact, the instrument

that Howard built and described in his thesis offered an accuracy in measuring frequency of 1 percent at a time when conventional designs could measure to only 10 percent.

Howard also built an oscilloscope at Reed that was still in

regular use 22 years later (on the 10th anniversary of Tektronix).

After graduating from Reed in 1936, Howard worked on his own for a while repairing electrical appliances, then joined the M. J. Murdock Company. Howard worked at servicing and installing home and auto radios and air conditioning devices for four years until, in 1940,

he placed first in a com-

petitive exam and for $150 a month supervised the Radio Project of the National Youth Administration, a defense project to teach young people the basics of electronics.

At the age of 26, Howard Vollum was drafted. "the only lottery I ever won".

He would later say that it was

On March 4, 1940, his military career started

with infantry training at Camp Roberts, where he stayed for nine months. Legend has it that during this period the Camp General's radio broke down, and Howard fixed it with ease.

In any case, Howard received the first direct

commission ever giv