Christie's auction and other computer history events

From: William Donzelli <>
Date: Fri Feb 18 08:51:15 2005

> Well I sort of agree with you, but huh!? -- 'victors'? US at war
> with Britain? Wrong century! :-)

The Axis powers did not get much credit for inventing much of anything,
and it is quite common for American innovations to get swept aside.

> The brits did make the magnetron
> (no small feat) but certainly, absolutely, the americans developed
> the shit out of it!

Perfect example. The magnetron was not invented in 1940 by Randall and
Boot. The first was invented by Hull in a GE lab back in 1923 - a split
anode type that actually was marketted as the FH-11. Cavity magnetrons
follow from a bunch of people in the 1930s, although they pretty much did
not venture outside the lab. Probably the best know is the "Split Anode
Tank Magnetron" from RCA in 1939 - a short amount of time before Randall
and Boot. This tube did not go far, but it was written up the the
Proceedings. Likewise, the Japanese independently developed the cavity
magnetron in 1940 as well.

> Well, two points. One, most of the early developmental work of
> electronic devices was 1946 on, where England was still ruinated
> (that's a perfectly cromulent word).

So what? Up to 1950 or so, there effectively was no computer industry
anywhere in the world. What was around was pretty small. I am speaking of
the 1960s thru today.

> Though I'll grant -- assuming for argument that Europe (you define
> :-) was on equal footing w/respect to U.S. on ability to
> business-ize computing, they likely would have failed, relatively
> speaking. Though Bull etc are hardly failures -- and in *any*
> startup industry, most of the early players all drop dead.

Many of the startups were not small players, however. Bull was somewhat of
a success (still not like IBM or most of the Seven Dwarves), but Phillips
and Siemens and a host of other established megacorporations just couldn't
manage, and did not even get a small share.

On the flip side, RCA also managed to screw up there computer business
beyond hope.

> Cheated on his wife in front of her, a real party pig and
> womanizer. Larger than life, etc.

Sounds like a real gem.

William Donzelli
Received on Fri Feb 18 2005 - 08:51:15 GMT

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