Conversations with Lynn Urry

Last updated: April 19, 2012
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Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2012 14:36:33 -0700
From: Lynn Urry<>
To: Jacques L'Heureux
Subject: LASR

Hi Jacques

I came across the LASR web site and looked over the Midway Labs mug shots and the Alumni list and found that I was not there. How soon we forget! I was hired shortly after Sputnik was launched around 1960 before Gene Drag and Ron Draus were hired. I worked as a technician under Robert Takaki with Gene, Ron, John Stepney and Huey Tibbs. It's good to see that Gene, Ron and John all got advanced to engineer.

I can remember Robert bringing in carbonated watermelon (cooled in the dry ice chest) at lunch time and every once and a while his moment of culture where he would expound on some philosophical topic. I can remember John and Huey laughing about the times they were discriminated against and the big question then was whether a black man or a white woman would be elected president first. I guess now we know.

Those were pre integrated circuit days and I invented the modular miniaturization scheme used in a lot of the packages. I left Midway Labs before the move to LASR and went to Purdue to get an engineering degree. I then went to UC Berkeley and got a Masters degree and got a job with the Radio Astronomy Labs there. I was involved in the design and construction of several interferometer systems. I retired a few years ago in 2007 and am now 74 years old.

I noticed another missing person was Peter? Petraitis. I think his first name was Peter. The spelling of his last name is the way he spelled it. He loaned me a book which I still have, "Rocket Manual for Amateurs" and his last name is printed in it.

Wilbert Lynn Urry (Lynn)

Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2012 13:18:54 -0700
From: Lynn <>
To: Jacques L'Heureux
CC: Gene Drag <>, Paul Petraitis <>
Subject: Re: LASR

Hi Jacques

I am including an article written by Jim Lamport for the Autumn 1966 issue of Chicago Today about LASR. On page 13 of the article there appears a picture of a hand holding a detector between fingers and a small cube resting on the knuckle. (chicago_today5.pdf) The detector is a large surface area silicon diode constructed at Midway Labs. The small cube is an example of the miniaturization technique that I developed at Midway Labs.

As I recall they had a good deal of difficulty producing quality diodes. They were constructed by sawing a slab of silicon off the end of a single crystal ingot. The slab was then coated with a layer of gold. The diodes that were left over night before coating seemed to work better. The mystery was traced to a light switch which released a small amount of beryllium copper into the air every time it was switched providing a small amount of impurity to the silicon

It is true that Robert Takaki was a math major and as far as I know had no formal training in engineering but he did design most if not all of the electronics used in the instruments developed at Midway Labs. He approached the problem like a math problem and derived some interesting rules of thumb for transistor design that I have not seen in engineering school. I still consider him the principal design engineer for our group.


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