The RCA Selectron -- Nathaniel Rochester Oral History Excerpt
Interviewee: Nat [Nathanial] Rochester, IBM Corporation
Interviewer: Henry S. Tropp
Also Present: Jean Sammett
Date: July 24, 1973
Repository: Archives Center, National Museum of American History
The .. that brings up an interesting question that I'd like to have your comment on. This
is your attempt or decision to use the Williams tube memory, as opposed to what Von
Neumann was trying to do and that's use the Selectrons here. Was there a serious thought
to using the Selectron on the 701?
There was a serious evaluation of the Selectron.
We .. we went down and saw the work that was going on at Princeton, and I knew a
fellow, Jan Rajchman at RCA. He concocted the thing.
Right. It was his conception, yes.
Yeah. And I don't know if this preceded or, I think the idea preceded the Williams, the
Williams tube, didn't it?
No, I don't think so. I think the Williams tube preceded it, but they were essentially in
the same environment,
roughly in the same time frame.
Right. Well, we felt that the, that the Williams tube scheme was much simpler and could
be made to work all right. We eventually had to make our own cathode ray tubes.
That's another question I meant to ask you earlier. I'd heard that there was a capability of
making tubes at IBM,
That they were -- was it your intent to build your own for any long period, or was this a
temporary measure because of the difficulty of getting the kinds of tubes you wanted?
Well, we just did it because, because we had to. We had some physicists around that
were, that understood how to do that sort of thing.
And we just couldn't buy the tubes that we felt we had to have to make a practical
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