The RCA Selectron -- Credits, Acknowledgements and Thanks

The author wishes to express his thanks to those individuals and groups, without whose assistance these pages would be sparse indeed. Dr. Willis Ware of RAND deserves thanks not only for his information and support for this project, but for his technical contributions at the "dawn of the computer era," his continuing contributions to computing for the first fifty years, and his tireless efforts to set the history to paper.

Dr. Alexander Magoun, the Executive Director of the The David Sarnoff Library, has been both patient and encouraging while tolerating my seemingly endless requests for documents, information, and vetted hunches from the archives of the Radio Corporation of America Laboratories. My appreciation for his accommodation during my extended visit to the Library will require some effort on my part to repay. Stacy Fortner of the IBM Corporate Archives provided a wealth of documents and references concerning the RCA - IBM relationship of that era. The staff of the National Archives and Records Administration and the librarians at the United States Air Force Research Laboratory's Libraries at Hanscom AFB and Wright Patterson AFB were helpful and good natured about finding copies of reports, some of which had failed to even be cataloged! Dag Spicer and the staff at the Computer History Museum have been generous in sharing information and providing copies of key documents. The CHM and the Smithsonian are the only two sites where a Selectron is on public display. Hagley Museum and Library were responsive and encouraging in providing documents from their voluminous collection of rescued corporate archives.

My thanks go to Dr. George W. Brown, Messers. Milt Rosenberg and Richard Endres for recollections of their participation as the engineers and scientists of the Selectron project during those early days at RCA. Robert Callan provided much information about Engineering Research Associates and his evaluation of Selectrons being considered as main storage for ERA's early digital computers. It was a privilege to spend time with these gentlemen who, having gone on to make significant contributions to their industry, were generous enough to make time to talk about a (relatively) minor project from the very beginnings of their careers. And my thanks to Robert Chapuis who graciously allowed me to disturb his retirement to ply fifty-year old memories from his long and productive career. And to fellow Cal Poly Electrical Engineering grad Keith Uncapher whose untimely death after only a few conversations provided only a small amount of information but a large amount of inspiration to develop this project.

William M. Dillon, an antique dealer, gets credit for setting this whole project in motion when, at an estate sale in Maryland, he rescued two prototype Selectrons from a rubbish pile because they just didn't look like garbage. The rest, as they say, is history.

I would have had neither the skills nor the drive to work on this project without the cumulative formation of "me" by my friends and associates in my professional life, the remarkable faculty and my fellow students at the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California, and my parents who supported my early attempts at incineration, electrocution, poisoning, financial ruin and the other death-defying events caused by a mad scientist trapped in the body of a small child.

And thank you for visiting; all questions, comments or suggestions are welcome and appreciated. If you have any memories, anecdotes, or artifacts even remotely related to the Selectron project or the people involved -- no matter how peripherally -- please e-mail me.

Charles S. Osborne
Portland, Oregon, USA
September 2003