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Information Technology Pioneers

Retirees and former employees of Unisys, Lockheed Martin, and their predecessor companies

On this Page

  1. Introduction [left]
  2. Interviewees - Jim Rapinac, Fred Hargesheimer, Marc Shoquist, Jack Hill, and Larry Debelak.
  3. Interview questions created/compiled by Ole
  4. ERA Old Timers
  5. Additional Interview Videos from 2007

 

Ch 11 People A-B, Ch 12 People C-F, Ch 13 People G-H, Ch 14 People I-L , Ch 15 People M-O, Ch 16 People P-R, Ch 17 People S, Ch 18 People T-Z, Ch 19 Deceased, Ch 20 They Flew, Ch 21 Anecdotes, Ch 22 Oral Interviews, Ch 29 Indexing

Ch 22, People Interviewed 

1. Introduction

As part of the LMCO and VIP Club Legacy initiative, several retired employees have been interviewed. As these interviews are transcribed, they'll be posted hereunder. LABenson

  • If you are interested in the interview of a specific person, John Westergren has provided a list of those recorded to date and the media type.
  • The Charles Babbage Institute also has several oral interviews available.    

We are seeking persons who are willing to transcribe these 30+ interviews:
Clyde Allen, Manny Block, Bill Butler, Tom Delaney, Abe Franck, Bill Geiger, Jay Gildemeister, Jack Hill, Chuck Homan, Gale Jallen, Bernie Jansen, Frank Kline, Dave Kolling, Steve Koltes, Jim Kzaley, Myron Lecy, Don Mager, John Markfelder, Ed Nelson, Howard Nissen, Phil Phipps, Chuck Proshek, Jack Ross, Roy Valentini, and Don Vizanko.  Video recording coordinated by John Westergren.

2. Interviewee Snippets:

2.1 Jim 'Rapp' Rapinac

Jim's career spanned UNIVAC to UNISYS. He began as a manufacturing planner and retired as a Marketing Vice President. The Legacy committee is quite thankful to have 'Rapp' as the first completed oral interview and because he has made so many textual contributions to the various sections of our web site and history. Jim lived in a small town on the Minnesota Iron Range as a boy, moved with family to CA, played basketball, and was drafted into the Army. He wrote about his Military Service which was mostly about managing officers' clubs.  Keith Myhre has digitized Rapp's 59-minute audio interview; Rapinac Audio Interview by Richard 'Ole' Olson and John Westergren on 9/9/2007 - Your PC or smart device needs an audio player (.wmv) app. 

2.2 Fred Hargesheimer

Interview conducted September 18th, 2007.  Ed Nelson, Ole, Marc Shoquist, and Bill Butler chatted during the an interview.  Listen to the 54 minute phone conversation by clicking here.  Fred's career spanned ERA to Sperry. He spent most of his 20+ year career in marketing, beginning by selling the ERA Automatic Antenna Coupler. His skills as a ham radio operator and a P-38 pilot made him an ideal customer contact person as he knew both the communication technology and aircraft characteristics. More about Fred in the Deceased chapter and a linked booklet http://vipclubmn.org/Articles/Fred_Hargesheimer.pdf compiled by Ed Nelson after the phone call. 

2.3  Marc Shoquist

Marc was an avid contributor to our Legacy Anthology. His areas of expertise were the Antennae Couplers, Serial Interfaces, and Fiber Optic interfaces. After retirement, he was an avid promoter of the 4H. Others knew him as a multi-decade, astute leader in the Growth Stock Investment Club. He had both Navy and Army service records - survived by a daughter and granddaughter.  A 42-minute video interview is available to download and watch, vipclubmn.org/ERAGuys/ShoquistMarcInterviewSept4-07.mp4

2.4  John 'Jack' Hill

Jack's daughter, Bonnie Hill, provided the following Charles Babbage Institute interview information while responding to a Curt Brown Minneapolis Star Tribune article printed January 10th, 2021.  That article focused on Don Weidenbach whose proudest memory is the Speed Tally computer. 

NORBERG: Right. So let's pick up there in March of 1947.
HILL: I came on this task and Bob Erickson and, let's see now. I can pretty well call the roll here because there were very few. There was Bob Erickson and Larry Reid, and Don Weidenbach. Don Weidenbach had been exclusively working on these thyratron ring counters as of that time, which were a dominant part of that project. Mullaney hadn't joined the company yet, as of that time. George Hardenburgh was there, and a fellow named Boenning.
NORBERG: Who later went to NSA.
HILL: Yes. And the principal technician, Arnold Hendrickson.
NORBERG: I notice you didn't mention Sid Rubens.
HILL: No, Sid was over in another compartment. I knew he was there. I talked to him in the lunchroom, but I never knew what he was doing and he never asked me what I was doing.
About the Speed Tally
HILL: The original objectives were to mechanize their whole damn operation. Now they were running a gift mail order operation with catalogues in all the country stores in the nation, practically. A customer would come into their country store and order an item. It was a drop-ship type of activity. The person whose store had the catalog would get a commission for writing up the order, sending it in and the merchandise would be shipped off to the customer without his knowledge or participation. Essentially, they rented a space from them to display their catalog and to write the orders. Well now, they were doing roughly between 80% and 90% of their annual business in the six weeks before Christmas. And so this put on some terrible peak loads. They would take on from between 250 and 300 temporary people during that six weeks. Very fortunately most of them had worked for them at some time before and so they had a trained reserve of people they could count on for this. These people counted on it for Christmas money. It was a real effective relationship. So, what they wanted us to do was to try to mechanize all of the order entry. Because it was not unusual that they would have to back order. They had a very nice relationship with their suppliers. John Plain's suppliers would hold, a certain ear-marked stock in reserve at the manufacturer's, which they could draw upon if that item sold well. And they tried to bring up a lot of new items every Christmas. It was gift type merchandise for the most part. What they wanted to do was to try to mechanize all that so that they could make the machine automatically flag the suppliers to bring on the additional merchandise when the orders showed it to be popular. They wanted projections made on orders received each week, so that they could project the demand for the period.
They were using people for this. They really had a big array of buyers. They had a buyer for practically every manufacturer whose products they used. And they were extremely talented buyers, no question about that, but they wanted to try to mechanize what their judgment was telling them, and you couldn't possibly do that. So we looked over their operations and found out that just collecting the data from the incoming orders was probably the most effective thing that we could try to do for them. And so that's what we did. We just collected... really a time record of the volume of orders arrived for the various pieces of merchandise.
NORBERG: Was there any thought given to the automation of billing and inventory control? HILL: We had to dismiss that. We weren't that sophisticated. We didn't have anything approaching that kind of capability.
NORBERG: But was it discussed?
HILL: Well, I presume it was discussed, but not in my presence.
NORBERG: Now, I understand that you and Gordon Welchman worked on that project.
HILL: Oh, yes. Yes, I had been assigned full responsibility for that and Gordon essentially became the intermediary between John Plain and myself during the formative stages of the design. Don Weidenbach was transferred over to me and became the chief engineer for the execution of it, and we had only about three other people work on it. I think Ward Lund was one of them.
NORBERG: How soon before the sale did this project get assigned to you?
HILL: I don't remember the numbers at all. To me that whole thing is very hazy, because at the same time that I was doing that I had about three other projects that I was in charge of and I don't know the dates or even how much time I had available for each of them. That was about the same time we did the drums for SAGE under Bill Butler. And I had the responsibility for that. I also was doing a tremendous amount of work with a fellow named Gar Kachel, who was the salesman for our drums and he was out selling drums to everybody that came along. We sold a drum to the University of Michigan and we sold several drums on the West Coast. We became, in a matter of months, the official national drum house and I was spending a lot of my time supplying the information as to whether or not the various proposals that these sales efforts were producing were feasible with the technology that we then had.

Thanks to Bonnie for this history snippet!

2.5  Larry Debelak's career summary

Keith Myhre has digitized Larry's interview from data files at the Lawshe Memorial, listening time is 51 minutes.  You'll need an audio player app (.wmv) on your PC or smart device.

3. Interview questions: Contributed by Ole, et al.

Please give a brief biographical sketch of your life, beginning with your parents and your childhood, your education, military experience if any, and the general pattern of your career.
Would you try to answer some or all of the following about yourself and career?

  1. What are the three or four most significant events, undertakings, projects, etc. of an historical nature that you experienced during your career at ERA or UNIVAC or UNISYS or Lockheed Martin or sequences thereat?
  2. Are there specific documents, photographs or other materials that would be of interest for the historical project related to those significant events?
  3. Are you aware of other documents, materials of historical value that should be included in this project?
  4. Can you provide insight, details, etc. of any specific meeting you attended that could be of significance in our Legacy history?
  5. What were the major successful projects with which you were involved?
  6. And major unsuccessful projects?
  7. 8. What were most important company products and company sites you were associated with?
  8. What was impact of those major products/projects? On Lockheed Martin, customer, national defense, technology, other?
  9. What is your view of how the company dealt with major customers?
  10. What are your thoughts on how effective the company was in dealing with the Congress?
  11. What do you believe the greatest challenges were to your company or your team during your career?
  12. How did your team meet those challenges?
  13. What do you believe were the greatest obstacles to the company during your career?
  14. How did the company deal with those obstacles?
  15. In your opinion, which executives had the biggest impact on the corporation’s successes?
  16. Were there either challenges or obstacles that your team/company failed to overcome, and if so what were they and why were they so difficult to handle?
  17.  In the course of your career, you worked on many major programs. Of these, which did you find to be:
    • the most challenging
    • the most satisfying
    • the most frustrating
    • the most difficult
    • the most mistaken
    • the most important to Lockheed Martin
    • the most important to our nation
  18. Were there any programs that you wished to have seen come to fruition, but for whatever reason, were dropped? If so, can you enlarge on this, stating what the programs were, why they were dropped, and what you think they might have achieved had they been pursued?
  19. After your retirement, did you note any programs that occurred later that reflected actions and decisions made on earlier programs/products/issues?
  20. Speaking candidly, would you evaluate some of your predecessors, contemporary and successor colleagues in terms of their vision, achievements, mistakes, etc?
  21. In a similar way, speaking candidly, can you comment upon the relationship of Lockheed Martin with the U.S. Government from your observation point? And similarly, can you comment on relationships with suppliers, competitors, employees, unions, local and state governments and communities?
  22. What were there critical turning points for the company during your career?

4.0 ERA Old Timers

In the fall of 2007 John Westergren visited the First Friday luncheon with a video camera (also referred to as the Original Geek Squad.)  John video-taped 13 of the people there who spoke in response to to some of Ole's questions in section 3 above. A composite disc of the 13 interviews has been lanquishing in Lowell's files since then. As I've wanted to 'clean up' Legacy items, I sent a request to find someone who could convert the file into .mp4 video clips. Thanks to Keith Myhre who responded, he was able to convert .VOB continuous files to individual .mpeg files.   It is sad that many of them have passed away over the last decade.

The following are the resulting .mp4 video clips - your PC or IPAD or Smart Phone will need a video player to watch and listen to these. The sequence is as they were recorded on the disc.  An original of the disc is available for viewing at the Charles Babbage Institute and at the Lawshe Memorial Museum.  In the background of some of the videos, William 'Bill' Roos is seen - he is the current coordinator of the First Friday luncheons.  Also, Ole is seen as is Bob Pope although neither is interviewed. 'tis sad that

Please note: You may have to right click on name to do a download before opening file with an .mp4 viewer.

  1. William 'Bill' Butler, 1948-58.  Bill also has some written notes at http://vipclubmn.org/PeopleAB.html#Butler
  2. James 'Jim' Wright, Jim's widow Barbara Halverson donated Jim's 1102 artifacts to the Legacy committee, see page 4 right column of http://vipclubmn.org/Newsletters/Enews1403.pdf. His obit is in VOLUME 25, NO (vipclubmn.org).
  3. Gerald 'Jerry' Williams, Don Weidenbach identified Jerry as one of the four 'Ws', i.e. Wesslund, Weidenbach, Williams, and Wright - all working at ERA.  A brief biography is at SatisfyingInventions.pdf (vipclubmn.org).
  4. Edwin 'Ed' Nelson, 1951-86.  Ed also has some written notes at http://vipclubmn.org/PeopleMNO.html#EdNelson. His obit is in VOLUME 38, NO. 02 (vipclubmn.org).
  5. Jack Ross, his obit is on page 3 of http://vipclubmn.org/Newsletters/Enews1610.pdf.
  6. Bernard 'Bernie' Jansen, his obit is on page 1 of http://vipclubmn.org/Newsletters/Enews1911.pdf.
  7. Bob Wesslund, 1951-59.  Bob also has some written notes at http://vipclubmn.org/deceased.html#Wesslund. His obit is in VOLUME 28, NO. 11 (vipclubmn.org).
  8. Leo Bock, his obit is on page 2 of http://vipclubmn.org/Newsletters/Enews1703.pdf.
  9. Alden Allen, 1955-86.  Alden also has some written notes at http://vipclubmn.org/PeopleDocImg/AldenAllen.pdf.
  10. Phil Phipps, 1955-89.  Phil also has some written notes at http://vipclubmn.org/PeoplePQR.html#phipps. His obit is in VIP Club newsletter (vipclubmn.org).
  11. Charles 'Chuck' Homan, Chuck also has some written notes at http://vipclubmn.org/deceased.html#Homan. His obit is in VOLUME 25, NO (vipclubmn.org).
  12. Gale Jallen, and
  13. Warren Burrell, 1948-73.  Warren also has some written notes at http://vipclubmn.org/PeopleAB.html#Burrell. His obit is in VOLUME 36, NO. 03 (vipclubmn.org).

Disc conversion details, about 14 hours of work; thanks again to Keith Myhre.

  • Program Used:  Nero Video - Version 18 (part of Nero 2017 Platinum)
  • Input:  Three VOB format video files
  • Thirteen MPEG-4 files
  • 720 x 480 pixels
  • Frame rate:  29.97 fps
  • Bit Rate: 2,995 kbits/sec
  • Encoding Method:  High Quality (2-pass)
  • Audio:  2 channels

5.0 Additional Video Interviews

If your browser only opens the audio, pause it, then download the file to get the video.