Perusing AT&T’s archives last fall, Senior Editor Jean Kumagai found countless little delights and one big one: her father’s notebooks.
Henry Kumagai worked for 37 years as a semiconductor engineer in the AT&T fold, first at Western Electric and later, after the divestiture, for AT&T’s Microelectronics Division. He was awarded 11 patents, one of which described a way to produce tantalum films for thin-film resistors and capacitors. AT&T used that process extensively from the 1970s to the early 1990s.
Jean was at the archives with Photo Editor Randi Silberman to scout out photo ops for an upcoming feature [”AT&T’s Attic,” in this issue]. When she mentioned to archives manager George Kupczak that her father had worked at AT&T, Kupczak said, ”Let’s look him up.” And there he was: the archives’ database listed five of Henry’s lab notebooks.
Four had been transferred to microfiche and the originals destroyed, but the fifth was still there. Its faded green cover looked virtually identical to the thousands of other notebooks in the warehouse. But on the pages within, Jean immediately recognized her father’s neat penmanship.
As it turned out, the notebook captured one of Henry’s most productive periods—the late 1960s and early 1970s, when he was awarded six patents. He retired as a senior staff engineer in 1995.
Henry believes engineering still has much to offer. ”If you have a genuine interest in technology, then solving each new problem will give you a sense of achievement that few other careers can match,” he says. ”Especially when the problems are difficult, you realize that the solutions you develop will be state of the art.”