Monday, 24 November 2008

Stephen F. Adam

Steve Adam died recently. He was my "mentor" in the HP Microwave Lab when I was but a tender high school student. Palo Alto had this fabulous program called "ROP" (Researchers Observer Program) that would place students in various research labs. I was excited by the HP 8410 Network Analyzer and said so. And so, I ended up at the passive components section of the HP Microwave Lab. It was a small group with Steve Adam and Larry Renihan -- I don't recall anyone else, sorry. Located at 1501 Page Mill Road, I used to ride my bicycle up there after school. I had a orange HP badge that would get me in the building and the guards were constantly amazed.

Unfortunately, enthusiasm is no substitute for calculus or E & M, so I think they didn't know what to do with me. I was pointed to the computer terminals and that's how my computer career begin -- burning up HP's money on timesharing systems. When I was offered a job at Tymshare for $1.50 an hour, that's when I stopped going to HP. But I never lost my interest in microwave measurement. Or sampling.

But what I remember about Steve Adam was that he was interviewed by someone and he said "If you ask a high school student what an engineer does, they think it's the guy who drives the locomotive!". True then. True now. I missed my opportunity to say hello at the last IMS convention I went to in San Francisco. I regret that even more now.

No comments: