Exploding Pingers and Dinner Parties: Doc in the 1950s

by Dean C. Andrus (MIT ’59)

Dec. 30, 2009

Two anecdotes always come to mind when Doc is remembered:

One day I entered the lab where Doc was perfecting the sonar “pinger” for measuring the distance to the ocean bottom. I heard a loud explosion and hen saw Doc dripping wet between the wet benches and looking down at the plastic bucket that his “pinger” had just blown the bottom out of. He looked up and very nonchalantly said: “Mmmm — I guess I had a bit too much voltage that time!”

On another occasion Doc had invited the whole class to his home for dinner at the end of the semester. His house was obvious since it was the one that had the flashing strobe light on the front porch! After a wonderful meal we were all lined up in the living room for a group picture. The camera with strobe was set on a tripod with slave strobes in each corner of the room. Then Doc took a spool of thread out of his pocket, walked over to the camera and tied the end of the thread to the shutter release. Then he reeled out the thread as he backed his way across the room and centered himself among the group of students. As he posed for the picture and pulled the thread to activate the camera he could be heard to say: “I don’t trust all of this electronic stuff!”

My association with Doc is my fondest memory of days at MIT and has had more effect on my life than any other contact during my educational and business career.

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