IAmA an 84-year-old scientist who worked on some of the first computers, classified projects for the gov't during the cold war, early computer speech synthesis and analysis, and robotics. AMA.
Hi! This is an AMA for my 84-year-old grandfather, who worked at Bell Labs in New Jersey from the 60s to the late 90s as an scientist/electrical engineer/acoustics engineer. While he was there, he worked on a classified (not anymore!) Soviet submarine-tracking program for the gov't, worked with very early computers, and did work in early speech analysis/synthesis and robotics. I figured Reddit might be interested in asking him some questions... I'll put my comments on his responses in [square brackets] P.S. I'm not sure how to verify this...if a mod can suggest something to me, that would be great! EDIT: All right, it's getting close to 9 PM and he's heading to bed. Thanks so much everybody for your interest! I'll maybe try and get him to answer any questions left on here overnight in the morning. EDIT 2: Holy balls, I just checked this again and it went from 40 upvotes and 30 comments to 1,200 upvotes and 250 comments in the two hours since he went to bed. I'm gonna try and continue some of this tomorrow morning, and I'm also going to see what state his quasi-memoirs of working there are in. Last I saw he had written up quite a bit of cool stuff...and rather than e-mail it out to a million people, maybe I can upload it to a site and post the link. Thanks again to everyone who posted here and said kind words about him! I'll also try and send some proof to the mods for those who asked for it. EDIT 3: It's so frustrating to see all these interesting questions come in and not be able to ask him! If people stick around until tomorrow morning I promise I'll do my best to get some more out of him.
8:44 AM: Verified! Also, rather than e-mail out the descriptions to everybody, I put it up as a blog here: http://mybelllabsdays.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/part-1/ I'll try and upload more of them later on.
9:30 AM: I've gone through the thread and asked him the most interesting questions. The responses are here: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/mz7wt/iama_an_84yearold_scientist_who_worked_on_some_of/c355cnk. Thanks everyone for all the kind words and interest in this...I think it really made him happy.
9:45 AM: Just to clarify for everybody...I (grandson, age 23) wrote this heading piece here. That's why I said "holy balls." The comment replies are all in his words, except for anything in [square brackets].
10 AM: Okay, so the rest of his memoirs about Bell Labs (as well as a very cool description of his trip to the USSR in 1965) are up on the blog I made here: http://mybelllabsdays.wordpress.com/