Paul A. Wilks, Jr. begins the interview by discussing his early years and family life in Springfield, Massachusetts. After graduating from Springfield Technical High School, Wilks went to Harvard University, where he majored in engineering. In 1945, he began working at Perkin-Elmer, Inc. Wilks worked as an assembler before becoming marketing director in 1952.
In 1957, Wilks left Perkin-Elmer and, with Charles W. Warren, founded the Connecticut Instrument Company, a company that manufactured accessories for the infrared industry. Wilks and Warren sold their company to R. Bowling Barnes in 1962. After working for the Barnes Engineering Company for a year as commercial products manager, Wilks left to form the Wilks Scientific Corporation. This company manufactured a variety of spectroscopy products. Wilks hired Anthony C. Gilby, an infrared spectroscopist from England, who helped in the development of these products.
This company was sold to the Foxboro Company in the 1970s, and Wilks managed the Wilks division of the company until 1979. After leaving Foxboro, Wilks founded the General Analysis Corporation to market products that monitored workspace environments. The company was unable to create a market in this area and changed its focus towards producing products for other industries, such as the beverage industry. Wilks decided to retire in 1993 and General Analysis was eventually sold to OI Corporation. Although theoretically retired, Wilks started another company in the 1990s, Wilks Enterprise, Inc. This company continues Wilks' efforts to produce applicable products based on infrared spectroscopy and other technologies. Wilks concludes the interview with reflections on the state of infrared technology and thoughts about his career.