Oral history interview with N. Bruce Hannay

Oral history interview with N. Bruce Hannay

  • 1995-Mar-09

The interview begins with Dr. Hannay describing his family background and his early education in Washington state. Both his high school chemistry teacher and his older brother greatly influenced his decision to pursue chemistry and to attend Swarthmore College, where he received a B.A. in chemistry in 1942. With the advent of World War II, Hannay received a student deferment from the draft because his doctoral thesis at Princeton University--involving the measurement of dipole moments--related to the synthetic rubber program.

While still at Princeton, Hugh Taylor involved him in the Manhattan Project and after receiving his Ph.D. in 1944, Hannay took a job with Bell Laboratories, where he continued his work on the Manhattan Project. Once the war ended, Hannay began research on the mechanisms of thermionic emission from oxide cathodes. The invention of the transistor in 1947 led him to focus on silicon, which was deemed more useful in semiconductor research than single crystals of germanium. This work resulted in Hannay's development of a mass spectrograph to analyze solids. Soon after, Bell Labs asked him to coordinate the silicon research. In 1954, Hannay became a research supervisor, and he discovered a preference for management. Following this inclination, he continued on at Bell Labs in various management capacities until his retirement in 1982. This interview concludes with Hannay's brief assessment of the chemical industry and its need for more research autonomy.

Place of interview
Original file type MP3, PDF
  • 60 pages
Rights In Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Permitted
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  • Science History Institute
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Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

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Cite as

Hannay, N. B. (Norman Bruce), interviewed by James J. Bohning in Baltimore, Maryland on March 9, 1995. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0137. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/rn301237m.

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Transcript (Published Version)

The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Complete Interview Audio File Web-quality download

7 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads