Bill Turner

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Bill Turner (? – ?) worked at Tektronix as a calibration technician on the 465, and later worked on the 464, 466, and 468.

Regarding his tenure at Tektronix, Bill Turner says:

After my first day working at Tektronix I was ready to quit. I was 35 years old and had been doing electronic troubleshooting since I was 15 and thought I was pretty good, but Tek was a whole new ball game. I was hired as a Calibration Technician for the 465 oscilloscope group. My job was to take a brand new 465 off the assembly line, power it up for the first time, repair any problems, burn it in for 24 hours and calibrate it to factory specs. Sounds simple, but the 465 was a whole 'nother level of sophistication.

But I stuck with it and I'm glad I did. The 465 was by far the most complex piece of equipment I had ever worked on and used circuitry I had never seen before, but fortunately the other technicians in my group were more than willing to help. There were about 30 of us techs on two shifts doing nothing but 465s. At the time it was the most popular scope in the world, having sold more than 50,000 units at $2500 each. A lot of money in 1977 but worth it. One of our customers once said "I will buy any brand of oscilloscope as long as it's blue and comes from Beaverton, Oregon". Nice!

Our procedure was to power it up for the first time using a Variac to bring up the line voltage slowly, looking for any sign of over or under current draw. About 98% of them powered up with no problem, but the ones that needed troubleshooting could be a real challenge. Eventually I got pretty good at it and I had one of the highest productivity ratings in the group. The 465 was a difficult model to calibrate in terms of meeting the 100 MHz bandwidth spec. Back then individual transistors varied a lot from unit to unit so instead of being soldered into the PC board, they plugged into tiny sockets. Often, we had to swap numerous transistors to get ones that had the needed bandwidth. We kept a box with compartments for the different transistor types close at hand.

Because of the type of pulse generator we used for calibration, the trace was very dim and we had to keep the lights off in the area. It was a dark area in a building that was otherwise well lighted. It was a little spooky but we kind of liked it and got used to working in the dark.

After I had been there a couple of years, engineering came out with the 465B. What a difference! While it looked fairly similar on the outside, the inside was a near complete redesign. For one, the problem with 100 MHz calibration was gone. These would easily make 100 MHz and more. In fact, the big boss told us NOT to calibrate them much over 100 MHz for fear customers would come to expect it and be upset if one just barely made 100! As a result of the redesign plus new test equipment, we were able to turn the building lights on and work like a normal group. We groused a little bit, having grown to like working in the dark, but we got used to it.

People sometimes ask what happened to the 465A? There was a 465A under development in the engineering group but it never made it into production. The 465B was developed at the same time and was so superior that the "A" model was abandoned and never sold to the public.

After three years as a Calibration Technician I was promoted to Supervisor in the Portables Division and spent the next seven years supervising manufacturing groups for the 464, 466 and 468 storage scopes and later the 23xx series of portables and others. In 1986 Tek was going through a rough spot and offered a "golden parachute" to anyone who volunteered to retire. I took it and spent the next year and a half sailing on a small sailboat I had been building. It was excellent timing, but eventually the money ran out and I had to go back to work, Sigh. I spent my remaining work years in the avionics industry, working for a supplier of aircraft cabin lighting and cockpit audio systems. I finally retired in 1999 and I now enjoy living in the California desert and playing with my long time hobby, amateur radio.

Bill Turner, ham call sign W6WRT