Ron Olson

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Ron Olson

Ronald Arthur Olson (b. February 2, 1926 – d. February 15, 2017) designed the 1A1 and the 316. He was project leader on the 556 and the Type Z plug-in, which was primarily Charlie Rhodes’ idea and project. Later, Ron Olson worked on the 1480 series of television waveform monitors.

Ron was hired out of Oregon State Grad school for $1.00/hr July 1951. The Type L plug-in was Ron's first project. He left Tektronix in 1978 or 79. After Tek, Ron worked for Precision Interconnect in Portland, which later became part of Tyco Electronics.

Regarding Ron Olson, Phil Crosby recalls (in January 2021):

I first met Ron in 1957 in my first summer at Tek. Chuck Nolan had asked me to work on a dual trace version of the 515. I needed to learn about tee coils and Chuck told me to ask Ron. Ron had been in the Navy during WW2, worked as a telephone line installer in central Oregon and had gone on to get a physics degree at Reed College. He was the first person to acquaint me with the Euler equation. Ron had done the L unit, a K unit with a 10× AC coupled preamp. Well, he taught me enough about tee coils that I could design with them, but the dual-trace 515 still couldn't make the required 15 MHz bandwidth, mostly because the tubes (6BQ7s) couldn't have enough Gm at the voltage we had to operate that at (we didn't want to have a +500 V supply).

The 'scope later appeared as a 516, but it was due to the emergence of the 6GM8, a frame grid, low Mu twin triode. I later worked with Ron when I joined Charlie Rhodes's TV group in 1959, where Ron was doing the amplifier designs for the 526 Vectorscope.

Ron later did the vertical amplifier design for the V unit, a dual-trace video plug-in with Larry Biggs and me. The V unit was one of those "coulda been, but wasn't" projects that Tek was so good at. However, by that time, 50 MHz mainframes were in the works, so Ron took much of what he had done on the V unit and designed the 1A1, which was a very successful plug-in.

I became a project manager after doing the 529, and Ron ended up reporting to me, which bothered me. I thought, "this guy's been working on vertical amplifiers all the time, so why don't I have him do something else?". So Ron did the sweep and digital line selector, using those newfangled integrated circuits. Later, Ron did much of the 650 video amplifiers and the 1480. In the late 70s, Ron worked for me designing the large PCB that took the serial data from the TI9900 CRU (Communications Register Unit) and controlled the operation of the analog/digital front end of the 1980 Video Waveform Analyzer. That was kinda tricky in that operations had to occur timed to the video sampling clock at 4*fsc, the color subcarrier frequency (PAL or NTSC). For example, if we wanted to examine a staircase signal with subcarrier on it, we would program the gain and offset to change so the ADC window would be optimally utilized. In that way, we could get 11 bit performance using an 8 bit ADC.

Ron had joined Tek in the early 50s and I left the TV group in 1983 to join Tek Labs. I believe that Ron retired around the same time. I heard that he had died 8 or 9 years ago. Hell of a guy!

Products by Ron Olson

Model Class Description Designers Introduced
1482 Audio/Video PAL-M Waveform Monitor Ron Olson (?)
J Plug-in 35 MHz dual-trace amplifier Ron Olson Phil Crosby (not released)
V Plug-in Video plug-in Larry Biggs Ron Olson Phil Crosby (not released)
L Plug-in High-sensitivity 30 MHz amplifier Ron Olson 1957
526 Audio/Video NTSC Vectorscope Charlie Rhodes Ron Olson 1959
316 Oscilloscope 10 MHz 3" tube scope Ron Olson 1959
Z Plug-in Comparator preamp plug-in Charlie Rhodes Ron Olson 1960
527 Audio/Video Video Waveform Monitor Charlie Rhodes Ron Olson 1961
ML Plug-in High-sensitivity 30 MHz amplifier Ron Olson 1962
3S76 Plug-in Dual Channel Sampling plug-in Cliff Moulton Ron Olson Charlie Rhodes Walt Lowy Phil Crosby 1962
1A1 Plug-in 50 MHz dual channel amplifier Ron Olson 1964
556 Oscilloscope 50 MHz dual beam scope Phil Crosby Larry Biggs Ron Olson Arend Kastelein 1966
520 Audio/Video NTSC/PAL vectorscope Phil Crosby Ron Olson 1967
522 Audio/Video Vectorscope Phil Crosby Ron Olson 1970
521 Audio/Video PAL vectorscope Phil Crosby Ron Olson 1970
650 Audio/Video NTSC color video monitor Ron Olson John Horn 1971
651 Display PAL color video monitor Ron Olson 1972
655 Display NTSC/PAL color video monitor Ron Olson 1972
1480 Audio/Video NTSC waveform monitor Ron Olson 1976
1481 Audio/Video PAL Waveform Monitor Ron Olson 1977
1980 Audio/Video programmable remote video measurement set Ron Olson Phil Crosby 1980

Components by Ron Olson

Patents by Ron Olson

Page Office Number Title Inventors Company Filing date Grant date
Patent US 3697778A US 3697778A Integrating circuit Ron Olson Tektronix Inc 1971-03-17 1972-10-10
Patent US 3862356A US 3862356A Television picture monitor capable of measuring a plurality of signals Ron Olson Gerrit Luten Tektronix Inc 1972-01-07 1975-01-21
Patent US 3850412A US 3850412A Frequency and phase acquisition in a color subcarrier regenerator Ron Olson Tektronix Inc 1974-02-25 1974-11-26
Patent US 4123705A US 4123705A Oscillographic apparatus for measuring the magnitude and duration and for separately viewing an input signal Ron Olson Tektronix Inc 1977-06-08 1978-10-31