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DONALD BELLAMY SINCLAIR 1910-1985 BY GORDON S. BROWN DONALD BELLAMY SINCLAIR chairman emeritus of GenRad Inc., diect on August 24, 1985, following a brief illness. Dr. Sinclair was one of our nation's early pioneers in the devel- opment and manufacture of today's widely user! electrical measuring instruments ant! automated test systems. He was also a cledicated public servant a man who left his mark on a large number of professional, civic, and cultural activities. Dr. SincIair's professional career spanned more titan four decades, thirty-nine years of which were spent with GenRact Inc. He joined the company as an engineer in July 1936, when it was known worIc~wide as the General Radio Com- pany. At that time the company was privately owned and en- gagecl primarily in the bench-top scientific laboratory busi- ness. Don held numerous engineering and management positions with GenRad Inc., including those of chief engi- neer from 1950 to 1960 and president from 1963 to 1973. Dr. Sinclair was chairman of the board when he retiree! in 1974. During his tenure, the technical focus of the company shifted to those activities in which it wouic! become best known as a leacler in the development anct manufacture of modern electronic test systems for use in electrical and semi- concluctor manufacturing, field service, ant] engineering cle- sign applications. This success was primarily a result of Don- 311
312 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES aid SincIair's vision, his professional skill, and his ability to lead. Always uppermost in his mind was the welfare of his colleagues, whom he viewed as team players ant! not mere employees. His goal was to enhance their productivity, crea- tivity, and stature. Dr. Sinclair was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on May 23, 1910, and became an American citizen in 1943. As a teen- ager, he was a radio ham and operated a high-power spark transmitter from the attic of his parents' home. From 1926 to 1929, while an unclergracluate at the University of Mani- toba, he was a radio operator for Western Canada Airways. In 1930 he transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As an un(lergracluate in MIT's coopera- tive course in electrical engineering, he spent his cooperative school terms with the New York Telephone Company, the Bell Telephone Laboratories, and the Western Electric Com- pany. After receiving a B.S. in 1931, Don worker} first as a research assistant and later as a research associate at MIT. In 1935 he was awarded a D.Sc. and shortly thereafter joined the staff of the General Radio Company. One of Dr. SincIair's early achievements with the General Radio Company was his (development of a state-of-the-art, wide-tuning-range, high-frequency radio receiver that had a field strength measurement application covering the hand from one hundred to three thousanc! MHz. This important development occurred at a time when the U.S. military had a critical need for wicle-range receivers with radar counter- · ~ measure app Cations. In July 1941 the General Radio Company received orders from the Racliation Laboratory at MIT for a number of air- borne intercept equipment prototypes that were based on SincIair's receiver. These prototypes became the first U.S. ra- dar intercept receivers built for use by the military. His work then led quickly to the development of the receiver desig- nated by the Signal Corps as the SCR-587 and by the U.S. Navy as the ARC- ~ receiver. EarIv in 1942 the Raclio Research Laboratory (RRL) was
DONALD BELLAMY SINCLAIR 313 established at Harvard University. Under the direction of Professor F. E. Terman of Stanforc! University, its mission was the development of radar countermeasures. As a conse- quence of Dr. SincIair's earlier work on broadband receivers, General Raclio permitted him to split his time between its Cambridge Laboratory and RRL. At RRL, he was one of the leaders in organizing, managing, ant! providing technical cli- rection for the overall program. He was also appointed tech- nical director of the RRL Search Receiver Group. The book The History of U.S. Electronic Warfare by Alfred Price, published by the Association of 01d Crows, provides an excellent overview of SincIair's role in this important phase of World War Il. It specifically describes his work re- garding the equipping and testing of aircraft for Ferret mis- sions, and it also details his initial flight experiences as the RRL representative on the first operational flights to Europe of the Ferret test airplane. This aircraft was used for nighttime excursions into the hostile territory of the Mediterranean theater to determine the location, coverage, characteristics, and tactics of enemy grounct and airborne racier. The reports of these excursions yielded information vital to the development of successful U.S. countermeasure operations in both the European ant] Pacific theaters. Based on the successful missions of the Fer- ret, Don Sinclair was awarded the Presiclent's Certificate of Merit by President Truman in 1945. Of lasting significance is his genuine concern for the qual- ity of life of his fellow citizens and his willingness to accept major roles in numerous public service programs. He worked for better schools, better theaters, and better churches. In addition, he promoter! better cooperation be- tween nation and nation, state and scientist, and scientist and · scientist. Symbolic of these activities was his participation on the school committee of his hometown of Concord, Massachu- setts. During his seven-year tenure, one year of which in- cluded serving as chairman, the town grew rapictly. It was
314 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES Don Sinclair who guidect the study of the town's clemograph- ics ant! then presented the voters with a sound projection of the anticipated increase in numbers of pupils. He recognized that a much stronger program in the basics of the curriculum was required, that teachers with quite different skills needed to be recruited, that teacher compensation had to increase significantly, and that without a broad base of public support, which he helped achieve, the school committee could not ac- complish these community goals. At the university level, Don Sinclair was a member of the Corporation Visiting Committee for the Electrical Engineer- ing Department at MIT and the Visiting Committee at Car- negie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he served on the Advisory Board of Northeastern University ant! Wentworth Institute, in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Sinclair was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in ~965, and in ~968 he was namer! a member of the NAE Aerospace Board. He also served on the NAE International Activities Committee. He was a fellow of the Institute of Radio Engineers ant! became director in 1945; he was elected president of the institute in 1952. He was also a fellow of the American Institute of Elec- trical Engineers and one of the leaders whose joint efforts resulted! in forming today's Institute of Electrical and Elec- tronics Engineers. In 1958 and 1959 Don Sinclair was a participant on two of the first occasions that American and Western engineers were invites! to a~iciress both the Soviet and Hungarian acad- emies of sciences on the subjects of microwave electronics, microwave circuits, antennas, and electrical circuits. These were among the first reciprocal visits by American scientists as part of a cultural exchange with scientists from behind the Iron Curtain after World War IT. Don Sinclair was overseer of the Boston Symphony Or- chestra; a trustee of the Wang Center for the Performing Arts; chairman of the Fiscal Affairs Committee of King's Chapel, Boston; and a corporation member of the Morgan
DONALD BELLAMY SINCLAIR 315 Memorial, Inc., of Boston ant] Emerson Hospital in Con- corct. He also served as director of the National Shawmut Bank of Boston, the Shawmut Association, Inc., and the Lib- erty Mutual Insurance Company of Boston. His legacy evolved primarily from his ability to evaluate issues quickly, compromise justly between immediate popu- lar beliefs ant] long-term goocl convictions, and process his own convictions and creativity through the consensus of his fellow workers. He maintained extremely high ethical stan- ciardsdemanding no less from himself than from others. He was also a prolific contributor and a person who quickly gained the respect and friendship of many. As a tribute to his enduring contributions to education and his profession, the GenRact Foundation establishect, in De- cember 1985, the GenRad Visiting Professorship at MIT. The hoIcler of this chair is known as the Donald B. Sinclair Visiting Professor of Electrical Engineering (or of Computer Science, as appropriate). The status "visiting professor" tes- tifies to Don's belief that universities couIcl benefit greatly by being able to bring to their faculties, even for short periods, leaclers who worked at the cutting edge of new fields. He was a great man. For fifty-three years, he enjoyed the love and devoted support of his charming wife Willona. She survives him along with their four chilciren: Douglas C. of Pittsford, New York; Robert A. of Arlington, Massachusetts; D. Fraser of Petersham, Massachusetts; and Heather S. Moulton of Cambridge, Massachusetts. There are also three grandchildren.