Philadelphia 1945 – 1963
“My grandfather was an inventor, as I will be…” as I wrote at age nine, at a time when my teacher would reprove me for “daydreaming” and I would answer “I’m not daydreaming – I’m inventing”.
The grandfather was William T. Price, whose improvements enabled the Diesel engine to be reduced from monster ship engine size to power trains, automobiles and small boats (the Hindenburg’s propellers were driven by diesels). My mother often recounted his story to me, and I was eager to be like him. My father kept the kids supplied with paper for drawing and encouraged us to draw futuristic fantasies.
I took an interest in electronics at age 11 and the next year was the recipient of a fortuitous bequest – a cast-off uncompleted correspondence course in radio/TV service. I sought refuge from life’s vicissitudes in my basement workshop where with my friend Murray Kaplan we attempted to build electronic devices. By the time I left for college at Berkeley in 1963 I had run a very poorly managed radio and TV repair business, won a minor award in the science fair and had been featured on a local TV show for “talented teen-agers” (my talent was as an “electronic experimenter”).
I had also participated in local civil rights activities and had attended the 1963 March on Washington. I left for Berkeley with $1600 in my pocket and a knowledge that Berkeley and the Bay Area were where barriers were broken.