History and Philosophy
On my own behalf: A short review on my professional activities and private thoughts.
Initially, my profession is in
electronics. Early in the 1970īs, I started in optical spectroscopy, by working
in customer service at Perkin-Elmer and Varian, where I switched to sales and
application. I got extensive training on scanning spectroscopy
systems, mainly in the range of UV-Vis, like:
Absorption and Reflection spectroscopy, Fluorescence, Atomic Absorption, Raman,
Circular Dichroism (CD), and others.
Mid of the 1970īs, I became employee at (at the time:) Princeton Applied Research, which was purchased by EG&G, and named EG&G-PAR in 1978. Working there for many years, I had the chance to extend my know-how with all relevant techniques of signal recovery. Like: Lock-In, Boxcar, Fourier-Transformation, Signal-Averagers, Photon Counters. A full spectrum of electro-chemical instrumentation and magnetometric sample analyzers completed the PAR portfolio. The company played technically in the same league as Hewlett-Packard or Keithley. At the time of my start, all methods worked purely analogue at the front end. But within the next ten years, all of them became digitized and computerized. Good to know both worlds, and the strong and weak parameters of both technologies. In 1974, PAR had introduced two inventions: The first microprocessor based analytical instrument, an automatic polarograph. The other was the Optical Multi Channel detector (OMA), the primary source of Array and CCD technology. EG&G-PAR was very busy in marketing and application, to install the new technology in the scientific market. It was very nice and challenging to participate that, and I could combine spectroscopy and signal recovery. In 1981, I had the honour, to install the first commercial Raman spectrometer with parallel detection, at least in Germany. In the following years, I was able to supply many customers with customer-taylored systems in several fields of the UV-Vis. Displeasing throughout, is the increased purchasing, dividing, squeezing-out of small, but potential High-Tech companies. Today, that is called "investing" or "merging". In most of the cases, it leads to loss of leadership, and downsloping performance of the companies purchased.
By the end of the 1980īs, I had to realize, that the innovative and god times at EG&G-PAR would find the end, I needed a change. 1991, I founded and until 1998 managed, SOPRA GmbH, mainly owned by the french mother Sopra SA. The original products of Sopra SA, at that time, have been ultra-high resolution spectrometers, in single and double stage, plus single and double pass configuration, up to 2 m focal length per stage, providing far outstanding performance. Beside of that. Sopra also was technology leader in spectroscopic ellipsometry, and produced Excimer lasers for surface treatment. To complete the product range sold by GmbH, we added spectrometers of shorter focal length and easier use, by the adding the representation of Acton Research (ARC), USA. ARC spectrometers are very friendly integrated into laboratory setups and became well selling products quickly. Two more legs, to stand on at Sopra GmbH, where SLM-Aminco, USA, pioneer for stationary and time resolved fluorescence systems, and dual wavelength spectroscopy, the major method in the 1980īs and 1990īs for dynamic absorption experiments like Stopped Flow. AVIV, one more US company, is "recycling" the world-famours Cary spectrometers for ratio-recording UV-Vis-NIR absorption spectroscopy and CD. Aviv uses the superb Cary optics and applies modern electronics, and was distributed by us in centre Europe. Some small providers of specialized spectroscopy accessories completed the portfolio of Sopra GmbH. Business went well, until Sopra SA in 1996 decided to change itīs strategic goals towards applications in semi conductor industry, sacrificing spectroscopy and laboratory ellipsometry. The target market segment for the new LCD technology measurement systems did not and does not support the sales and service company in Germany, I was running at that time. Consequently, the office was closed in 98. With the representations of ARC and SLM in the pocket, I changed to Polytec GmbH, to distribute the products further, and in parallel start a new spectroscopy division with Polytec-own products.
Unfortunatly, I suffered from "investments and mergers" again. Acquisitions hit my both US companies in the way it happens in most cases: to the disadvantage of customers, employees, and in reality the new owners either. Indeed, they do not want to know and exchange managers like coins. That the new personell often is incompetent, ignorant, and egomanic, may be to the plan of the holding company in short term, and often, the heads there donīt know better. All learned the same theories, and often think very short termed. Sometimes they truely believe to know the right way. If the new hired managers happen to combine the above "features" with incompence on the technical, marketing and social side, they will easily make the "ideas" of the holding real. That is the time, the really good, enganged, and competent employees leave, and the screw starts to turn downward. SLM was sold several times in the 1990īs. With every change in ownership, the instruments program was "streamlined" further, and in 2000 only one product, a stationary fluorimeter, was left, which was killed too, meanwhile. Sidenote: An obviously revealing phrase is the expression "Iīve got x people working for me". I know nobody, working for his boss. I at least, was working for my family, our customers, the collegues, co-workers and employees (for whom I was responsable for sevaral years), and of course for myself. In my view, a boss has to work for his people and the customers, and not vice versa. If he works well, the company has a good chance for long term success, and the often mentioned "shareholders" will get their part either. This point of view is very common in privatly owned and run companies, but seems to be totally unknown in anonymous holdings. As the chiefs (or does a titel like General or Major fit better to those "officers"?) believe, that people (and probably customers too) are there for them, the whole system does not work long termed.
Back to history. ARC, in the late 1990īs went from private ownership to the Roper Industries group. Roper had purchased several companies in the field of CCD technology and spectroscopy, and combined them in Roper Scientific. A good step, because a common distrubion line was also formed, with the German branch RS GmbH. ARC became member of the group, meanwhile it also had become the main product line of my business. When the ARC distribution in Germany was transferred from Polytec to RS GmbH, I accepted the offer to switch with the products. Now, I had highly flexible, high quality spectrometers, and the CCD cameras of RS-Princeton Instruments, which originally was a spring-off of EG&G-PAR. Combining both, spectrometers and CCD, and adding commercial single point detectors, light sources, and other accessories, I kept the ability, to fulfill most customer requirements for systems, not available from the shelf. It was fun to define, develop, setup and apply specialized systems together with happy customers.
Frequently during those activities, which in total spread over 20 years, the discussion came to useful literature on optical spectroscopy. We found very deep digging books and papers on theory, providing not much help in practical view. We found "cook books" on defined applications, but missing background information and theory. The missing link was not found, not by my customers, nor by myself. Some of the customers asked me, to write the missing link. After I had retired from day-to-day activities in 2005, I started writing the "Book on practical Optical Spectroscopy by modular Instruments". At the time being, it is available as a free accessable part of the homepage, you are actually visiting. Today, all issues, dealing with the spectrometer part itself, are finished. The peripherals and applications are added inh a step-by-step process, and are added to page BASICS-6 "Applications", to conclude the project in the ner future.
Optical Spectroscopy has made my professional and business life and it has given me a lot. I frankly hope, that I will be able to pay back a little to the community of spectroscopists with this internet book.
I am open to every kind of critics or clearification, helping the project further. Thank you again for your interest.
Faithfully, Wilfried Neumann
large analytical Companies: Where they came from, and what happened to them
Told by best knowledge, no guaranty for exact truth
Perkin-Elmer may be the oldest
firm to market optical spectroscopical instruments. In
the 1930īs Mr. Perkin and Mr. Elmer in Connnecticut, in vicinity to Yale,
started to built scanning infrared absorption spectrometers. By the time the
instrumental program extended, and companies have been purchased and added, like
Coleman, a UV-Vis absorption photometer firm. In the
1960-70 years, PE was the largest company worldwide, in the field of chemical analytics.
They also had plants in England and Germany, providing R&D and manufacturing.
Perkin-Elmer even afforded the luxury of internal competition between the
factories. Example: a customer could chose a gas chromatogrph (GC) from the US
plant or from England, or an atomic absorption spectrometer (AA) from the
US or Germany. In the 1980īs the firm entered the starting train of biotechnology
and bioanalytics. To become a large player, they sacrificed R&D and marketing of
the systems for chemistry for years, and also reduced the internal competition.
Loss of market share in the historical markets followed. Mid
of the 1990īs, the company split up into a bio company and the classical PE corporation.
The latter meanwhile had lost itīs standing in the markets and was purchased by EG&G early 1998.
EG&G resulted from the activities of the Harvard scientist "Doc" Edgerton (the E in EG&G). He had invented the flash lamp and the stroboscope in the 1940īs, and was nominated for the Nobel price for both together, but was not elected. He also envented the silicon photodiode, which became the major detector for fast measurements in atomic bomb testing. After msot of the tests, all diodes and some of the electronics needed replacement. The detectors have been inquired in large quantities, a good base for a company. EG&G had excellent relations to the US government, and grew with technology. Public known sites, operated by EG&G have been, or are still are, for instance Cape Canaveral or the dismantling plant of atomic bomb heads in Colorado. The desastrous reactor at Three Mile Island has also been reconstructed by EG&G. In the 1960īs they begun to buy companies in the fields of measurement, signal recovery technologies, and analytics. Famous names as ORTEC (nuclear measurements), Princeton Applied Research (PAR), Reticon (diode arrays) and others came to EG&G. The holding often let the daughters operate as before for several years. Than the control got harsher, and the inquiry to tranfer Dollars grew each year. To "improve efficiency", the companies have been split up and put into new formations, parts and pieces where sold either. After a while, the formerly well doing units disappeared, and the product lines became non-existing. After EG&G in 1998 had bought the chemical analytics branch of Perkin-Elmer, the EG&G holding split up into one for the governmental service activities, keeping the name of E&G. The other part, including the instruments for measurements and analytics, renamed itself into PerkinElmer. The company called PerkinElmer today, in reality is the EG&G instruments und components group.
Hewlett-Packard / Agilent. About 1935, the two Stanford scientists Hewlett und Packard had the idea to develop and market instruments for radio stations and service. They started a company in the garage of Mr. Packard (if he had a car of the same name is not reported) in Sunnyvale at the San Franciso Bay, today the heart of Silicon Valley. HP eventually was the first "Garage Company", in any case it is the most famous. Business went well, and by the time they went down in frequency, until they provided all kinds of instrumentation between DC and UHF. Mid of the 1950īs they introduced the first digital voltmeter (with vacuum tubes of course). HP became the most successful company in measurement and frequency generator business, and started to purchase companies in the analytical field in the 1960īs. An importand example was F&N, a young company making gas chromatographs, but was more renown for its flat bed and x-t recorders. At the time of purchase, F&N had an solid state based signal integrator under development. To make it short, it was the seed of the whole HP computer division. It developed all-new (end of the 1960īs!) table top computer hardware, while IBM and DEC still developed huge machines for analytical applications. As there where no optimum languages, they created them. The breakthrough came with the table top series HP98xx, the name PC only came up in the 80īs. It was based on the bus system IEEE-488 (IEC bus, HP bus), being upgradable in several instruments. By the upgrade, a bunch of instruments was controlled and read externally, all by a single computer. The first analycal instruments with HP bus and special software came out by 1974 and changed the market. HP also bought companies in Germany, like a medical company in Böblingen/Sindelfingen, which became the kernel of HP in Germany. In Waldbronn near Karlsruhe they bought Hupe & Busch, a pioneer in liquid chromatography (LC). In Waldbronn, the wordwide centre for LC, IC and optical spectroscopy was erected. The long-years-successful array absorption spectro photometers originated here, and I had helped developing them without realizing that, when I sold the OMA there. But that happens, when representing the technology leader (PAR). HP was famous for itīs pace-making social policies and the social security of employees. In the 1970-80īs, HP was rated the best company in the world by engineers and scientists, looking for a job. The social act was due to the control of the two founders, sitting in the board until (I guess) 1985. They also blocked the "going public". After both had left the board, many policies changed at HP. The computer branch was faster growing than every other division at HP, since the early 1980īs, and mid of the 1990īs the company split up. The computer branch kept the name HP, the measurements, signal transfer, and analytical branch got a new name: Agilent. Itīs majority of shares is still owned by HP.
The two brothers Varian, also Stanford people and also at home in Sunnyvale, founded their success on magnets. They made up business on electro magnets in the 1950īs, by supplying scientists with laboratory electro magnet systems. Varian magnets are still considered the reference today. The Varian brothers also looked, how to find new applications for magnets, and came out with the first magnetic resonance system (NMR), adding spin resonance systems (ESR) later. With the money earned, they entered analytics deeper, mainly by adding companies. One of those was the german Krupp-Atlas daughter "Mess- und Analysentechnik" (MAT) in Bremen, at that time technology leader in mass spectroscopy. End of 1960īs, Varian entered optical spectroscopy. First with buying Cary in Los Angeles. Howard Cary had developed IR spectrometers at Beckman in the 1940īs. By the early 1950īs he startet his own by introducing the probably best designed spectro photometers ever. All of the Caryīs had double monochromators, for the range of 190-3000 nm in prism-grating configuration. They have been the first company, to do absorbance measurements down to 160 nm, by double prism systems, also the base for circular dichroism(CD) systems. In the middle of the 1960īs, the first Laserīs came to laboratory use, and helped to prove the theory of Nobel price winner Raman. Cary built the first Raman triple spectrometer, providing outstanding specifications for about 10 years. Cary and his chief developer Hawes have been very productive and received many patents, including 1D echelle spectrometers and even the 2D echelle principle. Because of the complicated driving system, regarding the time being, the 1D was not serialized and 2D concept was only demonstrated with a photo plate as detector. Other 2D detectors where not available outside the military in the 50-60īs. End of the 1960īs he sold his company to Varian. They immediatly moved the hole operation from LA to SF, but not a single know-how carrier joined the new place. No need to describe, what happened. About the same time, Varian had purchased the australian company Techtron, which was a spring-off of the CSIRO, a central research instituton of Australia in Melbourne. The institute had developed the method of atomic absorption spectroscopy (AA). Techtron had received public money, and was not allowed to move, even the patents could only be used in Australian technology. That limitation was in favour of Varian. AA developed so well, that more fields of atomic spectroscopy, like ICP and related methods, have been developed, marketed, and manufactured there. After the residuals of Cary instruments had turned old and lost success, the whole of optical spectroscopy at Varian has been bundled in Melbourne, as far as I know successfully.
Agilent & Varian: In 2009, Agilent purchased Varian. Very quickly the product programs of the two companies where melted to one. Lots of products disapperared, together with the name of Varian. That the customers have less choice and less competitors to select from, comes collateral. How well the opto-analytic society is served with the constant "mergers", is a matter, everybody can weigh by himself.
More stories could be told................................................
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Spectroscopy with dispersive Spectrometers
Basics - Building Blocks - Systems - Applications " are reserved by
Wilfried Neumann, D-88171 Weiler-Simmerberg