My First Real Job

By Charles Knell – My first real job, in 1971, was with the U.S. Navy as a civilian employee. My boss was Tony. It seemed at first that he had no idea what to do with me. He had me “reviewing” standard plans that others in his team were creating. He sent me to make him copies. I was assigned a few odd jobs most of which I had no idea how to handle. Then, Tony sent me to be trained on the latest Navy radio transmitters. However, I never did any work on them because my estimates were too high. Once, I was sent out in the field to modify modem frequencies and to fix the transceivers that used them. That was interesting, but also very painful when I got an RF burn. I had been warned about this in college, but I was young and careless. You don’t actually have to touch a final tube cathode to get burned since the RF energy will jump from the cathode into your body if you get too close. Luckily, it wasn’t too bad, and no medical attention was required.

Finally, after what seemed like months of doing odd jobs in between reading technical books in the library, Tony and I were transferred to the TEMPEST department. I was sent to Maryland for training. In the tempest department, we actually did some interesting work. Most of the TEMPEST work was classified, so I can’t tell you about it. But you can check out the link, which I just mentioned. I traveled all over the country doing TEMPEST testing, including Adak Alaska and Washington D.C. I was even offered and turned down a TEMPEST job in Washington D.C. After that, I applied for and got a promotion into the Remote Sensors project.

As part of the Remote Sensors project, I supervised a group of six Electronics Engineers and Technicians. We designed and supervised installations of intrusion detections systems all over the world. All the work was classified since these systems were for the purpose of protecting weapons. All went well until budget cuts came and all of the Remote Sensors work was transferred to Charleston, South Carolina. I was out of a job unless I wanted to move, which I didn’t. In those days, you needed to use a typewriter to make a resume. So, there were a lot less job applicants for any job. It wasn’t very hard to find a new one.

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