Updated 2-15-2010

July 2010 Column


From Dits to Bits

From Dits to Bits Book Cover

From Dits to Bits is the story of Herman Lukoff, a son, husband, father, computer engineer, and ham who's work has contributed greatly to the development of electronic computers, and personally to my writing (using my PC) for all my columns, the printing of each QST and the myriad of just about everything we own today. Herman was a student at U-Penn when he started working on ENIAC with Dr. Machly and Dr. J. Presper Eckert at the Moore School in 1943.

Herman's story starts by telling how he was first interested in electricity, then radio, and then after hearing some hams talking on the radio he built, he became a ham. Throughout the book he relates how his ham radio hobby contributed to his career and in the development of electronic computers.

He takes us through the EINAC, UNIVAC, LARC, and the Sperry-Rand years of early commercial computer development, its trials and tribulations, in a plain-speaking easy to understand manner. Remember, there were no text books or college courses back then to teach you how to design a computer. Building them was done one circuit, one function, one device at a time, and then tying everything together and making it work. Those were exciting times, and his book makes you feel proud as you read it.

It has always been my opinion that this is a "must own" book to be reread every few years. (I just reread mine for the third time and found it just as interesting as the first time I read it in 1979, maybe even more so.)

Locate a copy of his book.

Since it appears to be out of print, finding a copy is still possible with a little work. I saw several listed on www.Amazon.com and www.Abebooks.com. Some were at reasonable prices and some way too expensive. Also some libraries still have copies to lend, check with your local library and ask about interlibrary loan.

Find a used copy here:



Also check your local library and ask about interlibrary loan

Herman Lukoff
Herman Lukoff standing in front of a vintage Univac

K2TQN's Speaking Tour for this Year

I will be making a few presentations about the 1923 Bowdoin expedition, titled the “Wireless North Pole and the Adventures of Don Mix” with lots of the original photos. I regret not being able to go everywhere I have been invited.

If you are in the area, I hope you will attend.

At the AWA Conference in Rochester, NY

Conference Dates: August 17 through August 21, 2010.

K2TQN speaking: starting at 7:00 PM on Tuesday evening, August 17. I'll be presenting Don Mix's WNP 1923 adventure on the schooner Bowdoin to the North Pole. In a sense I'll be opening the festivities there with my talk, which will be followed by an evening of radio related movies presented by the AWA. The first movie will be PBS's Empire Of The Air. The "AWA Cinema Pub" will have food and beverages available for purchase. So if you're just arriving you can attend the Don Mix presentation and movie while having your food and beverages.

John Dilks, K2TQN    125 Warf Road, Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234-8501   e-mail: K2TQN@arrl.net