InfoAge Wall of Honor – 2016

Born on March 14, 1902, Bill Gould, grandson of a literate, escaped slave who kept a diary of his Civil War service, achieved his first two-way radio contact at the age of 13. Bill attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the third college in the country with a wireless club. His first job after college was as an engineer with Worcester’s radio station, WTAG. At this time Bill also enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve as a radioman.

In 1929 Bill served at sea as radioman on the S.S. Edith, a coastal steamer that travelled throughout the Caribbean. His next big job was with the Metropolitan District Police Radio department in Boston, performing communications systems design. Bill remained a dedicated Ham radio operator throughout his life. In 1940, Bill moved his family to New Jersey, where he began a long career with the Signal Corps, almost all of it at Camp Evans. Gould was also one of the early Black electronic engineers at Fort

Monmouth where he worked on the Army’s first radars. He was responsible for the installation and operation of early warning radar systems on the West Coast of the U.S. and he supervised the design and development of the first weather radar equipment. It was here that he would come to work with Dr. Harold Zahl, the Director of Research from 1948 to 1966 at Camp Evans, and an InfoAge Wall of Honor recipient. During the 1950s, Gould also directed research involving instrumentation of long-range guided missiles at Cape Canaveral.

On October 4, 1957, Sputnik was put into orbit by the Soviets, much to the chagrin of U.S. scientists working on Army and Navy satellites. Bill Gould, and Harold Jaffe, another Wall of Honor inductee, were part of the Electronic Countermeasures Team that intercepted one of the first Sputnik signals from an experimental direction finding station at Collingswood, N.J. The measurements Bill and his colleagues collected were vitally needed by the Navy’s Vanguard Computing Center at NRL to determine orbits and making predictions. Dr. Zahl would later say, “But perhaps most important of all during these early hours on October 5 were the efforts of a few of our Countermeasures people operating an experimental direction finding station at Collingswood, N. J. In the open, and in freezing weather, Bill Gould, Harold Jaffe and associates, day after day, all through the long nights, week after week, gave out bearing information – information vitally needed by the Vanguard Computing Center at NRL to determine orbits and make predictions. Yes, the Soviet had kicked off, but before we could really play in the game, we first had to find the ball.”

Coming to Fort Monmouth in 1940, Bill Gould was responsible for the installation and operation of early warning radar systems on the West coast of the United States. Before his retirement in 1969, he was a section chief in the Electronic Warfare laboratory, directing research and development involving the application of radio and radar for meteorological purposes. During his career, Bill contributed to the development of radar equipment from spark gap transmitters to vacuum tubes, and ultimately to solid state devices.

Posted April 4, 2017