Sunday, December 20, 2015

Bell Labs' lab notebooks

Every new member of the technical staff was given a stock of hardcover lab notebooks that were bound in cloth and leather and filled with two hundred lined pages. In most offices, recalls Walter Brown, an experimental physicist who worked under Shockley, there was a notebook table, ". . . intended to hold a notebook for recording details of experiments and their results [as well as] ideas and plans for the future. Results or ideas that one thought were potentially valuable were witnessed and signed by another engineer for documentation of the timing of the idea." The scientists were not permitted to rip out pages. Nor were they encouraged to attach loose sheets of paper into the notebook. "No erasures," says Brown. "Lines through mistakes—initialed by who drew the lines." Also, the notebooks were issued with registered numbers that were matched to each scientist and were tracked by supervisors and Labs attorneys. There was to be no confusion bout who did what. The notebooks were proof for gaining a patent.
Jon Gertner, The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation (New York: Penguin, 2012), p. 57

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