Men of Science, Santa Barbara News-Press, 1958

This is a "reprint" of an article from 1958 from the Santa Barbara News-Press. We hope they don't mind! We put it on the web in support of our page on the history of the microwave oven.

Santa Barbara News-Press, Nov 16, 1958
Scientist Bock ‘Discovered’ Santa Barbara

When the flight-testing of Raytheon’s Sparrow III missile was successfully completed in 1956, Marvin J. Bock was offered the choice of returning to Boston or accepting a new post at the company’s production plant at Bristol, Tenn. Three years before, Bock had been chosen to head the radio frequency and antenna laboratory of Raytheon’s missile flight test facility at Pt. Mugu. The Manhattan-born scientist, who had spent all his life on the East Coast, found California much to his liking. “The greatest discovery was Santa Barbara,” Bock admits. “We had never seen a place which offered so much in every area of living.” Thus it was that Bock petitioned Raytheon officials to add a third choice for his next assignment: The company’s young Santa Barbara laboratory. The request was granted and Bock joined the local organization to specialize in microwave research and development.

Bock is a Raytheon ‘oldtimer.” When he joined the organization in 1941 at Waltham, Mass., he became its 180th employee. Today the firm has some 30,000 personnel in its network of plants and laboratories throughout the country. The veteran scientist has figured in many of Raytheon’s electronic accomplishments, both during World War II and the postwar period of defense alertness. Marvin J. (for Julian) Bock missed by three hours being a New Year’s baby. He was born Dec. 31, 1914 at 9 p.m., the son of Mr. and Mrs. David Bock. The family moved from Manhattan, N.Y., to Hollis, Long Island, where Marvin attended Public School 35, and later to East Haddam, Conn. Here Bock graduated from Nathan Hale High School and chose the School of Science and Technology at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, N.Y., for his higher education.

“As a youngster I loved to build radios and also became interested in the mercury turbogenerator, a new technique in power generators and high tension transmission lines,” Bock recalls. The attraction led him into the field of engineering and at Pratt Institute. Bock majored in the field of transmission lines and power generation. He graduated in 1937 with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering. The next three years were spent in Cambridge, Mass., where Bock was a development engineer for an equipment firm which specialized in switchboards for motor control processes. In July, 1940, he returned to his first engineering love, high tension transmission lines and power plant design, with the Stone and Webster Engineering Co. in Boston.

“Strangely enough I found I no longer had an intense interest in that field,” Bock recalls. “I felt strongly attracted to electronics and I knew, when I joined Raytheon a year later, that I had found my proper niche.” The war years brought Bock’s scientific know-how into focus. At Waltham, Mass., he developed test and simulation equipment for all types of magnetrons, klystrons and hard glass tubes used in Raytheon’s radar systems. A major assignment was the development of radar equipment for battleships. During this period Bock also prepared Raytheon’s Technical Data Book, which included the characteristics of every power tube produced by the company during World War II. During the war Bock attended advanced courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Northeastern University to keep abreast of classified material then being developed.

In July, 1947, Bock was appointed head of the microwave heating laboratory at Waltham, where he developed high power microwave flash heating and equipment techniques. Out of his laboratory came prototypes which should eventually prove a boon to many industries. The systems were proved feasible, but the high cost of production has held back marketing. Among the Bock developments: A microwave flash heating process to dry multi-color ink for high speed presses, the answer to the biggest problem faced by magazines aiming at true, full-color picture pages. Sterilization techniques for the pharmaceutical and meat packing industry which speeded up tremendously the process of destroying infectious micro-organisms. Flash glue drying for the shoe industry which would do away with the need of sewing or nailing soles.

Bock, however, contributed heavily to two Raytheon products which are now on the market. “Microtherm,” the company’s diathermy equipment, and “Radarange” the electronic cooker. He spent 3½ years on the Radarange and holds two patents in the quick-cooking process. A magnetron tube which generates an extremely high frequency (almost 2½ billion electrical vibrations per second) has this energy absorbed almost 100 percent by the food placed inside the Radarange. The modern housewife thus cooks the family dinner in a matter of minutes instead of hours. Bock reported the Defense Department is extremely interested in the Radarange for use in submarines, since it cooks food quickly and without odor, while retaining vitamins. The electronic oven is currently used aboard the USS America and USS United States, Bock said, where mammoth roasts are made ready for serving in the time usually spent on a tossed salad.

In 1949 Bock was named assistant head of the radio frequency and antenna department of Raytheon’s Missile Systems Laboratory at Waltham. Here he performed basic research and development on the Sparrow III (air-to-air) and Hawk I (ground-to-air) missiles. He supervised the development of antennas and microwave circuitry for all FM-CW radar systems up to and including the pre-production stage. It was the flight-testing of Sparrow III and Hawk I which lead to his California transfer in 1953. At the Pt. Mugu facility one of Bock’s major problems with Sparrow III was the matter of target acquisition. His work contributed to the acceptance of Sparrow III as one of the nation’s first successful missiles. Bock and his associates received a citation from the Navy for their work during the Korean conflict. Faced by mounting losses of men and equipment the Navy urged Raytheon to devise a foolproof method for the safe landing of jets aboard aircraft carriers.

“We went into a crash program, working day and night,” Bock recalls. “And we came up with a controlled approach system by the use of radar, which licked the ticklish problem. The Navy was very happy with it.” At the Santa Barbara laboratory Bock is in charge of microwave component and antenna development for countermeasures, radar, and navigation systems. Bock married the former Constance Richmond in 1940 in Boston. They now live at 140 Santa Isabel Ln., Montecito with their children, Peter, 16 and Wendy, 13. Peter, a senior, is president of the Science Club at Santa Barbara High School and plans to major in chemistry at Stanford University. Wendy, an eighth grader at Santa Barbara Junior High School, is an accomplished seamstress and piano player.

Mrs. Bock, a graduate of the Connecticut State Teachers College, obtained her final state credential last summer at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Now that the children are older, she feels the urge to do substitute teaching from time to time.
Scientist Bock has been active in Boy Scout work since 1952, when son Peter was a Cub Scout in Boston. Peter is now an Eagle Scout and his dad, a past committeeman of Troop 3, is proud of the citation given him by the San Fernando Valley Council for his work with boys. A man of many hobbies, Bock built the stone walls and patio at his home in addition to the landscaping. Right now he is constructing a hi-fi system, looking forward anxiously to next summer, when he plans to build a boat and sail it.

Bock’s enthusiasm for Santa Barbara as a way of life has led to a mild exodus of friends from Massachusetts. Among those who harkened to his glowing words-and found them to be true-are Mrs. Bock’s parents, Dr. and Mrs. Merton Richmond. Dr. Richmond is a retired eye specialist from Boston. The couple now lives in Santa Barbara.
Bock is a member of the American Institute of Electrical Engineering and the Institute of Radio Engineers.

Marvin J. Bock is shown on the roof of Raytheon’s Santa Barbara Laboratory checking the characteristics of a pattern on a newly developed type of microwave antenna used for navigational purposes. Purpose of the equipment is to measure accurately the beam pattern of the antenna in free space. Under actual conditions, the antenna will pinpoint any object entering the pattern many miles away, day or night, and regardless of atmospheric conditions. Test prove the system within one-100th of a degree accurate.

Thanks to a scientist father and a mother who holds full teaching credentials, Peter and Wendy Bock have excellent records as students. In this typical-evening picture at home, Dad gives his opinion on a mathematical problem, minus slide rule, while Mrs. Bock interrupts her reading to learn who will come up first with the solution.

Author : Tom O'Brien

Source : Santa Barbara News-Press, Nov 16, 1958