IEE Open forum on undergrad teaching of electromagnetics, IEE Savoy Place, thu12dec02, 2.30pm.


History of EMC


This web page is the History section of

Los Angeles

I first came across the EMC community as a design engineer in Data Products Corporation, Los Angeles, in 1964. See my book “The Catt Concept” for insight into how my family, our furniture and I were shipped to Los Angeles by Ampex Corp., how I was fired seven months later, and hired on the following Monday by the Ampex spinoff company Data Products Corp. down the road for 50% more salary.

In Data Products, I was put to design a power supply for a torpedo-proof line printer for use on board ship in the US Navy. (The 12dec02 evening lecturer shipped over by the IEE from the USA came from the US Navy EMC community.)

The EMC wallahs prescribed that electric power drawn by the line printer must not vary at a greater rate than 3Hz. This meant that if the line printer suddenly had to print a whole row of 200 As


the amount of power demanded down the mains cable from somewhere else on the ship must not increase in a detectable way, at a greater rate than that indicated by the figure of 3Hz. This was because in principle the EMC magicians would put a current probe around one of the wires, Live of Neutral, bringing in power (The idea was obviously that there might be Russian spy with a current probe on the US Navy ship, and he might be able to detect whether the line printer was printing information. We all know that increased communication would indicate that the US was about to attack his brother on a nearby Russian ship). The machine sounded like a machine gun, but obviously all Russian spies were deaf, or at least all those who served in the US Navy, so the audio pandemonium was not a matter of concern for our freedom-loving democracy.

The EMC requirements meant that the little 3 foot long line printer turned into something looking very much like a tank, as can be seen in Data Products product brochures of the time. Since the antenna used by EMC magicians to detect emitted noise was brought up to a standard distance from the edge of the device under test, one obvious recourse was to make the device bigger, and so push away the EMC detecting antenna.

My solution to the “problem” was to take in constant power, and build a shunt regulating power supply instead of the normal series regulating power supply. That is, whenever the line printer was not printing at maximum rate, I would divert all the unused power into an electric fire. This design was much admired for its novelty, and the prototype worked fine. It was appreciated most on cold mornings.

I was moved on to design work on disc memories, in particularly the one destined for the Manchester University Atlas super-computer, and another bright young thing was hired in to design a new power supply which ignored the EMC specs. Presumably it was thought that a better solution would be to deny current probes to resident Russian spies in the US Navy.


[Whenever a major scandal hit GEC, Weinstock would rename it Marconi, and vice versa. MPs were too dim to realise that all the weapons scandals involved the single company. In this document, GEC stands for GEC or Marconi.]

Stingray was special. GEC operated a number of “defence” weapon “design” scams, and Stingray was by far the most surreal. 

Davidson, Walton and Catt had made major breakthroughs in electromagnetic theory. We needed to find out how much of our breakthroughs were known in all the electromagnetism subcultures. Two of us were employed at GEC Borehamwood at the time, so Malcolm Davidson went upstairs to the Microwave design department. He came back down to report that they were only plumbers. They knew nothing, and merely played with equations and connected together tubes to pipe around only one mode.

The question arose as to whether the EMC community knew any of our advances. So I got out of teaching remedial English and got a job as the top EMC magician on the Stingray torpedo in Stanmore, Middlesex. As one of them, I was more able to set about finding out what they knew. (I would have a better chance to force them to tell me what their jargon meant.) I had to avoid the EMC experts in GEC Portsmouth, GEC Rochester etc. until I had found out what their main buzz-words (e.g. lisn) meant, and found out what books they relied on. After a few days I found out that their bible was the £400 Don White manual. However, no other EMC experts would lend me their copy, or let me see it. After about ten days, however, I met a man who sold EMC devices imported from Los Angeles to our weapons industry. He volunteered to lend me the EMC bible, which was one of his products, for two or three weeks. When I asked him why, he said that he had mixed loyalty. On the one hand he was happy take a 10p capacitor manufactured in Los Angeles, renamed an EMC capacitor, sold to him for £2 for him to mark up to £5 and then sell to GEC. On the other hand, he was also a taxpayer, and was appalled by the drain on the taxpayer.

It took me a day or two to find out that Don White and his EMC cardinals were technically ignorant. I wrote a document blowing the gaff on them. At that stage, I knew that the EMC community knew no electromagnetic theory, as we had found for the plumbers called Microwave Engineers. However, by now I preferred to sit in GEC at £7 per hour rather than sit at home for £0 per hour. I was justified, because the same British government was funding research into my inventions at Middlesex Polytechnic, Brunel University and RSRE Malvern. I was on the management committees. Everyone else on these committees was so jealous of the fact that my inventions, not theirs, were being funded, that they were determined that anyone else on these projects would be salaried, but not me, the inventor. This was thus a double double-cross. I would sit at my GEC Stingray desk working on the Catt Spiral projects, which paperwork looked more or less the same as Stingray paperwork. I would be paid to do nothing on Stingray, and be paid nothing to work for the same government on Catt Spiral projects. An interesting moral dilemma occurred when I skipped out of “work” on Stingray to attend (unsalaried) a management conference on one of my government-funded projects at Brunel or Middlesex. Should I claim pay for those hours away from my desk at Stanmore?

To be continued.

Ivor Catt       14.00  fri13dec02







Ivor Catt  tel. 01727 864257


Ivor Catt’s book on electromagnetism is at


IEE paper




The material below (in ) shows that, if the young lecturer (or even old lecturer), given the task of lecturing on electromagnetic theory, finds no help from the text books, he will certainly get no help from the www if he does a Google search for “Transverse Electromagnetic Wave”.  Nonsense about so-called “self-resonant frequency” of a capacitor  Displacement Current - and how to get rid of it


To the Chairman of the 2.30 open forum, tomorrow thu12dec02, IEE Savoy Place,

via Sarah Nash


Three discussions taking 3 hours; this means one hour per discussion.


Teaching of Electromagnetics;

I planned to be a fly on the wall during this third discussion tomorrow. However, I now think I can have it both ways. Ideally, you would let the discussion on the teaching of ugrad electromagnetics proceed without me for (say) 30 minutes, so that I could gather what the general feeling is on the subject (i.e. with me as a fly on the wall). Then bring me in.


I would like to give those present a web page address,  in which case you will be welcome to cut me off whenever you felt like. Those attending could then read the rest of what I would have said on the www next morning.



----- Original Message -----

From: "Nash, Sarah" <>

To: <>

Sent: Wednesday, December 11, 2002 3:26 PM

Subject: test message