Chapter 8 of The Story of Hastings-Raydist
HICO Is Born, 1944-1946
Laying a Foundation, 1947-1950
Deceptive Prosperity, 1951-1953
Shifting Gears, 1954-1955
Everything Goes Right, 1956-1967
A Teledyne Company, 1968-
hen Charles Hastings was chosen as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of 1949, another man chosen for the award that year was Congressman Gerald Ford from Michigan. Ford later became President of the United States. As President, Ford invited Charles Hastings and the eight other men who had received the award that year to join him for lunch at the White House on May 5, 1976.
This was the first time the group had met since the ceremonies in Peoria twenty-six years earlier. Hastings enjoyed seeing these men again and discussing with them the events of the intervening years.
That lunch was a happy interlude in what was otherwise a very difficult period for him. Mary Hastings had suffered a stroke the week before, and was in serious condition at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She died June 15.
Her death was a tragic blow, both to him and to the company. For over thirty years her talents had been invaluable in making the company a success. She was thorough, dedicated, tactful, and decisive. In countless areas, her abilities were the perfect counterpart of those of her husband. He could have an excellent idea for a project, but only she could organize it such that every detail went smoothly. He could suggest an important new company policy, but only she could think through all the ramifications and suggest a way to implement it without disrupting other important policies. He could know what he wanted to say in a letter, but she was needed to edit the letter so that it achieved its purpose. He relished the opportunity to be both President and Chief Engineer; she shouldered enough of the executive responsibilities that he had time to be both.
I n October 1976 a reunion was held in Asheville, North Carolina, for everyone who had ever worked for the NACA—from its beginnings in 1917 until it became part of NASA in 1958. Charles Hastings, Jim Benson, and Arthur Samet were there. So were Andy Hacskaylo and several other men who had worked at the Hastings Instrument Company in its early days.
On October 10, while riding to the airport following the reunion, Charles Hastings suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. He died a few hours later in an Asheville hospital. A brilliant career was over.
Everyone at the company was stunned. The enthusiasm, the ideas, and the drive of Charles Hastings had been so pervasive throughout every aspect of the company's operation that they would find it difficult to adjust to the fact that from now on they had to carry on without him.
Throughout his career, Hastings had received not only public acclaim for his accomplishments, but also the respect and recognition of his peers. In the early 1960's he had been selected to receive the honored rank of "fellow" by both the Institute of Radio Engineers and the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. The two societies later merged to become the American Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers. In 1970 the Engineers Club of the Virginia Peninsula had chosen Hastings to receive its first "Engineer of the Year" award. A few months after his death, the Institute of Navigation honored him with its Superior Achievement Award "for continuing outstanding contribution to the advancement of navigation."
A rthur Samet had planned to retire as controller in January 1977, but he agreed to stay on as Acting President until a new President could be found. Jeanette Ossa, an accountant whom Charles Hastings had hired shortly before his death, became the new controller.
On April 1, 1977, Teledyne Hastings-Raydist welcomed a new president—Dr. Herbert Barnard. A Ph.D. in electrical engineering, Barnard came to the company from a position as Vice-President of Systems at Teledyne Brown Engineering in Huntsville, Alabama, where he had directed design and analysis since 1970. Before that he had worked in radar research at Bell Telephone Labs in Whippany, New Jersey.
For Barnard, a career at Hastings-Raydist was just beginning. For several who had been with the company since its earliest days, it was time to retire.
Arthur Samet retired as Dr. Barnard came in. Ray Doyle retired in January 1978, followed a month later by Head of Production Jimmy Davis. All three men had worked for the company since the 1940's. Like Benson before them, Samet and Doyle continued to work part-time for the company as consultants.
Meanwhile Hastings-Raydist continued to improve its products and to expand into new areas.
The Hastings Instrument division decided to no longer limit itself to proprietary instruments. Instead it began to market a more complete product line, capitalizing on the Hastings reputation for high quality and service. Its first step in this direction was the introduction of a cold cathode ion gauge—for measuring higher vacuums than those measured by the thermopile instruments—and an LVDT (linear voltage differential transformer) vacuum gauge—for measuring pressures from ten torr up to atmosphere.
Arthur Samet initiated the development of the Raydist Director, a microcomputer with a variety of control, display, and recording capabilities. The Director is programmed with information about an area and the way it is to be swept. It can then be used to guide a pilot to the area and along the desired sweep paths. The military version of the Director is used for minesweeping, while commercial versions are used for oceanographic surveying and geophysical exploration.
After Herb Barnard joined the company, Raydist reached a long-sought goal with the introduction of lane identification. Following closely on the heels of this advance is a Raydist system requiring only one frequency, rather than two. Along with advances in data handling, these innovations are producing a substantially superior Raydist system, one that Charles Hastings had envisioned but never known.
N o one can be sure what the future will bring, and the story of Hastings-Raydist bears this out.
Certainly Charles Hastings did not expect, when the NACA asked him in 1940 to develop instruments for measuring the speed of aircraft, that in the long run the ideas he came up with while working on this project would not be used for this application at all, but instead would be the basis for vacuum gauges, Air-Meters, flowmeters, and electronic positioning equipment.
Certainly in 1944, when Charles and Mary Hastings founded their company, they had no idea that by 1954 it would have gone through a period of great expansion followed by near-fatal cutbacks, that by 1964 it would be one of the most profitable companies for its size in America, and that by 1974 it would be part of one of the country's leading technology companies.
Whatever the future brought, they always met its challenge. Today, Teledyne Hastings-Raydist proudly carries on that tradition.
[A February 2010 update: This book was written in 1979. It is now just over thirty years later. This is a quick note on what has happened in the intervening years. With the advent of GPS technology, the market for Raydist diminished and that side of the business was discontinued. The company continues to manufacture instruments that measure vacuums and the flow of gasses. Today the company is known as Teledyne Hastings Instruments, and is part of Teledyne Technologies, Inc. It remains in its building in the Southampton area of Hampton, Virginia.]
Copyright © by Carol Hastings Sanders