By Jim Colombo (USA)
Click here to send comments
Click here if you'd like to exchange critiques
It was Tuesday July 5, 1964 when Milan, Ron, Joe and eight faithful employees
opened the doors at 3436 Edward Avenue in Santa Clara. Maria cut the coffeecake
and Hal served. Lytron began with three proto orders, two from Honeywell and one
from Fairchild. Joe had finalized the plated through hole process and double sided
boards were in demand. Milan referred to the faithful as the Lytron nine.
Maria was the receptionist ,clerk, secretary, and made the coffee. Jenny was the bookkeeper,
personnel, payroll, and purchasing. Hal was the lead in the plating department and
Jimmy was his assistant. Bill was the screener and Dianne did touch up, shot screens,
and did artwork. Ross was the programmer, did the drilling, sheered copper clad
panels, and sharpen dull drills. Dusty was the fabricator, and worked in shipping and
receiving. Joe was the business manager, the chemist, production, and sales. He
planned all of the jobs, the processes that were required, the layout, and the pricing.
It was like Christman morning and Joe got the erector set he always wanted. There was a
pile of blue prints on one side of his desk and on the other side were planning sheets, a
side rule, and a stack of reference books. Joe was consumed planning a job when
suddenly he heard a horn playing La Cucaracha. "What the hell was that?" he yelled.
Joe walked into plating and screening and they were empty. Joe saw Dusty walking to
the back and asked, "What going on?"
"That's Roxie and her (Dusty stuttered. Then the words exploded out of his
mouth) roach coach. "
Joe looked dumbfounded.
"It's 9:30 Joe. Break time. Have a..... smoke. Get a .......Bull Pup.
"What's a Bull Pup?"
Dusty reloaded his brain. Joe, It's like a....... Mexican cheese burger with a .......
tortilla instead of a .......bun."
Joe walked to the back parking lot and looked in amassment at Roxie standing
by her lunch wagon, a modified 1963 Ford truck. It was a vision foreign to Joe, as if she
had landed from Mars. The rear had a hot coffee dispenser with an oven alongside that
had a plastic see through door with cooked food. The left side of the truck was closed
and the right side had soft drinks, juice, and milk packed in ice. Pastries, candy, and
snacks were in a shelve above. Sandwiches, potato chips, a few apples lined the top of
the display. Joe walked to the back and saw items in the warmer wrapped in aluminum
foil and identified with a label. Joe took a bull pup and waited in line to pay Roxie. She
was a husky, robust woman in her mid forties, blonde hair, tan, about six feet tall, and
had a tattoo on her right forearm consisting of two roses with the stems intertwined.
She was a friendly lady and knew everyone's name and secrets. She had been a cook
in a lumber camp for ten years and could handle herself in any situation.
"I haven't seen you before. I'm Roxie and you're?"
Joe. My first time. A bull pup.
"Starting the day with adventure?"
"Why do you say that?"
Joe smiled and said, "The more the better."
"All right, Joe. You have a nice day."
Joe walked back to his office and laid the bull pup on the desk. He got a can of
coke from the refrigerator and poured it into a glass with ice. Joe unwrapped the
aluminum foil and carefully inspected the contents: ground beef, chopped onions,
Monterey jack cheese, thin slices of tiny green peppers, and a chili sauce on top. It
looked safe, so he cut a piece with his fork and began to chew. Three, two, one, we
have ignitions. Fire engines went off in Joe's head and he felt the flames rise and singe
the roof of his mouth. The heat made his nose run, his eyes water, and his ears were
red. He opened his blazing mouth and steam escaped from his nostrils and ears. The
cold glass of coke quickly doused the fire. Dusty walked in and saw the back of Joe's
red neck and ears. Joe turned when Dusty began to speak and looked like he had
been hit with a blast from a blowtorch
"By the way........ I forgot to mention the........tiny green peppers. I guess you
....... found them. Okay." Dusty made a quick exit.
When Joe finished his second bottle of coke, he noticed two red XX's on the
label. Joe had chosen the one with extra napalm. No wonder Roxie was impressed.
Joe vanquished the bull pup and it lay to rest in his cast iron gut. It was time to
check the plating tanks for additions. Joe put on his rubber boots, his plastic apron,
thick green rubber gloves, and safety glasses. He took samples of each copper plating
tank in flasks numbered one through four and analyzed the concentration of each bath
by titration to determine the percent of acid present in each test tube to calculate
amount of chemicals required as additions for each copper tank. He measured the
percentage of Phlaboric acid in the tin-lead tank to calculate the amount of Phlaboric
acid to add. The strength of a bath ranged form 95 to 105%. Ammonia nitrate was
used in the etcher to remove excess copper. The strength of the etchant was measured
with a hydrometer that indicated the level of Bohmae: the percentage of etched copper
in the ammonia nitrate solution. The tip line plated gold on the contacts of the printed
circuit boards. The exposed copper was plated with nickel, a soft metal, to cover
surface blemishes, ten forty microns of gold covered the nickel flash. The nickel bath
was a simple electroplate solution with nickel chips. An ounce of pure industrial gold
call Tea or Orcean was added per each gallon of gold plating solution, which turned
purple from the trace of cobalt. The platers called it goofy grape like Kool-Aid. There
was a nasty gold reclamation tank that stripped gold from scrap boards with toxic
chemicals that created a toxic fume that was ventilated into the atmosphere. This was
before OSHA and many safety features were not incorporated, like wearing safety
equipment or proper ventilation of plating fumes. This was the time when toxic waste
was stored in 55 gallon drums and plating water runoff went in local sewers. Platers
who smoked doubled their respiratory problems. Gold platers had the easiest job in
plating and the shortest careers breathing the toxic byproducts from nickel and gold .
Joe was aware of the toxic waste and the safety of his employees. Lytron was the first
plating shop to clean and recycle their water preventing toxic waste.
Joe entered his chem lab and filled each titration glass tube with a sample of
solution for analysis. The balance of each solution was poured into whole life cell to
simulate testing plating adhesion and tensile pull strength. A second test was punching
a one-inch by half-inch cross section from a hole pattern in the center of a plated panel.
The cross section was dipped in solder filling the hole walls. The cross section was
ground to expose the hole walls filled with solder and was polished and mounted in a
round plastic holder and hardener was added to capture the cross section in the plastic
holder. Both sides of the hole wall were measured for plating thickness and adhesion of
the hole wall. Every order was tested and recorded the thickness and hole wall
integrity. Each cross section was numbered and saved, and the cross section number
was written on the traveler. Joe had crated a math formula to calculate the amperage
and voltage needed per panel to plate one one-thousandth, one third the thickness of a
human hair, of copper plating inside each hole wall. Some printed circuit boards had
hundreds of holes. Joe kept the formula a secret and only wrote voltage and amperage
on the travelers. The amperage withdrew the copper molecular structure from the
copper anodes and plated the cathode hole wall by reverse oxidation with the voltage,
rather than by osmosis like an immersion bath. Panels plated from the outside in.
Copper strips called robbers were attached on the outer edges to absorbed the excess
plating. Joe was a brilliant chemist.
Milan and Ron Dinner - Sept. 1964
Ron always arrived five minutes early to organize his thoughts. He parked his
Buick Riviera in the back and entered form the kitchen. Ron was the CPA for Di
Marco's Restaurant for the past three years and was greeted by all. Mr. Di Marco was
the entree chef and gave the Asa Buco one last taste for seasoning. The beef shanks
needed a splash of red wine and garlic. "Perfecto," said chef Di Marco and smiled at
Ron as he passed by to the dinning area. Gina Di Marco had her father's smile and her
mother's charm. She gracefully walked towards Ron like a ballerina and greeted him,
"Good Evening, Ron. Good to see you again."
"You are looking as lovely as ever. How is my Godson doing," asked Ron?
"He is trying to stand so he can play soccer."
"He needs more pasta to strengthen his legs."
Gina closed the curtain as she left Ron sitting in one of the private booths. Ron
removed papers form his leather attaché case consisting of projected expenses for
each quarter for the first year, cash flow, and revenue goals for Lytron. The profit
margins would be favorable because of Joe's reputation with the plated through hole
process. It would be a matter of waiting for technology to unleash new products with
plated through holes. NASA was excited because of the reliability and side reduction.
Honeywell as positioning itself for a large share of he market. Milan was the Director of
Marketing for Honeywell and the owner one of the few printed circuit board companies
that could make the products NASA wanted. Milan would continue at Honeywell and
Joe would be in charge of Lytron.