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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Wilcox P. Overbeck was a research associate and instrumentation designer at the Chicago Met Lab. He was responsible for calling out the neutron count when Chicago Pile-1 went critical on December 2, 1942.

Before joining the Manhattan Project, Overbeck graduated from MIT with a degree in Electrical Engineering and worked as an assistant for Vannevar Bush’s Rapid Arithmetic Machine, a prototype computer. He concentrated on tube design.

After the success of CP-1, Overbeck worked for DuPont at Oak Ridge and Hanford, where he became superintendent of instrumentation. He later became the director of the Savannah River Site.


Wilcox P. Overbeck's Timeline
1912 Born in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
19401942 Worked on tube design for a prototype computer named the Rapid Arithmetical Machine as an assistant to Vannevar Bush.
1942 Joined the Manhattan Project as an instrumentation designer at the University of Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory.
1942 Dec 2nd Witnessed Chicago Pile-1 going critical and announced the neutron count during the experiment.
19431945 Worked at Oak Ridge and Hanford for DuPont.
1980 May 5th Died in Aiken, South Carolina.

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