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Winston R. Hanson

ShopChicago, IL

Manhattan Project VeteranProject Worker/Staff
Winston R. Hanson

Winston was born in April, 1921 in Washburn, WI (where his father was the mayor) and graduated from Washburn High School, Washburn, WI in 1939.  He attended the University of Wisconsin in 1940.  

Thereafter he moved to Chicago, IL and  there married Virginia Mildred Wheeler. 

In 1941 he joined the Metallurgical Laboratory (Met Lab), which was the cover name for the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago, and became a Project Staff Member.  The Metallurgical Project later became known as the Plutonium Project. On December 2, 1942, the atomic age was born at the Met Lab with the first self-maintained nuclear chain reaction. The initial objective of the Met Lab was to develop a chain reacting pile using natural uranium, separate plutonium chemically, and obtain theoretical and experimental data for effecting an explosive chain reaction.  During the Manhattan Project radiation survey meters were given code names as part of the overall secrecy.  Several of the code names were believed to be named after the seven dwarfs in the Snow White story.

In 1945 he joined as Manufacturing Manager the Victoreen Instrument Company in Cleveland, Ohio which produced a wide range of Geiger counters and ionization chambers.  The Operations Crossroads series of nuclear tests in the Pacific required new instrumentation. The Pacific test, conducted in 1946-1947, benefited the Victoreen Company, which provided most of the survey meter instrumentation.

After thirteen years Winston left Victoreen and in 1958 moved to join the Landsverk Electrometer Company in Glendale, CA.  Here he was the Director of Operations to oversee production of ‘The Fallout Radiation Measurement Set’ (which had a dosimeter and charger).   The Civil Defense  Model V-750 Charger was the most popular quartz fiber dosimeter charger made with over 5.9 million total units produced for domestic and offshore customers.

Winston moved onto Jordan Electronics Co., Alhambra, CA in 1962 and became their Manufacturing Manager.  Jordan was a division of the Victoreen Instrument Company (since 1957) and produced radiation measurement equipment ) using the Neher-White ionization chamber), Geiger counters,  dosimeter chargers, and the Jordan ‘Minirad’, a miniature gamma dose rate meter (pocket size measuring 3.75″ x 2.5″ x 1.25″).  Jordan Electronics migrated into other commercial equipment and became a well known provider of electric guitar solid state amplifiers and musical electronic peripherals.

Later in 1968, Winston became Production Manager at  Phaostron Instrument & Electronic Company, a division of Victoreen, in South Pasadena, CA which specialized in the development and manufacture of highly sophisticated, state-of-the-art instrumentation, measurement and control devices for every conceivable type of military and commercial application.  His manufacturing resume included instruments, indicators, sensors and controls for use in military and commercial airplanes, helicopters, ships, tanks and ground support equipment.

In 1970 he became the General Manager at Don L. Collins & Associates Inc., Glendale, CA  and was active with the Health Physics Society, Southern California Chapter. This firm was dedicated to consulting with governmental agencies at the federal,  state, and local levels on civil defense matters.  Their knowledge and expertise was in demand for compliance to radiation monitoring regulations and the design/manufacture of special nuclear instrumentation.

In 1976 he was hired as the Manufacturing Manager for Magnavox Electronic Systems, Torrance, CA, a producer of military tactical communications, electronic warfare, command and control systems, electro-optics and anti-submarine warfare.  Magnavox ES was provider of the MX-9XXX series of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) as a satellite-based navigation and time transfer system developed by the U.S. Department of Defense.  It served marine, airborne, and terrestrial users of both military and civilian carriers.

Ultimately he decided to retire in 1986 and moved to Henderson, NV with his wife.  He passed away in August, 1995 at 74 years of age leaving behind his two sons (Winston Jr. and David).  

Information submitted by his son, Winston Jr.

Winston R. Hanson's Timeline
1940 Attended the University of Wisconsin.
1941 Joined the Metallurgical Laboratory with the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago as a Project Staff Member.
1945 Became Manufacturing Manager for the Victoreen Instrument Company in Cleveland, Ohio which produced a wide range of Geiger counters and ionization chambers.
1958 Served as the Director of Operations for Landsverk Electrometer Company in Glendale, CA producing The Fallout Radiation Measurement Set (Dosimeter and CD V-750 Dosimeter Charger).
1962 Moved onto Jordan Electronics Co., Alhambra, CA as their Manufacturing Manager. Produced radiation measurement equipment using the Neher-White ionization chamber, Geiger counters, dosimeter chargers, and the Jordan "Minirad" gamma dose rate meter.
1968 Hired as the Production Manager at Phaostron Instrument & Electronics Co., South Pasadena, CA which specialized in the development/manufacture of sophisticated military and commercial measurement/control devices.
1970 Became the General Manager in Don L. Collins & Assoc., Glendale, CA for the manufacture of special nuclear instrumentation and consulting on civil defense matters.
1976 Joined Magnavox Electronic Systems, Torrance, CA as the Manufacturing Manager which produced military tactical communications/warfare/command & control equipment. Also created the MX-9XXX series Global Positioning System (GPS) for the US Dept of Defense.

Winston R. Hanson Sr. of Victoreen Instrument Co. using a portable radiation survey meter, a Model 263 Doc 1945, from Health Physics: A Backward Glance by R. Kathren and P. Ziemer, 1980.

W.R. Hanson Sr. (center), Jacques Cousteau (right) and unknown Magnavox executive (left) presenting delivery of first Magnavox DGPS 12-Channel Navigation /Reference Station

The primary purpose of the Model CD V-750 was to charge civil defense dosimeters (CD V-138, 730, 740, and 742). That is adjust the dosimeter so that the quartz fiber, visible through the eyepiece as a fine line running vertically across the scale,  is set at zero.  The CD V-750 could also be used to read the dosimeters if insufficient light was available - quite possible in an emergency situation.  

The Jordan 'Minirad,' a miniature gamma dose rate meter

Jordan Electronics

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