In mid 2005,
a friend of mine brought to me a sheet of gridded paper (yes, the kind
we used to draw plots, in the ancient ages when we did it
manually!), with the text of "Radar Man" written on the back in pencil.
The manual was the following:
PHILCO TRAINING MANUAL
ELECTRONIC CIRCUITS DIRECTORY
of the series:
"PHILCO TechRep World Wide Service"
"Field Engineering for the Armed Forces and Industry"
He acquired the book through an auction on eBay
On Jan, 25, 2006, some news about the source of the
"Radar Man" arrived...
Below is the text of the e-mail (published with authorisation of the
author), reporting the story, and a different version of the "Radar Man"
e-mail, the author, who works for the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA), reported that it should date back to the '50s or
I was wandering the web when I came across your version of The Radar
It bears a striking resemblance to the copy I have. I found mine
as an old
mimeographed page in the 1980s. It didn't have an author or date
indicated. It did have a sketch of the radar man with his dipole feet
lagging train of pips behind. I don't have the paper anymore,
If ever you saw upon the street A man whom walked with dipole feet With a lagging train of pips behind He was a radar man with a micromind.
With microseconds and microwaves And microvolts, he filled his days; And thus in the course of passing time His brain had shrunk to a micromind.
His eyes gave out with a neon gleam, His nose lit up like a radar screen, His ears worked like an electronic
gate, And his heart pumped blood at a video
This man obtained, in passing years, Infinite impedance between his ears. At last he succumbed to heavy jolt When he probed what he thought was a
The Doc looked up from his microscope And said to the nurse, Behold this
dope! Since of his brain not a trace can I
find, He was a radar man with micromind. At
this point, the available data were pointing to the US as the source,
and it become sure that it was not recent: at least the '60s, may be
Another US version (also coming from the FAA) is reported on the site
of Brightleaf Amateur Radio Club,
The US origin seemed to by confimed by another communication received
on March, 21, 2006, reporting another version of the poem having been
seen in 1966 in Houston, TX.....
(the pdf of the leaflet containing the poem is, unfortunately, no more online).
this version has been provided by Bill Young, G4KUU, who come across it
while on National Service (in UK).
So, the older available version appears to come from Britain, from a
time very close to the origin of the radar itself!
Here is the text :
The Radar Man
If you should see upon the street,
a man equipped with dipole feet
and a family of curves trailing behind,
He's a Radar Man with a micro mind.
His eyes take on a neon gleam,
His ears extend to a Yagi beam.
His mouth becomes another pulse gate,
His heart pumps blood at a video rate.
With micro-seconds and micro-waves,
and micro-volts he spends his days,
and therefore in the course of time,
He eventually develops a micro-mind.
This Radar man, with the passing years
attains infinite impedance between his ears,
and finally succumbs to a heavy jolt,
from what he thought was a micro-volt.
The doc looked up from his microscope,
turned to his colleagues, and softly spoke,
"No trace of a brain can I find,
He's a Radar man with a micro-mind.
(Courtesy of the South Dorset Radio
On February, 7, 2007, I received another e-mail, from Canada this time.
This communication pushes further back the origin of the "Radar Man",
to WWII, in the Royal Air Force.
the father of the author, was a "radar mechanic" in the
RAF during WWII. When he passed away in January 2007, among his old
military paper, she have found a manuscript, which she made available
to me, of the "Radar Man"
substantially identical (just one word of difference) to the first one. Click here to see the
Click here for a biographical note about Leslie
This seemed to be the end of the story... for more than seven years. Everything seemed to point to a British origin.
But, in July 2014, I received this e-mail from the US (reproduced with the authorisation from the author):
A friend of mine has been going
through old letters and effects of his uncle, John W. Knigga, who was a
radar man who was killed in World War II in a bombing mission over the
South China Sea. Among his effects was a poem , "The Radar Man
with the Micro-Mind." I looked into it and found your old
webpage about the poem, and I found two claimants to authorship:
Cpl. Thomas "Tommy" Ackerman,
stationed in Gualala, California, sent a letter with the poem to the
editor of his hometown paper. It was published in the Bolivar Breeze,
April 27 1944 pg 1 c6 and 2 c3. The headline of the printed letter was
"California People Very Hospitable." Ackerman's letter seemed to imply
that he had written the poem. Ackerman survived the
war and died November 9, 2002 in Bradenton, Florida.
In the February 1961 issue of Popular
Electronics, pages 16 and18, there is a letter to the editor from Roy
E. Curd of Sacremento, California, responding to an earlier printing of
the poem and claiming authorship. He says he wrote it
in 1942 and it was used on a safety poster the following year. He gave
the original wording as:
If you should see upon the street A man equipped with dipole feet With a family of curves trailing behind He's a radar man with a micro-mind.
With micro-seconds and micro-waves And micro-volts he fills his days Thereby in the course of time He developed a micro-mind.
His eyes take on a neon gleam His ears extend to a yagi beam His mouth becomes another pulse gate His heart pumps blood at a video rate.
This radar man with the passing years Attained infinite impedance between his ears And finally succumbed to a heavy jolt When he got what he thought was a micro-volt
The Doc looked up from his microscope Turned to his colleague and softly spoke There's no trace of a brain that I can find He's a radar man with a micro-mind.
Roy E. Curd was a native of New
Mexico. He was born in 1910 in New Mexico. In 1936 he was
living in Silver Peak, Nevada, when a newspaper reported that he had
had a poem chosen for The Yearbook of Contemporary Poetry for 1936,
(vanity publication?). He later lived in Sacramento,
California. In 1958 he married Mabel Poghe. They
later lived in Spokane, Washington, where the 1959 city directory lists
him as a radar specialist at Geiger Air Force Base. His wife died
in 1982 and is buried in Spokane. He died in Arkansas on
June 17, 1981 and is buried in Rogers, Arkansas.
The version that was in John Knigga's
effects had the stanzas in a different order, and I have seen others
that had changed the order of the stanza or had left a stanza out
completely. Knigga's version also had at the bottom "Poor Electron
Joe" (or "Poor Electron Jur," which doesn't make sense).
So those are two possible sources for
the poem. Neither of them can be considered the final word on the
subject. If there was such a safety poster, it'd be nice to
Bill Davis Ghent, Kentucky Mr Davis was not satisfied with the
result achieved, and continued his investigation. He
posted a query to a mailing list called "Project Wombat," and received
two partial citations found by Garson O'Toole, one from a 1944 issue of
"Bendix Beam" and the other from "QST," also in
1944. While trying to determine the exact citations
and find the full text of those entries, Davis came upon a subsequent
correction in "QST," which named Roy Curd as the author of the poem.
Here is the text from Bendix Beam:
THE RADAR MAN
If you should see upon the street A man equipped with dipole feet. With a family of curves trailing behind, He's a Radar Man with a Micro-Mind. His eyes take on a neon gleam, His ears extend like a yagi beam, His mouth becomes another pulse gate, His heart pumps blood at a video rate. With microseconds and micro-waves And micro-volts he fills his days And thereby in the course of time He develops a micro-mind. This Radar Man with the passing years Attained infinite impedance between his ears, And finally succumbed to a heavy jolt When he got what he thought was a micro-volt. The Doc looked up from his microscope, Turned to his colleagues and softly spoke, No trace of brain can I find, He's a Radar Man with a Micro-Mind!
Bendix Beam, Volumes 2-4, page 13 (1944)
Here below is the excerpt from QST (the magazine of the
American Radio Relay Legue), Volume 28, No. 5, page 27 (May,1944):
A. C. JEBB, VE4TJ, a technical radio
instructor for the Radio Artificer Branch of the Royal Canadian Navy,
has earned personal mention in this section this month. Not only has
VE4TJ been an amateur for 12 years, an ardent DXer, and very much
interested in photography, but he is a poet as well. The poem which
follows accompanied his letter and a likely list of OMs for our roster.
We think it's FB!
The Radar Man
If you should see upon the street A man equipped with dipole feet And a family of curves trailing behind, He's a Radar Man with a micromind.
His eyes take on a neon glow, His ears extend to a yagi beam, His mouth becomes another pulse gate, And his heart pumps blood at a video rate.
With microseconds and microwaves and microvolts he fills his days. And thereby, in the course of time, He develops a micromind!
This Radar Man, with the passing years, Attains infinite impedance between his ears. And finally succumbs to a heavy jolt When he gets what he thought was a microvolt!
The doctor looked up from his microscope, Turned to his colleagues and softly spoke. "No single trace of a brain can I find He's a Radar Man with a micromind!
Mr. Jebb was not claiming authorship of the poem, but it was assumed to
be the author. This was corrected 2 months later by a letter from B.F.
Davidson who attributed the authorship to Roy Curd. Here is the excerpt
from QST, Vol. 28, No.7, page 31 (July 1944):
"At the time we received the poem
"The Radar Man" which appeared in this department in the May issue of
QST, we thought that, because it was sent in by A. C. Jebb, VE4TJ, he
was the author. It now turns out that he was merely relaying it
to us and that actually the verse was written by Roy Curd, a civil
service employee working in 100 per cent war work in California.
The error was called to our attention by B. F. Davidson, W6RWO, who
states that the poem was written by Mr. Curd nearly two years ago, and
adds: "It is interesting to note how far this classic has
traveled and that it still retains the original wording."
The best I can do now is to quote the words from Mr. Davis:
"So we have Curd claiming
authorship as well as someone who seems to be vouching for him back at
the time of the poem's origins. That's strong evidence for
Curd, though it doesn't tell us anything about how the poem was written
and came into the public eye."
(in the meanwhile, Mr Davis found also the Radar Man
picture which is at the top of this page, along with the poem that Curd was responding to, in another issue of Popular
Electronics, (Vol. 13, No. 4, pg 88 - October 1960) as reposted in RF-cafe at this address ) CONCLUSIONS (FOR NOW)
Starting from a piece of paper found in an old technical manual, we
have undergone a long journey back in time. We have found different
versions appearing at different times on both sides of the Atlantic. In
our travels, we have learned (often, not without emotion) the stories of
men who worked on radars while serving their Country in war.
We moved step-by-step to it's origin and, it seems, we have now found it.
At least, we have a claim for the authorship, and an independent confirmation.
According to the available
evidence, the author of the poem eppears to be Mr. Roy E. Curd
(1910-1981), then working (arguably, on Radars) as civilian servicemen
in California, in 1942.
The poem then arrived in Canada (how, we don't know) and from there to Britain.
This is probably not the end of the story: new evidence might pop-up to
confirm (or disconfirm) our theory, and to add further detail.
For now, I wish to thank all those who contributed in making this journey possible.
And, of course, if you have additional information about the story of
the "Radar Man", please e-mail me.