The first Canberra systems were custom collections of NIM and detectors built for specific customers before the Canberra MCA came along. Examples include a system built for the West Valley clean-up project (is this still going on?). A TMC “bluebox” MCA was used in this one. Later we built a Non-dispersive X-ray Analysis system for Bethlehem Steel using a Northern Scientific MCA.
The Data Systems Division developed the first “standard” systems which were dedicated to X-ray Diffraction and Microanalysis. This product line made early use of the DEC PDP-11 computer. See the chapter entitled “The X-Ray Diversion” for more information on DataNIM.
By 1975-1976, we had introduced a few standard systems for nuclear applications. These included the Segmented Gamma Scanner for nuclear waste in drums and cans which we obtained on a tech transfer from Los Alamos. Larry East was surely involved in this one as he joined Canberra from LANL about that time. We also offered a Whole-Body Counter based on the Massey-Bolton chair. Frank Massey and Murray Bolton from MIT, had designed this chair for radiation workers at that institution, and it became a convenient and low-cost alternative to bed counters for workers in nuclear power plants. Our first Low-Level Alpha-Beta Counter, the 2200, appeared at about that time and we called it a system although it was just an application-specific product of some complexity. Rudy Gatti, who had worked at United Nuclear before joining Canberra, was probably involved as product manager in the latter two. Caron Clark later became the product manager for the Canberra Alpha-Beta and she kept it alive for a long time with her energy and enthusiasm.
The first Canberra Alpha-Beta Counter (Model 2200) used a cast lead shield making it very top-heavy and difficult to move and install. After one unit went through the side of a delivery truck we changed to a modular shield using lead bricks.
By 1980, we had dropped the Data-NIM line and it wasn’t until after 1982 when we bought RMC and Frazier Bronson came aboard, that new systems appeared. Frazier conceived of the Fastscan stand-up whole-body counter and brought this new product to the nuclear power market. It was a great success. He also developed a conventional bed scanner called the Accuscan.
Following the lead of Nuclear Data, around 1987 we launched some systems (products) for nuclear medicine applications including the 7935 Thyroid Uptake System, a diversion for our sales force at the time. Only Steve Chunglo in Texas staked his career on this market. In the late 1980s, again following ND and believing that the nuclear power Industry wanted more sophisticated data-base systems we developed such systems for Chemistry Data Management, Effluent Management and Health Physics information. This period gave two more Frazier Bronson innovations, The Qualitative-Quantitive (Q2) Low Level Waste Assay System, and the Accuscan II, a stand-up WBC with germanium detectors. As this time we also began dabbling with in Stack Monitoring for nuclear plants with custom-designed, site-specific installations including meteorological monitoring. These developments followed Nuclear Data’s lead after they bought David Walker’s company, APT. Walker led them into these sophisticated applications and Canberra blindly followed along.
The Chernobyl nuclear accident occurred in 1986 and this spurred the development of counters for foodstuffs including small and large animal counters. We build a large animal counter for Saudi Arabia which became known internally as the “Camel Counter”, more Frazier Bronson talent at work. This era also saw the development of mobile laboratories for sample analysis and for internal dosimetry. Most of these laboratories were made us of sea-freight containers which were highly modified internally.
In 1992 we published the first Canberra Systems Catalog, which included automated systems for waste assay and large-scale Alpha Spectroscopy systems based on the 7401 and the 7404 Alpha Spectrometers. We also had a more-or-less standard U-Pu Lung Burden with a standardized steel shield and ACT-II Dual Ge Detectors which replaced the multitude (8) of ACT-I detectors that were used in earlier Lung-Burden Counters, a blessing in reducing the amount of care and maintenance these systems required.
With the acquisition of JOMAR (Jones and Martin) in 1990, we inherited neutron systems for Safeguards Applications and the expertise of Dorothy Davidson, who overwhelmed us with speed-talking in her frequent presentations. The Jomar product line included a number of neutron coincidence counters involving large quantities of 3He tubes and shift registers for readout. At about this time we began building the so-called “Shuffler” formally known as the Passive/Active Neutron Shuffler System, an expensive counter for drums having a mechanism for repeatedly ‘shuffling’ a 252Cf source in to excite the contents and out to measure the delayed neutrons. This was another tech transfer from Los Alamos.
Later, after Bob McElroy joined Canberra, our activity in large scale gamma-neutron waste counters reached a new level. This was, in part, due to our collective experience in building these custom systems but in large part because Bob’s work ethic and competitive nature. Our custom systems staff included a number of knowledgeable and resourceful members like Rick Mowry, who designed and built these systems.
The mid to late 1990s saw the introduction of the Alpha Analyst, and the Gamma Analyst (with a sample changer), sophisticated instruments that were classified under the “Proline” moniker that was coined by Mike Zebarth. In 1996, another Frazier Bronson innovation materialized in the form of the In-Situ Object Calibration System (ISOCS) which included mathematical calibration software written under contract by Russian scientists.
In 1998 Canberra bought Harwell Instruments for their expertise in NDA Systems and for their instruments for area and air monitoring including the ICAM which became complementary to the Alpha-Sentry, the Continuous Air Monitor (CAM) that Canberra had developed earlier on a CRADA with LANL. They also made specialized instruments for tritium monitoring and their NDA expertise helped a lot in our systems business in Europe.
1998 also saw the acquisition of Aquila Technologies for their safeguards and surveillance technologies and for the myriad political connections of their co-founder Steve Kadner, who was a personal friend of the President of Lithuania, after all. Aquila had secure camera systems in use at IAEA monitored facilities and a line of seals for vessels (drums etc.) containing special nuclear materials. Their technology (jamming) was employed in Iraq to prevent the remote control of IEDs for a short time until rebel groups figured out a different way of setting them off which took a few days!
In 1999, Canberra acquired the Nuclear Instruments Business (nee Tennelec) from Oxford Instruments, which gave us a re-entry into the Alpha-Beta Counter market. Tennelec had earlier had our lunch in this segment and, after a decades-long struggle, we withdrew our products from the market. They did it with generally superior products including an excellent sample changer.
In 2001, AREVA bought the balance of APTEC-NRC, the collaboration that was jointly owned by Ed Zieba. From APTEC we inherited an excellent line of contamination monitors developed by Greg Bogorodzki and his associates in Canada. Marc LeFevre made an effort to find a future for the contamination monitors coming from the Loches plant in France but it wasn’t a fair fight, at least not in the US or Canada.