Wizards of Schenectady
Harold Chestnut, Pioneer in Automation

A biographic television documentary on the man that pioneered automatic control
and systems engineering in the last half of the 20th century. Hosted by Ernie Tetrault.

Episode One:

Watch the progression of automation technologies as we follow the life Harold Chestnut. The presence of world class engineers like Irving Langmuir, Charles P. Steinmetz, and Ernst Alexanderson helped mold his interest in engineering as a child and student in Schenectady, New York.

Later on, Harold studies and works at the MIT Radiation Laboratory with the nation's best engineers of the World War 2 era. He works on dynamotors and servo systems for the B-29 bomber.

He helps design the automatic turret system which becomes a significant leap forward in aviation defense and mechanical computer technologies.

Harold Chestnut contributes to various technologies from the jet engine to rocket guidance. He took Systems Engineering to new prominence with the books he authored, and became an icon for General Electric on the international control technology scene. Hear interviews with Austin Spang, Kishan Baheti, Richard Sills and other engineers of the time along with never-before-seen film and photos.

Episode Two (on the same DVD):

Of all the things exchanged during the Cold War: Coca Cola, Rock and Roll, and fashion, most believed that the last thing would be scientific information. Behind the thin surface of political rhetoric, there was a peaceful, cross-cultural connection led by Harold Chestnut. This is an unbelievable story of cooperation during the height of the Cold War.

Even in 1960, London still bears rubble of World War 2, meanwhile engineers and scientists on both sides of the Iron Curtain felt compelled to work together to rebuild our world. These efforts led to the formation of IFAC - the International Federation of Automatic Control. See interviews with the world's most prominent control engineers on the history of IFAC.

Harold became involved in the formation of the IEEE-the world's largest engineering organization. He continued involvement over the decades, becoming president in 1973. Later in life Harold Chestnut focused on using his engineering skills to help promote peace in the world. His efforts in eco-technology won him the prestigious Honda Prize. Harold and his wife Erma Ruth volunteered to help local community, setting up a new city library and the Schenectady Community College. Whether in Moscow chatting with Yakov Tsypkin, or at work on the Apollo program, Harold Chestnut had an unforgettable life story.

Order this on DVD

Excerpts from the video:

Excerpt: History of Automatic Control Engineering, part of the Harold Chestnut documentary:


Excerpt: Designing B-29 turrets, Walt Bardsley describes dangerous conditions for the B-17 gunners, this led to new turret design.


Engineering Hall of Fame Page for Harold Chestnut

Related Pages:

Gas Turbines

Remote/Radio Control

Rocket Guidance

Control and Systems Engineering


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