MODION® Ion Pumps from J.B. Anderson & Sons, Inc.
MODION® and J.B. Anderson & Sons
The part pictured to the right enabled the successful use of the first high altitude radar unit. This was developed and manufactured by J.B. Anderson and installed on allied planes during WWII. Prior to this development, radar was rendered useless at higher altitudes due to pressure differentials, and bombing could only be done in the night, when planes could fly lower. Once installed, US and allied forces were able to bomb from safer, higher altitudes during daylight hours to ensure air superiority during the war effort.
In the spring of 1912, Joseph B. Anderson emigrated from Sweden at the age of 20. As a young stationary steam engineer, he began his career at the Westinghouse Machine Co. in East Pittsburgh, PA. It was here that he learned the machine trade and went on to work with engineering development on the Westinghouse automobile, early refrigeration, and electric generation. With these skills, he eventually found himself teamed with Frank Conrad (KDKA Radio founder) as an engineer’s mechanic.
As time passed, J.B. Anderson decided it was time to become more independent. On April 1, 1941, with his son Bill Anderson, J.B. Anderson & Son opened it’s doors. At the outbreak of World War II, J.B. Anderson & Son was called upon by Westinghouse Research for development work. As a contractor with a top secret rating from the government, many problems were tackled in this small shop in the Basement of J.B’s home. Chief among them was the design of a TR tube; a microwave cavity used in aircraft radar. The success of this design enabled the allies to complete the first high altitude daylight bombing raids and ensured air superiority over Europe. Along with this, some work was done toward the completion of the Manhattan Project.
After the war, J.B. Anderson & Son followed various engineers through peacetime projects. Chief among them was the design and development of the Cesium Atomic Clock. Tens of thousands of parts were manufactured in the small shop over the intervening years for a number of companies in the “clock” business, including the Cesium time standard at the National Bureau of Standards. This is the USA time standard. J.B. Anderson Passed away in 1972, and his son Bill Anderson kept the business moving forward with Grandson Bill Bilott. Most of the work was Cesium clock related with some other custom machine work as fill-in.
With the sudden death of Bill Anderson in 1978, Bill Bilott took the helm with the objective of growing the business, still in the basement of the homestead. Remaining in the “clock” business, many more parts were manufactured for a variety of customers, which lead to parts for the first GPS satellites, and other NASA and space related projects. At the same time, machinery and employees were added as the business grew.
The shop has evolved into a full service machine shop, now including full production runs of repeat orders while retaining the same quality and reputation as a precision shop. With the addition of new partnership in the business with Ben Bilott, J.B. Anderson & Son, Inc. moved from the space that was severely outgrown, to a newly renovated modern 10,000 sq. ft. facility, where we will have room to grow and expand. Ben is the 4th generation in the management of the business. Much new equipment has been secured, and the assets and intellectual property from Kernco, Inc. was purchased. This strategic acquisition has secured our place in the vacuum industry.