Ray Remembers When

Willy Higinbotham

Just a note: Willy was my mentor, the man who saw a talent in a dumb ex-GI fresh out of the Army, with no experience at all, and something obviously wrong with him because he routinely fell asleep. He was the man who always found me a new and better job when I would leave the Lab for an outside job. He told the powers that be that he would always hire me back because I always came back with new skills. I remember that game [Pong] now that you describe it. I was not involved in its development because I was busy on a rush job to get instrumentation ready to send to the Marshall Islands to monitor the people there who had been exposed to the nuclear bomb tests. Willy worked on the Manhattan Project. He dedicated his life to working for the banning of the bomb thereafter. He was a real nice guy and a dynamo of a person. I (and a lot of other people) loved him dearly.


Your link to David Ahl's son's article/interview with Willy is the best I've ever read. The only thing about Willy that I might add are two things. First, I've seen Willy drink, play umpteen verses of a bawdy song named "Atomic Power" and sing each verse for hours at parties. He was more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Second, he was the son of a Baptist minister, and after the first bomb exploded he wrote to his mother and said something like: "After witnessing what we have done here I am convinced that the only true Christian left on earth is Gandhi!" I read this in a book called Brighter Than A Thousand Suns and then asked him about it and he said "Yes, I said that, or close to it, and meant every word." He was probably the most admired and loved person I've ever had the privilege to know.