Finding a way to Brooklyn, sometimes through New Jersey by way of Staten Island and the Goethals and Verrazano Bridges, brought this editor to one of this industry’s more enjoyable in-plant visits. Brooklyn meant only one company when it came to RF/microwave technology, and that company is Mini-Circuits. Whether it was for a frequency mixer, which was one of the component “starting technologies” for this company, or for a demonstration of some of its more recent technologies, such as power amplifiers, a visit to Mini-Circuits meant a first look at some of the best-performance components in the RF/microwave industry.
But it also meant something that was available nowhere else: a visit with Harvey Kaylie, founder and long-time president of Mini-Circuits, and one of the truly creative and innovative people this industry has ever seen. I deeply mourned the passing of Harvey Kaylie during the recent Memorial Day weekend. Mini-Circuits has been built upon a lifetime of Harvey Kaylie’s hard work and genius insight into this industry’s needs—it will not go away anytime soon. I for one will miss Harvey and what he meant to this magazine and to me, personally, as a friend.
A visit to Mini-Circuits always meant a look at some of the best, most practical active and passive component technology in the industry, as well as for the best prices. Amazingly, not only are the performance levels so high for so many different types of components, from amplifiers to transformers, but some of them are less than a buck!
“How did they do that?” was always one of the questions that came to mind during a visit to Brooklyn, and Harvey Kaylie would always generously and graciously provide the details on the design efforts that went into every new product, and how the company was able to do it for such a small price tag. But perhaps more importantly, Harvey would also explain why they did it—why they pushed for a specific set of performance goals and why they tried, and always did, bring it to market at prices that were a fraction of their competitors’ prices.
Perhaps what meant the most during those visits was a chance to get to know Harvey, to see a quite-human side of him. Here was a man with the reputation as one of the RF/microwave industry’s fiercest competitors and negotiators, and he was all of that. But he was also generous enough with his time to share it well over 30 years ago with a much younger editor, on a magazine with a title of just MicroWaves, who had more than a few things to learn about high-frequency electronics.
Coming to Mini-Circuits during those early visits with a background in audio electronics, it was Harvey Kaylie who kindly explained that prefixes such as M and G, and not just k, could go in front of the abbreviation Hz used for signal frequencies. It was Harvey who explained what mixers did, and the importance of other components, such as local oscillators (LOs) and intermediate-frequency (IF) amplifiers and filters in a receiver.
Perhaps just as memorable during those visits to Mini-Circuits was watching Harvey’s love for Brooklyn and that local Sheepshead Bay area that houses its factory. And when baseball came up in the conversation, it was watching Harvey and listening to his remembrances not of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Or, more recently, his enthusiasm for the local minor-league (“single A division”) baseball team, the Brooklyn Cyclones, and how the company was involved with the local team as a sponsor, and his excitement about the team getting better because of its help.
That enthusiasm for Mini-Circuits, and for life in general, was such a part of Harvey Kaylie that it made everyone at the company want to get better and want the company to improve. It did get better year after year because of Harvey and what he inspired in everyone, even technical editors such as this writer who marveled at the engineering achievements of Mini-Circuits in so many different areas year after year. It was Harvey who taught me the value of life, of giving it your best shot every day, and to look out for your colleagues because you and they are part of a team like the Brooklyn Dodgers—and by working together, you can both get better. I, and certainly this industry, will miss Harvey Kaylie. But I am hoping that his values and his spirit live on within me and many others who recognize what he meant to this industry!