Video recorded in 2004. In this interview Ivar Giaever tells us that his mother and father wanted him to be a locksmith. They were both pharmacists. He was fortunate to be able to read a lot as a child as his father bought books at auctions, in particular he remembers reading Tarzan!
Giaever went to a very small school twice a week and wanted to train as an electrical engineer but had to train as a mechanical engineer as he only had a ‘B’ in French. 1952 he managed to get a job in Norway but could not find a home so he emigrated to Canada as a Canadian visa only took three weeks to be processed.
Giaever found on arrival in Toronto at the age of 25-26 years old that it was difficult to get a job and ‘went knocking on people’s doors’. He eventually got a job with General Electrics and John Fisher became his mentor.
Giaever worked on metal thin films and tunneling and took a Solid State physics course. Although he knew nothing about Superconductivity, Cold Temperature work or anything else in this area – he found everybody in General Electrics to be very helpful towards his work.
Giaever is not religious and thinks religion is to blame for a lot of the ills of the world. His wife and he ski regularly.