From the words that P.-H. Rebut (a former director of JET) has written to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first plasma at JET it is easy to understand that it was a day of great excitement. At that time the machine was such a complex system that all sorts of unexpected problems had to be solved, but over the next few months the current was gradually increased and by October had reached 1 MA.

The fact that JET is still operating and produces huge amount of valuable data is ample evidence of the success of the large team of engineers and scientists that contributed to the project, the construction and the operation of JET.

To mark the occasion, a small exhibition has been organised in the JET K1 Inner Foyer, with photos and memories from some of the people present on Day 1. The Avo meter used on Day 1 was also on show. The full message from P-H Rebut and a selection of photos of Day 1 are available in our public webpage,

It was a touching coincidence that the life and work of Dr Derek Robinson FRS, who was the Culham Director and Head of the EURATOM/UKAEA Association before he died in December 2002, was commemorated on the very same day at the Culham Science Centre. Some of the senior representatives of the international fusion community came from all over the world to take part in a daylong seminar.

Well over two hundred colleagues, including many former staff, heard fulsome tributes paid to Derek’s work from leaders of the fusion community in Russia, where he had spent a year in 1968 as part of a Culham team confirming Soviet claims for their fusion experiment T-3. This work led to the subsequent development of the tokamak as the main line of fusion research throughout the world.

Derek’s major input to international research during his career of almost forty years was also recognised by speakers from Japan, China, the USA and mainland Europe, including his role in preparing for ITER. The Associate Leader for JET, Dr Jérôme Paméla, chaired the International Session on future perspectives for fusion and also presented the European contribution, recalling Derek’s strong support for JET and his participation over many years in the JET Scientific Council and JET Council.

“JET came to life with the first plasma on June 25th 1983 after five years of frantic construction. It was a great day even if a plasma of only a few kA was achieved. At this time all the elements of the machine were not yet tested including the plasma positioning which was not active; nevertheless JET was in operation”

P.-H. Rebut, June 2003