Electronic Design

Hall of Fame: 2004 Honor Roll

Once again, Electronic Design is proud to salute the EE profession with our Engineering Hall Of Fame. Here, we present the Class Of 2004 inductees. After lifetimes of accomplishments and accolades, these engineers also have earned perhaps the greatest honor of all—your admiration—as indicated by your online balloting to vote for your choices. For this year's Engineering Hall Of Fame, in addition to the 2004 Honor Roll, we take an in-depth look at four members of the Hall Of Fame—two new inductees from this year and two from our initial Class Of 2002. Finally, you will find a very special panel discussion with three of our industry's legendary designers—Barrie Gilbert, Ted Hoff, and Bob Pease—who explore the future of electronics engineering.

In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee released his code for the World Wide Web on the Internet, allowing anyone easy access to the Internet's infrastructure through software and numbered addresses. Berners-Lee invented the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), and Uniform Resource Locators or URLs. Forming the basis of the Web, these inventions evolved from his Enquire program created in 1980 to store information and record random associations between objects on a single computer. While others quickly became millionaires from the Web, Berners-Lee focused on maintaining its universal access and open standards. That led to his founding of the World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 1994 at the MIT Lab for Computer Science (LCS), together with support from the late Michael Dertouzos, then LCS director. W3C's goal is to develop standards to create a forum for information, commerce, inspiration, independent thought, and collective understanding. Berners-Lee has received numerous awards for his work. This summer, Queen Elizabeth II dubbed the English native Sir Timothy Berners-Lee a Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire. In 2002, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, awarded him the Albert Medal of the Royal Society of the Arts. Berners-Lee is a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society, an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has worked at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, at Image Computer Systems of Ferndown, Dorset, England, and at Plessey Telecommunications in Poole, England. He graduated from Oxford University in 1976 and now holds the 3Com Founders chair at MIT's Lab for Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) and serves as director of the W3C.

"Can you hear me now?" could easily be the moniker for Harold S. Black, inventor of a system that eliminated feedback distortion in telephone calls, a challenge to economical long-distance telephoning. For six years, Black had toiled away at fixing the problem of distortion in amplified signals. Then in 1927, onboard the Hudson River Ferry heading to his office at Bell Labs in New York City, a solution suddenly popped into his head. A subsequent patent, it has become known as the principles and equations for a negative feedback amplifier. The concept involved feeding systems output back to the input as a method of system control. Today it is found in industry and the military, ranging from weapons to consumer electronics, analog computers, bioengineering, and biomechanical devices. Among the diverse products are high-fidelity sound reproduction, pacemakers, artificial limbs, wheelchair controls, and digital computers. Military applications include radar-detected bombing and radar-controlled missiles. Black was also the first to produce pulse modulation. He designed a pulse-code-modulation, multichannel microwave radio relay system. First used in World War II, today it has military and domestic applications. Perhaps, though, Black's first love was teaching, lecturing, and helping others. In 1966, he began adapting his negative feedback system to help the blind and deaf. Black received 347 patents total, both in the U.S. and abroad. He graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1921 and then worked at Western Electric's West Street Labs in New York City, a forerunner of Bell Telephone Labs. He received an honorary doctorate in engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Black was awarded the IEEE's Lamme Medal and WPI's Robert Goddard '08 Alumni Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement and was inducted into the Inventor's Hall of Fame. He was born in 1898 in Leominster, Mass., and died in 1983.

Alex Lidow and Tom Herman were a couple of college kids when their Stanford professor, Dick Swanson, inspired them to figure out a way to affect the global living standard by reducing energy costs. They accepted the challenge and developed the HEXFET power MOSFET in 1978, which ultimately led to a $5 billion marketplace and the development of a wide range of power-management applications. They're driven to find ways to use less energy, to do it at no extra cost, and to allow products to have additional features. "We want to get a 20% improvement in the standard of living," says Lidow. Both men joined International Rectifier in 1977, a semiconductor company owned by Alex's father, Eric. Today, Herman is director of IC Technology Development at International Rectifier. He leads the development and design in all aspects of semiconductor products, applications, devices, processing, manufacturing technologies, and software development. Herman authored or co-authored 20 U.S. patents on semiconductor and integrated-circuit technology. In addition, he's received several internal IR awards for "Most Valuable Products." Herman graduated from the California Institute of Technology in 1974, with a BS in engineering & applied science, and earned an MSEE from Stanford University in 1975. He's currently a member of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, the Electrochemical Society, and the Association for Computing Machinery. Lidow earned his BS in applied physics from California Institute of Technology in 1975 and his PhD in applied physics from Stanford University as a Hertz Foundation Fellow. He joined International Rectifier as a research and development engineer, then served as VP of R&D, and followed that with the role of Exec. VP of manufacturing and technology. In 1989, he was named president of the firm's Electronic Products Division, advancing in 1992 to Exec. VP of operations. He became CEO in March 1995. Lidow holds nine patents on power semiconductor technology and has written numerous articles.

Thomas Kurtz and John Kemeny changed the world on May 1, 1964. That 1964 May Day was the first time two programs written in their new computer programming language BASIC (Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) ran simultaneously on computers at Dartmouth University. Today, even with C, C++, and Java, BASIC remains a popular and easy-to-use programming language. Kemeny was chairman of the Dartmouth College Department of Mathematics, and Kurtz was a professor and subsequently founder of the college's Computer Information Science Masters program. In 1983 at the urging of four graduating Dartmouth students, the two joined those graduates to form True Basic Inc. They streamlined the language to meet ANSI and ISO standards and trademarked it as TrueBasic. Kemeny, born May 31, 1926, emigrated to the U.S. from Budapest, Hungary in 1940. He worked on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos under Nobel Laureate Richard Feyman and John von Neuman. While studying for his doctorate under Alonzo Church, he was a mathematical assistant for Albert Einstein. Kemeny was Dartmouth's president between 1970 and 1981. He was given the New York Academy of Science Award in 1984, the Institute of Electrical Engineers Computer medal in 1986, and the Louis Robinson Award in 1990. Kemeny died Dec. 26, 1992. Thomas E. Kurtz was born on February 22, 1928, graduated from Knox College, and went on to Princeton University. When John Kemeny went to Dartmouth to head its mathematics program, Kurtz was also invited to join the Dartmouth faculty. He continued to teach at Dartmouth until his retirement. He served as a corporate officer of True BASIC for many years. Recently, Kurtz joined others who were present at the "creation of BASIC and time sharing" at Dartmouth in a project that simulates the original system on today's computers.

Kurt Petersen's 1982 paper on "Silicon as a Mechanical Material" has made him a leader in the fight against terrorism. The still highly read and regarded article was a lightning bolt in the field of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS). He was the first to suggest that tiny mechanical machines be manufactured using the same silicon technology employed to make computer chips. MEMS integrate sensors, actuators, mechanical elements, and electronics on a silicon substrate using microfabrication technology. Enter the complete electromechanical system on a chip. On top of that, unprecedented levels of functionality, reliability, and sophistication at a relatively low cost were achievable. Shortly after writing the article while at IBM, Petersen left to start the first of three MEMS startups, Transensory Devices Inc. (TDI), an R&D operation now part of Measurement Specialties. NovaSensor, now under the auspices of General Electric, followed next as one of the most successful MEMS companies to date. Its MEMS-based sensors can be found in a wide range of industries, from automotive and medical to consumer and industrial applications. Petersen is now chief technology officer and a director of Cepheid, which he co-founded in 1996, where his work brought him into the anti-terrorism battle. Cepheid's products test DNA in less than 30 minutes versus the hours and days required with other systems. All told, Petersen holds more than 34 patents on devices that improve performance in products ranging from scuba-diving instruments to washing-machine controls. He has authored more than 100 papers and presentations. Petersen, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, was awarded the Simon Ramo Medal by the IEEE in recognition of his contributions to "the commercialization of MEMS technology." Dr. Petersen is also a consulting professor at Stanford University.

By regulating the flow of magnetic energy, Dr. An Wang's "pulse transfer controlling" device finally made the production of magnetic core memory a practical reality. The controller, invented in 1949, used minuscule toroidal coils with a donut-shaped ferrite core magnetized in one of two possible directions (0 or 1). It quickly became recognized as the ideal substratum for holding memory in the new electronic calculators. Wang was granted his patent six years later. After harsh negotiations, it was sold to IBM. By then he had founded Wang Laboratories (1951), soon to become one of the most successful corporations of the Information Age. It was at the forefront in the production of the electronic calculators, word processors, and computers and led the charge in designing smaller and more efficient versions. In time, Wang employed 30,000 people with sales of $3 billion a year. One of the first leading products in the electronic calculator field was LOCI, a desktop computer that generated logarithms with a single keystroke. Its technology was the basis of subsequent Wang electronic calculators, such as the Wang 300, 360, 370, and 700. When integrated circuits arrived in the late 1960s, Wang wisely went into a new direction—word processing and computers. It soon dominated this market with the VS WANG computer line. By the beginning of the 1980s, Wang was ready to retire. He had faced many challenges since immigrating to the U.S. from Shanghai in 1945. In fact, only three years after his arrival, he received a PhD in applied physics from Harvard University. He subsequently earned more than 35 patents. Wang contributed to many philanthropies, including local schools and the performing arts. He died in 1990, leaving two great legacies: one of pioneering memory technology and a second of the belief of sharing wealth with others.

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