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It Started with the WOM

It Started with the WOM

Spoof news releases commemorating April Fools’ Day have been a staple in technology publications for as long as I’ve been on one side or the other of the editor’s desk. The definitive list may well be an article in Wikipedia.

I’m not sure how far back the practice goes in the technology trade-press, but the earliest I remember is the one introducing the WOM, or “Write-Only-Memory. Here’s a link from the perpetrators of that one.

In recent years, as magazines (not Electronic Design!) have been driven to the Web, I have seen attempts at WoM-class spoofs, but I have seen few, if any, from manufacturers—who were the killer spoofers of the past. In fact, if you go to the link above and scroll way, way down, you will be treated to an example of an even earlier generation of tech spoofs, one describing the Weman 1Z2Z, a “Traveling-ripple tube,” designed to supersede the UMAC 606 (which has its own spoof data sheet).

Therefore, it was with great delight that I opened my e-mail to find the following news release, from Linear Technology:

Reversed Power Converter Promises to Revolutionize Power Applications

MILPITAS, CA – April 1, 2015 – Linear Technology, a leader in power conversion, switching regulators and power supplies, has introduced a radically new part. Linear Technology announces the introduction of the LT-minus-1000. The new device, the LT-minus-1000, is a reversed power converter. Operating on normal dark input power, it supplies inverse power on the output. Designed for general-purpose inverse power applications, it can supply up to inverse 30 watts.

Fig. 1This device is useful in many new applications. For example, driving LEDs with the LT-minus-1000 provides a cone of darkness where the LEDs are aimed. This is especially useful in automotive applications to dim high beams and in children’s rooms to prevent reading comic books under the covers with a flashlight. If the LT-minus-1000 is used to drive darkness emitting arsenide diodes (DEADs), light will be produced in proportion to the negative energy.

According to Bob Dobkin, Linear Technology CTO and Vice President, Engineering, “This is a radically new type of device. We have not explored all the applications yet. While the chip flew through development, an inverse power test system was very difficult. The problem was finally solved by reversing the plug in the wall.”

According to Steve Pietkiewicz, co-GM and Vice President, Power Management Products, “When this is used to power a WOM (write-only memory), data can easily be read. This taps into the huge re-permanent memory market.”

Fig. 2Don Paulus, co-GM and Vice President, Power Management Products added, “We look forward to integrating this new device into a family of inverse power µModule® products. These products leverage our growing applications expertise in the inverse power area and eliminate the need for customers to source the rare, and somewhat dangerous, inverse inductors.”

Bill Schweber, analog industry writer and observer, commented, “This breakthrough in reversed power promises to transform power use as we know it. We can imagine a new world of power-fueled innovations, unleashed by Bob Dobkin’s simple, but elegant solution. I look forward to lighting my granddaughter’s room with some darkness emitting arsenide diodes before long.” Bill Schweber added, “They say there is no such thing as a ‘free lunch’ when it comes to energy and power, but this device demonstrates otherwise.”

Linear Technology has worked for many years perfecting the negative energy converter and is proud to announce it this year. While this device is only 30 watts, higher power devices are under development to allow toaster ovens to operate as refrigerators. Sampling begins April 1, 2025.

As with all good news releases, there are even helpful photos (see above), but the darkness generated by the converter has obscured their captions.

(Thanks to John Hamburger, Doug Dickenson, and everyone else at LTC who contributed.)

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