Electronic Design

Bob's Mailbox

Dear Mr. Pease:
Re: "What's All This Stuff, Anyhow? Volume Three," that accompanied the Aug. 3, 1998 issue of Electronic Design:

Laboring under a stereotype of my youth until I read your memories of Bob Widlar, I thought of you as nearer my own age. I apologize! In my younger days, the old codgers wore the beards. Now that I'm past 80, it's the young bucks who wear them!

Seriously, though, I can empathize with your typing trials and tribulations. Since my mother was only a farm girl and a housewife, she couldn't teach me how to type. I did take a year of typing in high school (which I barely passed) because my penmanship was atrocious. And, I wanted to be able to submit legible papers in college.

It did teach me the fundamentals of touch typing. However, I suffered from the same problem as you. It wasn't until I got my Commodore 64, with a word processor known as SpeedScript, that I became a real touch typist. Being able to correct errors easily, without resorting to an eraser, Erasable Bond, correction tape, or Liquid Paper, gave me the confidence I needed to become good at it. (I still cheat occasionally, though!) Now I use a homebrewed 486DX40, running WordPerfect 6.0 under DOS. (I refuse to bow to Gates, unless a total meltdown forces me.)

About carpal tunnel syndrome: We never heard of it among the thousands of women (secretaries and stenographers) who—before Selectrics, computers, and word processors—spent their days banging away on manual typewriters. All—or most of them—were touch typists. The only time I experienced it was in 1980 when I had to spend hours on a Model 33 Teletype, punching paper tapes to program a minicomputer. If you ever experienced one of those atrocities, you'll know that you had to literally HAMMER the keys to accomplish anything. The only way to do that was by WRIST motion—fingers were too weak.

I doubt if many, or any, of those who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of operating computer keyboards are touch typists. I'd venture that most of them use the "two-finger punch" method, with lots of lateral wrist motion. If they won't learn to touch type, they could avoid a lot of pain and suffering by changing to a stiff-wrist, forearm motion.
ROBERT J. NEDRESKI
via e-mail

Yeah, I'm just a kid of 58. (When I graduated from MIT, I was barely 21.) The earlier you start learning touch-typing—or any other strange "language"—the better. My mother was a farm girl—and a housewife—and a MOTHER—and a TEACHER. Ain't every mother a teacher? Hope so!—RAP

Dear Bob:
Thanks for the "What's All This Widlar Stuff, Anyhow?" in the Aug. 3, 1998, "What's All This Stuff, Anyhow? Volume Three." I have always enjoyed Bob Widlar anecdotes. I used the early LM709 op amps and most of the other Widlar creations. Wasn't the LM108 Widlar inspired? If he were alive today, we might be working with monolithic 26-bit digital-to-analog converters, etc. What a genius!
BILL BILLINGSLEY
via e-mail

Yeah, Widlar invented the LM108 about 30 years ago. But if he were still around, we would have 31-bit op-amps. However, we now DO have 30-bit (resolution) op-amps such as the LMC2001. Twenty-six bits is not a big deal.—RAP

All for now. / Comments invited!
RAP / Robert A. Pease / Engineer
[email protected] team.nsc.com—or:

Mail Stop D2597A
National Semiconductor
P.O. Box 58090
Santa Clara, CA 95052-8090

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