John M. Birkner and Hua-Thye Chua
Programmable-array logic (PAL) technology, developed in the 1970s at Monolithic Memories Inc., is the precursor to today's field-programmable logic technologies. John Birkner and Hua-Thye Chua are credited as codevelopers of PAL technology.
Birkner, a cofounder of QuickLogic and MMI Fellow, also authored PALASM, the first EDA tool for programmable logic. He holds numerous patents for his work, including the patents for QuickLogic's ViaLink metal-to-metal interconnect technology and MMI's PAL and PALASM products. A 30-year veteran of the semiconductor industry, he also holds a BSEE from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MSEE from the University of Akron.
Although Birkner takes credit for the PAL architecture itself, in which only the AND array is programmable and the OR array is predefined, he says that "the PAL would never have become a product without Hua-Thye Chua." Chua, also a cofounder of QuickLogic, has worked at Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel Corp., and Monolithic Memories during his career in the semiconductor industry. He holds several patents related to circuit design, and he co-invented the PAL device while he was a Fellow and vice president of product development and technology at Monolithic Memories. Chua holds a BSEE from Ohio University and an MSEE from the University of California, Berkeley.
Aart J. de Geus
Aart de Geus spent the early 1980s managing GE's Advanced Computer-Aided Engineering Group. That group pioneered optimization breakthroughs in logic synthesis, which made it competitive for the first time with then-current design techniques. Convinced that synthesis would bring a boom in design productivity, de Geus founded Synopsys with GE's blessing in 1986. Considered a leading authority on logic simulation and synthesis, de Geus has published more than 25 papers on the subject and has been elected a Fellow of the IEEE. He holds an MSEE from the Swiss Federal Polytechnical Institute and a PhD in electrical engineering from Southern Methodist University.
Bernard M. Gordon
Bernard M. Gordon is considered the "father of high-speed analog-to-digital conversion techniques." Gordon contributed to the development of Univac, the world's first commercial digital computer. He and his team worked on the core technology of high-speed a-d conversion now found in a vast spectrum of electronic systems. Today, Gordon is the chairman of the board and executive chairman of Analogic Corp. He has also pioneered instant imaging CT scanning systems. He earned his BSEE and MSEE from MIT in 1948 and 1949, respectively. In 1986, he received the U.S. National Medal of Technology. Election as an IEEE Fellow came in 1972.
Nick Holonyak Jr.
While at General Electric in 1960, Nick Holonyak Jr. planted the seeds for a new optoelectronics industry when he created the first pn junction fabricated from GaAsP. In 1962, he used this compound to build the first practical light-emitting diode (LED). Holonyak was the first to use vapor-phase epitaxy to create III-V alloy materials, as well as the first to produce an LED from an alloy. He aided the development of semiconductor lasers, tunnel diodes, transistors, and pn-pn switches. His work on silicon-controlled rectifiers included development of the triac. Holonyak holds the Japan Prize for his work on LEDs and lasers, along with the National Medal of Science.
In 1973, Gary Kildall developed a programming language called PL/M and a control program, named CP/M for Control Program/Monitor, for the Intel 8080. He sold PL/M to Intel, but because Intel wasn't interested in CP/M, he regained the rights to the program and formed what became Digital Research. CP/M was used on virtually every PC of its time, although PC-DOS replaced it as the industry moved to 16-bit processors. Kildall earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics at the University of Washington and taught computer programming at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. He then earned an MS and PhD in computer science, also at the University of Washington.
Jeff Kodosky and James Truchard
One can hardly think of "virtual instrumentation" without thinking of LabVIEW, the brainchild of Jeff Kodosky and James Truchard. The pair revolutionized test and measurement with their graphical instrumentation development environment, which was first released in 1986.
Kodosky, who cofounded National Instruments in 1976 with Truchard, has served as a director since then and is credited with co-inventing LabVIEW. He became vice president of the company in 1978, served as vice president of research and development from 1980 to 2000, and was recently named NI Business and Technology Fellow. Before starting National Instruments in 1976, he was employed at the Applied Research Laboratories of the University of Texas at Austin. Kodosky received his BS in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
James Truchard has served as National Instruments' president and chairman of its board of directors since its inception. Truchard is, along with Kodosky, a co-inventor of LabVIEW. In addition to managing National Instruments at the executive level, he also designed several of the first IEEE 488 (GPIB) interface boards that the company brought to market. In 1974, Truchard earned a PhD in electrical engineering, specializing in acoustics and signal processing. He also holds BS (1964) and MS (1967) degrees in physics, all from the University of Texas at Austin.
Carver A. Mead
Carver mead literally wrote the book on modern VLSI design methodologies. Introduction to VLSI Design was co-authored with Lynn Conway and first published in 1979. This visionary work foreshadowed today's still-evolving SoC design methodologies. In the late 1960s, Mead predicted the viability of deep-submicron silicon geometries. Since 1980, he has been the Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering Applied Science at the California Institute of Technology. He has written and contributed to over 100 publications in the areas of electronic design automation, solid-state physics, microelectronics, and biophysics.
Robert M. Metcalfe
Bob Metcalfe invented ethernet, which continues to scale in speed and usefulness in LANs and in metro networks. His breakthrough came on May 22, 1973 at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Born in Brooklyn in 1946, he received his bachelor's degree at MIT and subsequently completed a master's degree and PhD at Harvard. His dissertation was on packet switching, the basis for Ethernet and the TCP/IP Internet protocol. After leaving Xerox, Metcalfe founded 3Com. His wisdom lives on in the form of Metcalfe's Law, which says that the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of users. Today, he is a venture capitalist at Polaris Venture Partners.
Claude E. Shannon
All modern electronic technology is based upon Claude Shannon's two key contributions. First, in his 1938 master's thesis at MIT, he discovered the analogy between George Boole's logical algebra and digital switching circuits, which paved the road to design and analysis of digital circuits. Second, Shannon discovered the relationship among speed of data transmission, channel bandwidth, and noise. First published in his work A Mathematical Theory of Communications, it's the basis for all modern data communications. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and both a master's degree and PhD from MIT. Shannon passed away in February, 2001.
In 1991, Linus Torvalds, then a 21-year-old computer science student at the University of Helsinki, Finland, started work on the Linux operating system. Using development tools from Richard Stallman's GNU Project and Free Software Foundation, he developed Linux as an alternative to MS-DOS and UNIX so he could gain access to newsgroups on the then-emerging Internet. Linux source code was posted for others' use. The number of contributors to Linux continues to grow; the operating system is now freely available under the GNU General Public License, and it enjoys growing application support. Torvalds continues to coordinate worldwide Linux kernel development.