Gene Myron Amdahl
The competitive chip market owes its start to Dr. Gene Amdahl, founder of the first successful IBM-compatible CPU manufacturer, Amdahl Corp. It developed the world's first large-scale-integration (LSI) chips—high-performance, air-cooled units that replaced the water-cooled CPUs. Ten years later, Amdahl tried to produce fault-tolerant wafer-scale chips and a high-performance CPU in another company, Trilogy Systems, but cost become an issue. Subsequently, the pioneer in mainframe computer architectures founded Andor International to design, manufacture, and market unique IBM-compatible products that would improve the efficiency, performance, access, capacity, and protection of programs and data. Another Amdahl business, Commercial Data Services, puts the power and functionality of traditional mainframes into PCs. Amdahl is also known for Amdahl's Law used in parallel programming. Amdahl started his career at IBM, where he originated the pioneering concept of compatibility between computer systems. There he also worked on simulation studies and machine designs for character recognition, and he was the initial planner for the IBM 709 and 7030.
Considered the pioneer in the wireless communications industry, Martin Cooper conceived the first portable cellular phone in 1973 and led the 10-year process of bringing it to market at Motorola. Cooper built and managed Motorola's paging and cellular business, and served as corporate director of research and development. Products that he introduced during his tenure there amassed a cumulative sales volume of more than $80 billion. Afterward, Cooper co-founded Cellular Business Systems, which dominated the cellular billing industry before he sold it to Cincinnati Bell. He has been granted eight patents in the communications field and has been widely published on communications technology and on management of research and development. Under Cooper's leadership and focus on the wireless Internet, ArrayComm (founded in 1992) has 250 patents issued or pending for the iBurst mobile broadband wireless Internet access system. It combines the freedom of mobility with transmission speeds that are similar to a home broadband DSL line at wired connection prices.
Team captain and visionary best describe Lew Counts' role in revolutionizing mixed-signal design by introducing the complementary bipolar process, a practical, high-performance, high-speed process technology. The complementary bipolar process increases the bandwidth for higher data rates while lowering power consumption. Working with colleagues like Barrie Gilbert, Jody Lapham, and Paul Brokaw at Analog Devices, Counts challenged the concept that the linear IC production process was carved in stone tablets. He recognized the need to bring higher levels of complexity to chip design and accomplished it through techniques such as laser wafer trimming in order to create complex products that integrate multiple circuits. For 30 years, he's designed and managed development of analog-signal-processing circuits, including op amps and rms-to-dc converters. In fact, as a fellow and vice president of linear products at Analog Devices, Counts had a vital role in developing the first root-mean-square converters. He's considered one among the pioneers to design "complete performance" into single chips.
Lee De Forest
Ranked as one of the most important innovations in electronics in the first half of the 20th century, Lee De Forest's valve, also called triode, audion, or three-electrode vacuum tube, amplified telegraph and radio signals. It ultimately became a cornerstone in the advancement of radio. He also found a way to add sound directly to movie film utilizing the audion. But the movie industry initially rebuffed his method, only to accept later on. On another front, deForest attempted to broadcast live the N. Y. Metropolitan Opera in his belief that radio and then TV could raise America's cultural awareness. He also pioneered news broadcasting and, proving that some things don't change, incorrectly announced the winner of the 1916 presidential race. His autobiography is called Father of Radio, a title that a number of colleagues feel is warranted.
Philo T. Farnsworth
Today's all-electronic TV sets originated from teenaged Philo Farnsworth's fascination with "seeing pictures through the air" and the idea of the invisible electron. While plowing a potato field at age 14 in Rigby, Idaho, the method for his television system first became clear to him. At age 21, during his stint as a street cleaner, he was finally able to construct his "dream" thanks to recognition by his first financial backers, George Everson and Leslie Gorrell. Farnsworth received patents for television scanning, focusing, synchronizing, contrast, control, and power systems. During WWII, his company produced war materials and supplied electronic components to the federal government. After the war ended, fortunes changed because he was unable to keep pace with more aggressive electronics firms. Farnsworth's company was sold to ITT, where Farnsworth then worked on space-age contracts awarded by the Air Force and other government agencies. Here he invented components of the Defense Early Warning Signal, the PPI Projector (which allowed safe control of air traffic from the ground), an infrared telescope, submarine detection devices, radar calibration equipment, and other inventions. For a time, ITT also funded his new controlled-fusion ideas, but eventually costs lead them to terminate fusion research. He attempted to continue the research at Brigham Young University, but finances overwhelmed the project. Farnsworth, who also invented the first electron microscope and the first infant incubator, held 300 U.S. and foreign patents. He was also involved in the development of radar and peace-time uses of atomic energy.
Bill Gates' drive to put a computer on every office desktop and home helped change the way computer software was written, ultimately making him the richest man in the world. Programming at age 13, he developed a version of BASIC for the MITS Altair, considered the first microcomputer, before he dropped out of Harvard in 1975. With Paul Allen, he then created Microsoft, now the world's largest software company. Their trick was tweaking a computer operating system called Q-DOS, which Microsoft bought from Seattle Computer Products. Although it was clunky, everyone needed an operating system to run computers. Then in May 1990, Microsoft Windows 3.0 with graphical interfaces and drop-down windows appeared. Other areas dominated by Microsoft include software applications with its Excel for spreadsheets, Word for word processing, and Access for databases. Gates wrote two books, Business @ the Speed of Thought and The Road Ahead, with proceeds going to education-based non-profit organizations. Also, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated more than $24 billion to support philanthropic programs.
When ICs and op amps were separate devices, Jerald Graeme was among the first to develop a combined IC op amp while at Burr-Brown, in a 1968 team effort with Motorola. He designed many more op amps and video amplifiers whose precision, high speed, or low drift amplification made them a very useful component in a variety of analog applications. Nine U.S. patents and numerous foreign counterparts resulted from these designs. The internationally acknowledged authority on electronic amplifiers wrote five very popular books about op amps, the latest being Photodiode Amplifiers: Op Amp Solutions and Optimizing Op Amp Performance. The latter, subtitled "A new approach for maximizing op amp behavior in circuit designs without extensive mathematical analysis," offers design equations and models that reflect real-world op amp behavior and makes analysis of difficult-looking configurations easy. Graeme's earlier books are: Op Amps: Design and Application, Designing with Operational Amplifiers, and Amplifier Applications of Op Amps. He expects signal processing with op amps to be the domain of digital devices, but they will still require an analog interface to integrate with real-world items like process control or avionics.
Luis Navarro invented the first portable oscilloscope and led the Tektronix team that developed a highly popular potable digital oscilloscope. Three features patented for the unit are now incorporated in all other oscilloscopes: display processing, real-time sampling, and a peak detector. The digital oscilloscope represented a paradigm change because users could look back in time to discern what caused the flaw that triggered an action. The Tektronix team's innovative program management prevented the "creeping feature creature" and got the product to market in a then record time of one-and-a-half years. His Tektronix team also wisely chose to keep the same basic menu and style as the existing analog oscilloscope, making it easier for users to learn to manipulate the new one.
The "father of broadcasting" championed the innovation of radio and television technology and networks, led RCA for nearly 30 years, and had the vision to see the value of continuous R&D in electronics. Perhaps it all began in April 1912, when for 72 hours straight, as a wireless telegraph operator in New York City, David Sarnoff relayed news of survivors from the sinking of S.S. Titanic. In 1915, he first proposed a "radio music box" for people to hear broadcasts. He helped organize the first sports broadcast in 1921 and then, five years later, helped create the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), the first permanent radio network. Sarnoff formally introduced black and white television to Americans in 1939, and then electronic color in 1950. An enduring belief in the social improvements possible through technology led to his support for RCA's research labs, which turned out numerous electronics inventions that are used today.
Computer users deserve the freedom that Richard Stallman believed they lost: freedom to copy and redistribute software as well as make changes to it. So, in 1984, he left the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab to found the GNU Project. It's the foundation for Linux software, a free operating system that users can copy, alter, and redistribute. Today, Linux-based variants of the GNU system, based on the Linux Kernel developed by Linus Torvalds, are used by nearly 20 million people. Stallman also established the Free Software Foundation to support the production of free software and ensure its free distribution. The GNU system includes the GNU Compiler Collection, a portable optimizing compiler that supports more than 30 diverse architectures and seven programming languages. Stallman is its principal author as well as the author of other GNU programs like GNU symbolic debugger (gdb) and GNU Emacs. He also wrote the first extensible Emacs text editor.
Back in 1965, Ray Stata became one of the founders of Analog Devices, a leading manufacturer of high-performance analog, mixed-signal, and DSP chips. He served as president from 1971 to 1991, CEO from 1973 to Nov. 1996, and has been chairman of the board since 1973. As a pioneer in the field of analog technology, the company created the first precision analog and mixed-signal ICs. Prior to its formation, Stata was founder of Solid State Instruments, then vice president of marketing of Kollmorgen Corp.'s Inland Controls Division (when it acquired Solid State Instruments). Stata is co-author of two books—Global Stakes: The Future of High Technology in America and The Innovators: Rediscovering America's Creative Energy. He has served on the Executive Committee of the Council on Competitiveness and is on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Overseers. He's a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, and was named Foreign Fellow of Indian National Academy of Engineering.
Robert Alexander Watson-Watt
To detect enemy aircraft, Scottish physicist Robert Alexander Watson-Watt developed and introduced radar, an acronym for Radio Detection And Ranging technology. It was invaluable in protecting Great Britain during WWII against German air raids, both day and night, and in all types of weather. He had studied at University College, Dundee, part of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. It was during Watson-Watt's first job, which involved designing devices to locate thunderstorms for the Scottish Meteorological Office, when he coined the term "ionosphere" to describe a layer of the atmosphere. It became the basis of his subsequent work in radio detection at Britain's National Physical Laboratory. Watson-Watt also developed a cathode-ray direction finder to study atmospheric phenomena, did research in electromagnetic radiation, and invented other devices for flight safety. He was knighted in 1942 for his role in the development of radar.