Electronic Design

As 2008 Comes To A Close, We Salute The Industry's Best

Selecting the best OEM products and technologies of the year can be a daunting task, given the wealth of innovations that this industry produces. But a few always stick out in an editor’s mind, somehow making their way to the top of the list.

For this issue, the Electronic Design staff and contributors wrote about these products and technologies. The editors made their selections entirely on their own, without any voting from readers or advertisers, though we sometimes leaned on each other for second or third opinions.

We broke down the categories to reflect the editorial beats that each editor covers on a day-to-day basis as well as several significant vertical markets: automotive, medical, industrial, military, consumer, and computers. Some of the editors narrowed their selection to a single choice in a category, while others bestowed honors to two or more technologies.

In either case, there was much deliberating and debating involved in choosing the winners. Whether you agree or disagree with the selections, this issue should be a great read, reminding you what a fruitful year 2008 was for our industry.

Unlike the best of the editorial beats and vertical markets, readers selected the best Ideas for Design and Leapfrogs through an online poll. In this issue, we take a look back at the top Leapfrog, while reprinting the Best IFD and its runner-up along with some additional editorial commentary.

I was surprised at the winning IFD, “New Way To Use Kirchoff’s Law Simplifies Circuit Analysis.” So was Lou Frenzel, who wrote a brief introduction to the reprint of that IFD. I was surprised for a couple of reasons. First, it received mixed reviews in the reader comments on our Web site. And second, I thought that one of our novel IFD circuits would be more interesting to readers than Kirchhoff ’s Law.

But this top vote-getter shows that readers want to understand electronics better and are always looking for ways to make electronic circuits simpler to understand and to analyze, at least in the mathematical sense of Kirchhoff ’s Law. You can read Lou’s take on this IFD on page 74. I thought Lou was the best editor to comment on this particular IFD, since he has a strong background in engineering education.

Our Leapfrog stamp of approval appears in most if not all of our issues. During the course of the year, our editors select products or technologies that they feel “leapfrog” past the competition. Naturally, we think our readers should pay special attention to these articles. This year, readers selected “Tiny Dual-Axis MEMS Inclinometer Simplifies Industrial Measurements” as the Best Leapfrog.

This article appeared in our Nov. 15, 2007 issue, but we had to open up the voting past the calendar year to allow enough time to do the polling and a commentary on the selection. The inclinometer was one of our Best of 2007 winners, so it’s good to see that the readers corroborated our editorial opinion.

In this issue, we also induct six more engineers chosen by readers for our Hall of Fame. This feature first appeared in our 50th Anniversary Issue in 2002 and then moved to the annual “Your Most Important Issue of the Year.”

Since we decided to replace the “Your” issue this year with October’s special Ideas for Design issue, we had to find a new home for these Hall of Famers. This issue seemed to be the best place to showcase the new inductees, and we will continue to include them here in the future. Our roster this year includes some names that should be familiar to you.

Known as the Father of Robotics, Joseph Engelberger sees the industry’s potential in elder care. Jay Forrester, inventor of RAM, is now involved in transforming the American educational system. George Frye’s design for a better hearing aid led him to the top of a new analyzer industry.

James Gosling may have skipped a lot of school in his youth, but that truancy helped him invent Java. Alan Kay was a key part of the team that moved computers from the realm of industrial machines to everyday essentials. Marvin Minsky, another robotics pioneer, rounds out this year’s class thanks to his work in artificial neural networks

I want to thank Lucinda Mattera, former editor-in-chief and publisher of Electronic Design, for her work in producing the Hall of Fame ballot. I also must thank Doris Kilbane, who interviewed every one of the inductees for this issue. And, I want to thank everyone who voted for these great engineers. The ballot was very long, and it certainly took some patience to go through all of the candidates.

Of course, an issue of Electronic Design would not be complete without a column from the inimitable Bob Pease. But we didn’t ask Bob to pick his best column of the year, nor did we ask readers to vote on their favorite. Instead, we’re printing Bob’s latest installment, in this case, “What’s All This ‘Adjustable Slew Rate’ Stuff, Anyhow?” Why do we do it this way? We simply think it’s the best idea.

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