They’re innovative engineers whose achievements range from the dawn of the electronics era to the latest cutting-edge components. They also include shrewd businessmen who founded some of the industry’s giants as well as sharp academicians who inspired the generations of engineers who followed them. And, they’re idealists who looked beyond the next project to imagine how their designs would improve the world.
They’re the 2010 inductees into the Electronic Design Engineering Hall of Fame, and we’re proud to honor them in our pages with profiles by Contributing Editor John Edwards.
Who built the first digital electronic computer? You could make a case for John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry, whose ABC was the first device to use binary digits to represent data and perform calculations electronically, not mechanically. But could they have imagined Gordon Bell’s work with minicomputers in the 1960s and microcomputers in the 1970s? Bell isn’t stopping there either, as he now has his eye on the cloud and universal fiber service.
Where creativity flows, controversy follows. Who invented the insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT)? In the 1970s, B. Jayant Baliga of General Electric came up with a functional integration of metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) technology and bipolar physics, directly inspiring the IGBT’s development. Simultaneously, Hans W. Becke and Carl F. Wheatley of RCA were coming to some similar conclusions. So who should get the credit? We’re not going to settle that here. Instead, we’ll salute all three engineers.
And, we honor engineers who played key roles in winning World War II. Melville Eastham began with spark coils and moved on to radio components and test instruments, eventually focusing on military research and developing LORAN. Meanwhile, Russell and Sigurd Varian’s klystron enabled the Allies to miniaturize early radar systems and take the fight to the German U-boats and airplanes that ruled the North Atlantic.
We’d like to thank our readers, who voted on this year’s class of inductees. Your enthusiasm for these achievements enables us to honor these men for their contributions to the industry and to our world.