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Passing of Jim Williams, analog circuit guru, mentor, teacher

6/13/2011 02:23 PM EDT
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jimolson
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re: Passing of Jim Williams, analog circuit guru, mentor, teacher
jimolson   6/13/2011 4:14:29 PM
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In 1972 I was fortunate to do a undergrad student research project under Jim Williams. It was in M.I.T.'s famed Bldg. 20, a World War II wooden shack known as the campus skunk works. Jim's lab in those days looked exactly as it did last week at LTC, cluttered with vector boards, hand-crafted instruments, and vintage Tektronix 'scopes. Whirring away in the corner was a functioning missile guidance computer he purchased from a surplus depot. Jim was addicted to surplus electronic hardware. Over the next two years I showed up at formal classes to appease my M.I.T. faculty adviser and registrar, but my soul lived in room 20B-140 working under Jim. At one point I even slept in the lab on a cot after I was evicted from my apartment, testimony to how comfortable I felt in Jim's learning environment. He believed that taking apart another engineer's handiwork and carefully drawing its schematic with a broad point blue pen was the highest form of flattery. He did it with gusto, often calling me to his bench to highlight the artistry of another analog engineer. As I matured I realized that Jim's greatest skill was communicating effectively with other technical people. He did this in spades. My bookshelves are full of his writings. I will miss my friend and mentor. My thoughts are with his family. I'm eager to contribute to a monument in his honor somewhere in the Valley. My recommendation is a block of granite carved to look like his favorite Tektronix 545 'scope.

vrheaume
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re: Passing of Jim Williams, analog circuit guru, mentor, teacher
vrheaume   6/13/2011 4:36:35 PM
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Oh my god. Sad news. :(

zeeglen
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re: Passing of Jim Williams, analog circuit guru, mentor, teacher
zeeglen   6/13/2011 5:20:08 PM
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Darn shame. He will be missed.

patrick.mannion
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re: Passing of Jim Williams, analog circuit guru, mentor, teacher
patrick.mannion   6/13/2011 5:20:36 PM
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Hi Bill, a terrible loss indeed. As you mention, Jim has a long history with EDN, which over the years became a relied-upon conduit for much of his wisdom. Paul Rako, analog editor for EDN and who has the honor of being able to claim Jim as a trusted friend, provides a fitting reminescence here: http://www.edn.com/article/518496-Analog_guru_Jim_Williams_dies_after_stroke.php

LinearLawDog
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re: Passing of Jim Williams, analog circuit guru, mentor, teacher
LinearLawDog   6/13/2011 5:21:04 PM
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Jim was a true junk man, like all brilliant analog engineers I have known in my IP law career of 30 years. Knew Jim for a decade, constant as his acoustic thermometer. Will miss burger cruising in his Jag. What a guy, will miss him desperately.

goafrit
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re: Passing of Jim Williams, analog circuit guru, mentor, teacher
goafrit   6/13/2011 6:41:01 PM
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peace to his soul. peace

Tsantes
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re: Passing of Jim Williams, analog circuit guru, mentor, teacher
Tsantes   6/13/2011 6:46:19 PM
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When I was managing editor of EDN in the early 1980s, Jim's articles always were must-read for our readership. He was a great guy, a great writer a talented analog guy and will be missed by all.

ROBERT.SWARTZ
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re: Passing of Jim Williams, analog circuit guru, mentor, teacher
ROBERT.SWARTZ   6/13/2011 8:41:54 PM
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This is sad news indeed. I had the privilege of working for Jim in 1973 as an undergrad at MIT. Jim gave me my first exposure to practical electronic design and started me on a career that has continued since. Much later, I had the considerable good fortune to work with Jim at Linear Tech. Always an electronics super-wizard, Jim also had a charming personality with a wit that would sometimes catch you off guard. Fortunately for the rest of us, Jim leaves behind an archived legacy of contributions to the electronics art. He will be sorely missed.

DavidBeebe
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re: Passing of Jim Williams, analog circuit guru, mentor, teacher
DavidBeebe   6/13/2011 9:32:38 PM
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I have been priviledged to be a labmate of Jim's for the past 17 years. We wrote app. notes together and repaired test equipment together. Just last Thursday we repaired a blanking pulse problem on a TEK 547 Oscilloscope. He had the required transistor in his desk drawer! He went home just a shade early that day and I never saw him again. I never once received a discouraging comment from him. He was in all ways encouraging to everyone who had some interaction with him. You always went away from Jim feeling somehow smarter and ready to conquer whatever problem you were facing. If somehow I couldn't noodle through the information I was getting from an unruly circuit, I could always talk to him and we would unwind it together. My work world will be different in all ways with him gone.

Joan Morrow Lynch
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re: Passing of Jim Williams, analog circuit guru, mentor, teacher
Joan Morrow Lynch   6/13/2011 9:43:49 PM
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I was another EDN managing editor lucky enough to have worked with Jim for many years. I cherished our frequent phone calls where nothing was taboo. He made me laugh, and I always hung up the phone with a smile and some new piece of insight. Gone way too soon.

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