I too have the privilege of calling Jim a mentor. His lab in MIT's building 20 was open and welcoming to all. The comments above paint a wonderful picture of the the joy of engineering that Jim instilled in so many many people. My memories of this joy include trips to the massive Taunton federal surplus lot and the obvious pride in Jim's voice as he explained to me how he'd finally managed to do something useful with the Minuteman missile computer already mentioned above: Jim motioned me to a Teletype he'd hooked up to the computer to print ON TO MOSCOW line after line. Thank you, Jim!
Though we worked in different Departments, Mr. Williams was always aware of my Department and was always kind. Your words will not be left to pass Mr. Williams, it was a pleasure to meet you and work with you for nearly ten years.
For the last 16 years I have had the privilege of working next to Jim, since my lab bench at LTC was next to his, and he spent most of the day in the lab. I could ask him for help on anything and he would drop what he was doing to give me a hand. There would be times when I would buy busted test equipment at the flea market, bring it in the lab, set it on my bench, and by the next morning it would be repaired. Jim loved repairing and restoring test equipment of any kind. He would say that he would pay more for non-working test equipment at the DeAnza flea market than for equipment that was working, because then he could repair it.
Jim’s corner of the lab seems empty now, even though every thing is still there as he left it at 4:30 on Thursday. On Wednesday he brought in a compact fluorescent lamp that had failed in his kitchen after 50 hours of use and he asked me to open it up for him. I opened it and handed him the circuit board. Jim spent the next 20 minutes removing every component on that board and testing it on the curve tracer and Ohm meter. Every component checked good. He wasn’t sure why the lamp failed. On Thursday, right before he left work, I jokingly asked him if he was going to going to put the circuit back together.
He replied, “Maybe I’ll get to that next week”.
Jim will be missed.....
Damn. If only we could have mapped Jim's and RAP's brain into a supercomputer.
We need the singularity now. Obama should make this the goal for our generation instead of moon/mars missions.
What a great loss.