Very sad, a great loss to the industry. I have a shared interest in trekking and the Himalayas, and we discussed by email my designs for the power system for basecamp on Medex expeditions. I'm pleased to say I did get the chance to meet him in 1998, while he was watching a game of netball between his fellow trekkers and their sherpas in a small village on route to Kangenjunga base camp, and he was able to use our satellite phone to ring home. R.I.P. RAP. Denzil
I was saddened to hear of Bob's death. He was a major piece of National history.
I had one involvement with Bob and that was when our Audio Product Line at National undertook to make the best audio related performance parts, now known as the LME series. We boasted that the "E" was for Excellence, Excellent, Excels, and any other term we could think of to Extoll (no pun intended) the virtues of the series. They are the best of their type of part on the market today.
Bob got wind of the project and basically stated that he doubted we could pull it off, and challenged us by threatening to do his own 'independent' analysis of the first part when it came out of fab. Well the part came out and he was on our Apps lab's doorstep ready to give it a thorough going over.
I don't remember exactly how long he took to do his analysis, but he finally came back and told us the part met our expectation and specs, and if anything, was somewhat conservatively rated. Now even within National, you can imagine how happy that made our group's design engineers and applications staff (who were key players in the specification and definition)feel. To get his blessing on the part was really wonderful.
I also had the opportunity to be at, as well as present at, National and NS distributor sponsored events where Bob also presented. I can tell you Bob's presence at the event was the MAIN reason engineers attended. It was not just his presentation style (including his famous blank overhead projector film presentation media), but also his in depth knowledge of the subject and his way of keeping the audience engaged during the process.
All of us in the industry have at one time or another had the opportunity to work with or otherwise be involved with industry giants. I have been fortunate to do so at National as well as at Intel. Others may be looking at you right now with some of the same kind of awe. It always pays to Excel (darn...there I go with the E's again)in your profession.
I was shocked as well to read Bob's passing. As a component engineer, I had recently been unemployed for a bit, and one day while looking for work and googling "component engineer", I came across one of Bob's columns, "What’s All This Components Engineer Stuff, Anyhow?" Well of course I always enjoyed his What's All This Stuff type columns, and being a component engineer, it was doubly of interest, so I read it! Then I decided to send him an email, saying how I enjoyed his column, and also mentioning that if he knew of any jobs in the area...well, I'd be all ears! I was surprised when he responded. He said he would keep his eyes peeled. This kind reply initiated a string of emails on subjects such as trekking, technology, and low thermal drift resistors. A conversation might go:
Me: "But as far as interesting times go, it is amazing the technology one can buy in a computer now. 1 Terabyte drives, who would have thought it? Gigahertz multicore processors, and they keep pushing the limits on semiconductor to ever smaller line-widths."
Bob:" ** Yeah, but I can still only type at 30 - 60 words per minute! I wish the damn things would run slower and use less battery power!"
It was this kind of humor, which also permeated his columns, that lightened up many an engineer's day every month. No matter where you were in your project, or what your boss was mumbling as he shuffled by your cube, Bob's column was a little oasis of peace, good engineering, pillorying of dubious methodologies du jour, and plain 'ol fun.
I'm sure there are many like myself, who though we realized that we were nowhere near his level of analog expertise, it was still encouraging to know that at least somebody could do it (as the mathematician says,"a solution exists")! And it encouraged us to delve into and enjoy the subject.
May Bob and Jim rest in peace. And may we all one day enjoy that trek together through the next life.
What a sad loss. I worked with Bob at Philbrick up until a couple months before his rather dramatic departure, described above. I wish I'd been there to see that.
We were both interested in automotive topics, and we regularly corresponded over the years. His "Pease-O-Grams", overstuffed envelopes full of clippings and random notes, would arrive several times a year. Once we both had email, the communications switched to there. He sent me an email about his latest column, the solo hiking one, just hours before he passed.
He signed me on to help edit his driving book, emailing me chapters for comments as he produced them. Some of his ideas were a little strange, and I'd question him on them. But he always had a ready explanation of his logic. He was kind enough to mention me in the foreword of the book, much to my surprise.
Thinking back on his driving book, I'm kind of surprised that he didn't have a seat belt on. I'm sure we can all speculate on the scenario, undoing the seatbelt for a moment to get something out of a pocket, like we've all done, then getting distracted for a moment on a twisty road... or a sudden medical issue... We'll never know for sure.
RIP, Bob, you were one of a kind.