elPresidente, I respect your view on this. Indeed, that's one way to look at it.
But it's our intention to go BEYOND EEs on our list.
Why? EE's technology innovation and contribution don't happen in isolation.
By the time such innovation becomes a truly successful technology or "force" in the industry, it often received help and contribution from those working in other scientific disciplines or even MBAs.
Why limit ourselves to EEs, or the topic of EEs? EEs have always been a part of many bigger technology stories.
Well then, Linus Torvalds must be included, too. His technical credits are much more significant than Jobs' and Gates'---just consider the literal lines of code he personally contributed to the Linux kernel that you will find in all those phones, computers, network devices, DVD players, TVs and whatnot.
He also has a stellar personal integrity record---his fairness and good judgement are legendary.
Technologies - Meta Pad from IBM. This was once a concept and a failed product. If all go well, the concept could be proliferated especially with Asus showing the Padphone implementation since early CY2011
Dr. Woo Paik, the father of digital video compression, should be on this list.
Were it not for his ability to build and demonstrate working video compression for HDTV in time for General Instrument to join the "Grand Alliance", we would most likely have ended up with a bandwidth-inefficient analog HDTV system -- not to mention that every other digital video system and standard in use today evolved from his work.
Let us not forget, that through the efforts of Richard Wiley, Chairman of the FCC Advisory Committee on Advanced Television Services, who managed the Paik’s and Hundt’s, as well as innumerable politicians, corporate executives and hot-shot engineers, the Grand Alliance and all-digital HDTV came into existence. Mr. Wiley facilitated the impossible – the design of a super horse on steroids!
I'm sorry, but is the "Android" you mentioned initially the Google OS? If so, then I really think you should replace that with Linus Torvalds, because he contributed much more to Android than Google, it's like saying a Philips or GE engineer was responsible for the light globe instead of Edison.
My vote would be for two that never made your list: Both are well known in the field of wireless and signal processing.
1. Andrew Viterbi - the biggest name known in cell phones and Qualcomm. He was responsible for Forward Error Correction - a technique used today in every cell phone. Later as one of the partners of Qualcomm, he is a professor who not only developed equations but showed that CDMA is possible in practice.
2. Nikil Jayanth - currently teaches in Georgia tech but is one of the pioneers who made modern day digital communication possible in a variety of ways. Starting with the IS-54 TDMA cell phone standard way back in 1990 that led to the creation of GSM in Europe. Similarly MP3, HDTV and Audix voice storage used in all phones today.
These are unsung heros EE Times should list. I am sure a long list of their students, and industry leaders and business persons will support their candidature
We recently lost a great industry leader in Michael Hackworth. As co-founder and former president, CEO and chairman of the Board for Cirrus Logic, Mike pioneered the semiconductor industry's "fabless" movement.
Many recall his noteworthy line, playing off of Jerry Sander's remarks, that "real men don't need fabs." Mike was a Silicon Valley icon, and the Tech Museum's IMAX theater is named after him. Mike led Cirrus Logic to its meteoric rise in the late 80s and into the 1990s, and much of the company's current success is due to Mike's stewardship of the company as chairman.
I suggest the co-inventors of the high-efficiency switching-mode Class-E RF power amplifier: Nathan O. Sokal (the father) and Alan D. Sokal (the son). The Class-E amplifier can operate at nearly 100% efficiency, e.g., 96% to 98%.
Bob Widlar was a prolific and creative design engineer who gave us such important circuit techniques as the Widlar current source and a host of others. Anyone with analog design expertise can likely rattle off a long list of contributions from Widlar.
As for Paul Grey and Robert Meyer, they are responsible for authoring "Analysis and Design of Analog Integrated Circuits." It is the one college textbook you will see in virtually every EE's bookshelf.
The 8080 microprocessor was one of the first widely accepted microprocessors, at the beginning of the personal computer era.
- Akio Morita (Sony)
- Stephen Wolfram (Wolfram Research, Mathematica)
- Linus Torvalds (Linux)
- Marc Andreesen (Mosaic, Netscape, other software ventures)
- Andy Bechtolsheim (Sun, Google)
- I also would like to suggest a symbol for a company: The VLSI Technology Unsung Hero(first fully integrated EDA tool suite, ASIC model, library developer including compilers and standard cells, fab, ASSP innovator and leader in chip sets for PC, cell phones, co-founder ARM and a few other firsts including incubating many technology leaders in the semiconductor industry). Many heroes there so Douglas Fairbairn can represent them. Disclosure: I worked there :-)
Here's a name that I think deserves consideraton:
He spearheaded the R&D effort at Cyrix that resulted in an X86 processor (around 1995/1996) that actually outperformed the equivalent Intel product(s).
Even though I'm not an engineer, I thought it was quite an engineering accomplishment. Don't hold me to this, but I think the entire Cyrix design team was 15 folks or so.
Great example of a tiny upstart disrupting before it became fashionable.
I have no idea what happened to Mark Bluhm. Steve Tobak who knows how to articulate a compelling narrative and was a VP at Cyrix at this time might be a good resource to tap.
I think you're looking for individual names, rather than inventions and discoveries, which makes the job a little harder. Some innovations cannot e attributed to one person, yet they are very major milestones.
Robert Metcalfe can't be overlooked. He invented a practical protocol for a packet-switched asynchronous network - Ethernet.
Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf. Also Jon Postel and Steve Crocker. The fathers of the Internet.
Harry Nyquist, Ralph Hartley, and Claude Shannon for describing the theoretical limits of digital communications channels. In precise terms. It's what permits digital communications channels to be designed, rather than guesstimated using trial and error.
And perhaps Martin Cooper of Motorola and Joel Engel of Bell Labs, for creating practical cellular telephony (1973). Although theoretical work had been going on as far back as 1947, at Bell Labs.
Indeed, a lot of innovations cannot be attributed to a single name. That point was raised a number of times in our newsroom discussions.
But that said, again, as I pointed out earlier in this story, we are NOT looking for definitive answers for "fathers" of any given technologies. We will leave that discussion elsewhere.
Here, we are looking for a gem. Perhaps, a story behind stories. Or someone -- who may not have received a lot of press -- played an important role in a bigger team.
First, computer science has been incorporated into the EE department in many universities these days. And too, EEs come in multiple shades of gray, some of which you might consider to be mathematicians or physicists.
For instance, I've done digital networks and math, virtually no soldering, and little circuit design, in my entire career. Yet, I'm EE through and through.
PCI transformed the PC industry, and every other market for computing, from HPC to the simplest Embedded Electronics. Intel, IBM, Digital Equipment, NCR, Adaptec, ATI Technologies, Compaq , HP , Microsoft..(I was there, have complete list somewhere)
The original PCI architecture Intel team included, among others, Dave Carson, Norm Rasmussen, Brad Hosler, Ed Solari, Bruce Young, Gary Solomon, Ali Oztaskin, Tom Sakoda, Rich Haslam, Jeff Rabe, and Steve Fischer.
Dr. Fujio Masuoka of Toshiba for inventing "flash memories," without which none of the the hand-held computing revolution and digital video was possible....imagine a world without flash memories - a world with iPad/iPhone/insert your favorite camera here with hard drives
In the "unsung hero" category, I'd add Mineo Yamatake. He is an excellent engineer who worked closely with the likes of Bob Widlar and Bob Dobkin. Although Widlar and Dobkin become well known names in the industry, Mineo Yamatake was the quiet support behind these guys. He generated many great products for National Semiconductor, back when there was a National Semiconductor.
Yunko said: "Here, we are looking for a gem. Perhaps, a story behind stories. Or someone -- who may not have received a lot of press -- played an important role in a bigger team."
Oh, well in that case, you need look no further than Frank Eory. Back in 2000, he led the ATSC's Task Force on RF System Performance, to "examine the state of the art in 8-VSB transmission and reception equipment, and to make recommendations to the RF Task Force ..." to achieve more robust performance from ATSC digital receivers than what was originally the goal of the standard. Performance that real consumers of terrestrial DTV had come to expect, by the time the system was being deployed, specifically with respect to reception using simple indoor antennas.
Their findings were published in an ATSC report titled "Performance Assessment of the ATSC Transmission System, Equipment and Future Directions," July 10, 2000, which led to the the fourth generation (and beyond) DTV receivers, starting with the Linx receiver, non-integrated prototype demoed in 2002. As far as I'm concerned, "saving the day" for the ATSC standard.
I own two of them, a 15C and an 11C and there is a funny story behind the second calculator. I bought the 15C for college--a good investment. I think I used just about every feature on the calculator, and it is one of the few products where I've read the whole manual! I used it at work a lot, but would often misplace it, and then find it a day or two later. Finally I vowed, after misplacing it yet again and worrying it was lost, that this time I would put my name on it if I ever found it, so at least it was more likely to make its way back to me. So one day I'm back in the lab, and there o and behold, I spot it, my calculator! Why hadn't I seen it before? So...I take an exacto knife, and ETCH my last name and address into the back of the calculator. Ahh...permanent, never to be lost again. A few hours later, a lab technician wanders by my desk. "Hey, is that my calculator?" Ulp! It was his 11C, not my 15C that I had found, and now my name and address were engraved in it! I felt pretty bad, but at the same time it was funny. So, I paid him the price for a new one, and some time later, I found my 15C, I believe in my car. So now I have two. More is better, right?
Hans R. Camenzind,
Best known for inventing the 555 timer IC circa 1970 and selling the design to Signetics (pre Philips acquisition) to fund his fledgling start-up, InterDesign. The 555 is the most ubiquitous IC ever created .
The microprocessor was huge, but the first one (the 4004) slightly predates the time frame of this list as it was released in 1971. The Internet is also off the list because the first operation of its predecessor, the ARPANET, was in 1969.
Skype is a curious choice for this list because it's a software technology, not EE. If we're going to look at software, I'd rank both the original Napster (for its disruption of the music industry) and BitTorrent (as the first hugely deployed peer-to-peer technology) as more disruptive than Skype.
I nominate Sam Lybarger (1909-2000), the Father of the Electronic Hearing Aid. Even while he was in his 80's, he counseled me at the PHAA meetings in the early 1990's on electroacoustics and hearing aid prescriptive methods (he devised the first one all the way back in 1942, that is surprisingly close to the newest formulas!), the bone conduction (inertial) transducer, the telephone coil (all the way back in 1947).
From his obituary in The Hearing Review:
"Among engineers and industry leaders, Lybarger was known as one of the primary individuals responsible for the establishment of modern electroacoustical standards for hearing aids. He was a member of the technical committee that drafted “A Tentative Code for Measurement of Performance for Hearing Aids” in 1940 (published in JASA) and was the chair of the 1953 American Standards Assn. “Z24.14 Method for Measurement of Characteristics of Hearing Aids”—the forerunner of all the ANSI standards that followed. Lybarger chaired the ANSI Standards Hearing Aid Committee for more than three decades, from its inception to 1983. His involvement also included developing ANSI standards for bone conduction aids, as well as international (IEC) standards."
I also nominate Mead Killion, PhD, of Etymotic Research in Elk Grove Village, IL. Over his 40+ year career, first at Knowles and then on at Etymotic, which he founded in 1983, his innovations have helped more people hear better than anyone else on the planet still alive.
Just a few of them are:
• The KEMAR (Knowles Electroacoustic Mannequin for Audiological Research) all the way back in 1972 but used by more and more businesses and researchers every year
• The K-AMP® hearing aid circuit, developed under contract to the VA and released in 1988, was the first wide dynamic range compression (WDRC) hearing aid circuit utilizing the principles set out by Edgar Villchur
• The sensitive microphones and measurement techniques necessary to measure otoacoustic emissions from the cochlea: These are the very faint sounds from the microscopic-sized outer hair cells vibrating in endolymph (yes, THAT faint). Because of this, thousands of newborns are screened every day around the world for hearing loss before they are even sent home, detecting deafness and and triggering audiologic intervention, including hearing aids & cochlear implants;
• Advanced audiologic speech-in-noise test protocols and materials which audiologists can use to weed out all sorts of hearing and neurologic problems for peds, adults and the elderly;
• Advanced hearing protection for musicians, and active hearing protection for soldiers, hunters, law enforcement, and others.
Editor, The Hearing Blog
Here is an online biography of Dr Killion.
Note that he is one of the very few people who i a fellow of both the Audio Engineering Society and the Acoustical Society of America
Mead Killion, Ph.D., founded Etymotic Research, Inc. in 1983. Prior to starting ER, he worked for over 20 years for Knowles Electronics, a major electronic component manufacturer, where he designed hearing aid microphones that were so accurate they were also used in recording and broadcast studios. Dr. Killion earned degrees in mathematics from Wabash College and the Illinois Institute of Technology, and completed his doctorate in audiology at Northwestern University. He was awarded an honorary doctor of science (Sc.D.) degree from Wabash College.
Dr. Killion teaches an advanced course in hearing aid electroacoustics at Northwestern and Rush Universities, where he holds adjunct and visiting professorships, respectively. He has directed graduate research at City University of New York Graduate School, where he is an adjunct professor. He has given invited lectures on hearing and hearing aids in 19 countries. Dr. Killion is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and the Audio Engineering Society and has received numerous awards for his contributions to the field of hearing.
There's one name I haven't seen mentioned here yet, but I bet all you 50+ EE's have at one time or other read his articles, built his projects, or perhaps even been inspired by this guy; Don Lancaster.
These are all great responses and suggestions. As Junko mentioned earlier we are looking for gems that have not been unearthed yet. For instance all know that GPS was an inflection point for the way we live play and communicat today. So who is the unsung hero who either at its birth or since then and practicing today, or the genius who is working away in some research lab who will take GPS to the next level--pinpoint a position of a specific person inside a specific house or car? Orwellian, maybe. Possible, probably. So geek, who are you and what can you share?
This is just in via e-mail from Rob Walker, one of the co-founders of LSI Logic:
Fairchild ASIC of the 60’s and 70’s. Invented the gate array, standard cell, VLSI testers (Sentry series) and integrated CAD system. See interviews of me, Jim Koford, Jim Downey and Harold Vitale in Stanford’s Silicon Genesis oral histories.
I would nominate Mr. Sam Pitroda, an Indian engineer settled in US, as a pioneer of many a technologies in the field of telecommunications. He is also supposed to have pioneered the concept of hand held computing when he invented the first electronic diary sometime in 1975.
Terry Scheffer was one of the key inventors of STN (super twisted nematic) LCD technology in the early 80's. The STN LCD made computer resolution LCD displays possible and practical for the first time. Prior to that invention, large LCD displays were thought to be impossible.
As far as companies go, how about Philips and Sony? These two have a long and consistent record of innovations in consumer electronics. Their joint development of the Compact Disc is a marvel of engineering integrating such leading-edge technologies as lasers, optics, servo systems, materials science, manufacturing technologies, precision DACs, LSI and VLSI into an affordable consumer product. From the CD sprang both DVD and Blue-Ray technologies. Many innovations in CD audio begat the current MP3.
Here are some of my nominations...
Tim Berners-Lee, HTML
Don Lancaster (I completely agree with the previous post.)
Optical Storage - CD/DVD
Capacitive Touch Screens (theory predates 1972, but implementation doesn't)
IEEE 802.11 Wireless standard
LCD Screen Technology
Surface Mount Technology
William Shockley. Although John Bardeen and Walter Brattain (all three at Bell Labs) created the transistor, Shockley deserves credit for starting the first company--Shockley Transistor Laboratory--to try to commercialize it in what we now know as Silicon Valley.
I would also add Bob Noyce, who along with Gordon Moore, founded Intel.
Don’t forget the father of the electronic digital computer J.V. Atanasoff and his grad student Clifford Berry. This story includes the wholesale theft of the IP, large scale corporate blackmail by a third party and ultimately, Berry’s murder. This invention drove the development of the transistor and everything that came after.
What about Adam Osborne and Lee Felsenstein?
Before he founded Osborne computer, Adam Osborne published a series of books on microprocessors and their support chips.
Lee Felsenstein was the principal designer of the Osborne 1. His real interest was in using computers to allow people to connect to each other. I remember thinking back then that it was a very ambitious undertaking...
Fred Terman. One time dean of engineering at Stanford. Advisor to Hewlett and Packard. Textbook author. One of the main reasons Stanford was at the center of so many engineering accomplishments at the birth of silicon valley.
1. Clive Sinclair, father of the ZX80, ZX81 and ZX spectrum home computers - the first really affordable computers for the home - and a lot of other things too. My first scientific calculator. in 1977, was a Sinclair scientific.
2. Bernard Babani - founder of the publishing house that brought books on electronics to hobbyists, and helped a lot of young people - self included - get into eletrical engineering as a career.
Cell phones, iPads, and GPS navigation seem to currently have more of a wow factor, but there are technologies that are so ubiquitous and integrated into society that they are almost overlooked. For example, barcode scanners, auto-pay gasoline pumps, and anti-lock brakes have all come into widespread use in the last 40 years, even if some of the prerequisite inventions came a bit earlier. Yet we have all but forgotten just how different checking out at a grocery was in 1972.
Nevertheless, the Internet is almost certainly the technology that historians will see as having the most profound effect. I truly believe it will be ranked close to the invention of writing in importance. Before about 5,000 years ago, information was exchanged by word of mouth. The invention of writing allowed society to accumulate information and pass it much more accurately, though to only a few poeple in each generation. The printing press made information available to far greater numbers of people. The Internet, in addition to making information available to most of the global population, is making searching for and accumulating information orders of magnitude faster.
Scott Adams - Many more engineers would be in jail for killing managers/marketers/accountants with a blunt spoon if it weren't for Dilbert. And I'm not even sure life would be worth living without Wally.
I totally agree - we can't have an engineering top 40 without engineerings' gratest comic and populizer. That would be like having a Hollywood top 40 without Mel Blanc, Fred Quimby, or the Hanna-Barbera team.
Batter, Warner Bros takes my vote for satirizing the field of Physics. In the popularizer category you suggested, Gene Roddenberry would clearly be deserving of top dog. Who here doesn't know who this man is?
In keeping with the "Greatest Hits" theme of this survey (borrowed from the music industry), I'd like to add to the list a few names that come to my mind that were key (pun intended) to advancing the technology of the music industry:
It's sad to see what the United States has come to. From the days of engineers like George Rotsky guiding the editorial direction of EE Times, we now someone has a BA in Social Science from a Japanese company, with no engineering background.
Replay available now: A handful of emerging network technologies are competing to be the preferred wide-area connection for the Internet of Things. All claim lower costs and power use than cellular but none have wide deployment yet. Listen in as proponents of leading contenders make their case to be the metro or national IoT network of the future. Rick Merritt, EE Times Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, moderators this discussion. Join in and ask his guests questions.