SAN FRANCISCO--Hans Camenzind, the Swiss emigre analog guru who
invented one of the most successful circuits in electronics history
and introduced the concept of phase-locked loop to IC design,
passed away in his sleep at the age of 78. The news was reported
today (Aug. 15) by Sergio Franco
, an emeritus professor of
electrical engineering at San Francisco State University in an
came to the
United States in 1960 and worked for several years at some of the
storied names of the newly developing semiconductor industry:
Transitron, Tyco Semiconductor, and Signetics.
In 1971 he joined the
ranks of entrepreneurs by founding InterDesign, a company
specializing in semi-custom integrated circuit design. It was there,
working under a contract with Signetics, that he invented the 555 timer
Signetics commercialized the device in 1972, and it went on to become
one of the most successful in the industry's history. The device,
used in oscillator, pulse-generation and other applications, is
still widely used today. Versions of the device have been or are
still made by dozens of major semiconductor vendors, including Texas
Instruments, Intersil, Maxim, Avago, Exar, Fairchild, NXP and
Camenzind also introduced the idea of phase-locked loop to design
and invented the first class D amplifier.
Camenzind was a prolific author with interests as diverse as electronics textbooks
the history of the industry ("Much Ado About Almost Nothing
to a book on God and religion ("Circumstantial Evidence"
he wrote under the pen name John Penter.
He received an MSEE from Northeastern
and an MBA from the University of Santa Clara, and,
during his career secured 20 patents.
Private family services are scheduled this week. A remembrance of
Hans’ life will be held at 2 p.m. PDT on Sept. 9, in the Shoup Park Garden House in Los Altos,
Friends and colleagues are welcome. In lieu of
flowers, the family would prefer donations in Hans’ memory to the Computer History Museum
. To RSVP and for
information on donations, please see camenzind.org/hans/ (requires
He is survived by his wife Pia, his daughter Sue (Erol Kirelik), his
sons Robert (Amy), Peter (Lisa), Tim (Marie) and nine grandchildren.