Oct 13, 2014

Ray Zinn and Micrel - Interesting Character

Most analog semiconductor companies can trace their roots to Fairchild, or Bell Labs, or MIT or Stanford or possibly the vacuum tube op amp companies like Philbrick. But even though Micrel’s founder had previously worked at Fairchild Semiconductor, it doesn’t seem appropriate to call Micrel a Fairchild spin-off. Most analog semiconductor companies have some interesting characters. Most fall on the wild side of “interesting” – eccentric, rebellious, arrogant. Micrel’s founder, Ray Zinn, is an interesting character – but at the other end of the spectrum.

Raymond Zinn was born in 1938 (estimate), the eldest of 11 children in a devoutly Mormon family in the farming community of El Centro, California, where his father worked as a cattle rancher. El Centro is a desert community near the Mexican border – between the Salton Sea and Mexicali. It’s 50 feet below sea level and gets about 3 inches of rain per year. It was hard work just to survive there. Ray was an unselfish hard worker from the beginning. When he was 4, his mother sent him to the store to bring home the heavy bottles of milk for the family. He had a driver's license at 14 and transported his siblings in a Ford pickup truck. Like any farm kid, he baled hay and milked cows before and after school. When he wanted toys as a child, he built them - everything from wood planes to gas-powered scooters. He had a knack for technical projects. "He always understood how things worked and shared that information with his siblings," said Marilyn Eckard, one of his sisters.

He attended Brigham Young University but grew impatient and decided to quit and get a job. This was in 1958. He left midway through his junior year at BYU and drove home to tell his father. His father was not happy. "First, my father took my car keys," Ray said. His father told him to take off his shirt and socks. "Then, he marched me into the office restroom and told me to hand my pants through the door." Ray waited, spending six hours in the bathroom, trying to figure out what his father was doing. "He was saying, 'Well, if you're going to quit school, you're going out in the world the way you came in.' He wanted me to think about living with decisions." Ray returned to Brigham Young, earned an B.S. degree in industrial management, and continued his education, receiving a master's degree in business from San Jose State University.

Ray moved to the San Francisco Bay area in the 1960s after finishing college to follow a sweetheart. I don’t know whether the SJSU master’s degree followed immediately or if there was a job in between (or in parallel). Regardless, that was an ideal time to be in Silicon Valley. The space program was a driving factor for many companies at the time. Ray wanted to be an astronaut and worked two years for rocket motor maker United Technologies. He spent two years at United Technologies. Then he joined Fairchild as an engineer in 1963 through his father-in-law, who worked there. By that time, Fairchild was already starting to suffer under poor management and people were leaving to start new companies. By some accounts, Ray wasn't good at office politics and was too straightforward for some bosses which caused him to have trouble keeping a job. I can’t say for sure, but I’ve met plenty of people who are apolitical and painfully straightforward but have no trouble keeping a job. I think Ray was just too impatient, possibly somewhat attention-deficit. Either way, the experience of working at Fairchild and seeing the highly successful spin-offs must have convinced him that ultimately he should launch his own company.

After leaving Fairchild, he worked at several semiconductor-related companies, including Electromask TRE (wafer processing), Electronic Arrays Inc. (digital and memory chips), Teledyne Inc. (which at around that time had just acquired Amelco), and Nortek Inc (nebulous reference to “electronic semiconductor components” on the internet and now makes unrelated things including bathroom fans). In 1978, he formed a partnership with Warren Muller to start Micrel. The pair used $300,000 in savings and bank loans to found the company, eschewing the financial support of venture capitalists. "I wanted control of my destiny and to do it my way." He wanted to be independent so badly that, at one point, he was personally guaranteeing $4 million in bank loans to keep Micrel afloat.

Micrel initially operated as a testing facility for other chip manufacturers, offering wafer-test services as a way to fund the development of its own products. In 1981, it acquired a fabrication facility from Siemens AG, and began to offer wafer foundry services. The company then began to manufacture chips designed by the end customer. The slow start was reported in the May 19, 1997 issue of Electronics News as "glacier-like growth and the sex-appeal of a mud hen."

Micrel recorded its first meaningful growth after it began designing its own analog and mixed-signal chips in the early 1990s. In order to grow and diversify, they started on a strategy of acquisitions. In 1998, the company entered the high-bandwidth communications market by acquiring Synergy Semiconductor Corp. In 1999, Micrel purchased Altos Semiconductor, which competed in the thermal management market. They have since acquired Electronic Technologies, Kendin Communications, Bluechip Communications and most recently, Discera who make MEMS-based oscillators and clock generators.

Ray still exhibits the impatience that caused him to bounce around various companies before starting Micrel. Executive Vice President Bob Whelton recalled that Ray called Micrel's top executives into his office, told them the Asian market was going to pot and gave them a week to come up with a plan to cope. "That meeting lasted a half-hour. We came back a week later and had another half-hour meeting to tell Ray what we could do. Two half-hour meetings recast what we did for '98," Whelton said. In one article, it says Ray sometimes watches three TV programs on three televisions at the same time. He makes fast decisions, but he thinks things through first. He also has some interesting views on managing. He's the kind of guy who asks why vanilla ice cream is white. "I believe the only stupid question is the one that wasn't asked," he once said. He prays and attends church regularly. He's not trying to convert anyone, but believes his religious values make Micrel a better place to work. Accordingly, Ray set some rules of behavior for Micrel employees. Swearing or using condescending language at the company is banned. Workers are urged to be honest, show integrity and respect others at the company. "We believe that work should be an extension of the home," he said.

He developed a serious eye problem in 1995. He used to take notes, but then couldn't see well enough to write anymore. That would be severely limiting to most people. But not Ray. "I memorize everything now," he said.

He's apparently uncomfortable talking about himself yet he recognizes that there's value in the stories for others. His stories have evolved through repetition to become a way to pass on his acquired wisdom; they are simultaneously personal and universal. They are stories of stubborn perseverance and inspired creativity, such as how he raised financing when there were no VC firms and banks didn't lend to tech companies; his upbringing on a cattle ranch in a large family of eleven kids; his early days at Fairchild and the "Traitorous Eight;" how he went blind in one eye then years later on the eve of Micrel's IPO he went blind in the other eye. He also has many maxims that he uses to help define his company's culture and his approach to life. His favorite is: "Do the hard things first." He adds, "Why did your mother tell you to get your homework done first before you went out to play?"

In comparison to many famous analog people, that makes him a unique character.


Baljko, Jennifer L., "Proactive Strategy Keeps Micrel on Profitable Path," Electronic Buyers' News, September 28, 1998

------, "Raymond D. Zinn--Executive's Pithy Sayings Sum Up Successful Business Principles," Electronic Buyers' News, December 21, 1998

Hardie, Crista, "Micrel: A Growing Sense of Power," Electronic News, May 19, 1997

Tsuruoka, Doug, "Entrepreneur Raymond Zinn: His Hard Work and Independence Built Chip Empire," Investor's Business Daily, August 9, 2000

Covell, Jeffrey L., http://www.answers.com/topic/micrel-incorporated#ixzz3AUdON0Hb Tsuruoka, Doug, “Entrepreneur Raymond Zinn His Hard Work And Independence Built Chip Empire,” Investor's Business Daily 08/09/2000


Foremski, Tom, “Ray Zinn: 'Do The Hard Things First' - Advice From Silicon Valley's Longest Serving CEO,” Silicon Valley Watcher, July 14, 2014

Aug 19, 2014

When Radiation Meant Radio Communications, and then Harris

Most of the Analog Footsteps seemed to have trodden over neighborhoods around MIT and Stanford. So I always know I’ll find an interesting story for companies based elsewhere. For this post, I’ve chosen Harris Semiconductor in Melbourne, Florida.

According to its website, Alfred and Charles Harris founded the Harris Automatic Press Company in December, 1895. From their day job in a jewelry store in Niles, Ohio, they invented an automatic sheet feeder and a new printing press to better accommodate it. By the middle of the last century, it had grown into one of the world's largest and most successful manufacturers of printing equipment under a new name – Harris-Seybold. In 1957, Harris-Seybold merged with Intertype Corporation, a world leader in typesetting equipment. The 1957 acquisition of Gates Radio brought Harris in to the radio equipment industry, specifically broadcasting transmitters and microwave equipment as an extension of the media industry. Even with the acquisition of Gates Radio, the focus of the company remained on the printing press. Now called Harris-Intertype, they foreshadowed that the printing press would move away from a strictly mechanical product and depend more on electronics. Therefore, in 1967, they acquired Radiation Inc., a manufacturer of space and military technology located in Melbourne, Florida, just south of the Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral to people of my age). In 1974, the company changed its name to Harris Corporation, and moved its headquarters from Cleveland, Ohio, to Melbourne. Many other acquisitions followed. It later sold its printing business to focus exclusively on electronics.

So, who was Radiation, Inc. and why would Harris abandon print and broadcast media for what Radiation did?
Homer Denius and George Shaw
Let’s go back to World War II. Henry Stimson was the Secretary of War and therefore was in close coordination with Vannevar Bush, particularly on the Atomic Bomb. One of Stimson’s assistants was Thomas Meloy. After the war, the U.S. Navy suggested that he and Joseph Parks move from New York City to Washington, DC, to get government contracts. Putting their names together, they formed Melpar, Inc. Homer Denius and George Shaw worked at Melpar in Virginia. They presented plans to the Melpar management for expansion into instrumentation, specifically telemetry. Melpar rejected this proposal, so Homer and George decided to try it on their own.

In 1950, they founded Radiation, Inc. The context of “radiation” actually referred to radio frequency radiation, (communication by radio) and not nuclear fallout or electronics suitable for satellite applications. They started in Melbourne, Florida, in cheap buildings available on the former World War II Naval Air Station in close proximity to Cape Canaveral and its missile range activities. Actually, the good boating in the area was probably a major factor to the founders, since they were both enthusiastic yachtsmen. The company was funded from their own savings and likely some money borrowed from friends. As with Melpar, their focus was on government contracts. The company soon developed expertise in several areas, including: PCM telemetry systems (airborne and ground); digital data acquisition and processing systems and large tracking antenna. In many cases they were working decades ahead of the practical state of the art. John Hartley joined the firm in 1956 after serving on the faculty of Auburn University. That was the year that Radiation stock went public. Hartley later went on to become CEO of the company.

Radiation's involvement with the aerospace program included equipment for the Telstar and Courier communication satellites and the Nimbus and Tiros weather satellites. Military systems that relied upon Radiation equipment included the Atlas, Polaris, and Minuteman missiles.

Source: Radwiki (see notes)
The earliest Radiation hardware known to still exist is the "Force Amplifier"; this one pictured was purchased on E-Bay by a Radiation memorabilia collector at Harris. Yes, apparently there is at least one Radiation memorabilia collector! It dates back to about 1955. It was designed to measure and indicate the forces applied by the pilot to the various control surfaces of an aircraft in flight. The amplifier contains three vacuum tubes: 6U8 triode-pentode; 12AX7 dual triode; and 6AQ5 power pentode.

Source: Radwiki (see notes)
Radiation also had several facilities in Orlando. There was an Instrumentation Division located on the McCoy Airport property; a Research Division near the Herndon Airport. The Space Communications Division was established in Mountain View, CA, near Moffett Field. In 1960 Radiation acquired Levinthal Electronics Inc, in Palo Alto, CA (founded by Elliott Levinthal from Stanford University). Levinthal built high power transmitters, including a 430MHz radar transmitter at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico producing 2.5MW of peak power. In 1959, Radiation started a new facility in Palm Bay, Florida, and by the end of the year were occupying the first three buildings of what eventually became a large complex there.

Another person who left academia to join the staff at Radiation was Dr. Joseph Boyd. In the late 1950s and early 1960s Boyd taught electrical engineering at the University of Michigan. At the same time he was also director of the Willow Laboratories, a prestigious science and technology research institute with a staff of more than 1,000 scientists and engineers. Boyd joined Radiation in 1962 and within a year was made president. His first significant action as president was to set up a microelectronics plant to develop and produce integrated circuits. For PCM telemetry products, Radiation had contracts with Fairchild and Motorola for integrated circuits. But Boyd wasn’t quite satisfied, so he said “I’m going to start my own.” It’s difficult to verify, but it seems that a strong proponent for a captive semiconductor group was Peter Petroff.

Who was Peter Petroff? Petroff was born in the Bulgarian village of Brestovitsa, in 1919, to an Eastern Orthodox priest. After attending a religious seminary, Petroff enlisted in the French Foreign legion in October 1939. He was captured by the Germans while defending the French Maginot Line in 1940, and sent to a German Prisoner Of War camp in Poland. There are two post-war stories that are in conflict (in my mind, at least), one is that during the war he was conscripted into military service as a Nazi soldier. At war’s end, the Bulgarian government offered a short period of amnesty, but after that anyone who had served in the German army would be declared a war criminal and sentenced to death. The other story is that he returned to Bulgaria in March 1941 and became an officer in the Bulgarian Army. His duties included being a palace guard to King Boris III of Bulgaria and participating in the Honour Guard for the funeral of Turkey's President, Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. If I can resolve the conflict, I will edit this post.

In 1944, he moved to Germany to study engineering. He graduated from Darmstadt and Stuttgart universities with a master's degree in electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering. While in Germany he also studied his life-long passion, naval architecture, and designed and built the first of over 60 boats in 1947.

The Canadian government offered a visa and he immigrated there. Petroff arrived in Toronto in 1951. He worked on arctic engineering and construction projects for the US Air Force at Goose Bay, Labrador, and Thule, Greenland. He joined an overseas construction company and went to Indochina in 1956 for assignments in bridge and power plant construction. While in Vietnam, he built a 65-foot catamaran of his own design. He had the catamaran shipped to Canada, and sailed south on the intercoastal waterway to Florida with his wife and two sons.
After berthing in the Melbourne city harbor, his unique catamaran was noticed by George Shaw, the co-founder of Radiation. George always had yachts and after a tour of the boat with Peter he pulled strings to get him a position at Radiation. This chance meeting gave Peter access to executive row at the company and he never ceased to use it.

The family version of the story is slightly different, but not necessarily in conflict. Ralph Petroff, his son, said he might still be living in Canada if it hadn't been for Sputnik. Peter Petroff, tried to emigrate from Bulgaria to the United States after World War II, but he got only as far as Canada. Petroff said his father was told by U.S. immigration authorities that, with the waiting list at the time, it would be 2007 before he and his family could get into the country. That changed after Sputnik. His father was an engineer, and the United States was scrambling to find technically trained people. His father got his green card about 18 months after Sputnik launched, Petroff said.

I found an unauthorized obituary written by former colleague, Don Sorchych, who concluded: “…as far as the semiconductor division, which I later managed, it never would have existed without Peter. Peter was viewed as an expert in microminiaturization. And he correctly argued integrated circuits, then in their infancy, would be the ultimate solution in future systems.”
“With his connections in the executive suite, he badgered and bullied them, virtually wearing out the carpet in visits followed by lunches in the company cafeteria. He was the ultimate salesman, bright, persuasive and persistent.”

Petroff’s story continues long after his brief employment at Radiation, Inc., but I will save that for some other blogger. I’ll only offer a few highlights. His most unique distinction was to be officially declared an Enemy of the People by the communist regime in Bulgaria, for which he received a death sentence in absentia. The sentence was later lifted. He is also credited for renovating the Gemini II, a boat that served as the base of operation for Lee Taylor's successful assault on the world water speed record on Lake Guntersville in 1967.

In its obituary for Peter Petroff, The New York Times quoted Ralph Petroff, who said it was ironic that his father had died a peaceful death. "He always laughed at danger and he laughed at death. He should have never made it to his 83rd birthday, let alone his 20th," Ralph Petroff said. "I guess if you were to combine Indiana Jones with Thomas Edison, the result would be Peter Petroff." (The New York Times also credits Petroff with inventing the first digital LED wrist watch – which isn’t true, although he was at Electro/Data, Inc., headed by R&D manager John Bergey, where the first Pulsars were developed. I’ll avoid that whole story, thank you.)

The idea of developing semiconductors was radical. Executive row rocked with dissent, but Shaw’s booming voice could be heard arguing the strategic necessity, according to Sorchych. “It was a huge risk for a small company, which at that time was a 100 percent U.S. government contractor.”

Finally the decision was made to proceed, solely due to Peter’s persistence according to Sorchych. So, “although he never ‘organized’ the division as stated in his obit, it wouldn’t have happened without him.”

It is unclear to me what role Petroff played after that. To start the group, Dr. Boyd hired Uryon Davidsohn in 1962 to be the director of the new group, called the Physical Electronics Department, and the charter was to introduce new techniques for thin-film, silicon and hybrid forms of integrated circuits. Urie was the first person hired. He came from General Electric, where he was a consultant, and claimed to have a PhD – but didn’t. According to Don Sorchych, Urie was a short, humpbacked, bug-eyed, homely guy, exceedingly brilliant, weird, but with a certain charm. Urie hired Clyde Combs from Texas Instruments, who in turn brought over many more engineers from T.I. Don worked on the “systems” side of the company and was brought over because of his extensive knowledge of circuits. Don says, “I was offered the Director of Engineering position, I refused. Pressure was applied and I reluctantly agreed to take the position.” Don said the group was consuming lots of money but not producing much at first. He added, “Urie’s staff meetings were a riot, …these engineers were out of control, undermining each other and trying to figure out why the limited output of circuits suffered from a failure mode no one understood.”

He said, “a technician named Ed Guerra, also from Texas Instruments, found the answer in a technical paper published by IBM, but what did a technician know? Eventually, Guerra’s findings solved the problem.”

Don says that Urie was an extremely anal person and a clean freak. Apparently, Urie invited Hartley to his home (Jack Hartley, the division VP at the time). “It had been raining and he told Hartley to clean his shoes on an outside carpet. When Hartley came inside, Urie pulled a four barrel .22 caliber Derringer from his pocket and shoved it in his face. That resulted in Urie being involuntarily committed. When he was released, he would call me at all hours of the night and threaten suicide unless I came and had a brandy with him.”

Don tells another story about Urie and his ex-wife that ends with Urie asking her to bring him and Don a glass of brandy.

“She handed each of us a drink and sat down. He looked at his glass, looked at mine and yelled, ‘Bring me Don’s glass.’ She did. He held the glasses up side by side and screamed, ‘You f***king bitch you gave him more than me!’”

Eventually, they found that Urie didn’t have a Ph.D. as claimed, among other things. Urie left Radiation and joined his friend Dr. Arnie Lesk at Motorola in Phoenix. “One day Urie told one of his sons to clean the pool. His son resisted. Urie insisted, apparently strongly. The boy went in the bedroom, retrieved a shotgun, came out and blew Urie away.”

But let’s not let Peter Petroff or Urie Davidsohn affect the story. Let’s just say that Dr. Boyd decided to start a semiconductor group and the first director hired Clyde Combs away from Texas Instruments.

Clyde Combs was the son of sharecropper in North Carolina. He worked the oilfields of Texas and then joined the Air Force. He was stationed out of West Palm Beach, Florida, during the Korean War. After the service, he went to college at Southern Methodist University and worked as a co-op student at Texas Instruments on Lemmon Avenue, its first manufacturing site. This was 1955. For context, remember that in early 1952 Texas Instruments purchased a patent license to produce germanium transistors from Western Electric Co. for $25,000. Then in April 1954, Gordon Teal (formerly of Bell Labs) created the first commercial silicon transistor at TI. In 1954, TI designed and manufactured the first transistor radio.

Clyde worked on a little bit of everything, including helping Jack Kilby. The engineers took courses in semiconductor processing, taught by Walt Runyan. Walt was a former T.I. engineer who moved to academia and for many years Walt’s text was the only one on the subject. Each engineer was assigned a chapter, Clyde took diffusion. At the time, they had grown junction and mesa transistors. Fairchild developed the planar process but TI stayed with mesa for awhile. Clyde worked with Al Stein on “special projects” and that’s how they got TI in the planar technology. Al was also an expert in EPI technology through his research at Arizona State University.

Clyde heard about the group at Radiation in Florida through his “engineering network.” Having grown up in North Carolina and served in the Air Force in West Palm Beach, he was interested in moving. He joined Radiation in 1963 before there was anything more than office space for the group. He set up the whole process, all the fabrication equipment, diffusion ovens, etc. Other early members of the team were Phil Garner for assembly and test, Dane MacNeil for thin-film, Ernie Poplan for administration. These were the first four guys. Later, Clyde brought many of his colleagues over from T.I., including John Short and Ed Guerra. A bit later on, Don Sorchych was brought in as the first circuit guy.

I found an old issue of Microelectronic News by Don Hoefler with a spin-off tree. It went back further than Fairchild, and included Bell Labs, T.I., Hughes Aircraft and Motorola among others. It showed Radiation, Inc. and listed Sorchych, Combs and Garner and implied that they left T.I. to start Radiation in 1963. Well, obviously, Radiation started before 1963 but that’s when the semiconductor group started. Clyde Combs was from T.I. but not the others.

Clyde had quite a few stories including when his boss, Urie, would pull out his Derringer and put it on the table during meetings. Urie had lots of ideas but didn’t fully understand the technology. But he was the boss, so they tried to implement his ideas. Clyde wanted to build mixed signal circuits but worried about keeping the tubs isolated. So he had some logic wafers thinned, then cut out a single dice. He did the same with an analog circuit. Then he deposited carbon dioxide on a new wafer, planarized it and attached the two die. Ultimately, this led to the development of what became Radiation’s (and therefore Harris’) dielectrically isolated process.  Urie, the boss, put his name on the patent but Clyde did much of the work along with John Short and Ed Guerra. Years later, Dick Casey from General Electric suggested that the process should work well for radiation-hardened circuits for space applications.

To reinforce how small the world is, Clyde also told me about the time he interviewed with Charlie Sporck and Bob Widlar at National Semiconductor. Widlar had his ax in the office. He told Clyde that when he got frustrated with a problem, he’d take the ax up into the woods and chop logs. Earlier, he had interviewed with Andy Grove and Gordon Moore at Fairchild. Clyde did not join Fairchild or National.
Clyde's notes on the EPI reactor, note the actual wafers!

The D-I process helped Radiation, and later Harris, win many government projects. The Navy was a big customer with Posiden, Trident, Peacekeeper and Minuteman missile programs. They did 34 circuits for the W71 program (familiar if you’ve seen “The Falcon and the Snowman”; W71 was history's first completely operational Early Warning and Surveillance Satellite, at the time it was so classified they didn't even give it a name. It is now called the Defense Support Program and is the program that Reagan used to scare the crap out of Gorbachev).

In 1964 Jack Hartley was chosen to run the physical electronics department, later elevated to be called the Microelectronics Division. "Radiation was by far the smallest company – by a factor of 10 – to enter into the integrated circuit business," he says. The technology was difficult and demanding. Initially the company wanted the circuits to support its digital telemetry products. On Jack's recommendation, the company expanded operations to become a merchant supplier, providing integrated circuits to other companies. Radiation developed early programmable devices and the dielectrically-isolated process generated a lot of revenue for radiation-hardened devices for space and defense applications.

Radiation invested heavily in semiconductors, but it evolved into a stand-alone business and not an integral part of the “systems” businesses. In the early years of the Microelectronics Division, “systems” projects were pushed to design-in circuits that were being developed by internally. It was not an easy sell for management, because the “systems” guys had to choose the optimum device for their project. Only rarely, did they have to resort to internally-developed custom circuits to accomplish their goals.

Now let’s return to 1967, when Radiation merged with Harris-Intertype. (Notice that I said “merged” because we’re now looking at it from the Radiation perspective, compared to “acquisition” from the Harris perspective.) Radiation wanted the merger because it was felt that major investments in integrated circuit manufacturing capabilities were needed to remain competitive, but that the investment would stress the company. Harris-Intertype wanted the merger because they wanted to branch out into communications. The name Radiation persisted as a division of Harris-Intertype through 1974. The merger was eventually reasonably successful, although the organizations had quite different cultures.

The systems side of Harris had too many mergers and acquisitions to mention. On the semiconductors side, more acquisitions occurred. In 1988 Harris acquired General Electric’s semiconductor operations, which included GE’s prior acquisition of the RCA solid-state business and its 1981 acquisition of Jean Hoerni’s and Jack Gifford’s Intersil. 1988 happened to be the year I entered the semiconductor industry at National Semiconductor. I distinctly remember having one of the Harris/RCA/GE/Intersil data books and thinking it looked like a crazy consolidation of a company. I’m told that the RCA and GE-Solid State acquisitions were useful for their patents but the products were dogs. The Intersil acquisition was very good and a nice complement to the military-focused Harris products.

In 1999 the entire semiconductor unit was spun off under the name Intersil.

As expected, I found a very interesting story with no direct path to Silicon Valley or MIT. There were some mentions of Jack Kilby, Bell Labs and Vannevar Bush, but they were not crucial to the story. Radiation, Incorporated was mostly a home-grown enterprise. And I found a strong sense of loyalty to the old Radiation group within Harris. It has very much a family feel, as you might expect. If you are one of the loyal Radiation people or a Radiation memorabilia collector, go visit http://radiwiki.wikispaces.com/ and contact Frank Perkins.  And if I've gotten anything wrong or left something out, please let me know.


Radiation, Inc. http://radiwiki.wikispaces.com/ (wow!)

My View, Don Sorchych http://www.sonorannews.com/archives/2008/2008-08/080806/myview.html

My View, Don Sorchych http://www.sonorannews.com/archives/2014/140226/myview.html




http://caseymoore.blogspot.com/2007/10/newhouse-news-story-on-sputnik.html?m=1 Times-Picayune, “Newhouse News Story on Sputnik: Beeping ball lights fire that launches U.S. to moon” Sputnik's ascent pushed Americans 50 years ago Wednesday, October 03, 2007 By Kent Faulk

Jul 28, 2014

Widlar's U.S. Air Force Performance Review

Bob Widlar's brother sent me a copy of the Air Force's official review of Bob's service. The actual document should eventually be available at the Computer History Museum. Bob, by all accounts in later years, was a difficult person to manage. So I was anxious to see how he was perceived in such a structured organization. He received superior marks except for the category of "getting along with others" - apparently it wasn't always harmonious.

Below are the written comments:

Strengths: A/2C Widlar is perhaps the outstanding electronics technician assigned to Course ABR33130. His background in the field of electronics as a civilian and his present endeavours in off duty educational pursuits serve to put him "head and shoulders" above the average technicians. He demonstrates a willingness to assist his fellow instructors, who looks to him for guidance on complex electronics problems. Airman Widlar is not satisfied with mediocrity in his efforts and constantly strives for perfection. He has an above average ability to use clear concise words to express himself.
Recommended Improvement Areas: Airman Widlar, in the past, has tended to dramatize his frustrations at inefficiencies that exist, to a point that he creates an impression of immaturity. He has improved greatly in this area, toning down his approach to problems, and has evidenced a willingness to accept that which he cannot control. No further recurrence of this comment are anticipated.
Facts and Specific Achievements: Airman Widlar was assigned to the Nuclear Weapons Branch 28 October 1958. On graduation from Instructor Training School he was assigned as an instructor in the electronic blocks of Course ABR33130A. The critique comments from the classes he taught were full of praise for the outstanding manner in which he presented the course material and expressed gratitude for the extra effort that he expended in assisting the weaker students. Due to his electronics background and outstanding knowledge, he was assigned duty as a course writer. He has produced clear, concise work which has required a minimum amount of editing. He has devoted a great deal of time in working out solutions for problem areas in the course and submitting suggestions on methods of presenting technical material. In this vein, he revised, in part, the method of teaching in the electronic phases by producing simplified schematics and developmental schematics with the text material. This has aided our new instructors a great deal in presenting this material. Some of the material he has provided required original effort. With a minimum of assistance, Airman Widlar produced training projects on the MC 627/628 and the T-187, although no adequate reference material other than schematics and test procedures were available. His efforts were commended by the Sandia Corporation Representative, Mr. Mark Elich, as being outstanding. Airman Widlar is now preparing an "In Service Training Course" for the Nuclear Weapons Branch, on transistors. Adequate technical material was not found on base. He, on his own volition, went to the Denver Public Library to accomplish the necessary research.
Airman Widlar has accomplished more in the way of self-improvement than any airman I have had the occasion to meet. Since entering the service he has acquired 26 semester hours of college credit. He is at present taking 16 semester hours during off duty time at Colorado University. In accomplishing this, he has never permitted his job performance to go below a superior level. Airman Widlar has also been instrumental in initiating and accomplishing the draft work on many visual training aids used in Course ABR33130. These have proven superior for use in this course to those which were commercially procured.
Suggested Assignments: Airman Widlar can be most effectively used by the Air Force in his present assignment. Should he desire, at the end of enlistment, to make the Air Force a career, I recommend that he be given further training by the Air Force and also that he be assigned to ARDC as a scientific aide.

Jul 16, 2014

Route 128, Data Converters and Hybrid Systems

Route 128 around Boston is home to many great analog stories. Before analog integrated circuits, companies in this area made board-level products. Stephen Ohr wrote a wonderful article back in Y2K. For years the region’s biggest electronic firms made minicomputers –Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), Data General, Prime Computer and Apollo, etc. As a reporter, Stephen called on data converter makers – Datel, Micro Networks, Analog Devices, Data Translation, Hybrid Systems and Teledyne Philbrick. Apart from the hybrid circuits produced for military customers, the analog signal-conditioning circuits, data converters and integrated data-acquisition systems were all board-level products, sometimes potted in epoxy, for industrial control manufacturers that would use a minicomputer as a host. As you know, hybrid circuits were bare-chip module circuits on ceramic substrates with thick-film interconnects, packaged in hermetically-sealed gold tubs.

One name that disappeared was Hybrid Systems, founded in 1965 by Sam Wilensky and Don Bruck (and others?). It had a strong lineage to MIT and possibly some influence from Philbrick. Brian Lowe gave me some insight into the early days:

Sam Wilensky was the catalyst for everything at Hybrid Systems, he was a great guy, tall and slim, confident and friendly. He had had aspirations to be an astronaut but said he was disqualified because he was too tall. He had a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from MIT and I believe he knew Jim Williams there. He was one of the founders, with Don Bruck, of the company. He was always positive and upbeat.
Sam had an Apple II in 1983 and liked to run Flight Simulator on it during lunch. One day I asked him why he didn't go get a pilot's license and fly for real. He replied that, statistically, if he flew a small plane over a period of ten years, he had a 100% chance of being involved in a crash, so this was his way of flying safely. Sam has an entry in Jim Williams' first compendium Analog Circuit Design, Art, Science and Personalities.
As a mixed signal manufacturer, Hybrid Systems was a competitor to Analog Devices, Analogic, Burr Brown, Micro Networks and others, especially in the military market. Starting in 1965 they manufactured data conversion modules from discrete components, then moved to hybrid chip-and-wire, then ultimately ICs. Hybrid Systems was the "first second source" of the AD574 12 bit A/D converter you mention in one of your blog posts. The HS574 was done as a two chip hybrid, one bipolar chip with a voltage reference, comparator and op amps, one CMOS chip with SAR, MDAC switches, output buffer logic, and a thick or thin film network.
Sam had pioneered the decoded DAC structure where the first 3 or 4 MSBs were split into 7 or 15 equally weighted currents, with the remainder of the ladder being R-2R. This increased the circuit real estate but reduced the glitch energy of the MSB switch event by a factor of 8 or 16, which cut settling time. Also, it decreased the sensitivity of output change when trimming the resistor ladder, which made manufacturing easier (and thus increased yield). This and more are described in his chapter of Analog Circuit Design, Art, Science and Personalities.
The DAC + SAR chip was manufactured as a custom circuit by Micro Power Systems in their proprietary Moly gate CMOS process. The resistor network was manufactured by Hybrid Systems in an internal facility that made NiCr and TaN thin film resistors. The manufacturing floor had a room full of manual laser trim systems consisting of stereo microscopes with lasers attached, poised above X-Y tables, with test sockets attached to custom built relay switched test jigs attached to HP 9825 Desktop Calculator via HPIB.
The bipolar chip was designed by Jerry Collings, a consultant to MPS who had originally been a control systems specialist. He had moved out of Silicon Valley to, as I recall, San Luis Obispo, and commuted to and from the Valley on Monday morning and Thursday night. I believe the bipolar chip was also fabbed by MPS.
An interesting side bar passed along to me by Sam – in 1976 Hybrid Systems introduced, through its subsidiary Audio Pulse, the first digital audio delay product, the Audio Pulse One. Designed using bucket brigade device (BBD) chips as delay elements, it sampled audio with an A/D, passed the digital data through various BBD loops, reassembled the audio for presentation through stereo rear channel speakers. It simulated a concert hall experience at about the same time that quadrophonic audio systems were entering the market.
During R&D of the One, a "golden ear" audiophile and frequent magazine author and reviewer Peter Mitchell was hired as a professional listener to evaluate the sound. The recirculation of the various BBD paths was rerouted numerous times to find the best sounding reverberation, and Mr. Mitchell would evaluate and say whether it sounded better or worse than before. Blending of various samples of delayed signal was done in such a way that the delayed signals were statistically uncorrelated with each other, providing a more realistic blend of delay.
At one point, Mr. Mitchell stopped the audition and told them one of the channels was slew rate limited and could not accurately follow the audio. The engineers looked at each other skeptically. They were using µA741 op amps, which are rated at 0.5V/µsec. They did some evaluation measurements and determined that Peter was correct, replaced the op amps with something faster and, after an audition, Mr. Mitchell was happy and the engineers were amazed and no longer skeptical of his golden ears.
The product was, according to Sam, so successful that it caused a serious cash flow problem for Hybrid Systems due to inventory, tooling and manufacturing start-up costs. They ended up selling the business and it never was a huge market success. A few years ago I bought one on eBay but due to time and other constraints have yet to hook it up in my listening room.

I re-read Sam’s chapter in the 1991 Analog Circuit Design book, “Reflections of a Dinosaur”. He provides a nice discussion of DAC topologies leading up to the Hybrid Systems’ DAC371-8. There is much to love in this chapter. He said in the 1950s the top-of-the-line Chevrolet and a year at a private university cost about the same – $2000 – and implied that it was still true (in 1991). I think it’s still true today. He uses the classic line, “It will be left as an exercise for the student to show that…” He also substituted diodes for transistors because they were smaller and cheaper (this was for a discrete circuit on a PCB – through-hole, of course). Today, on silicon, we use transistors configured as diodes because it’s so easy and there’s no cost or size penalty of any significance. And he gives some timeless advice:

“You should keep up to date on recent developments and not be afraid to research how a particular function was implemented in the past. You can benefit from the accomplishments and the mistakes of others. Fight the NIH (Not Invented Here) attitude and improve on the work of others with your own original ideas.”
He also relayed a useful distinction between digital and analog engineers from Don Bruck, but let’s finish the story.

In the mid 1980s, Hybrid Systems made a transition into "monolithics" according to Jim Donegan, former Sipex Chairman and CEO. Because of IC integration, it was only a matter of time before every hybrid circuit became a monolithic device. "It was easier to move into ICs," he recalled. "You could live in the hybrid arena for three or four years – until it became a monolithic," Donegan said.

My friend Joe Sousa co-designed, their version of the AD574 with Jeff Van Auken (now at Vicor).

In 1986, Hybrid Systems merged with a Harris spinout, Data Linear, and changed its name to Sipex – meaning Signal Processing Excellence. “95% of its sales were to the Pentagon and all its products were hybrid circuits,” Donegan said. Two years later it acquired a BiCMOS supplier, Barvon, and inherited a position in the market for 1488/1489 RS-232 line drivers/receivers. “Sipex's business is now (in the year 2000) 95% in commercial markets, with a third of that in communications, another third in data communications, and the rest in consumer devices,” Donegan said in Ohr’s article.

In 2002, Sipex formally moved their headquarters from the Route 128 area to Silicon Valley. "With the previously announced exiting of the hybrid business, the Billerica test operation no longer made sense," said Walid Maghribi, the CEO who followed Donegan. Frank DiPietro, CFO and VP of finance at Sipex, said “the company's headquarters has effectively been in Milpitas for some time and today's announcement just makes it official.” In 2007, Sipex merged with Exar Corporation “with Sipex surviving the merger as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Exar” according to Exar’s website. I find that choice of words, “surviving the merger,” interesting. Whether it is good or bad, it is no longer a Route 128 story.


http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1224816 “The remaking of the 128 Circle”, Stephan Ohr, EETimes, 11/9/2000

http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/mass-high-tech/2002/10/sipex-to-pare-billerica-operations-move.html “Sipex to pare Billerica operations, move headquarters to Calif.”, Matthew French

Analog Circuit Design, Art, Science, and Personalities, 1991, edited by Jim Williams

Email from Brian Lowe (check out his current work at http://belleson.com/ )


Please add comments below or send me an email if you have things to add to this story or corrections that need to be made.  Thanks!

Jun 13, 2014

More on Maxim, Who is Sam Ochi?

After writing the back-story of Maxim, I wanted to figure out how Sam Ochi got involved. He stood out because he was the only Maxim founder who was not from Intersil. He was easy enough to find and more than happy to tell me his story.

Sam Seiichiro Ochi was born in Japan, shortly after WWII, when it was still occupied by the US. He recalls having an American G.I. wave him and his friends over and gave them some chewing gum and candy. The American also had a little camera with him and took a picture of them. A week or so later, the G.I. found them and gave them the snapshot he took. Sam and his friends and family had no feelings of animosity or ill will toward the American G.I.s. They viewed the American G.I.s as very warm and friendly.

When he was about seven years old, in the mid 1950’s his parents and four sisters got on the American President Lines passenger ship and sailed to Hawaii. His mother had grown up there, still had three of her sisters there, one of which offered her a job in her flower shop. His father, a high school teacher by training worked part time in a local Japanese language radio station as a radio announcer. They moved again to San Mateo, CA, where they finally settled. His father worked as a Japanese Gardener. Sam’s interest in electronics started when he was in the 4th grade. He started buying old, used radio sets and learned to repair them and then progressed to repairing TV sets. By the time he was in 6th grade, he made spending money repairing TV sets for his parent’s friends and neighbors. In 7th grade, he started taking formal electronics training from an old WWII electronics technician. He learned to read schematics, learned the various types of vacuum tubes, and the basics of the superhetrodyne radios.

He received his Ham Radio Novice license and then his Amateur Radio General license, call letters WA6UIV, two years later during his freshman year at Aragon High School in San Mateo. His skills in electronics had progressed to where he was able to earn all of his spending money working as a part time TV repair technician. In fact, his boss at the TV repair shop offered him a full time job as soon as he graduated from high school, but he turned his boss down because he wanted to become an engineer with a four year college degree.
Ochi attended UC Berkeley and completely supported himself as a TV repair technician. After classes he would go to work at a TV repair shop on Shattuck Ave as a “piece worker” on TV sets needing repair, charging $15/TV set.

While attending UC Berkeley, he got caught up in the Anti-Vietnam protests, and as a result, delayed his graduation date from June 1969 to December 1969. His first job was as an engineer for a small medical electronics manufacturer, Berkeley Bio Engineering. He started as a Junior Engineer, and left the company three years later as Chief Engineer for the company, reporting directly to the CEO. At the same time, he started his Master’s at UC Berkeley. His Master’s advisor was initially Dr. Dave Hodges, and then as his field of study changed, Dr. Paul R. Gray (of Gray & Meyer fame).

Having finished all of his course work for the Master’s program, but not his thesis, he started work at National Semiconductor as an Applications Engineer. He was working under Jim Sherwin in Jim Solomon’s Standard Linear Integrated Circuits (SLIC) group in June 1973. He transferred to one of Jim Solomon’s IC design teams. Under Adib Hamade, he started work as part of a team to design an 8-Bit A/D converter for automotive applications. In the meantime, he completed his Master’s thesis: “An Integrated Circuit Instrumentation Amplifier.” Adib Hamade left National to join PMI around 1976, and so Ochi was promoted to take over his position and worked directly for Jim Solomon. In 1977, he left National to join AMD and work for John Schoeff, who just arrived from PMI to form a design team. Remember, in the early days at AMD while Jack Gifford was still there, they were doing a lot of analog. John developed the first monolithic, untrimmed 12-Bit DAC. John wanted Ochi to work on AMD’s first family of ADCs. By 1979, he had designed a 1µs 8-Bit ADC in AMD’s bipolar Schottky technology, AM6108, and initiated then transferred a 4µs 12-Bit ADC to a design engineer then working for him, Gerald McGlinchey.

Ochi got a call from a head-hunter to join Teledyne Semiconductor (formerly Amelco). John Lemons, President of the division, had just been promoted and was in need of someone to re-start the division. They were working on a second source prototype of single chip DVM. Ochi spent the first month attempting to understand the work of the previous design group, to no avail. They hired a consultant to completely reverse engineer the chip, an ICL7106. They had evaluation boards of the ICL7106 and 400X black and white chip photographs of the entire chip. He and the consultant started from the pads and the data sheet descriptions of the various functions to create the schematic. They then verified the correctness of the schematics by running SPICE circuit simulations of the various blocks extracted. Simultaneously, Ochi had an IC layout designer create the layout designs of the blocks. In approximately three more months, they had completed the schematics, the layout, and verified each of the blocks in SPICE. They got functional silicon of their first version of the ICL7106, called TSC7106, in another three months. He says that customers preferred the TSC7106 because of its low drift internal reference and its lower flicker noise over the ICL7106. Ochi had three senior level design engineers, and a junior design engineer working for him. Between them, they developed over 12 second source products in CMOS from both GE-Intersil and Motorola, and four proprietary products for Teledyne Semiconductor over a span of four years.

Here are Ochi’s recollections of joining Maxim in 1983 as a founding member.

“My recollection of the founding of Maxim goes back to early 1980 – Jack and his team were still at old GE-Intersil. At the time, I was the newly promoted Director of R&D for Teledyne Semiconductor, then a division of Teledyne Corporation in Mountain View. Because of my promotion, I had an open position for my old job as Manager of R&D, and I wanted to staff it with the very best technical talent. I recall interviewing Derek Bowers, then at PMI (now ADI), and Bob Pease, then still at NSC (now a division of TI) for the position. I then came across in one of the trade journals an article about GE-Intersil’s, ICL7115, a 14-Bit successive approximation A/D converter. It was just introduced and designed by Ziya Boyacigillar. I knew a little about the key technical hurdles needed to be overcome in creating such a device. Somehow, I got Ziya to show up at Teledyne Semiconductor for an interview. Of the three engineers I interviewed, Ziya stood out by far, in spite of the fact that he, at the time, was the most junior of the three interviewees. I was blown away. I was impressed with Ziya’s maturity and technical expertise he had already gained and possessed. I offered him a job on the spot. Unfortunately, he turned me down. Prior to meeting Ziya, still then at GE-Intersil, my belief then was that the most capable and experienced analog design engineers were all at either PMI or National Semiconductor. I now knew that there were some exceptional engineers at GE-Intersil as well.”
I admit that when Sam wrote to me and mentioned Ziya Boyacigillar, I had no idea who that was. I assumed it was a dreadful typing mistake. Boyacigillar has Bachelor of Science degree from Bosphorus University, Istanbul, and a MSc in Engineering from UCLA. He worked at Intersil on the industry’s first CMOS laser-trimmed DACs and CMOS mixed-signal circuits. He designed the world’s first 14-Bit 25µs ADC, using EPROM calibration and digital error correction – when the state-of-art was a 10-Bit 100µs ADC. He left Intersil to start E/Z CAD and later went to Maxim (not surprisingly). Sorry, I love these tangents – now back to the Ochi story.
“About a year or so later, a head-hunter contacted me and informed me that Jack Gifford was planning a start-up and would I be interested in joining. I had known and read of Jack Gifford – from the trade press. One infamous trade press that comes to mind was Don Hoefler’s “Microelectronics Times” newsletter. At the time, I recall reading that Jack had some issues with GE-Intersil, and that he and his team of key executives had left a few months earlier. Also, prior to Teledyne, I had worked at AMD, a company Jack co-founded with Jerry Sanders. I recall meeting Jim Giles and Alan Seales, who both knew of Jack not only at AMD but at Fairchild. Because of Jack’s past successes in both AMD and then Intersil, I reasoned that whatever start-up he forms would be a slam-dunk success as well. This was my chance of a life-time and I would be a fool to miss it.”
“To get to know and introduce myself to Jack, he invited me to the ‘Wagon Wheel’ for dinner with him and his team. I don’t recall all of the people there but I believe Jack brought Dave Fullagar to the dinner. This was the very first time I personally interacted with both Jack and Dave. Shortly thereafter, Maxim was founded.”
Sam Ochi: front row, second from right (next to Jack Gifford)

With all the Intersil founders, why did they seek out Sam Ochi? I don’t know. But Sam proposed the idea that Gifford wanted to limit the competition for his new venture. Maxim’s original plan was to second-source a few products to generate quick revenue and then focus on proprietary products. Ochi had recently proven that he could copy the ICL7106 and make it better. Why not eliminate competition and simultaneously gain a known developer of products he wanted to create for Maxim in one fell swoop?

Today, Ochi’s resume includes:
  • Director of Standard Products at Asic Advantage Inc. (Purchased by Microsemi Corp. in 7/2011)
  • Director of IC R&D at IXYS Corporation
  • Member of Technical Staff at Analog Devices
  • Director of Research and Development at IXYS Corporation
  • Founder and Senior Member of Technical Staff at Maxim Integrated
Ochi was instrumental in the design of IXYS' isoplanar driver IC family and the then-new concept known as Digital Power Management. His products based on the technology were first introduced in the late 1980s.
“I believe I was born to be a circuit designer, even when I became a Ham operator when I was in junior high school, I really couldn’t afford to purchase any of my equipment. I put together my Ham Rig using old TV parts, wound my own coils, and learned by trial and error followed by some reading of circuit theory. Also, my debugging skills were honed while working as a TV repair technician, paid by piece part fixed. Finally, I truly believe that how one draws a schematic is extremely important. I learned from the old WWII veteran military technician that signals must flow left to right, except for feedback where it flows right to left, and is clearly marked and drawn as a feedback path. The most positive potential nodes are at the top of the schematic and the most negative at the bottom. I take pride in my schematics even today. I would draw and re-draw, and if I could, I would simplify or clarify as necessary.”

Jun 4, 2014

Does Anyone Read Databooks?

Several times in my career, I had to answer customer calls – still do. Well, I take that back, I've always answered customer calls. But at several times I was the primary technical support engineer. On “the front lines” as we called it, we got all kinds of questions: “how many pins on your SO-8 package?” “do you make linears?” “what frequency do your garage doors operate at?” We also got questions on parts that were no longer available, obsolete years ago. This was before the internet. This was when the communal computer had a 5 ¼ inch floppy, 512kB of RAM and a 10MB hard drive which was useless for real-time customer calls. So we looked information up in databooks.

For anyone under about 35 years old, you may have never seen one. You can find old ones on e-bay, now. They were paperback; about 7” x 9” and some were well over 2” thick. Semiconductor companies gave them away, of course, because that was the only way you knew what products they offered. Big companies like National, T.I. and Motorola had so many product lines that their collection of databooks took up several linear feet of shelf space. Engineers had bookshelves full of them; some companies had librarians to manage them. Unlike the internet, it took so long to publish them that they were always out of date – there were new parts. So there was a steady flow of replacement books and many put the date on the spine so that you could see if yours was current or not. Some companies printed “new releases” databooks with only the new parts that were released since the previous book.

Databooks were a place to take notes, a method of organization, a source of education on the state of the art of electronics, an anticipated experience not unlike Christmas morning as a child. Engineers took notes in the margins of the pages. They dog-eared pages of parts they used frequently. They would sketch circuit ideas and spill coffee on the pages. Databooks spent time in the lab, in the cafeteria and who knows where else. Engineers would read databooks like a textbook, learning application tricks, learning about brand new types of integrated circuits. Until parts got too complicated, the entire circuit schematic of the chip was usually included. People had time to study them and figure out how the chips worked. Instead of looking for a function that you needed, people would scan the entire book to see what was new. New chips with new application circuits would create new product ideas. I always looked forward to getting a new databook.

As a self-described micro-historian, I enjoy the hunt for arcane information. I had some much worn books with yellowed pages containing just that one piece of information that some frustrated engineer would need the week between Christmas and New Years. For whatever reason, newer editions of a databook edited out certain sections or often certain parts. Usually I would find the oldest copies on the shelf of some old-timer who would grudgingly let me have the book (they did everything grudgingly). The normal protocol was to write your last name on the top edge of the book to prevent its theft. I had a great collection of names that were not mine.

But sometime around 1992, beta copies of Mosaic started popping up on SPARC workstations and people found akebono.stanford.edu and – fast-forward a couple decades – now I can get any data sheet I want on my phone. As nostalgic as I may be and despite the effort spent on my databook collection, things are so much better today. I have one old databook on my shelf for old times’ sake. It is a 1985 Linear Technology databook. The name on top is “RITTER” – Ed Ritter was the second marketing engineer at LTC, I believe. But I never look at it. I don’t keep hard copies of any data sheet. It’s just so much faster to find things online.

I also have a FEB 1973 Linear Applications Handbook from National Semiconductor that I bought on e-bay. It has application notes AN-1 through AN-75 and linear briefs LB-1 through LB-20 – although a lot of them are missing and a lot of them have no author identified. I believe as engineers left the company that they were edited out. The list of authors includes many of the characters I’ve mentioned in other posts: Dobkin, Frederiksen, Vender Kooi, Widlar and even Yamatake. One is an old boss of mine and I never knew he wrote any app notes.  And a few others will be mentioned in future posts, I’m sure.

I have a question for you. (Seriously, I want to know… send me an email or leave a comment.) What replaced databooks in your everyday life? Not the internet. No, not as a source of circuit specifications, but as a vehicle to deliver information you didn’t know you needed. How do you stumble across new circuit techniques? How do you learn what’s new? Or do you really “browse” with your “browser”? How do you organize your “feeds” and remember things that you may not need right at this moment? Was it fun to skim through a new databook and, if so, what replaced that as a source of fun? I assume that for legitimate projects that you have some sort of online repository, but what about future projects or toys for the home lab?

When I was a kid, my family had an encyclopedia set. As a young engineer, I had databooks. I read everything. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to read some emails.

May 16, 2014

Maxim - Before It All Started

The story of Maxim Integrated Products, or Maxim Integrated, or just Maxim, is fascinating. They built Lucite monuments in tribute to Jean Hoerni and Bob Widlar in front of their headquarters in Sunnyvale. Neither Hoerni nor Widlar were employed at Maxim but they are very tightly connected to the story. In one sense, without Hoerni's planar process, modern integrated circuits would have taken a different path or at least been delayed in time. And without Widlar's sheer genius, analog circuits would also have taken a different path or at least been delayed in time. But Hoerni left Fairchild to eventually found Intersil and it is from Intersil that Maxim directly spun-off. And Widlar's first product manager was Jack Gifford (hand-picked by Widlar, according to Gifford), who founded Maxim and was its CEO until his retirement in 2007. But there is so much more to the story. So let’s go back to before it all started.


Jean Hoerni was born in Geneva, and earned a B.S. and his first Ph.D. in physics from the University of Geneva. After earning his second Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 1952, he became a research fellow with Linus Pauling at the California Institute of Technology. William Shockley recruited him to join Shockley Semiconductor Laboratories and assigned him to do theoretical calculations of diffusion rates. As one of the “traitorous eight”, he left Shockley Labs and co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor where he devised the "planar process" which made integrated circuits possible. In 1961 he left Fairchild to become vice president of Amelco (the semiconductor division of Teledyne, then TelCom Semiconductor and ultimately Microchip – a story for another day). Hoerni was a consultant for Union Carbide, Hughes Aircraft and Fujitsu before he founded Intersil in 1967.


Bob Widlar grew up in Cleveland and enrolled at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In February 1958 Widlar joined the United States Air Force. He instructed servicemen in electronic equipment and semiconductor devices and wrote the textbook for the course (concurrently). In 1961 he joined the Ball Brothers Research Corporation in Boulder to develop analog and digital equipment for NASA. He simultaneously continued studies at the University of Colorado and graduated in 1963.

His work at Ball Brothers brought Widlar in contact with Jean Hoerni and Sheldon Roberts at Fairchild Semiconductor, regarding radiation hardened transistors. In 1963, Jerry Sanders, at the time a Fairchild salesman but later CEO of AMD, recruited him to join Fairchild. The interview with Fairchild research and development (R&D) manager Heinz Ruegg didn’t go well; Widlar told him what he thought about Fairchild's analog circuits: "what they are doing is bullshit". Fortunately, the Applications Engineering division head, John Hulme, hired Widlar despite objections from the first round interviewers. Widlar's first assignment at Fairchild targeted IC reliability which connected him with process engineer David Talbert.

Fairchild engineers before Widlar designed analog ICs like conventional circuits built with discrete transistors, capacitors and resistors. This was impractical using Hoerni's planar process due to component values and matching requirements so they used thin film hybrids which dramatically limited their reliability and manufacturability. Working in secrecy with Talbert, Widlar soon grasped the benefits and drawbacks of the planar process: it permitted matched performance of all components at all temperatures, but these components possessed parasitic capacitance not present in discrete parts, and the process ruled out the use of large-value resistors and capacitors. Armed with this insight and Hung-Chang Lin's theory of compensated devices (look for references to H.C. Lin in Widlar's early application notes), he designed the μA702 – the industry's first true linear integrated circuit and first monolithic operational amplifier. Widlar did not consider the μA702 prototype good enough for production, but Fairchild decided otherwise and rushed the chip into production in October 1964. Widlar agreed only if he could select the product manager – enter Jack Gifford.


Born in 1941, Gifford grew up in Torrance, CA. He was passionate about baseball and played competitively throughout his school years, including UCLA (the University of California, Los Angeles) where he graduated with a BSEE in 1963. Gifford started his career at Electronic Specialties as a design engineer. At the age of 24, Fairchild Semiconductor recruited him, but insisted on starting him out as a salesman calling on Hughes Aircraft.

Gifford recalled, “I was a salesman, a year out of college in L.A. and I was one of the few guys, myself and I think Vic Grinich, in the company that had any real understanding of gain and phase relationships and how amplifiers worked and things like that. We had a design background and Bob (Widlar) recognized that through dealing with me as a salesman. Then as he and Dave Talbert developed the 709 (probably µA702), they bootlegged samples out to myself and Floyd Kvamme and asked us to see if customers were interested in it as it was a very complicated circuit. In fact no one, maybe with the exception of Dave Fullagar and Bob Widlar, knew exactly what the real circuit looked like. People had the schematic explained to them by myself, Widlar, Mike Markkula and others. That circuit was not the actual circuit; there was another circuit that no one ever saw. We became stars explaining the circuit that was on the diagram. As we sold this idea and explained this circuit, there became a huge interest in the product.”
“So Tom Bay and Bob Noyce went to Bob Widlar, who had defined and designed this circuit all on his own without any sponsorship, and Bob (Noyce) said, ‘you’re gonna be happy to hear that we’re gonna make a product line out of your products’. Bob (Widlar) just looked at 'em both, and remember this is a junior engineer, I mean he’s got a BS degree like I did, he was an applications engineer, shouldn't have known anything about device physics, he taught himself all of that and he says ‘The hell you are.’ He’s talking to Tom Bay and Bob Noyce, two of the most sophisticated, impressive people that I've ever met and he’s telling 'em ‘get screwed, you’re not gonna do this.’ The next day they asked ‘Why not?’ And he said ‘Well first of all you guys don’t know what you’re talking about, you don’t know what the circuit is, you don’t know how it works, and furthermore no one in the company knows how it works and is used. I’m not gonna let you ruin my reputation.’”
“He says ‘Well I want some people competent communicating and dealing with my products.’ They said ‘Okay well we’ll put our best product managers in front of you and you can pick one.’ They ran a bunch of guys through him and he didn't like any of 'em and they finally said ‘Who is it that you would like?’ ‘Well there’s this kid down in LA, Gifford.’ They didn't even know who I was and so I get a call the next day from Bob Graham who was Director of Product Marketing and he says ‘Jack come up and talk about being a product manager for the linear circuit business, we’re looking for candidates.’ I come up and within ten minutes I’m hired, you know, the interview lasted 7 minutes and I go home and I tell my wife I just got promoted, I don’t know why, I have no idea, from being a salesman to running this product line.”“Within a period of a couple of years we owned 80% of the market. The design talent at Fairchild was unbelievable with Bob Widlar, Dave Fullagar, Jim Giles, Darryl Lieux, and Dave Talbert as a process developer.”
“I could tell you the 709 story too about shutting half the world down. If it wasn't for Fullagar's 741, we probably wouldn't have survived as an analog company.”
Widlar and Talbert went to Molectro Science Corporation that was acquired shortly thereafter by Charlie Sporck and National Semiconductor. Gifford took over running the whole analog research and development department. But who would he rely on after Widlar left? – enter Dave Fullagar.


Dave Fullagar described how he started his career.

“Until I was 12 years old, we lived on the moors in the north of England in a house with no electricity, so a crystal set was my only option. In 1954, I read an article entitled How to build a radio in a flashlight. It used something called a transistor – a Mullard OC71. I went down to the local radio store to buy one. ‘Never ’eard of a transistor, boy. Don’t know naught about that,’ said the proprietor in a broad Yorkshire accent.”
“My first job was with Ferranti (a leading UK defense contractor) in Edinburgh, Scotland. I worked on a terrain-following radar for a bomber that was supposed to fly to the Soviet Union at treetop height. They used to fly the engineers over the highlands of Scotland – at 300 feet – to validate the radar’s terrain-following ability. It was a good incentive to get the design right. Ferranti's offer was the best paying – at about $2200 a year; no, I didn't omit a zero – of the four or five jobs offered.”“In the 1960s, there were two principal routes to the United States for Brits. One was via Canada; the other, through Transitron in Massachusetts. My colleague and fellow Cambridge graduate Wadie Khadder had joined Transitron a year earlier, so the transition was an easy one. It soon became apparent that Transitron was in decline. So both Wadie and I moved to Fairchild in early 1966.”
“My assigned task when I joined Fairchild R&D in 1966 was to design the successor to the μA709. The target specification I was given by marketing was of the ‘let’s-improve-all-the-key-specs-by-50%’ variety. However the biggest problems with the 709 were its idiosyncrasies, not its specifications: It was tricky to stabilize, there was no short-circuit protection, and it would latch-up and self-destruct in nanoseconds. National’s LM101, which Widlar designed, addressed many of the user-friendliness issues but still required external compensation and had a kludgy front-end bias scheme. Widlar must have come to the same conclusion, because he later redesigned it as the LM101A with a much-improved front end.”“I proposed the internally compensated μA741 in mid 1967 to Garth Wilson and Marv Rudin, who ran the Linear R&D Group (and later founders of Precision Monolithics Inc.). Next thing I knew, I was sitting in Gordon Moore’s office. He asked me if I’d mind moving to Mountain View because that would expedite the introduction of the part, which occurred in May 1968.”
“It was exciting, it was just a creative period when Fairchild was absolutely king of the heap and thanks to Jean Hoerni's planar process, it had the best processing in the industry, the highest performance transistors, a very successful logic family. In early 1966 a processing R&D group under Andy Grove was writing the book, it turned out literally, on semiconductor processing and the emerging MOS technology. A prolific consumer group and absolutely number one in linear circuits, in fact honestly there was nobody else in the business at that time. (Widlar) and Talbert formed this incredible duo and with almost no official sponsorship from Fairchild created a linear family, the 702, 709, 710 and 711. Those products went on to form the basis for the Fairchild linear products and I think all of us in the design community pay homage to that effort because it was so incredible.”
“By 1968 there were a host of second generation products under development, Dick Lane’s 722 D to A, Colin Barry’s 715 high speed amplifier, Darryl Lieux’s 723 voltage regulator, Bill O’Neil’s 733 wide band amplifier, George Erdi’s 725 we’ve already mentioned my 741 and a host of other products. Fairchild seemed to rule the world with National really being the only competition in sight.”
“Then something happened and it all seemed to unravel. Between the fall of ’68 and the spring of ’69 Jack together with Jim Giles, Larry Stenger and Frank Botte went off to form AMD. Marv Rudin, Garth Wilson, George Erdi went off to start PMI. I joined Jean Hoerni, Don Rogers, and Murray Siegel at Intersil shortly thereafter joined by Bill O’Neil. Dave Bingham went to Cermatek, Colin Barry went to Signetics, Len Brown went to Motorola, and Mike Markkula joined Intel (the latter two from the marketing group).”
“Speaking for myself, I don’t think it’s because I thought that I was going to get rich by going to Intersil. Frankly I didn't even know what an IPO was, you know, I didn't know what a stock option was in any real sense of the word and it wasn't because I had in any inkling that Fairchild was about to implode. It seemed like I was leaving at the crest of the wave frankly. Neither is it really fair to blame it all on the cultural change brought on by the arrival of the guys from Motorola, although it did seem like a management style change which maybe took some of the fun out of Fairchild as I perceived it. But I think the overriding factor for me anyway was that I was looking maybe for more of a challenge, I wanted to start my own group, have more say in the way the company ran and Intersil at that time offered that opportunity. My office was two doors down from Jean Hoerni's, company strategies were discussed around the coffee table and by comparison, Fairchild seemed kind of ponderous.”
So let’s get back to Gifford for a moment. He had the inspiration that a pure analog company could do really well. But his first attempt was forced in a different direction. He sought funding for a startup company, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD, perhaps you've heard of it?), but was repeatedly turned down because the financial backers wanted someone with a little more experience. Enter Jerry Sanders. Together they finally obtained funding in 1969. Sander’s version goes like this: “First a young man named Jack Gifford, who I'd worked with, you know, at Fairchild, who had an idea to start a company to make linear integrated circuits? And that was interesting to me, but frankly linear integrated circuits in my view were a niche opportunity and although the analogue world will always be with us, because that's what the real world is, I just didn't see that as an exciting thing whereas I was more interested in the digital world where you could build more and more complex things.” Sanders was CEO and Gifford was chief financial officer. Sanders was not popular with the engineers and Gifford had to tell Sanders to change his tyrannical ways. Sanders threatened that any staff members supporting Gifford would be let go. Gifford was asked to leave in 1971. Gifford says only that he had a "falling out" with Sanders. Don Valentine speculated that the company simply wasn't big enough for two such strong personalities. "The diameter of a spotlight only fits so many people," says Valentine. "And Jerry was an individual who always liked to be in the spotlight."

Meanwhile, Fullagar had gone to Intersil as the first analog designer working for Jean Hoerni. “I think Intersil lured me, but it wasn't financial. I didn’t really know what a stock option was and couldn’t have distinguished between an IPO and a UFO. Intersil offered a chance to create my own analog-design group with a clean slate and to work with Dr. Hoerni, one of the true giants of the semiconductor industry.” He added, “Intersil was primarily a discrete transistor and FET company prior to my joining. FETs were Jean Hoerni's first love. I was the first analog IC designer and about employee #50. I worked initially for John Hall, who later founded Micropower Systems (and Linear Integrated Systems). I brought Bill O’Neil into the group; he had designed the µA733 at Fairchild.”

Fullagar knew Gifford from Fairchild. “I met Jack shortly after joining Fairchild in early 1966. He was in charge of Linear Marketing and had recruited a team of young engineers including Mike Markkula, Mike Scott (both of whom became Apple CEO at different times), Len Brown, Jerry Zis, and others. We were all in our mid twenties at the time and used to socialize together at the Wagon Wheel and other places after work. At that time I did not see any of the hard-driving potential CEO material in Jack; we were just a bunch of kids having a good time.”

For a while, Gifford turned to farming, building a small fruit orchard near Sacramento into a successful 2,000-acre tomato producer. Fullagar was unsatisfied, “When I went to Intersil, it was frustrating to be designing products that I felt weren’t selling because of inept marketing.” In 1971, Jean Hoerni, head of Intersil, recruited Gifford to help them enter the analog data-acquisition business. In exchange, he would help Gifford raise money to start his own business. For several years he worked there part time, while continuing his farming and other business interests. Eventually it became full-time. After a succession of somewhat inept CEOs, Orie Hoch (ex-Litton CEO) was brought in by the Intersil board and did a great job of straightening out the company then sold it to GE. Once the sale was completed, Hoch made Gifford CEO and returned to Litton.

Gifford agreed but only if he was given stock options and if Intersil could be an independent GE subsidiary. Jack Welch agreed and bragged about his latest acquisition. Contrary to stories at the time, Gifford and Welch were kindred spirits and got along well together. However Intersil was put in the light bulb division of GE under a sector VP called Jim Baker. He and Gifford did not get along. There was a big showdown between the two of them over employee compensation (Baker didn't think stock options were necessary since his people in Schenectady didn't have them).

According to Gifford, this is what happened:

“Well, finally after about six months of this, he starts to hear from his other general managers. Hey, this isn't fair. I mean, I've worked for GE all my life. I don't have stock. What's going on, I mean, how could he do this? And he had a mutiny on his hands. And so Jack (Welch) started talking to me, you know, and every once in a while he'd say, you know, ‘God, you know, boy the stock options are causing me a problem, you know.’ Then it got, ‘Do you really need those? Can't we do something else?’ ‘Jack, that was the deal,’ I says, and ‘I don't need them. I mean, but Intersil needs them. I can't, by the way, that was your idea.’ He says, ‘I know. I know.’ So anyway, then we're back at one of these parties again; about a year later. I'm standing around talking to ten or fifteen of these guys and Jack comes across the room and he's got ten or fifteen guys following him. I get there late. So he's already had a couple of drinks, and he comes swaggering into my group and, you know, how the hell are you. We start talking. No sooner does the greetings stop and he says, ‘God damn it. Why the fuck do you guys have to have those stock options? They’re, you know, jeez.’ And he goes on and on and on in front of fifteen guys. And all of a sudden he's now, you know, coming like it's my fault, like I'm the problem, right? And he's, say he's had a couple of drinks. And finally he starts, ‘Well, what do you think?’ And I said, and I was going to react and I says, I was so mad and I just said, ‘Fuck you.’ And I just turned around and walked out. And man, I heard that rippled throughout the company. I mean, you told that to Jack? Yeah, but, you know, yeah, I did. So about a week and a half later I get a call from him to come back to Fairfield, and he says, ‘Well, I gotta talk to you.’ What are you gonna do? He says, ‘Well, I gotta fire you.’ So he fired me.”
“Yeah, and what happened is that's what caused Maxim. So when he changed it (the stock options), those guys came to me and said, you know, Jack, you gotta do something, you know. Our careers, he's destroyed our careers, you know. And I was forced to do Maxim. I was, I mean, I caused the problem, so...”
The idea Jack had about Maxim was to build the best analog company in the world that was owned by employees. He felt that analog had always been secondary; generating profit to fund digital. He felt he was the best in the world. But he says “I was not motivated to do it. Frankly, what motivated me was this responsibility to these other guys.”
Photo of the original Maxim founders, taken at Gifford's house the day most of them quit Intersil after funding was secured.  From left to right: Bev Fuller, Rich Hood, Dave Fullagar, Fred Beck, Roger Fuller, Sam Ochi, Dave Bingham, Lee Evans, Jack Gifford, Steve Combs. 

According to Pirooz Parvarandeh, “The first person to come out of the company was Jack, followed by Fred (Beck) and Dave (Fullagar) and a few other people. Their concept was to start a business around what they were doing at Intersil — analog semiconductors. So their first priority was really to secure some venture capital. To do this, they created a business plan. The business plan, a three-page business plan, is actually framed and posted at our headquarters.”

“The story goes that Jack, Fred, and Dave worked on this plan on a napkin. There was a debate as to whether a three-page business plan was long enough. Or should it be 20 pages or 50 pages? They were debating whether they needed to be much more sophisticated about the business plan. As it turns out, Jack convinced his colleagues that three pages was enough. It is a very high-level view of what they wanted to do.”
“Obviously, it didn't have a lot of detail. It had some calculations of what the market size would be and what the opportunity would be. It needs to be said that Jack was a very dynamic and energetic individual. They were able to raise $10 million from a number of venture capital firms.”
Wikipedia says the business plan was two pages and the capital was $9 million. The founding team included Gifford; Fred Beck, an IC sales and distribution pioneer; Dave Bingham, General Electric’s Scientist of the Year in 1982; Steve Combs, a pioneer in wafer technologies and manufacturing; Lee Evans, also a pioneer in CMOS analog microchip design and General Electric’s Scientist of the Year in 1982; Dave Fullagar, inventor of the first internally compensated operational amplifier circuit; Roger Fuller, yet another pioneer in CMOS microchip design; Rich Hood, development director for some of the first microprocessor-controlled semiconductor test systems; and Dick Wilenken, who is acknowledged as the father of key analog switch and multiplexer technologies. In the first year, the company developed 24 second source products before turning to predominantly proprietary products.

Fullagar mentioned another founder, Sam Ochi. “We hired Sam from Teledyne so no one could accuse us of being an entirely Intersil spinoff, but that didn't prevent GE from suing us.”

Dave Fullagar said, “In the early days, five or six of us (including Jack) would meet every Tuesday morning for a product planning meeting at the Peppermill restaurant on De Anza Blvd. Sometimes Jack would forget that we were in a public place and the four letter words would start flying: the restaurant manager moved us into the far back corner! Most of the ideas came from designers (especially Dave Bingham) and Charlie Allen (applications). All the early successes (RS-232 circuits, microprocessor supervisors, etc) evolved from these meetings. Eventually we outgrew this modus operandi and the process became more formalized (but not as much fun!).”

“The really novel products come about in one of two ways. One is when an engineer figures out a totally radical approach to meet a functional need. For example, Widlar's bandgap reference was sheer genius. We all knew that VBE had a negative temperature coefficient and delta VBE had a positive temperature coefficient, but Widlar figured out how to put the two together to produce a temperature-stable reference.”
“The other way is when a good applications engineer works hand in hand with a talented designer. Maxim’s RS-232 products came about in this manner. Charlie Allen, the best applications engineer I have ever encountered, recognized that lots of digital equipment had ±12V supplies whose sole purpose was to power RS-232 drivers. RS-232 drivers didn't fit into any of Maxim’s analog-product lines, but he persisted. He corralled Dave Bingham, one of Maxim’s most creative design engineers, into taking a look at it. Bingham felt sure he could put charge pumps on the same IC as the RS-232 drivers — no mean feat — thereby eliminating the need for the ±12V supply. Thus was born one of the company’s most successful product lines.”
Parvarandeh recalled, “When they started the company, there were some well-known names in the industry. Analog Devices, for one, has a much longer history than us. They were in the market well ahead of us, as well as Texas Instruments and other players. One of the first priorities of the new company was to make sure that they generated some revenue. Also, there was a spirit of inventiveness in the company. You know, you try to come up with innovations that are really world class. It was clearly part of the DNA of the company to try to distinguish itself.

Fullagar echoed the same idea, “The original business plan called for the speedy introduction of 14 second-source parts to generate quick cash flow, followed by proprietary parts. Generating positive cash flow in a start-up is key: If you have to go back to the venture capitalists for an unscheduled round of financing, you get taken to the cleaners.”

Again from Parvarandeh: “To the extent that we could come up with enhancements that we could make, we would make them. In fact, I remember — I joined the company in 1987 — that one of the things I was striving for was, ‘Okay, if I’m doing a second source of a product, is there something else that I could do that would benefit our customers?’”

“So, the first order of business was, ‘Let’s try to make sure that we capture some existing sockets, but also let’s see if we can provide additional benefits.’ That was the strategy and, of course, for a startup company to try to create or to leverage existing business was the right strategy. But as I said, the company had in its DNA this notion that we don’t want to be just a second source company. We want to be a company that creates valuable product differentiation.”

Maxim has always been an aggressive company. Most of their growth was organic, but some resulted from acquisitions. Key acquisitions include (or at least the ones that I think are key):

  • 1994: Tektronix Semiconductor Division, for its high-speed bipolar processes, wireless RF and fiber-optic products
  • 2001: Dallas Semiconductor
  • 2007: Vitesse Semiconductor’s Storage Products Division
  • 2010: Teridian Semiconductor Corporation, supplying systems on a chip (SoC) for the smart meter market
  • 2010: Phyworks, a supplier of optical transceiver chips for broadband communications
  • 2011: SensorDynamics, for proprietary sensor and microelectromechanical (MEMS) solutions
  • 2012: Genasic Design Systems Ltd., a fabless RF chip company that makes chips for LTE applications
  • 2013: Volterra Semiconductor

I enjoyed creating this particular post. I’m thankful for the interview transcripts that helped my research. And I am very thankful to Dave Fullagar for contributing to this and clearing up some things. In college, I was taught about operational amplifiers using the 741. It’s surreal to be able to simply contact him and ask a few questions. Fullagar is famous for the 741, of course, but that was only one of many things he accomplished in his career. In another article, Fullagar reflected on his career, “I thrive in a small-company atmosphere, so I would have to say the early days at both Intersil and Maxim were the most enjoyable. The lab work was always especially rewarding. Checking out a new breadboard with a cup of coffee warming on top of a big Tektronix 545 oscilloscope — that was real engineering! Sitting in front of a screen running simulations just isn’t the same. I feel proudest of the design team I recruited. They were — and still are — some of the finest people in the industry, having designed an incredible number of innovative products, as well as serving in senior-management positions, including current President and Chief Executive Officer Tunc Doluca and several of the vice presidents.”

In closing, I’d like to leave you with this opening from Maxim application note, AN1795:

It's a jungle out there.

A small tribe, in the dense wilderness, is much sought after by head hunters from the surrounding plains. Known throughout the land for their esoteric expertise, this is the tribe of the Analog Engineers, who live in the farthest regions of the left half Plains, past the jungles of Laplace.

The guru of analog engineers is the Analog Filter Designer, who sits on the throne of his kingdom and imparts wisdom. You never get to see him, even with an appointment, and you call him "Sir."

The countless pages of equations found in most books on filter design can frighten small dogs, and digital designers. This article clears a path through the brush for the practical engineer and unravels the mystery of filter design, enabling you to design continuous-time analog filters quickly and with a minimum of mathematics.

Analog electronics has two distinct sides: the theory taught by academic institutions (equations of stability, phase-shift calculations, etc.), and the practical side familiar to most engineers (avoid oscillation by tweaking the gain with a capacitor, etc.).

Yes, filter design may be closer to mystery than mathematics, but that whole passage applies well to most disciplines of analog design.




Fairchild Oral History – Fullagar, Gifford, Wilson


“Jack Gifford: Baseball’s Loss Was The World’s Gain”, Doris Kilbane, Electronic Design, Dec. 7, 2009

Silicon Genesis – interview with Jack Gifford

Interview: Maxim Integrated CTO Pirooz Parvarandeh Discusses Analog/Digital Integration, Joe Desposito, Electronic Design Aug 12, 2013 http://electronicdesign.com/analog/interview-maxim-integrated-cto-pirooz-parvarandeh-discusses-analogdigital-integration