I’m sure it’s not news anymore to most of the readers here but recently there has been not one, but two devastating blows to the analog electronics industry. Legendary Linear Tech Applications Engineer Jim Williams passed away on June 10, 2011 and National Semiconductor’s Analog Wizard Bob Pease (the self crowned Czar of Bandgaps) also passed away on June 18, 2011. EDN author and fellow analog engineer Paul Rako fondly remembers both analog giants in two heartfelt posts on EDN’s website here and here. You can also find a tribute to Williams on Linear Tech’s website (found here) which also links to a collection of his app note guaranteed to provide you with enough reading material for the foreseeable future. [Update] National Semi has also added a tribute to Bob Pease on their website found here. There’s an excellent video to go along with it that’s well worth the time to watch it (if anyone from Maxim is reading I apologize but your product catalog as Pease’s floor mat was pretty funny).
No one can deny that their unexpected passing is a blow to EE’s everywhere and both men will be greatly missed. It is unlikely that either Williams or Pease will ever be replaced. In his article on Pease, Rako mentions that there are still many great analog designers in the industry today and while I agree with him, I do claim that we as an industry are currently left with a void to fill in terms of engineers who are as vocal as both Pease and Williams were. There is now a need for engineers and makers who possess the same passion as these two great men to step up and inspire and teach others with their writing.
My challenge to not only analog fans but all engineers, coders, makers, hackers, etc. is to carry on where Jim Williams and Bob Pease left off. Be passionate about your work, take pride in it. Look to teach. Look to inspire. Let your enthusiasm show through in every project. Let people know what we do as engineers may not be easy but the challenge it provides is both exhilarating and at times, fun. These are the ideals that should be present each and every day you sit down at your bench. You don’t have to be a circuit junky to see these principles shine through in Williams’ and Pease’s work, they’re pretty self-evident.
So grab your ‘scopes, grab your dev boards, your MakerBots, and your soldering irons (not by the hot end). Take them and make something. If you’re not a maker, write an article on a bit of theory you’re knowledgeable on or just any topic that interests you. Throw the results online for others to see be it in your own blog, an Instructable, up on Hack a Day, YouTube, whatever. Carry on the legacies of passion, knowledge, and dedication left behind by Jim Williams and Bob Pease. While they can’t be replaced, their memories can be honored through the work of those they inspired.
Sadly, I never had the opportunity to meet nor work with either Pease or Williams. However, the two have inspired me immensely through their countless publications. Ever since I first stumbled across The Best of Bob Pease on National’s website and Analog Circuit Design: Art, Science and Personalities a few years ago I’ve been hooked on reading everything these two have put into print. Both of them have taught me a great deal on not only analog circuits, but also the passion required for really loving the work that you do. As I prepare to go off into the real world after summer ends and start my own career as an apps engineer, I hope that perhaps one day a few of my own app notes can be as well regarded as those written by Williams and Pease and can inspire budding EE’s the way they have inspired me.
To Jim Williams and Bob Pease, may they rest in peace…