Sheingold, Titus, Thompson, Hanrahan, Franco, et al on Bob Pease
Here are a dozen great comments about Bob Pease wrapped up into a blog so we can send it out in our special edition Analog Newsletter today that will be dedicated to Bob and his memory. Be sure to check out this recent Bob Pease interview.
Bob sent out an email to several of his friends on the day that he died.
- Good stuff….
- New column is out. It’s one of my favorites. Comments invited! / rap
- P.S. Back in early 1961, Nancy and I hiked DUO up to Crag Cabin, 4 miles from the road in Randolph. Winter. It was a nice day, so we hiked up toward Adams, BUT we turned right toward Jefferson. We went past Thunderstorm Junction and Edmands Col and up to the top of Jefferson. We smiled a lot. Did we take a photo? Not sure. We retreated to Crag and cooked supper. What if Nancy fell and got hurt? Unlikely; she was a very skilled hiker. But I would have had to hike out as far as 8 miles to call for rescue. Did she trust me to go down carefully? Uh, yeah.- What if I fell and got hurt? Unlikely; I was a skilled hiker, But SHE would have had to hike out 8 miles SOLO to call for rescue . Did I trust HER to go down carefully? Uh, yeah. Absolutely. We never saw another person all day./ Beast./ rap.
Speaking of Bob’s hikes, here is an email he sent to co-worker Dave Lewis, he signed this one “Beast” as well so I don’t think it is a typo. Perhaps Bob was thinking of the Samual Johnson quote in the beginnig of the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas movie, “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.”
- Details on Purisima Park:
- Drive a couple miles south from Half Moon Bay on Route 1, to Pusisima Creek Road. Park at the east end, at the hairpin where the road crosses the creek. SMALL parking lot. Very popular. Go across the bridge and bear left, up the Whittemore Gulch Trail to the top - which is very near to Skyline. Turn right; descend. Steep. What you are looking for is the Soda Gulch Trail, which is fairly new, 15 or 20 years. THIS is the pretty part. Take that a mile south, and come out on Purisima Creek Road. Descend to your car. I don’t know that many trails prettier. Beast reg rds. / rap
Dave included the pdf map Bob sent him, if our blog tool cooperates, it should be here:
I also got a nice note from Bob’s friend and former EDN editor Jon Titus:
- I knew Bob and Jim from my time with EDN magazine (’84 through ‘93) and I enjoyed working with them both. Sometime during the last year, Jim, John Hamburger, and I talked about a book Jim wanted to write about electronics. Jim thought the book would run for at least 1000 pages (yes, 1K)! I don’t know if Jim ever gave John an outline or if he approached a book publisher. It’s sad we have lost such a great intellect and a fine person. His many articles and application notes became almost-instant classics and all electrical engineers owe him a debt of gratitude. I can say the same for Bob Pease, although I didn’t talk with him as frequently as I did Jim.
- By the way, Bob had an interesting hobby–automobile defects. During the ’80’s, he used to send the EDN staff his statistics about automobiles he saw with defective brake and taillights, direction signals, and so on. Bob took the time to track down the vehicle owners and let them know about the problem(s). His annual report listed the type of defects he observed with a count of each one along with a count of the number of owners he contacted. He was an interesting person to know. I will miss him, too.
And Fran Hoffart had a picture of one of these tallies Bob kept; click to see the full view. National is working with Bob’s family to save all of Bob’s stuff from his house. Hopefully we can find other years that he tallied up.
- A tally of broken and abandoned cars kept by Bob Pease as he commuted from San Francisco to Sunnyvale.
Another former EDN editor, Brad Thompson sent a nice note:
- Thank you for your heartfelt obituary for Bob Pease. I met him on one occasion during a visit to California at a Foothills electronic flea market, and I exchanged e-mail messages with him regarding a couple of Design Ideas during my term as EDN’s DI editor. Although I didn’t know him as well as I wished, I felt an affinity with Bob Pease because we attended the same high school (Mount Hermon, in Gill, MA) from which he graduated in 1956. A recent alumni magazine included a one-page feature article showing Bob and his messy workbench. Mount Hermon challenged its students with a rigorous four-year English program, which helped me migrate into freelance writing after undergoing the obligatory engineering layoff in 1985. I have a hunch that Bob’s writing skills stemmed from his tutelage by some of the hardest-nosed teachers I’ve ever encountered. While I’m forever interested in analog engineering, I wouldn’t presume to hold a candle to either Bob or Jim Williams. I’m saddened that we lost two great engineers and writers at the same time. In a better world, they’d be with us as designers and writers for many years to come. 73– Brad AA1IP
Dan Shiengold, the famous Philbrick and Analog Devices engineer also dropped me a note:
- I would love to have been among those present at this major historic event in the chronicles of the analog world–celebrating the lives of Jim and Bob, two “happy warriors.”
- They are gone; we will miss their presence–and any nascent designs they might have been about to invent. But their legacy has been a significant body of information that has educated a generation of analog engineers and will be of value to generations yet to come. Our field is fortunate that two great designers were also articulate speakers, readable writers, and, simply–interesting people who would never turn down an intellectual challenge.
- At this point I’d like to bear witness to another presence, long gone but here with us today: George Philbrick. He too combined the above virtues. And it is his influence–in establishing the company that bore his name, Philbrick Researches, to design, sell, and educate the world about analog devices, embodying both linear and nonlinear technology–that was seminal to the careers of Bob and Jim.
- Bob joined Philbrick as what today might be called an intern, and he had two great mentors: creative, playful, inquisitive George Philbrick, for inspiration–and solid, perceptive Bruce Seddon, who taught Bob to question circuits and devices that seemed deceptively simple.
- A decade later, Jim and Bob, in propping up the essentially leaderless Teledyne Philbrick, traded ideas and later carried the results of their continuing personal and intellectual development to Silicon Valley where, as the years went by they earned the informal appellation “guru”.
- And now we celebrate their existence, their contributions, their influence, and mourn their final passage–and offer condolences to their families. We will miss you both, Bob Pease and Jim Williams…………..Dan Sheingold
Bob Hanrahan, applications manager at National Semiconductor had a great comment and a nice picture as well:
- Bob was always ready for a good laugh…. I assume you have his Bandgap Czar photo. I attached another classic photo of Bob after he rolled a cart into a room of FAE’s at one of our regular meetings. Bob wanted to show off his latest method of measuring distortion. Bob was always considerate, why ask people to come to his lab when could take his lab around on a cart. Bob never really cared about neatness, as long as it worked and made sense it could be cleaned up later… He loved to video tape responses, comments, and laughs from his audiences, Bob loved people above all.
- This has shaken up many of us. I just received an email from Bob on Saturday morning, bragging about his favorite hiking story soon to be published…. We would talk about aviation a lot, an interest of his and I hit a sweet spot before 9/11 when I took him for a flight over NYC and let him aviate a bit. As always in those days he captured most of it on video, which he later copied and sent off to me for memories and study.
Bob Hanrahan then tells this great story about Bob, one that you will recognize as completely authentic if you knew Pease at all.
- At an FAE meeting around 1988 Bob was talking to a few of us FAE’s at demo night and the audio PL had a new boomer IC demo blasting to distortion across the room. Bob asked the a young sprout apps engineer running the demo to turn it down as its too load and distorting and he cant chat with his friends. A few minutes later he offered the suggestion a second time, explaining he was very serious. The sprout didn’t know Bob and simply blew him off with a laugh and comment. After another 5 min, in the middle of a sentence Bob reached into him camera bag and pulled out a pair of wire cutters. He walked over to the audio demo and cut both pairs of speaker wires explaining it’s a good test for the new IC. Bob walked back to us and continued the conversation. Except for the upset young sprout, all of us were un-phased by the event, it was Bob… The FAE’s will miss him dearly. Thanks again, Bob
For those not conversant in torture testing audio amplifiers, putting a dead short across the amplifier as the wire cutters pierce the speaker wire is almost the worst thing you can do to an audio amp. What is the worse thing is then cutting through the wires so the amplifier goes from a dead short to a complete open. That’s Bob, always testing the amps.
Speaking of testing electronics, Paul L. Schimel, a senior field applications engineer at International Rectifier sent this thoughtful note that includes a useful test for your power supply, as recommended by Pease.
- Is there a grand succession plan?
- While we are apparently surrounded by specialists that stand ready, gung-ho and capable of giving the right answers, I can’t help but wonder if there are any generalists left to ask the right questions. In the last few weeks the electronics community as a whole suffered the loss of Bob Pease. I admit, I didn’t know him terribly well, but I too share and a respect and devotion to the engineering trade that ranges from have a collection of Tektronix 549’s and 547’s to my very own Class III gloves, hotstick tools and PPE as well as countless machine tools and test equipment.
- I once had the chance to thank Bob. A long time ago, I read an article of his on designing offline SMPS’s and radiated/conducted EMI and susceptibility. His conclusion was one of the craziest notions I’d heard. That of taking best engineering approximation at mitigating noise with filtering input filtering, layout tricks, and good cable routing procedures on the chassis, and then break the hot leg of the input line. Place a scribe on one lead, and a rusty file on the other. Arc the heck out of them with the output of the smps loaded. This will excite every awful input perturbation in amplitude and spectrum. It will also test the boundaries of the holdup time, inrush limiting and softstart circuitry. It was such a crazy notion I tried it. I still recommend it to this day with proper credit to most anyone developing an offline smps in “scriber/file arcing power range”, which I’ve determined is up to about 1KW…..at least without PPE! A rusty mill bastard and a scribe is by no means a replacement for a few million bucks of amplifiers, noise generators, antennas and anechoic tiles, but it sure as heck let’s you know how tough your smps is. Typically if your supply survives the rusty file test, it will make it through any susceptibility or line perturbation testing with flying colors. I saw him at a seminar and walked up and told a condensed version of my story, having used the trick on a 3KW unit and a 10KW unit, with a little PPE and shrapnel control. He was amused, and glad to contribute. I’m sad to hear that he’s gone.
- And then the question occurs….is succession as easy as check boxes on a spreadsheet? I don’t believe it is. I think there’s a lot more to it. I don’t think we can account for heart, soul and devotion on a spreadsheet. I don’t think innovation is transferrable through a couple of two hour “core brain dumps” or a handed down notebook. As evidence to uphold these claims, I turn toward the music industry. They collectively haven’t offered an acceptable successor for Marvin Gaye in 26 years since his passing. If you can’t capture Marvin on a spreadsheet, you sure as heck can’t capture the legendary Bob Pease.
Schimel weighed in when Gartner analyst Steve Ohr asked us if we thought it would be OK to write about Bob’s “three-cup bra story“. Paul said: “These guys were always about fun. Even with my old-fashioned mores, I don’t think I’d find the story objectionable–to ANYONE who ever knew Bob and his feelings about “camels”. A camel is reputed to stick his nose under the tents, and if you let that in, pretty soon he’s in there totally, humps and all. The annual “Camel” award originated to celebrate the guy in marketing who was the worst “camel”. In this case, the award–on general principles–went to the CEO. I wasn’t there but I’ve heard it several times from Bob and others; and I was aware of Bob’s camelphobia ever since we were colleagues in engineering and marketing in the ’60s. In the present case, the three cup brassiere subtly invoked a “three-hump camel” (signifying a marketer’s ultimately impossible demands). By the way, Bob’s total informality and lack of restraint can be seen in National’s farewell video.”
Leo Sheftelevich, staff field application engineer with Vishay Siliconix sent me several nice pictures of Bob from the 2003 Analog Seminar with the note that “I wish I could be in Santa Clara today” for our celebration of life for Jim Williams and Pease.
- Leo labeled this one “MS+MG+RS+MH+RAP” I know Marcello Salvatierra and Pease friend and mentor Martin Giles. RS is a mystery but I will find out. MH is another mystery but I will find out. This a great picture of Bob.
- This picture has MH, Bob Pease, Leo Sheftelevich, and Martin Giles.
Sergio Franco, a professor at SFU, sent this nice note, especially poignant since he honors two engineers that did not take the academician’s path, despite their having the intellect for it.
- I’ve had the privilege and honor of knowing both Jim and Bob, and interacting with each of them both on a technical and human level - the last time having been only months ago in connection with the ISSCC Analog Aficioanados Party (thanks, Paul, for putting together such a memorable event). [my note: its not an official ISSCC event, its a party Jim Williams started 20 years ago and EDN started up again in 2010.]
- As you may have noticed, Jim’s application notes have absolutely no formulas, and Bob’s aren’t exactly replete with them either. This is not by chance. Being experimentalists and artists, they relied more on word and feel than on mathematical abstractions. Which gives me the opportunity to remember one of them stating that academicians tend to regurgitate irrelevant publications for the sole purpose of securing tenure…. Also, SPICE simulations, as opposed to testing out a circuit in the lab, are, ahem…. (some of you may remember a birdcage with a SPICE printout at the bottom to collect bird droppings….)
- Well, I must confess that I am an academician, but that I have been heavily inspired by Jim and Bob to instill their spirit in my classes and books. Also, I feel humbly flattered that each of them asked me to contribute to one of their books….
- I see that Bob’s email ID is still in the list of recipients of this message. How befitting - a last illusion that he hasn’t left us! Like Bob, I am a lover of the mountains (mostly the Alps, not yet as far as Nepal), and I want to dedicate a touching song from the Dolomites that somebody composed for a friend who died while climbing:
- The words go something like “God of the peaks, you have taken the life of a friend, this much we beg you, let our friend roam through the mountains of heaven….” I am agnostic but now I wish to believe that heaven exists and is analog, and ask “God of nature’s mystery and beauty, this much we ask you, let Jim and Bob have their ways in analog heaven - all they need is a well equipped bench and eternity.
Dan Bathker also copied me on a nice note he sent to several friends:
- I would like to add comments to the many others saddened by his demise. I did not know Bob Pease directly. Only through reading his many columns in EDN do I know I knew him well. Among other notable characteristics Pease seemed blessed with common sense and the ability to think and write well. In my judgment he was a ‘legend in his own time’, a ‘giant among us’. I started to write a ‘Giant among giants’. Although much truth in that, the appearance of being ostentatious might be inferred. All remarks by Paul Rako EDN were fascinating and one remark especially caught my attention, to wit:
- “Bob had intimate knowledge of what was going on inside the chip”.
- As indeed he did. As to Pease’ knowledge of things within the chip an old ’saying’ applies and goes as “just follow the electrons”. And it comes to mind from Rako’s remarks about Pease wrt poles, zeroes and Bode Plots: There are many ways to skin a cat, some more difficult than others. Some folks are inclined to do such tasks in obscure ways - while others do such the direct way. In contrast to practitioners of the art whose interests lie in other dimensions, even on other planes, Pease seemed eminently observing, mentally analyzing what he saw, and voiced and wrote that well. And Pease was rather clearly not limited to things technical. Pease seemed to know human nature and the frailties of being human well - and how to address that. That could only come from having analog in-the-Blood - and time domain in-the-Mind. Pease knew how to communicate. Perhaps best of all he knew how to first get the readers’ attention. Pease’ articles always caught ones’ attention. Often his article titles included the word ’stuff’. How witty and in a down-to-earth way. Ah Pease - we knew thee well and shall not soon forget thee
Jerry Steinback, a fellow Silicon Valley eFlea market attendee sent a nice link to a great Philbrick document Applications Manual for Computing Amplifiers for Modeling, Measuring, Manipulating & Much Else. Thanks Jerry, see you at the eFlea next month.
From my blog are these links
Bob’s JFET amp is in Your friend, the JFET
Bob in full rant mode is Voltage reference drift considerations
And the two shots of Bob’s office to go with the video I took that I will post in my next blog:
Although my buddy and analog guru Paul Grohe points out that this can’t be from the 1970s since the National logo is the swooping “N”. He guesses that this is in the early 1990s.
So I hope you stayed with us to the end, Bob Pease is an inexhaustible subject and I have only touched on the man I loved and that taught me so much. Farewell Bob, you will be missed.