555 timer inventor Hans Camenzind remembered

-August 16, 2012

Hans Camenzind, the Swiss emigre analog guru who invented one of the most successful circuits in electronics history and introduced the concept of phase-locked loop to IC design, passed away in his sleep at the age of 78 on August 15, 2012.

Hans Camenzind was born and raised in Switzerland and moved to the U.S. after college. He received an MSEE from Northeastern University and an MBA from the University of Santa Clara. After several years doing research in the Boston area, he moved to the West Coast to join Signetics (now Philips) and later started his own company, Interdesign.

After heading it for seven years he sold Interdesign to Plessey. Since then he had been an independent design consultant in analog IC design, operating under the name Array Design in San Francisco. During his career at four different companies he designed the first integrated class D amplifier, introduced the phase-locked loop concept to ICs, invented the semi-custom IC and created the 555 timer. He had designed 151 standard and custom ICs.

His last book is “Much Ado About Almost Nothing”, A history of electricity and electronics


Here is an excerpt from Readers’ Reviews at Amazon.com:


            "This book describes the history of the electron, the "almost nothing", from the days it was unknown until our present time. Luckily the author writes in a language that any layman can easily understand, without boring the expert either. Thanks to clear explanations and many illustrations, the functioning of magnets, cathode-ray-tubes or transistors becomes less of a mystery.

            However the technical aspect of this enormous development over the last century is only one part of the subject. We probably all remember from our school days what a Faraday cage is, what Ohm's law says or that Edison might have something to do with grandpa's gramophone. But do we know anything about Mr. Faraday, Mr. Ohm or Mr. Edison; their life, personality, character? Now here is what makes this reading so interesting: Hans Camenzind tells us all about more than 30 people whose inventions and discoveries contributed so much to the growth of the little "almost nothing" to the prominent role it plays today. Suddenly these persons come alive and we read about their achievements, ambitions and frustrations, successes and tragedies. And this very human side also includes some humorously presented little episodes.”

Here is a You Tube video from Hans on Nikola Tesla, of whom he wrote about in his books. Below it, you can remember this analog great by sharing your thoughts on Hans' work and how it impacted your career in the comments section.

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