Archive for the ‘Past Committee Events’ Category

Oct 11 – Gravitational Waves and LIGO: A Technical History

Friday, July 27th, 2018

Thursday, October 11, 2018
6:00 PM: Doors open for refreshments and networking
6:30 to 8:30 PM: Presentation and Questions


Venue: KeyPoint Credit Union
2805 Bowers Ave (just off Central Expressway)
Santa Clara, CA 95051

Park in lot adjacent to building on Bowers Ave.

Our Thanks To KeyPoint Credit Union

IEEE SV Tech History committee is extremely grateful to KeyPoint Credit Union for use of their auditorium as a venue.
Many thanks to Doron Noyman of KeyPoint for his support in making this happen.

Gravitational Waves and
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO):
A Technical History

This session will comprise a talk by Stan Whitcomb followed by a panel discussion.

Talk Abstract:

The first detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO is remarkable not only because of its impact on the Theory of General Relativity and on the astrophysics of neutron stars and black holes, but also because of the sensitivity of the detectors required. The LIGO interferometers had to be capable of discerning changes as small as 1E-18 m in the length of its 4-km long arms, certainly one of the most precise physical measurements ever made.

The LIGO Lab is operated by Caltech and MIT through funding from the National Science Foundation. It comprises observatories in Livingston, Louisiana and Hanford, Washington, in addition to the groups at Caltech and MIT. The broader LIGO Scientific Collaboration currently includes approximately 1000 scientists, engineers and students from more than 60 institutions in 12 countries. After thirty-five years of development and construction,

The first gravity waves detected by LIGO were created by the collision of two black holes was made simultaneously in Louisiana and Washington State on September 14, 2015 and announced on February 11, 2016. The detection of gravity waves confirmed the predictions of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and ushered in a new era of gravitational wave astronomy.

With its partner the Virgo Project, LIGO will form the core of an international network of gravitational wave detectors, seeking to learn about the universe through a new type of signal. To achieve this incredible sensitivity, LIGO scientists spent over 30 years understanding and overcoming a plethora of competing noise sources.

In this talk, Stan Whitcomb will describe a diverse handful of these noise sources, selected because of their importance to the project or their broader general interest, and trace the sometimes circuitous path that led to each one being brought under control

LIGO Presentation

LIGO Videos


  • Stan Whitcomb PhD, Former Chief Scientist of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory
    Stan received his BS degree in 1973 from Caltech and then a PhD at the University of Chicago in far-infrared and submillimeter astronomy in 1980. He returned to Caltech in 1980 as an assistant professor of physics, near the beginning of Caltech’s entry into the field of gravitational wave detection. He has been involved in nearly every phase of the effort to build LIGO—concept development, prototype sensitivity demonstration, detector design and installation, commissioning, data analysis, and management. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the Optical Society. He was awarded the Henry Draper Medal (National Academy of Sciences) in 2017, and the C.E.K. Mees Medal (OSA) in 2018.
  • Brian Lantz PhD, Senior Research Scientist, LIGO Group, Stanford University
    LinkedIn Biography
  • David Adler PhD, President and CEO of Silicon Valley X-Ray (SVXR)
    In 1981 Dave a sophomore at Caltech was offered a summer job by his physics teaching assistant, Yekta Gursel, to “build a gravity wave detector” on campus. That summer they bolted together the 40-meter predecessor to LIGO. For his senior thesis, Dave worked with Stan Whitcomb to develop a laser stabilizer for the gravity wave detector.  Since then, Dave has developed novel optical systems using ions, electrons and x-rays. He has about 100 patents covering ion, x-ray and electron optics and semiconductor inspection. He started SVXR in 2012 to develop 100x faster x-ray inspection systems.

Sep 14 – Dialog: The Beginning of Online Search

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Thursday, September 14, 2017
6:00 PM: Doors open for refreshments and networking
6:30 to 8:30 PM: Presentation and Questions

Venue: KeyPoint Credit Union
2805 Bowers Ave (just off Central Expressway)
Santa Clara, CA 95051

Park in lot adjacent to building on Bowers Ave.

Our Thanks To KeyPoint Credit Union

IEEE SV Tech History committee is extremely grateful to KeyPoint Credit Union for use of their auditorium as our prime venue.
Many thanks to Doron Noyman of KeyPoint for his support in making this happen.

Dialog: The Beginning of Online Search


A panel of former Dialog employees and a Dialog user will discuss growth of Dialog starting with its conception within Lockheed.

Dialog is a computer service that allows users to interactively search databases using keywords. When it was first used by NASA in 1967 and then commercially available in 1972, remote access was by way of a modem and telephone line. Dialog’s unique capabilities allow scientists, engineers and others to stay current with work in their fields. Created within Lockheed Corp., the system has been particularly popular for pharmaceutical, engineering, scientific, medical, educational and intellectual property research.

Prior to the availability of Dialog, research of existing work was performed primarily using printed published literature, microfilm and periodically-published indexes. The system has been in continual use for 50 years, including the 27 years that preceded the emergence of Internet search engines such as Lycos, Infoseek, AltaVista, Yahoo! and Google. Dialog broke ground for online search and provided a sound foundation for all that followed.

The panel will discuss insights that led to its development, how it grew as an intrepreneurial project within Lockheed, the transition to a services business as the Dialog Information Services company, strategies that led to its growth and dominance within the industry, and how Dialog was an important government, educational and corporate tool.  Also discussed will be its sale to Knight-Ridder in 1988.


Roger Summit, PhD, is the founder and Chairman Emeritus of Dialog.  He conducted pioneering work starting in 1964 that led to the creation of Dialog, and held executive positions there until his retirement in 1992.  He has served on national and international advisory boards, in professional associations, has received numerous honors, and has published over 100 papers and journal articles based on his knowledge of and experience with online information services.

Elizabeth Trudell, MLS, joined Dialog in 1983 and has been as a long-time member of the executive team, serving as VP of Global Marketing and VP of Product Management.  She has extensive experience in marketing, product management and strategic planning in the information industry, and she led the development and launch of the first web interface for Dialog.  Since 2014, she has been an Associate in the Information and Knowledge Strategy (IKNS) program at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies.  She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Center for Information Research and Innovation (CIRI) at San Jose State University’s I-School, and is Vice Chair of the Board of the non-profit organization Subud California.

Robert Simons, JD, joined Dialog in 1981, and served as General Counsel for 17 years.  Because of Dialog’s unique data access requirements, his activities ranged from developing database license agreements to serving as Dialog’s liaison to the Information Industry Association.  Simons also testified before government committees and panels in the US, Europe and Asia about the value of information to the emerging institutions that were able to benefit from online research. He currently provides legal guidance and advice to the pathology imaging products team of Leica Biosystems, a division of the Leica’s microscope company.

Peter Rusch’s PhD in Chemistry and his interest in computers and chemical information led to his joining the Chemical Abstracts Service’s research department at the American Chemical Society.  In that position he helped customers understand the increasing offerings of chemical information that were then distributed on magnetic tape media.  That work evolved to his being technical liaison to the developing online services.  After joining Dialog in 1975, he developed its chemical and patent information services.

Deborah Hunt, MLS, ECMp, has pursued parallel librarian careers in digital asset management and knowledge management.  She first used Dialog in 1984 to research scholarly works while assisting doctoral students in their areas of specialty which made her quickly appreciate Dialog’s power. She went on to found the first online user’s group in Nevada.  Her work with Dialog let her to write The Librarian’s Skillbook: 51 Essential Career Skills for Information Professionals.  Hunt is currently Library Director at the San Francisco-based Mechanics’ Institute Library, a consultant at Information Edge and a co-teacher of Special Libraries Association (SLA)’s Knowledge Management/Knowledge Services Certificate courses.

Photos Of Attendees

Mar 20 – The Other Women of ENIAC: Rethinking IT Innovation

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017
6:00 PM: Doors open for refreshments and networking
6:30 PM: Presentation

Registration Required, donation requested
Click Here To Register and pre-donate
Bring ticket to meeting

Venue: KeyPoint Credit Union
2805 Bowers Ave (just off Central Expressway)
Santa Clara, CA 95051

Park in lot adjacent to building on Bowers Ave.

Our Thanks To KeyPoint Credit Union

IEEE SV Tech History committee is extremely grateful to KeyPoint Credit Union for use of their auditorium as our prime venue. Many thanks to Doron Noyman of KeyPoint for his support in making that happen.

The Other Women of ENIAC: Rethinking IT Innovation
An evening with Thomas Haigh – author of “ENIAC in Action”

Co-sponsored with SCV Women In Engineering Chapter


What makes a computing historian tick?  What motivates their research into arcane topics and to lead a group of information technology historians (SIGCIS)?  We’ll learn that and more in an enlightening conversation with Thomas Haigh which will precede his presentation on the very popular book ENIAC in Actionpublished in 2016 by MIT Press.

Haigh explains that the six women now celebrated as the “first computer programmers” were actually hired as computer operators and worked hands-on with the machine around the clock. Other women, who actually built ENIAC, the first general purpose electronic computer, have been forgotten entirely. So has most of the work that made the project so successful, from procuring the right kind of wire to saving ENIAC from flood water.

Popular stories about the history of information technology have usually focused on great inventors and technical breakthroughs, from Charles Babbage and Alan Turing to Steve Jobs and the World Wide Web. Operations work and the labor of non-geniuses has been mostly written out of the history of innovation, but without it no computer would be useful. Information historian Thomas Haigh has written it back in!

Read more about Eniac In Action

The conversation will be moderated by Alan J Weissberger, past chair and founder of the IEEE SV Tech History committee.


Thomas Haigh, PhD is an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Comenius Visiting Professor of the History of Computing at Siegen University. He has published on many aspects of the history of computing including the evolution of data base management systems, word processing, the software package, corporate computer departments, Internet software, computing in science fiction, the “software crisis” of the 1960s, IBM in Europe, and the Colossus code breaking machines.

Besides being the author of ENIAC in Action (MIT, 2016) Haigh is the editor of Histories of Computing (Harvard, 2011), a collection of the work of Michael Mahoney, and the lead editor of a 2015 special issue of Information and Culture on the theme “Histories of the Internet.” From 2005 to 2015 he was chair of SIGCIS, the group for historians of information technology. Learn more at

Sep 8 – Atari’s Impact on Silicon Valley: 1972-84

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Thursday, September 8, 2016 – 6:30-8:30pm

6:00 PM: Doors open for refreshments and networking
6:30 PM: Panel presentation


Venue: KeyPoint Credit Union,

2805 Bowers Ave., Santa Clara 95051
(Just south of Central Expressway)

Park in lot adjacent to building on Bowers Ave.

Our Thanks To KeyPoint Credit Union

IEEE SV Tech History committee is extremely grateful to KeyPoint Credit Union for use of their auditorium as our prime venue. Many thanks to Doron Noyman of KeyPoint for his support in making that happen.


In the 1970s, Silicon Valley was a very different place.  There were few consumer companies.  Companies were started by PhDs and seasoned business people.  The value of a company was measured in the depth of its patent portfolio or its profits.  Venture money went to companies that solved difficult technology problems.

HP gave us the story of how a couple of young engineers started in a garage and built a major company over a 25-year period. Atari modified that story: a couple of young engineers started in a garage and built a major consumer company in less than 10 years, while having a blast doing it.  The Atari story was the basis for Apple and many of the major valley companies that followed.

Atari, founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell, Ted Dabney and Al Alcorn, created the earliest successful arcade and home video games, as well as early personal computers.  This event will include stories about products such as Pong and the Atari 2600, as well as the fun and turmoil surrounding this corner of Silicon Valley from 1972 to 1984.


Nolan Bushnell, the legendary Silicon Valley entrepreneur who co-founded Atari in 1972, was a founding father of the video game industry, and was named by Newsweek as one of “50 Men Who Changed America.”

Al Alcorn: Atari employee #3 who designed Pong (the first commercially successful coin-operated video game), built the first video game on a custom chip (home Pong), and led the development of the Atari VCS home video game machine which launched the cartridge video game industry.

Owen Rubin: early coin-op engineer who helped in the transition from all-TTL games to microprocessor-based games.

Steven Mayer: chief Atari architect for home video games and computer systems, and who was on the team that brought Activision back from bankruptcy to become the world’s largest independent game’s software company.

Brian Berg, IEEE Silicon Valley History Committee Chair, will moderate this panel.

Ken Pyle, Managing Editor of Viodi, is videographer for this event.

May 25 – Flash: How Silicon Valley Enabled the Mobile Computing Revolution

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Wednesday , May 25,  2016
Doors open at 7:15
Presentation at 7:30

Sponsored with the Saratoga Historical Society
Potluck for members starting at 6:30)

$5.00 Donation Requested (at door)
Saratoga Historical Society members attend the lecture for free

Venue: (not our usual venue)

Foothill Club
20399 Park Place
Saratoga 95070


This presentation will discuss the origins of the mobile computing revolution in terms that anyone in attendance will understand and enjoy. The story starts at Bell Labs in New Jersey in the 1940s, transitions to the birth of Silicon Valley in 1956, and shows how Sputnik and the creation of the first Silicon Valley start-up led to an amazing series of inventions.

Computer storage consultant Brian Berg will lead this talk, and will interview SanDisk founder Dr. Eli Harari. You will learn about the ubiquitous importance of Moore’s Law in an environment of start-up companies, and about how Dr. Harari’s tenacity and inventions played a decisive role in enabling today’s handheld computing devices to access the world’s data. Both Brian and Eli are Saratoga residents.

More information

Mar 10 – High-Power Microwave Tube Development at Stanford and SLAC

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

Thursday, March 10, 2016
6:00 PM: Doors open for refreshments and networking
6:30 PM: Panel presentation


Registration Required, donation suggested
Click Here To Register and pre-donate
Bring ticket to meeting

Venue: KeyPoint Credit Union
2805 Bowers Ave (just off Central Expressway)
Santa Clara, CA 95051

Park in lot adjacent to building on Bowers Ave.

Our Thanks To KeyPoint Credit Union

IEEE SV Tech History committee is extremely grateful to KeyPoint Credit Union for use of their auditorium as our prime venue. Many thanks to Doron Noyman of KeyPoint for his support in making that happen.

The SF Bay Area has been a hotbed to technology development since the beginning of the 20th century. In this interview panel meeting, you’ll hear how Sigurd and Russell Varian came up with the plans for the klystron at Stanford in the late ’30’s, with critical theoretical contributions from Bill Hansen, physics professor. With a focus on Hansen, we’ll see how the theory and practice of microwave tubes developed locally during and after WW II, resulting in small linear accelerators, and eventually into the 2-mile-long Stanford Linear Accelerator, out behind the campus. The klystron and linear accelerator technology is still in use today around the world, as the prime radiation treatment for cancer.

Dave Leeson is in the final stages of a two-volume book on the life and career of Bill Hansen; he’ll give us ‘inside information’ about those early days, and how this breakthrough happened. Richard Winkler built the first 1-MW klystrons for his Stanford degree thesis, and will discuss their construction in the mid-50’s.  Allen Odian describes how the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) got started, some stories about Panofsky, and “first-beam”.  Burton Richter will tell of the early days of SLAC, and stories of how it was constructed and used. he’ll conclude with some of the physics experiments leading up to his Nobel Prize in 1976.

SLAC was the first of the many IEEE milestones dedicated in the SF Bay area

Join us for an interview of Profs. David Leeson and Burton Richter, as Paul Wesling, IEEE Life Fellow, explores this Silicon Valley technology


Prof. David Leeson, consulting professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford.
Prof. Leeson is finishing a book on Bill Hansen’s career and contributions.

Richard Winkler, Stanford Engr ’53.
Winkler worked on high-power klystrons at Stanford. He went to Shockley Transistor (became Cleavite) just after Noyce and Moore left, and was the first regular employee at SLAC, designing equipment to test the 50-MW klystrons, did klystrons for first medical uses of linear accelerators.

Dr. Allen Odian, PhD from MIT, Fulbright Scholar, Assoc Prof at Univ of Ill.
Dr. Odian joined SLAC in 1961 and was involved with detectors.

Prof. Burton Richter (tentative), Physical Sciences, Stanford, and Director Emeritus at SLAC
Prof. Richter began post-doc work at Stanford in 1956, becoming a professor in 1967, and designed the Stanford Positron-Electron Accelerating Ring (SPEAR). He succeeded Wolfgang “Pief” Panofsky as director of SLAC in 1984.  He shared the 1976 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the particle that has been dubbed J/psi.

Paul Wesling will moderate this meeting.

Jan 14 – Lockheed: A Silicon Valley Strategic Defense Startup

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

Time & Date: 6pm-8:30pm, Thursday, Jan 14, 2016


Sold Out

Venue: KeyPoint Credit Union
2805 Bowers Ave (just off Central Expressway)
Santa Clara, CA 95051

Park in lot adjacent to building on Bowers Ave.

Our Thanks To KeyPoint Credit Union

IEEE SV Tech History committee is extremely grateful to KeyPoint Credit Union for use of their auditorium as our prime venue. Many thanks to Doron Noyman of KeyPoint for his support in making that happen.


In 1956 Lockheed moved its new division, Lockheed Missile Systems Division to a 275 acre site next to Moffett Field in Sunnyvale; Lockheed had been selected as the systems manager for the Navy’s Polaris Fleet Ballistic Missile and the developer of the missile itself. Lockheed in Silicon Valley went from zero employees in 1956 to more than 28,000 by 1965, far greater growth than HP or Fairchild – perhaps it should have been “Defense Valley,” but that’s another story. Polaris was the first submarine launched ballistic missile in the US’s triad of nuclear defense systems. Extended thru four production generations (Polaris A1, A2 & A3 and Poseidon C3) it was retired from service in the early 1990s. They were followed by Trident I C4 and today’s Trident II D5.  Polaris/Poseidon and Trident, collectively known as the US Navy fleet ballistic missiles recently celebrated a sixtieth anniversary and  they are generally recognized as one of the most successful military industrial programs.

Join four Lockheed senior leaders from then to get a retrospective on Defense Valley of the 1950s and 1960s and the Polaris/Poseidon program that led to today’s Tridents than make up the most secure leg of the strategic Triad.

VIDEO of Presentation


Dave Montague a forty year Lockheed employee retired in 1996 as the President of the Missile Systems Division and a Corporate Vice President.  He came to Silicon Valley in 1957 as an engineer on the new Polaris program and progressed up the supervisory and management chain in guidance and control, systems engineering, and program management positions on Polaris, Poseidon, Trident 1, to executive management of Tactical and Defense systems and Trident II as well as several compartmented programs. He is a fellow of the AIAA and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.  He graduated from Cornell University in 1956

Cliff Kancler  a forty two year Lockheed employee retired in 2007.  Starting in 1965 in Silicon Valley with work on the first digital flight control computer Cliff was a major contributor in computer architecture development for guidance computers and for tactical and defense interceptor computers.  In addition to being part of our strategic defense systems computers from Cliff’s group are circling the solar system and have helped explore the moon.  He has earned recognition as a LM fellow and has a number of patents, and awards. He graduated Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in 1965.

Roy Dreisbach a thirty seven year Lockheed employee retired in 1997.  Upon graduating Menlo College in 1960 Roy joined Lockheed and held senior administrative assignments in Missile Systems, Research and Development, Advanced System, and Space Systems Divisions spanning programs such as Polaris A1 through Trident II as well as Tactical and Defense Systems.  He is an ex-naval aviator, having flown Lockheed Super Constellation early warning aircraft from 1954 to 1958.

Charlie Barndt is a forty eight year Lockheed Martin active employee. Upon graduating from Cornell University in 1965 Charlie joined General Electric as an engineer on Polaris and Poseidon. In 1967 he joined Lockheed as an engineer on Poseidon and Trident I. He progressed up the supervisory and management chain in missile electronics system and subsystems architecture and design, and was a major contributor on Trident II. Charlie is currently serving a third term as a Lockheed Martin Fellow for which he earned initial recognition in 2009. He is a recipient of the US Navy FBM Exceptional Achievement Award, and the Director of Strategic Systems Programs has recognized his 50 years of service in support of the US Navy FBM Program.

Moderator Tom Gardner from the valley’s storage industry would prefer call it the “Iron Oxide Valley,” but has learned much about Defense Valley preparing for this panel.

June 1 mtg: EDA’s pivotal role in development of fabless semiconductor industry

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Time & Date:  6pm-8:30pm  June 1, 2015
Venue:   KeyPoint Credit Union
2805 Bowers Ave (just off Central Expressway)
Santa Clara, CA 95051

Park in lot adjacent to building  on Bowers Ave.

Note of Appreciation:  IEEE SV Tech History committee is extremely grateful to KeyPoint Credit Union for use of their auditorium as our prime venue.   Many thanks to Doron Noyman of KeyPoint for his support in making that happen.


Electronic Design Automation (EDA) for LSI/VLSI Integrated Circuits not only helped meet the challenge of designing systems on a chip (SoC), but also played a crucial enabling role in development of the fabless model that’s so pervasive in today’s semiconductor industry.  EDA allowed system engineers to design chips and gave companies flexibility in targeting an IC design to available semiconductor fabs for manufacturing LSI and VLSI chips.

Companies like Cirrus Logic, Chips & Technologies, and Xilinx were among the first to “truly” separate the design of chips from their manufacturing in the mid 1980’s.  Prior to that time, each semiconductor company had their own silicon waver fabrication plant(s).  Both small and large leading edge semiconductor companies exploit the fabless semiconductor business model today.

This panel will recount the developments in EDA that took place from mid 1970’s to end of 1980’s and share with the audience their insights into how EDA helped transform the semiconductor industry into the fabless semiconductor mode.


  • Suhas Patil, Cirrus Logic
  • Aart de Geus, Synopsys
  • Doug Fairbairn, VLSI Technology

Panel Moderator:   Alan J Weissberger, Chair-IEEE SV Tech History Committee

Bio’s of Panelists:

1. Suhas S. Patil, ScD EE

Suhas Patil is founder and retired Chairman of Cirrus Logic, Inc. a leading semiconductor company in US. He is co-founder of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE) world’s largest nonprofit for fostering entrepreneurs and served as its founding president.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Dr. Patil was Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering (EE) at MIT where from 1972 to 1974 he also served as Assistant Director of Project MAC (Multi-Access Computer), where leading edge work was done on time-sharing and on line computer systems.  In 1966 Prof. Patil developed one of the first on line information management systems for the department of Electrical Engineering at MIT.   From 1975 to 1980 Dr. Patil was an Associate Professor of Computer Science at University of Utah where he started the VLSI (very large-scale integrated circuits) group and worked on design methodology for design of complex integrated circuits.

In 1980 Dr. Patil started Patil Systems, Inc. a semiconductor company based on his academic work in design automation of IC. In 1984 this company moved to Silicon Valley from Salt Lake City, Utah and changed its name to Cirrus Logic, Inc. High volume commercial SoC chips for set top units developed at Patil Systems, Inc. in early 1980 showed viability the fabless model of semiconductor industry.

Suhas received the Doctor of Science degree (ScD) in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 1970.  In 1995 Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur conferred Honorary Doctor of Science degree on Suhas for his work in science and industry.  He served on the board of trustee of The Computer History Museum, The Tech and the World Affairs Council of Northern California from. In February, 2003 Dr Patil was named Life Fellow of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.

2.  Aart de Geus, PhD EE

Aart de Geus is the founder, chairman and CEO of Synopsys Inc. He is a fellow of the IEEE and a Phil Kaufman Award award winner.  Aart received  a PhD in EE from Southern Methodist University, Texas, USA.

Since co-founding Synopsys in 1986, Dr. de Geus has expanded Synopsys from a start-up synthesis company to a global high tech leader. Long considered a pioneer in our industry, he’s been recognized for his technical, business and community achievements with multiple awards, including Electronic Business Magazine’s “CEO of the Year,” the IEEE Robert N. Noyce Medal, the GSA Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award, the Silicon Valley Engineering Council Hall of Fame Award, and the SVLG Life-time Achievement Award. He serves on the Boards of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Applied Materials, the Global Semiconductor Alliance, and the Electronic Design Automation Consortium.

3.  Doug Fairbairn, MSEE

Doug Fairbairn is Staff Director at the Computer History Museum and also his own photography business – Douglas Fairbairn Photography.   Doug earned a BS/MSEE at Stanford in 1971.  After graduation, Doug joined Xerox PARC as a systems engineer. While at PARC, he teamed up with Carver Mead and Lynn Conway to help develop the Mead Conway VLSI design methodology.

Leveraging that work, he formed VLSI Design Magazine (Lambda at the time) and was a co-founder of VLSI Technology in 1980. At VLSI Doug managed its leading edge IC design tools and ASIC business units.

Doug left VLSI in 1990 to form Redwood Design Automation and was later a division manager at Cadence after its purchase of Redwood in 1994.  Since leaving Cadence in 1998, he has served on the Boards of Catalytic, Quickfilter, Simutech, and Verisity.  He joined CHM and formed his photography business in 2006.

About the Moderator:

Alan J Weissberger, ScD EE was hired by Fairchild Systems Technology in March of 1970 to work on CAD algorithms and software to automate the layout of printed circuit boards.  Fairchild wanted to sell such a tool to its semiconductor customers and use it internally for its Sentry IC Tester and the family of 8, 16, and 32 bit minicomputers (known internally as Sprint) it was developing at that time.  In Sept 1970 the minicomputer division was shut down and Weissberger was laid off without ever working on the CAD project.


Time-line (for all our meetings held at KeyPoint):

6pm-6:30pm:        Networking and light dinner/non-alcoholic drinks ($5 donation requested)
6:30pm-6:35pm:   Opening Remarks & Introductions
6:35pm-8pm:        Panel Discussion
8pm-8:15pm:        Audience Q & A
8:15pm:                Appreciation & Adjournment; informal chit-chat with panelists
8:30pm:                Everyone must be out of the auditorium

REGISTRATION REQUIRED:  Click here to register.


Invitation to ask a question or comment:

If you’d like to submit a question or issue to discuss during the panel, please send email to:  OR leave a comment in the box below this post.  There will be ~15 minutes for audience Q&A at the end of our panel discussion.


April 28th Meeting: How Did Hard Disk Drive Track Widths Get That Small?

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Time & Date:  6:30pm-9pm  April 28, 2015


Western Digital, 1710 Automation Parkway, San Jose, CA 95131
Directions and Map 

For questions related to the Western Digital venue, please contact:

Registration Required
Click Here To Register
Bring ticket to meeting



Hard disk drives are all about higher storage capacity and that means higher areal density. Areal density is the product of linear density (density of bits along the tracks) and track density (density of tracks on the disk surface). In this IEEE SV History committee panel session we will examine how hard disk drive track widths have been reduced over over the last 50 years,  while continuing to be the storage behemoths that we still use today.

Over the 50 years of HDD history various ways have been used to try and reduce the track width of the recorded information.  These have included: improved servo technology, creating patterned tracks on the media surface, shingling recorded tracks and general improvements in head and media technology over time.  The panelists will be able to talk about all of these technologies and how they were trying to reduce HDD track width, increase the track density, and provide higher capacity mass storage products.


Moderator:  Tom Coughlin, Coughlin Associates (formerly with Seagate Technology, Maxtor, Micropolis, Ampex, Syquest and other companies)
  • Chris Bajorek, formerly at IBM and Komag
  • Dick Oswald, long time consultant
  • Ed Grochowski, formerly at IBM
  • Bruce Gurney, formerly at IBM and HGST

Timeline (this meeting only):

6:30pm  Networking Reception —   Donation Requested for food/drinks

7:00pm  Chair’s Opening Remarks

7:05pm  Introduction of the Topic by Tom Coughlin

7:15pm-8:30pm  Panel Discussion

8:30pm-8:50pm  Audience Q &A

8:50pm-8:55pm  Appreciation and Adjournment


April 16th Meeting @Ethernet Tech Summit: Fireside Chat with Larry Roberts

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

Time & Date:  2pm-3pm  April 16, 2015
Venue:   Santa Clara Convention Center (Ethernet Tech Summit 2015)

Title: Fireside Chat with Internet Pioneer Larry Roberts

Organizer: Alan J. Weissberger, Chair, IEEE Silicon Valley Technology History Committee

Speaker: Larry Roberts, CEO/Co-Founder, TSL Technologies

Interviewer: Geoff Thompson, Principal, GraCaSi


What can we learn from the origins, emergence,and explosion of the now omnipresent Internet?  Join Internet pioneer (and ARPANET creator) Larry Roberts in exploring how the Internet came about, how it reached its present state, and where it is heading in the future.  This interview will cover both historical lessons and future trends.

Larry Roberts, PhD is best known as the leader of the team that created the ARPANET using packet switching techniques.  The ARPANET was later converted into the current Internet, hence making him one of the true founders of the Internet.  He has received many awards, including the National Academy of Engineering’s Charles Stark Draper Prize “for the development of the Internet”, the AFIP Harry Goode Memorial Award, and the IEEE 2000 Internet Award.  He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  The founder and CEO of five telecommunications companies, he has developed many leading edge products to advance Internet capability, QoS, and reliability.  He holds 11 patents and has given invited presentations at many conferences worldwide.  He holds a PhD in electrical engineering, an MSEE, and a BSEE from MIT.

About the Interviewer:

Geoff Thompson is currently Principal at GraCaSi, where he serves as an advisor on networking standards development and a technical expert on intellectual property issues.  He has been a voting member of the IEEE 802.3 (Ethernet) committee for over 30 years and also serves as a Member Emeritus of the IEEE 802 Executive Committee.   He chaired the IEEE 802.3 Working Group and was later 1st Vice Chair of the 802 Executive Committee.  A long-time leader in standards development, he was a Distinguished Member, Technical Staff at Nortel Networks and a Consulting Member, Engineering Staff at Xerox.  Geoff has been a major contributor to the IEEE member discussion group, has participated in many ComSocSCV meetings and is the IEEE Silicon Valley Tech History committee officer in charge of LANs and the Internet. He holds a BSEE from Purdue University.

About the Organizer:

Alan J. Weissberger, ScD EE is the Chair of the IEEE Silicon Valley Technology History Committee, Content Manager for the global IEEE Communications Society (ComSoc) Community website, North America Correspondent for the IEEE Global Communications Newsletter, Chair Emeritus of the IEEE Santa Clara Valley (SCV) ComSoc, and an IEEE Senior Life Member.  He is a former Adjunct Professor in the Santa Clara University Electrical Engineering Department and taught 42 graduate courses there. As a volunteer for the Computer History Museum,, and, he writes technical summaries of lectures and exhibits.  Alan is also a contributing author for the Viodi View.

 Note:  This is an OPEN session (free if you register on-line) at the Ethernet Tech Summit 2015.  Register here.



This history session went very well with a smooth flow between Geoff and Larry.  The Q & A was also quite good, except for a question about artificial intelligence in the Internet possibly make it think on its own.  Note that software control over the network does NOT imply artificial intelligence or any thinking machines.  It’s the big data/ analytics software in cloud resident computer servers that might be able to predict outcomes based on past behavior.

Glad we could give credit to Larry as the primary creator of the X.25 protocol and his leading role in commercializing Packet Switched Public Data Networks at Telenet (later sold to GTE).  Telenet was way ahead of AT&T, Sprint and other N.A. X.25 PSPDN carriers.  In the mid to late 1970s, his version of the X.25 protocol was accepted by what is now called BT (British Post Office then) and Orange (Transpac then).  It was later enhanced by ANSI X3S37 and CCITT SG XVII WP2 (which I participated in from 1978-1985).

—>X.25 was the only commercial and international public data network from 1976 to 1993 when the Internet went public and took over (see Larry’s comments below)!   Even ISDN used X.25 on both the B and D channels (Basic Rate access) for packet switching.


Larry’s comments:

Alan,  What can I say? Your summary is very valuable as virtually no-one has realized that the developed world had a more reliable standardized packet service for almost 2 decades before the Internet.  As to the fireside chat, it went great as Geoff fed new questions to me whenever I stopped. It worked very well.

Another thought: The time slot of 1 hour for this fireside chat was a huge difference from a prepared speech and was a serious benefit in enabling us to cover a large amount of material over a long period of time (several decades).




Thanks also to Paul Wesling for being the cameraman/videographer.  He and Ken Pyle will work to get the videos edited and captioned (with the help of Larry & Geoff for the latter).