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Carver Mead: "It's All About Thinking," A Personal Account Leading up to the First Microwave Transistor

Siegel, Peter H. and Mead, Carver (2021) Carver Mead: "It's All About Thinking," A Personal Account Leading up to the First Microwave Transistor. IEEE Journal of Microwaves, 1 (1). pp. 269-274. ISSN 2692-8388. doi:10.1109/jmw.2020.3028277.

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This article is the second in a continuing series of biographical pieces on individuals who have made significant contributions to microwave science, technology and applications over the course of their careers. It is intended to bring to the reader, especially those new to the field, a portrait of an individual who serves as a role model for the community and a detailed description of their accomplishments. At the same time, it tries to bridge with commonality, the experiences of the subject with those of the scientists, engineers and technologists who are following in their footsteps or hope to establish a similar record of success. The articles are composed only after an extensive face-to-face interview with the subject and are helped immensely by additional input and editing by the subjects themselves. The focus of this article is Caltech Professor Carver A. Mead, perhaps best known for his ground breaking work on VLSI design techniques, but also for the first demonstration of the GaAs MESFET and the originator of Moore's Law. However, Professor Mead has contributed so much more, and to so many disciplines other than electrical engineering. From his own description of his interests and focus, he is a chameleon of knowledge, scrambling into, blending with, and then distinguishing himself in a new field every thirteen years or so, over a career spanning seven decades and still going. At age 86, his latest paper, on an intuitive approach to electromagnetically coupled single-electron quantum systems, was just published this summer. Although we cannot do justice to all his contributions, we hope the reader will see something of the polymath in Professor Mead as we focus just on his earliest work, where he single handedly conceived, constructed, and tested the world's first Schottky barrier gate transistor in his modest laboratory at Caltech.

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Siegel, Peter H.0000-0002-2539-4646
Additional Information:© 2021 The Author(s). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. For more information, see Received 8 September 2020; accepted 28 September 2020. Date of current version 7 January 2021. This article was compiled after a series of two interviews with Professor Mead on August 26th and 27th, 2020. Normally, the interviews would have been face-to-face, but Covid 19 restrictions forced their conversion into video conference sessions. Although the author has been associated with the California Institute of Technology since the late 1980’s he did not know Professor Mead personally before this interview, although he occasionally passed him in the elevators and hallways of the Moore Electrical Engineering building on campus, where Professor Mead spent a large part of his time. After delving more deeply into Professor Mead’s background, and especially after the series of interviews with him, the author’s admiration has only grown stronger. I think anyone who reads this article will feel the same awe and inspiration, and perhaps feel that science is in good hands so long as people like Carver Mead are given free rein to act upon their curiosity.
Subject Keywords:Carver Mead, California Institute of Technology, MESFET, transistors, microwave history
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210208-144010883
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Official Citation:"Carver Mead: “It's All About Thinking,” A Personal Account Leading up to the First Microwave Transistor," in IEEE Journal of Microwaves, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 269-274, winter 2021, doi: 10.1109/JMW.2020.3028277.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:107959
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:08 Feb 2021 23:25
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 19:07

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