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A blog for electronics professionals, amateurs, hackers, and anyone interested in the world of electronics.

4 February 2011

Design Spark - Sort out your spam filters! & Electronics Engineering Heroes.

I am posting this in reply to an item on RS's Design Spark site entitled "Electronics Engineering Heroes".Why am I posting it here? Well it seems to think I am a spammer and won't accept my submission. No appeal, no resubmission. Nada. Nice one RS. I invite anyone reading this to view the original article, without which this post will mean very little!

Steve Jobs was most certainly not the engineer, he was (and remains) a marketing genius. Steve Wozniak was the engineer.

What does that say about engineering? That, subconsciously, even an engineer chooses a marketing man to symbolise engineering. Similarly, in the story of the transistor, William Shockley was largely a manager, and wasn't involved at the time the point contact transistor was created. The field effect transistor had previously been invented by several other people working independently, as long ago as the 1920s. I guess there was no marketing man handy to spread the word

If you want real electronic engineering heroes, try Robert Watson-Watt the British RADAR pioneer - other RADARS were being developed, but it was Watson-Watt who managed to make the concept "fly", and without which we would have lost the Battle of Britain.

Equal with Watson-Watt was Tommy Flowers, the man who was able to make the WWII "bombe" decryptor, and went on to design Colossus. The engineering was not in making it, but in getting it to run reliably, something which was considered impossible as it used nearly 2000 thermionic valves (tubes). The payout which the government gave him at the end of the war didn't even cover his personal investment in equipment.

Sadly, because both these men did their work during the war, a vast amount of it was an official secret and wasn't publically recognised until the 1980s.