© National Semiconductor Components | June 22, 2011

National remembers legendary analog expert Bob Pease

National Semiconductor looked back on the accomplishments of legendary design engineer Bob Pease, who died June 18. During his 33 years at National, Pease received 21 patents and designed more than 20 integrated circuits.
East Coast Beginnings

After earning a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from MIT in 1961, Pease went to work at George A. Philbrick Researches, which launched the commercial use of the operational amplifier in 1952. There Pease worked on affordable mass-produced op amps using discrete solid-state components.

He moved to California in 1976 to work at National, which had rapidly grown to become one of the top three U.S. semiconductor companies based on its analog technology.

Among the products Pease designed are temperature-voltage frequency converters used in groundbreaking medical research expeditions to Mt. Everest in the 1980s. He also designed a seismic pre-amplifier chip used to measure lunar ground tremors in the U.S. Apollo moon landing missions. Among his more memorable designs are the LM331 voltage-to-frequency converter and the LM337 adjustable voltage regulator.

“Bob was one of those analog engineers who spanned the semiconductor industry’s early history,” said EDN columnist Paul Rako, a former National colleague. ”He started working on vacuum tubes and discrete components, then monolithic analog circuits with the planar process. Later in his career he put all of this accumulated knowledge to use as an applications engineer. That’s what gave him such breadth.”

Analog seminars build reputation

Pease’s reputation grew as he shared the secrets of analog design with engineers around the world through National’s Analog Seminars. His passion for sharing information knew no bounds. He worked long hours, answering phone calls and emails from anyone with questions about analog design: customer, student, veteran engineer – it didn’t matter.

“Discussing the solutions made one think differently and look at alternative possibilities,” said strategic technologist Don Archer.” He loved working through difficult problems to find elegant answers.”

First online webcast for Analog Engineers

Starting in 2003, Pease hosted the semiconductor industry’s first online webcast tailored specifically for analog design engineers. The “Analog by Design Show” featured a variety of programming created to help electronic engineers solve real-world design challenges.

As Pease’s reputation grew and he became a face of National, his personality grew as well. His image was featured in many promotions, often with a humorous slant. Behind the humor, there was always a serious note around learning. As part of a campaign to help engineers avoid repeating old mistakes in their new bandgap reference circuits, Pease donned an outlandish Czar of Bandgaps getup.

“Bob Pease goes back to the wild days of analog design,” Rako said. “This is when a core group of passionate engineers and scientist would work hard, play hard, and do as they pleased.”

Recently Pease had been working on a piece for called “How to Choose an Op Amp.” He was also updating the popular Application Note 31, a collection of op amps dating back to 1969, documenting as well as commenting on their history and evolution.

National Fellow Dennis Monticelli remembers Pease as a helpful colleague and friend. “We go way back to my days as a green engineer when his gregarious personality and sheer knowledge drew me in. Bob was always generous with his time and never forgot what interested you whether work-related or not. He could multi-task like no other, yet also dive deep and narrow into esoteric areas. I will miss him yet take solace in the fact that his legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of true analog engineers everywhere.”

“The industry has lost an analog giant,” said National CEO Don Macleod. “Bob Pease was an extraordinarily talented engineer who cared deeply that others gained the knowledge they needed to advance their own work. He was a spokesperson for National for many years, with a worldwide following. Bob retired several years ago, but had a continuing role here mentoring engineers, writing articles and reviewing and enhancing technical documentation. We will miss his influence and his enthusiasm.”

Said Dietz, "I will truly miss Bob and his clever wit and insights. The analog world has no one like a Bob Pease, and I suspect it never will again.”
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