I missed this news when it happened a week ago, and was travelling with little time spent on TR, so maybe I missed this in a shortbread: Hans Camenzind, who invented the 555 timer and the first Class D amplifier, has died
In tech we tend to focus on the companies, and their CEOs, but overlook the many brilliant engineers who create the actual innovations that make all of it possible. This is especially true for the pioneers who built the fundamental building blocks at the cusp of the digital transition, when tech was much less sexy and clever innovations just got built into millions of devices without fanfare, their originators going on to the next thing in relative obscurity. But we should at least acknowledge them once, if only after they've died: it's pretty certain devices you depend on every day contain circuits originally designed by Camenzind. The Class D amplifier powers the speaker in your cell phone, and in most other powered speaker applications including many HT setups. The elegant 555 timer is seemingly everywhere, in everything (Wikipedia
states that ten years ago a billion of them were being produced every year, mostly designed into larger ICs) from debounced latches and switches to LED flashers and all sorts of measurement equipment. And in PWM: if your PC fans (or any other motor) are PWM-controlled, they're probably using some variant of the 555 circuit.
So the next time you answer a call on your cell, or adjust the fan speed in your computer, pause for just a moment and give a thought to Hans Camenzind, and all the other mostly-forgotten engineers like him.