Pardon me if I “geek out” for a moment. You may never have heard of Texan Robert Dennard, but without question his inventions impact your life every single day.
Robert Dennard, electrical engineer and inventor, was born in Terrell, Texas September 5, 1932. He graduated with a bachelor of engineering degree from SMU (in Dallas) in 1954 and stayed to complete a masters in 1956. Two years later he earned a Ph.D. in engineering from Carnegie Institute of Technology and began his career at International Business Machines (IBM).
IBM is the company that gave us automated teller machines (ATMs), the floppy disk, hard disk drives, credit cards with magnetic stripes, relational databases, the SQL programming language, UPC barcodes, and dynamic random-access memory (DRAM). This last bit of genius–the DRAM–was invented by Robert Dennard in 1968. He was 36.
Dennard also led efforts in 1974 to develop scaling equations for metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs), which describe how voltage, capacitance, power, and other electronic quantities change as transistors become smaller and smaller. These “Dennard Scaling” equations are the foundation for Moore’s Law, which has enabled the development of the microelectronics that have given us smaller and more powerful computers.
So the next time you hold a gaming device or cell phone in your hand and wonder that such a small device could contain an entire library of information and is, in fact, more powerful than the rooms full of early computers that landed men on the moon…well, you have Robert Dennard to thank!
Happy birthday, Mr. Dennard. And thank you!