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A pioneer of modern microelectronics, Carver Mead has made contributions to the development and design of semiconductors, digital chips, and silicon compilers, technologies which form the foundations of modern very-large-scale integration chip design. In the 1980s, he focused on electronic modeling of human neurology and biology, creating “neuromorphic electronic systems.” Mead has been involved in the founding of more than 20 companies. In 1960, he was the first person to describe and demonstrate a three-terminal solid-state device based on the operating principles of electron tunneling and hot-electron transport. In 1966, Mead designed the first gallium arsenide gate field-effect transistor using a Schottky barrier diode to isolate the gate from the channel. Mead is credited by Gordon Moore with coining the term Moore’s law. In 1968, Mead demonstrated, contrary to common assumptions, that as transistors decreased in size, they would not become more fragile or hotter or more expensive or slower. Rather, he argued that transistors would get faster, better, cooler and cheaper as they were miniaturized. Mead was the first to predict the possibility of storing millions of transistors on a chip. Mead was one of the first researchers to investigate techniques for very-large-scale integration, designing and creating high-complexity microchips. He taught the world’s first VLSI design course, at Caltech in 1970. He co-authored the landmark text “Introduction to VLSI systems”, published in 1979. This was A pioneering textbook, it has been used in VLSI integrated circuit education all over the world for decades. Mead and his Ph.D. student David L. Johannsen created the first silicon compiler, capable of taking a user’s specifications and automatically generating an integrated circuit. Next, he worked with Professor John Hopfield and Nobelist Richard Feynman, helping to create three new fields: Neural Networks, Neuromorphic Engineering, and the Physics of Computation. As the space is limited we leave interested readers to read more about this amazing scientist on his wikipedia page. Here is a list of some of his major awards:
- 2015, Fellow, National Academy of Inventors (NAI) for his “unparalleled commitment to excellence in academic invention."
- 2011, BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award of Information and Communication Technologies “… for his influential thinking in silicon technology. His work has enabled the development of the microchips that drive the electronic devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones, DVD players) ubiquitous in our daily lives."
- 2005, Progress Medal of the Royal Photographic Society
- 2002, National Medal of Technology
- 2002, Fellow of the Computer History Museum “for his contributions in pioneering the automation, methodology and teaching of integrated circuit design”.
- 2001, Dickson Prize in Science
- 1999, Lemelson-MIT Prize
- 1997, Allen Newell Award, Association for Computing Machinery
- 1996, John Von Neumann Medal, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
- 1996, Phil Kaufman Award for his impact on electronic design industry
- 1992, Award for Outstanding Research, International Neural Network Society
- 1985, John Price Wetherill Medal from The Franklin Institute, with Lynn Conway
- 1985, Harry H. Goode Memorial Award, American Federation of Information Processing Societies
- 1984, Harold Pender Award, with Lynn Conway
- 1981, Award for Achievement from Electronics Magazine, with Lynn Conway
- 1971, T.D. Callinan Award, In recognition of an outstanding contribution to the literature of dielectrics.”
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