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EE Web
Issue 1
July 5, 2011
In Memory of
Bob Pease
Analog Designer
1940 - 2011
Electrical Engineering Community
Remembering Bob Pease
Memories of Bob Pease from his friends, colleagues, and associates.
Bob Pease
Tribute interview with Bob Pease - analog designer for National Semiconductor for 34 years.
Putting the R in RTL
Coding registers in Verilog and VHDL - learn how to code the four basic styles of flip-flops.
Selecting Passive Components with
a Buck Converter
Make the right choice the first time. Choosing the right passive components can save
you a lot of time.
RTZ - Return to Zero Comic
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Bob Pease
Analog Designer, 1940-2011
Bob Pease was killed in a tragic car accident on June 18 after leaving a memorial for Jim Williams, a
colleague and fellow analog circuit designer. Bob devoted so much of his life to helping his fellow
engineer, and his untimely death deeply affected the electrical engineering community.
We had the privilege to speak with some of Bob’s friends, colleagues, and associates who kindly
took a moment to share their memories of Bob.
Wanda Garrett, National Semiconductor
“I first met Bob when I was interviewing for an application
engineer position about 28 years ago. I did not interview
with him, but when lunch time came around, I went to
eat with him and my hiring manager, Al Kelsch. Although
I had just met them both, I could tell right away that
these two individuals had very different styles. I could
tell that Bob was a rather rambunctious, outgoing guy,
and Al was a very straight-laced, conservative guy. For a
company to have these two completely different people
working together that seemed to get along so well, I
figured this would be a good place to come. So when
I was given the offer to join, I jumped at it because I
thought it was going to be good, and I was going to get
the chance to work with both Al and Bob.
detect when he was wrong. As an example, he and I did
a joint paper a number of years ago for a power supply
conference. The topic was related to the tools that
we offered to go along with our SIMPLE SWITCHER
regulators. I was talking about the tools, and he was
talking about the use of the tools and how to get good
results. He was emphasizing thinking, understanding
the design, and doing bench validation so that users
don’t get fooled by possible mistakes. More simply, he
would kind of make an assumption, and test it to see if
he was correct. But it was necessary for him to kind of
know the magnitude of the answer he was aiming for so
he could interpret whether he was looking at the right
answer or not.
When we went out, Bob was going to drive in his
Volkswagen. The first thing he did was open up the
door and clear out a spot in the back seat for Al to sit. I
piled into the front seat, and as we were getting ready
to leave, Bob said, “Hey, do you like to bake bread?”
And I said, “Sure.” So out from under his driver’s seat
he pulled the recipe for bread. I thought that was kind
of cool.”
He had another approach also, which was to be very
collaborative. If he was working on a problem, or he
had a design that he wanted to make sure was sound,
he would call together a bunch of people. This included
reviewers, friends, and anyone else that he figured
would have a helpful opinion. Sometimes he would
call a “beer check.” In other words, if someone found
an error, he or she earned a beer. If he was writing an
article, he would distribute it to a panel of reviewers,
and we would all get a chance to chime in and say what
we thought was right, wrong, good, or bad. His panel
probably had 30 or 40 reviewers for most of his columns
and books.”
“There were sort of two aspects of Bob’s style as a
designer. One aspect was that he emphasized first
thinking about the problem and figuring out what the
answer should kind of look like, so he could recognize
it when he saw it. This also allowed him the ability to
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Continued: Wanda Garrett
“If Bob felt someone deserved his respect, he made his
respect evident. He didn’t just respect anyone because
of his or her job title, which probably annoyed some of
the supervisors. If he saw that a person was sensible,
that he or she could think and contribute, then that
person got his respect. What mattered to him was the
ability to think and analyze.”
was. That’s how Bob was; what looked like chaos to an
outsider was Bob’s own special form of organization.”
“We used to talk about SPICE and how we hated it,
because some engineers lived with SPICE. And he told
them, “Solder up the circuit and run it that way. That’s
the real way because SPICE is just an emulation. And
I used to tell Bob, “Tell them to solder their fingers
“One thing that most people might not know about Bob
is his interest in music. He really enjoyed a lot of obscure
music from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. He had a very nice,
high tenor singing voice; he really enjoyed singing.
One of the reasons he was so excited to move to San
Francisco was that he could sing in a large cathedral
Paul Grohe, National Semiconducto r
“Back in 1990 I was going to the College of San Mateo,
and I was recruited to come and interview with Bob
for a job at National. I came into the interview kind of
reluctantly because I was actually sick that day. I came
in, went through the interview process, and talked to
Bob, who was very reassuring, telling me, “Don’t worry,
don’t worry.” Days later I came home and my mom
said, “This really strange guy stopped by to drop off
this letter. He was driving a Volkswagen that looked like
a dinosaur.” In the letter was an offer to work as Bob’s
technician. The fact that he was willing to personally
deliver the job offer meant a lot to me, and is a testament
to the type of person he was.”
He was also part of the singing club at National, and
one of the songs that he had a lot of fun with was kind
of a novelty song called “The Green-Eyed Dragon with
the Thirteen Tails.” He and I worked that one up and
that was one of his signature songs. He sang it while I
played the piano.”
“He used to stash a variety of signs under his driver’s
seat. This was so when he would see another driver
with, for example, a broken tail light, he would be
able to communicate the issue to that person using a
designated sign.”
“He had an office, a couple lab benches, and at one
point, before he retired, he had basically an entire
room because the mess was getting too large, and
encroaching on others’ benches. On his bench were
a Kepco power supply, a Tektronix 475 oscilloscope,
usually a Wavetek 176 function generator, and piles of
Fluke DMMs.”
Ken Baker, Analog Devices
“I had been corresponding with Bob in emails regarding
various applications before I met him. When I was finally
introduced to him, I shook his hand and said, “Bob, you
know I’ve been corresponding with you over the past
couple of years, and now that I’ve met you, I like you in
spite of yourself.” He threw back his head and started to
laugh. And he said, “You know Ken, I like you too.” And
we were friends from there on in whenever I would visit
the west coast to meet with him. “
“Bob would have many ideas for me. He would come
up with a concept, scribble out a circuit, and give it to
me to build. I would either do an air-wire circuit like he
would do, or I would actually do a neat one. I would
then tweak it, and he would come by while I was doing
the measurements. Bob couldn’t do this because, while
he was talking on the phone he couldn’t build circuits.
So I was doing his leg-work at the time.”
“Bob and I used to just go to lunch, chew the fat about
things in general like Analog Devices, National, his
trips, and of course his clunky old Volkswagen.”
“He was a master with a soldering iron. On the cover of
his troubleshooting book, there is a board with all of the
wires floating up in the air. It’s for the LM331 voltage-to-
“Bob had one of the desks like mine—piles of junk
all over the place! But he still knew where everything
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