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Posts Tagged ‘Texas Instruments

Some things change; some things stay the same…


Today’s street prices on TI Graphing Calculators: $100-220.  One notes the irony that TI is widely credited with having pioneered the strategy of pricing to the learning curve.

As we lament the captive market created by the prevalence of the SAT and AP exams, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that Nescafé instant coffee was introduced in Switzerland by the Nestlé company (inpart, motivated by the need to help the Brazilian government solve its coffee surplus problem.

Instant coffee was invented in 1901 by Satori Kato, a Japanese scientist working in Chicago. Kato introduced the powdered potion in Buffalo, New York, at the Pan-American Exposition. George Constant Louis Washington developed his own instant coffee process shortly thereafter, and first marketed it commercially (~1910).

But Nestlé improved the production process: they created their Instant coffee with a blend of beans, mixed in a drum, roasted and ground, then brewed in huge percolators, sprayed into a heated stainless steel dryer to remove all water, and finally packed as the small, dry granules now so well known.

Spray-Process Instant Coffee

A model citizen…

Michael Paul Smith is a photographer and model builder who’s combined those passions to create an album of idealized photos from his past:

The telephone pole, stop sign, the white house and the tree are real and are about a block away from the models. The models themselves are sitting on a table.

What started out as an exercise in model building and photography, ended up as a dream-like reconstruction of the town I grew up in. It’s not an exact recreation, but it does capture the mood of my memories.

And like a dream, many of the buildings show up in different configurations throughout the photos. Or sometimes, the buildings stay put and the backgrounds change. Visually, this is heading towards the realm of ART.


It’s the oldest trick in the special effects book: line up a model with an appropriate background and shoot. The buildings are 1/24th scale [or 1/2 inch equals a foot]. They are constructed of Gator board, styrene plastic, Sintra [a light flexible plastic that can be carved, and painted] plus numerous found objects; such as jewelery pieces, finishing washers and printed material.

Spend more time in Michael’s history here.  And check out his other sets of model shots— amazing.

As we let our fingers do the walking down memory lane, we might recall that it was on this date in 1959 that Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments filed the first patent for an integrated circuit (U.S. Patent 3,138,743).  In mid-1958, as a newly employed engineer at Texas Instruments, Kilby didn’t yet have the right to a summer vacation.  So he spent the summer working on the problem in circuit design known as the “tyranny of numbers” (how to add more and more components, all soldered to all of the others, to improve performance).  He finally came to the conclusion that manufacturing the circuit components en masse in a single piece of semiconductor material could provide a solution. On September 12, he presented his findings to the management: a piece of germanium with an oscilloscope attached. Kilby pressed a switch, and the oscilloscope showed a continuous sine wave– proving that his integrated circuit worked and thus that he had solved the problem.  Kilby is generally credited as co-inventor of the integrated circuit, along with Robert Noyce (who independently made a similar circuit a few months later).  Kilby has been honored in many ways for his breakthrough, probably most augustly with the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Kilby’s first integrated circuit

By our pocket protectors ye shall know us…

source: thocp.net/TI

When your correspondent reported to Business School, he was prepared to work on sharpening his slide rule skills.  Every entering student up to that fateful year was required to use one to accomplish the capacious calculations involved in deriving present values, discovering internal rates of return, and the like.  But students entering in 1974 were the first class required to purchase an “electronic calculator.”  Your correspondent bought his first,  a Texas Instruments SR-10.

So one can imagine his satisfaction at learning that the TI SR-10 is honored in CIO Magazine‘s list of “The 50 Greatest Gadgets of the Last 50 Years” (as indeed it has been by its inclusion in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute)… Scan the full list for a roster of gizmos and devices that have changed lives over the last half-century.

As we reach for fresh batteries, we might strain to hear Nero’s noodling on the fiddle, as it was on this date in 64 CE that Rome began to burn.

The Great Fire of Rome

Written by LW

July 18, 2009 at 12:01 am

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