This Oral History is
excerpted from an interview conducted in June, 2004.
In addition, reference
is made to an article by Hans Camenzind, “Redesigning the old 555”, IEEE
Spectrum, Sept 1997.
Hans, let’s start the Oral
History with your recollections of the initial success of the 555
That 555 family was a total
surprise. I wanted to make it flexible, that was the whole purpose, but I
didn’t realize it was so flexible. There are applications now that still
sound crazy to me. And the quantity! In the second year it moved to the
largest quantity sold of any IC and it has stayed that way for 30 years.
The original application was as a timer and oscillator, but it has moved
well beyond that.
According to the IEEE
Spectrum article you wrote on the 555, there was reluctance at Signetics to
invest in this product. Is that right?
The engineering department at
Signetics - yes, they were a bit stodgy for a semiconductor company. They
were at the forefront. They had tried everything. It was a surprising
reaction, and it was simply a reflection of the turf. You know, they were
designing and making operational amplifiers.