Recollections, anecdotes, and comments about Carver Mead and his impact on Caltech.

Collected memories

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  • 1956

  • Classmate

    Carver and I were both members of Blacker House.

    I have followed his amazing career for years.

    His talent has been of inestimable value to the world.

    Submitted By: Chuck Bodeen (M.S. '59)
  • Big T

    Big Creek, California, was the location of this ham's shack before he invaded Tech. With Fresno High behind him, he came here to continue his extracurricular activities in amateur radio and outdoor sports. Carver promptly won a frosh numeral in baseball, and he was a big help on the Blacker interhouse teams before he married and moved off campus. In addition to joining IRE, he has settled down to the more serious task of working and staying in school, disproving the old adage that anyone who knows electronics cold has a hard time with the EE option. Carver anticipates more graduate schooling and hard work in the future.

    Submitted By: Archive Caltech
  • 1970

  • Tale of Two Talks

    I only heard Professor Mead lecture twice: the first time in 1970 when I was helping with a new class he was teaching to freshmen and then again in 1994 or thereabouts at a conference at Asilomar. I was a senior at that first lecture, listening to Carver explain things about electricity to frosh in a way that I hadn't heard in 3+ years at 'Tech or anywhere else. I felt like my EE education was now complete and I could design whatever electric circuit that needed designing. His intuition and...

    Submitted By: Jim Beck (B.S. '71)
  • Quotation of Chairman Mead

    Quotation of Chairman Mead:

    "Ignorance is not a position of strength."

    Submitted By: Phil Neches (B.S., Ph.D.)
  • Silicon Cochlea

    Watts layout3
    Watts layout3 002

    All auditory processing starts with a cochlea. Silicon auditory processing must start with a silicon cochlea. The fundamental structure in a cochlea is the cellular membrane. The silicone basilar membrane is a transmission line with a velocity of propagation that can be tuned electrically. Output taps, where the signal can be observed, are located at intervals alone the line. We can think about the taps as crude inner hair cells. Unfortunately, we have about 3500; we will be lucky to have...

    Submitted By: Archive Caltech
  • 1973

  • Carver on EAS 72-73 annual report

    Carver eas 1972 1973

    Found in an EAS annual report '72-'73, with a caption saying:

    Carver Mead, professor of Electrical Engineering, giving oral examination to undergraduate student Howard Bubb as part of course EE 10 - Digital Electronics Laboratory. EE 10 offers freshman students an introductory unstructured laboratory designed to provide an opportunity to work on projects related to digital electronics. The student is required to design, build, and test his own digital system.

    Submitted By: Dick Lyon (B.S. '74)
  • 1976

  • Thesis Topic

    It was the first day of graduate school, in the first class, in the then brand-new CS department. Two thirds of the faculty, cornered me: that is to say, Carver and Fred Thompson. "Do you know what your thesis topic will be?" they demanded.

    I knew both Fred and Carver from undergraduate days, so the respectful thing was to ask their opinion rather than proffer my own.

    "We think you should figure out how to implement Fred's systems with Carver's chips," they said.

    "Funny," I...

    Submitted By: Phil Neches (B.S., Ph.D.)
  • Cutting Watermelon

    Mead  carver 1976 %28sketch by unknown artist%29
    Submitted By: Kwang-I Yu (Ph.D.)
  • 1988

  • Retinal Electrophysiology

    Always wanting to be as close to the phenomenon under study as possible, during Carver's study of the vertebrate retina and his development of the silicon retina, he would visit the lab of Frank Werblin at UC Berkeley. Here, in my lab, as I used whole cell patch clamp techniques in the retinal slice preparation to measure light-driven synaptic currents and voltage responses of single, identified neurons, Carver's presence, penetrating mind, and his ability to conceptualize have been a...

    Submitted By: Greg Maguire
  • 1997

  • National Semiconductor/ Foveon

    Happiness at foveon
    Pre foveon national semiconductor

    I met Carver at National Semiconductor through Gil Amelio who asked us to develop imagers.

    The group included Min Hwa Chi, Hosam Haggad and myself from National and Tobi Delbruck, and Carver. Dick Merrill would join later on.

    Those few years were the best in my life at work

    Dear Carver, thanks for sharing and leaving that precious time in my memory

    I will never forget you.

    Love. Albert

    Submitted By: Albert Bergemont
  • 2002

  • Carver at Foveon, circa 2002

    Carver at foveon
    Carver dick lyon foveonprismcam
    Submitted By: Dick Lyon (B.S. '74)
  • 2003

  • National Medal of Technology

    Mead natmedaltech02

    Carver Mead receiving the 2002 National Medal of Technology from President Bush.

    Submitted By: White House Photo Contribution
  • 2006

  • Carver at the Computer History Museum

    Carver mead at chm apr 2005
    Submitted By: Dick Lyon (B.S. '74)
  • Discovery of a 1912 Crossarm


    Discovered a 1912 crossarm in a swamp in upstate New York.

    Submitted By: Gail Whistance
  • 2012

  • Advice to Entrepreneurs

    Carver Mead's advice to... entrepreneurs: "Be prepared for the critics. Learn from your mistakes and move on."

    Submitted By: Giancarlo Ibarguen
  • 2013

  • Going Back to Basics

    Dr. Carver Mead challenges the chip industry to go back to basics, get an intuitive understanding of quantum physics.

    Submitted By: Jonathan David
  • 2014

  • The Life of a Caltech "Lifer" - Interview with Carver

    Submitted By: Donna Fox
  • Carver turns 80


    Carver at a private dinner to celebrate his 80th birthday on May 3, 2014.

    Submitted By: Dick Lyon (B.S. '74)
  • 2015

  • CaJAGWR Seminar

    Submitted By: CaJAGWR Seminar
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