April is a noteworthy month in the history of electronics. Some milestones (in chronological order):
- On April 2, 1618, mathematician and physicist Francesco Grimaldi was born. He was the first scientist to study the diffraction of light, inventing the word “diffraction.” Later physicists used his 1665 work to prove that light is a waveform.
- On April 30, 1897, physicist Sir Joseph John Thomson announced the discovery of the first subatomic particle, the electron. He also invented the mass spectrometer.
- On April 14, 1954, physicist Gordon Teal built the first silicon transistor. (Previous transistors had been made of germanium.) Teal also made break-through advancements in infrared technology and digital signal processing.
- On April 23, 1941, electrical engineer Ray Tomlinson was born. In 1971, he would implement the first email system on ARPAnet, inventing the “@sign” protocol that is still used today.
- On April 3, 1973, engineer Martin Cooper made the first phone call using a hand-held mobile phone. He is considered “the father of the cell phone.”
The year 2014 is also noteworthy for two reasons.
First, 2014 is the 75th anniversary of Hewlett-Packard, Agilent’s predecessor company. In 1939, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard established HP in a Palo Alto garage with $538. Their first financially successful product, a precision audio oscillator, was innovative for using an incandescent light bulb as a resistor to stabilize the output.
Second, in 2014 Agilent’s electronic measurement business is expected to launch as an independent company, Keysight Technologies.
“HP’s and Agilent’s long success in electronic measurement helped fund their computer, printer, life sciences and diagnostics businesses,” says Keysight President and CEO Ron Nersesian. “Our decision to create a standalone electronic measurement company is, in many ways, like returning to the core focus that has made us strong.”
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