Added draft chapters of my book “Doing Link Budgets”

Please find first two chapters of my book here.

Your comments are most welcome.

Locus of control and getting annoyed at being reminded

I often find myself annoyed when a family member asks me to do something or reminds once too often to attend to the same thing. My husband and I do a lot of traveling together in Europe. He walks fast, always faster than me, and is often ahead of me. So when we come up to a street crossing, he crosses ahead of me and keeps reminding me to cross quickly, lest cars, buses, and trains that are often present in European streets not run over his precious wife. However, I am always annoyed by this “comment” to cross quickly. There are of course, many other such reminders, instructions, and exhortations that come up in our daily life, such as did I remember to close the door or turn off the oven etc. He is a kind and considerate person and rationally I know he means well. But I nearly always respond with annoyance to attend to something that I would have done anyway, or at least I plan to with some degree of certainty!

Of course, we do this to others, including our children without thinking. Nearly always after the second or the third reminder, we are likely to get back an angry response. This surprises us, as we of course mean all this advise only for the best.

This is comes from our concept of self as a competent human being with some measure of control over the daily events. But there are thousands of things to be competent about in daily life. Did I take everything out of the car, did I turn off the heater, did I remember to call so and so for such and such thing. We feel we have “control” of our lives which includes all these little things that must be done. Generally, most of us feel to a large extent that we are in control of our lives and understand the outcome of failure. Sadly enough, even people who are not in control also feel this way. Okay, we know we are not perfect and out of the 100 things that must be attended to everyday, we are liable to drop a good 20% percent of them and are surprised when things don’t turn out well. Yes, we know we are imperfect. However, we are still annoyed when someone over-reminds us to attend to something. This can be in a near and dear relationship, or at work.

There is a concept of locus of control that applies to feelings of annoyance this type. We begin to develop this locus of control around three years of age. We begin to feel that we are masters of our “environment”. Children begin to exhibit this early on. Over reminding, violates their sense of control and bites into their developing sense of control about their developing personhood. “No, I wanna do it my way!” How often do you hear that? A lot.

As we grow older, the locus of control increases to a larger set of activities, and is probably at its height in our teens. Unintended violation which implies that we do not have such control, leads to frustration and anger. It hurts our sense of self and as such a fighting response is evoked. In fact, it happens to all of us, whether we are actually competent at the activity or not, and, would indeed benefit from the “reminder or the helpful advice.”

So, what to tell someone when you feel that this is happening too often? You can explain the concept of locus of control, if they are of the intellectual type. Most likely it won’t work. Because, they also have their locus of control and the task falls within it. So the technique would be to remove or move the item or task in question out of their locus. You might try saying, “let me take care of it, by this date or time. You don’t have to worry about this, as you know, I usually get things done, or do them the right way.”  This is also not likely to work with most people in your personal life, probably because they know your failings. At work, however, where such locus is more formal and behavior requirements more rigid, you may just be able to wrest some control  away from the trespasser, into your own locus. If both people do not understand this concept, are not willing to respect these fundamental boundaries and concepts of personality, then the little conflicts and outburst become part of the relationship, keeping it simmering and volatile.

A bit more from Wikipedia

Kiev – Ukraine, May 16-18, 2019

I gave a masterclass on Fourier Analysis based on my book at the National Aviation University in Kiev, Ukraine this last week.

This is a 5000 student university in this beautiful, grand city full of young people. The city Kiev was a surprise for me. Pleasant and lovely, with great food and cheaper in all respects from the US. The people are friendly and helpful.

What was a surprise was the number of women present at my class. Although they translated my talk into Ukrainian, it seems that most student speak and understand English. The presentation was arranged By Dr. Yevgeny Gayev for the MATLAB and computer calculations in education, science and engineering”, May 16 – 18, 2019 р., Kyiv.

My class presentation is here.

Nyquist, Shannon and the information carrying capacity of signals

This tutorial covers the discussion of Nyquist capacity equation. This equation is often used to develop a capacity number for digital signals.  Nyquist capacity is often considered an achievable starting point.

Then came Shannon, who gave us the expression for the bound on capacity beyond which communication transfer is not possible with any certainty. For uncoded signals,  we can come within 7-10 dB of this limit and, with coding, we can come pretty darn close.

So communications engineers have done a lot better than physicists, who can come no where near the speed of light, another limit on electromagnetic signals! And all this happened in out own life time.

Here is the full tutorial in pdf format.

Shannon tutorial

This woman in tech and all that

In 1964, I was a young girl living in Varanasi, India. My father owned a business in the town, across from a movie studio called Prakash Talkies. The movie place always had gigantic posters of garishly pained actresses with gigantic heaving breasts making coy faces. Occasionally my cousin, Pammi and I would sneak in without paying. It was hard to do but we did it more than a few times. Right outside the theater, was a magazine stand and here on every 30th of the month, I would approach the seller, whom I knew well and he me, as this would happen every month. I would ask him if my favorite magazine issue had arrived. He would tell me, NO, come back tomorrow. But he had the latest issue of the magazine, I could see it in a bundle all tied up. But he liked to toy with me, he didn’t want to me to have the magazine until the 1st of the month! Disappointment! I would return the next day to pay my one rupee (or my be it was two annas) to get my hands on that precious magazine. And that magazine was called Science World for Children or something like that. Hard to believe but I have forgotten the name. At the time, I looked forward each month for the new issue of this magazine with its color pictures. I so loved that magazine! How and why I loved science at that age and in that time (60’s) in India, I can’t say. Some of us are just born that way. My father’s business was in scientific supplies but that was about the only tenuous connection there was to science in my family. No one was into science in my family. No doctors, no engineers. No role models.

One day, a young man came man visit our neighbor’s house. I happened to be there and heard him say that he was studying engineering at BHU (Benaras Hindu University). Impressed. I told him that I too would like to be an engineer. He told me, what a silly idea I had. Girls do not become engineers. Being a little bit of a contrarian, even at that age, I told him that I would do it, that he would see me at BHU in the engineering school in a few years. He laughed. But he did see me there just as I had promised. One of only four women engineering students in BHU in the year of 1966.

In February of 1967, I left BHU after only three months and came to America to join my parents. We came to California where my father was professor of economics at the Cal State University in Fresno, CA. So I started engineering school in Fresno State University. I applied to UCLA but my parents would not allow me go live away from home. So Fresno it was. There was a very smart boy in my class who sat next to me in my Physics class. I was then 17 and he just a few years older having just returned from Vietnam. My parents were very conservative, traditional Sikh family and although perfectly okay with me being the only girl in my classes, did not allow me to date or to even talk to boys. Whether rebelliousness or something else, I did see this boy secretively. So at the age of 18, I married Del, age 23. We got married to the great unhappiness of my parents and moved to San Luis Obispo to go to Cal Poly. Only becuase thats where he wanted to go. I just followed him.

My college years were wonderful. Although I was the only girl in class, I was treated no differently than any one else. I had no sense as to what would happen in the real working world when I graduated, although I was told once or twice that it would be hard for me to find a job. Of course, I did not believe them. In my senior year, I interviewed with a few companies, most rejected me telling me that their engineers would never accept a woman co-worker. This was a shock. I told them that I was in an engineering school for four years and no one had found any problems with me at school. But these were politically incorrect times and people said what they thought. So no job prospects despite my new degree.

Then in March of 1972, I got a call again from the McDonald Douglas company for a interview, after having been rejected previously. I entered the Employment Office or whatever they used to call those departments then, and sat and waited. They had just gotten a huge new contract. In the waiting room, on the wall was a big black board on which was written “Goal for 1972 – Hire five women engineers”.

Affirmative Action had arrived! The doors opened, I had my first job as a real engineer with the coveted title of MTS I. I was one of the first beneficiaries of Affirmative action. I owe my first job to it. But those door didn’t just open, they busted open wide. Not only that, but they had ensured that employee satisfaction and happiness was at its highest. With the implementation of employee benefits, coming into work was something we genuinely all enjoyed.

In 1977, I vividly remember a scene while I worked at Northrop in Hawthorn. I had to inspect a part that was being installed on F-5 jet being built in the factory. I walked to the factory, walked to the area where this particular jet was being worked by a team. The supervisor took a microphone and announced, “Move away from the airplane, the Engineer is here.” Every one stopped working, stood respectfully at a distance while with the supervisor, I inspected the part, and they did what I told them. Me then a mere 26 year year old girl from a foreign land, getting that kind of respect who five years earlier could not find a job, Times had changed and so fast!

For me, immigration has played a huge part in my success. Moving to the US changed my life. Nowadays, foreign nationals working in the United States are required to obtain an employment authorization document also known as a work permit. To get a work permit, you need to complete and file form i-765. You can learn more about the essential steps within the immigration process on the Nova Credit website.

I then started on a 45 year career, where I never looked back, never had to fight for titles or positions. What I earned or did not earn, it was because of my own efforts of lack there-off. I suffered no discernible discrimination, no harassment of any sort that held me back. Despite the fact that I am not white, it had no effect. If there had been men who hindered me, there were four men for every one who stood to mentor me, help me, and to even offer me choice assignments preferentially over my male peers. This is an advantage that most women in STEM fields do not publicly talk about. Now I hear women talking about how hard the tech world is for women, but this has not been my experience in the last 45 years in America. And I have worked in real engineering, of jet, rockets, space shuttle and satellites. The hardware kind. (Yes, I don’t think software engineering, is engineering!) I found the work environment fair and welcoming and I’ve always felt like I’ve been part of a workforce that has wanted to endorse and grow others, because they were nice people I’m sure, but many businesses are now looking to improve on how to reduce employee turnover, in whatever field or industry you might look in. I like to think that I always made as much money as my peers if not more, and never less. And not because I was a great negotiator but because that is the kind country America is. Merit is recognized and rewarded.

I chose not to pursue the management path. I did not want to supervise people nor travel or stay away from home for extended periods of time. I chose to stay in actual engineering, the so called technical path. This choice made it possible for me to have time and energy to live a balanced home life. My son followed my foot steps and is also a wi-fi engineer at Apple. He and I just finished writing out first book together. We are now working on our next book.

I ended my career last year with title of Distinguished Engineer from Loral Space Systems. This is a fine and wonderful country where fairness is the norm. Be careful what you dream here, as in America dreams usually come true.

Announcing release of our book – Intuitive Guide to Fourier Analysis and Spectral Estimation

Announcing publication of

The Intuitive Guide to
Fourier Analysis and Spectral Estimation
with Matlab
Charan Langton and Victor Levin
For science and engineering students and practicing engineers
Sample Chapters
Available at as color eBook to be read on your PC or Ipad. 
320 pages

fft book cover

Print hardcover version will be available Dec 2016
For Matlab code – Please check back. Site currently in construction.
Questions and Answers – Please check back. Site currently in construction.

A well done book on General DSP by Richard Tervo

Tervo book

One can get a pretty good feeling about a book by just flipping a few pages. And this book passed the flip test immediately!

First of all, I want to say that I love this book and the way the material is presented, from simplest to the complete and comprehensive. It covers the usual course material of a fist DSP/signal processing class.  The first chapter starts with looking at common signals, such sinusoids, exponentials etc. but presents then not just by an equation by many graphs and pictures with emphasis on visual understanding.  Matlab code that produced these figures is included and teaches these in a way to help the student to further their signal manipulation skills. Then end of chapter exercises are concise and actually helpful and not an IQ test.  What is remarkable about this book is that it often includes examples of a real life process of how a signal might have been created, such as it does for the half-wave rectifier giving a circuit realization. This book does continually through all chapters and is unique for DSP book.  In the linear systems chapter, the author goes much further than most in helping through graphs, the understanding of convolution. There are probably 20 pages on convolution a subject which because of ridiculous simplicity so confuses all of us.

The Authors then cover the Fourier series, giving once again examples such as the 60 Hz powerline, the CB Radio booster, and other amplifiers are examples of how Fourier analysis is applied. I am myself writing a book on Fourier transform so I was pleased that they have an approach similar to mine in not confusing but making the topic crystal clear.

The Laplace Transform is made clear with several examples and end of chapter examples are actually help bring the essence home.  I could go on and on for each chapter. The quality never varies and remains high, all topics are covered well.  The last chapter on communications brings the applications of the fundamental concepts all in one place and is an excellent summary.

Excellent textbook or a brush up on concepts for a working engineer.

Practical Signal Theory with Matlab Applications, Richard J. Tervo,  John Wiley & Sons Inc. 2014


I received this book from the publisher for review. I don’t receive that many and this one is actually the first.



Intuitive Guide to Fourier Analysis by Charan Langton and Victor Levin

I am working on a book with the imaginative and creative title of “Intuitive Guide to Fourier Analysis”. This is an old topic, but forever confounding in all its myriad forms.

The book will have some of my DFT, FFT material, plus Matlab code.  It will also have chapters on spectral estimation which is ultimately the reason why we do the FFTs.

The DTFT we all know and love is mathematically valid only for deterministic signals. Real life signals are random, even when they have some deterministic components, such as a carrier. Per Dirichlet, we can not just take the DTFT of a random signal. That is a no-no. What we need to do is to take the auto-correlation first and then the DTFT of the Auto-Correlation Function (ACF). There are the issues of windowing and the length of the ACF.  Then we have parametric and non-parametric estimation methods. Spectral estimation is a complex topic and there is little agreement on how to do it right. There are numerous complexities in understanding what the hardware is producing, how to best match it in simulation, and, most importantly, if the results are valid. I got carried away writing my last chapter on spectral estimation and even then  never got to the parametric estimation which is a whole another world of mathematics, used mostly for describing finance, environmental, and biological phenomena.

I am working on this book with my son Victor as a co-author. He had just completed his masters in EE at Georgia Tech and is looking for a job in wireless or embedded systems. If anyone is looking for a smart young engineer, here is a link to his page.

Charan Langton

FFT Book cover 2

Why I Wrote My “Understanding Digital Signal Processing” Book

Why I Wrote My “Understanding Digital Signal Processing” Book

by Richard Lyons

Some time ago Charan asked me what events led me to write my “Understanding Digital Signal Processing” book? For Charan, and in case anyone else is interested, here’s the story.

In the mid-1980s I wanted to learn digital signal processing (DSP). As I tried to learn DSP it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was a period of understanding, it was a period of confusion, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, I had everything before me, I had nothing before me, I was approaching enlightenment, I was doomed to ignorance. There were kings of DSP with large jaws and mathematical minds on their thrones in universities bestowing their knowledge in cryptic form. In their ivory castles, it was clearer than crystal to the lords of technology that things were settled forever.

With thanks and apologies, to Charles Dickens, I’ll stop “clowning around” and just say that decades ago was a dismal time to try to learn DSP on one’s own. The available DSP textbooks in the mid-1980s were, for practical purposes, unreadable.

Back then, written explanations of DSP theory appeared in one of two forms: (1) mathematical miracles occur where you’re simply given a short-n-sweet equation without further explanation; or (2) you faced a flood of complex variable equations and phrases such as “it is obvious that”, “such that W(f)? Åf”, and “with judicious application of the homogeneity property.” In their defense, those DSP authors provide the needed information, but too often the reader had to grab a pick and shovel, put on a miner’s helmet, and try to dig the information out of a mountain of mathematical expressions.

How many times have you been forced to follow the derivation of an equation, after which the author states they’re going to illustrate that equation with a physical example, which turns out to be just another equation? Anyway, in the mid-1980s I needed help, other than cryptic textbooks, to learn DSP.

If you’re still with me, here’s why I wrote my DSP book. In 1987 I took an evening community college course on the subject of DSP. The class textbook wasn’t too awful bad. After reading its material 2-3 times, some of its DSP theory began to slowly sink into my head. The second half of the textbook was a series of applications notes from various hardware vendors. (I suppose the co-authors needed some “filler” material to make the page count of their book acceptable to any publishing companies we were thinking of getting in touch with). In any case, I happened to find a significant conceptual error in one of those application notes with regard to the topic of periodic sampling. You see, at that time I had spent months on my own studying periodic sampling. It was the only DSP topic that I understood at the time. (In 1988 I wrote a ‘periodic sampling’ article for the “Test and Measurement” magazine.)

Finding that major error in the textbook was a pivotal moment for me. It made me realize that textbook authors aren’t Gods after all! Maybe they’re smarter than me, and maybe they aren’t. If they’re so smart, why didn’t they catch that important periodic sampling error?

Well, …in 1990 I had a wild idea and wrote a letter to the primary author of my evening DSP class textbook, a professor at a university on the east coast of the United States. I volunteered to write a chapter on periodic sampling for the next edition of his book, assuming there might be a new edition.

In my letter to the professor I explained my idea. He requested my periodic sampling material and assured me that he’d review it and not plagiarize any of it. Cautiously excited, I thought, “Hey Rick, if you work hard enough you might actually get your name listed as a co-author of a book.”

After refining, and expanding, my periodic sampling material I mailed it to the professor. I waited and waited for a reply. Well, I *NEVER* heard from the good professor again! He returned none of my phone calls nor answered any of my subsequent letters. (There was no such thing as e-mail at that time.) In early 1991 I decided, “Heck with the professor, I’ll write my own book.” So I did.

To answer the question in the title of this blog, I wrote my first DSP book out of an untested, and unsupported, optimism that I could explain the basic concepts of DSP better than the DSP books available in 1991. I finished writing the book’s first edition and submitted that manuscript to my publisher in 1996. (In case you’re doing the math, yes, it took me five years to produce that first edition.)

Two years later, in late 1998, I found the east-coast professor’s E-mail address on the Internet. Being my cantankerous self, I sent him the following E-mail thanking him for ignoring me all those years ago. (Out of common decency I won’t give the professor’s name here. If you want to know his name, contact the NSA. I’ll bet they have a copy of my e-mail.) Here’s the content of my e-mail:

From: rick lyons To:

Date: 12/10/98 08:16:19

Dear Professor,

I owe you a debt of gratitude. In May of 1990 I wrote you a letter

in which I volunteered to contribute some material to the (at that

time) next edition of your digital signal processing textbook. You

answered my letter and encouraged me to forward my material (on

periodic sampling) for your review, and you assured me that you’d

not plagiarize any of that material. I did mail my periodic sampling

text and figures to you in late May, 1990. After that, you failed

to return any of my phone calls, or respond to any of my subsequent

letters. This disappointed and annoyed me so much that I became

stubborn and decided to write my own DSP book.

My book (“Understanding Digital Signal Processing”) was published a

few years ago and has been surprisingly successful. So successful, in

fact, that it’s changed my life for the better. Had you answered

my phone calls or letters, I’d still be working 45 hours per

week for some aerospace company. Now I spend my time as a private

contractor, lecturer, and author – and for this, I thank you very much.


[-Richard Lyons-]

This time, the professor replied to me the same day(!) with:

Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 18:37:00

To: rick lyons

From: the professor

Subject: Re: Thank You

Dear Richard:

Thank you for the email and note about your book “Understanding

Digital Signal Processing”. …I am glad this has worked out

very well for you. However, I am one of those sensitive people

who goes out of his way to try not to offend others, so I would

like to clarify the situation of some years back.

At the time you contacted me, I was swamped with work and was not

in a position to revamp the DSP book. I definitely remember having

several conversations with you and receiving the material you sent

(which has never gone any further than my office). If I failed to

respond to you, please accept my apologies since there certainly

no intent to be insensitive to you. My failure to respond was

simply a “statement” that I was not in a position at the time to

do any more work in the area.

Again, accept my apologies, and congratulations on what sounds

like an excellent career move!


The professor’s reply was fairly gracious, I must say.

To the professor, I must confess, I painted an overly-rosy picture of the situation in which I found myself after resigning from my full-time aerospace job in 1998. Indeed, all I had to do to survive after my resignation was not buy anything, not go anywhere, have no hobbies or personal life, and accept Government cheese to eat.

In case anyone reading this blog has any bright book-writing ideas, know this. It’s not possible to make a living off the royalties of a signal processing book. To make money writing a book, your book had better contain massive amounts of senseless violence and meaningless sex. You’ll also need to create some social media to create brand awareness online. In this day and age, social media has never been more important when it comes to creating awareness for your business, yourself, and even your book that you’re about to publish. And sometimes, you may not have to do this yourself, especially if you look for a manager for your Instagram, so you can focus on other things whilst they take control of your account to help you along the way. This could be particularly important if you want to reach as wide an audience as possible. But this is just one of the things that you can do. Luckily, you can also get instagram followers free so, like we’ve said, that’s Instagram sorted. You just need FaceBook going now and your social media is set.

Rick Lyons



Charan’s comment: Rick has just published his third book:

This is a great book for rank beginners and all high school students. It succeeds in explaining DSP WITHOUT equations! Got kids, siblings, you want to introduce to DSP, start here.


The Little Fruit Market

This blog post is by my friend Rick Lyons.

The Little Fruit Market
by Richard (Rick) Lyons

There used to be a fruit market located at 391 San Antonio Road in Mountain View, California. In the 1990’s I worked part time in Mountain View and drove past this market’s building, shown in Figure 1, many times, unaware of its history. As it turns out, what happened at that little fruit market in the 1950s has affected the lives of essentially everyone on our planet. Here’s the story.


Figure 1: The fruit market building today.

William Shockley
In 1948 the brilliant physicist William Shockley, along with John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, co-invented the transistor at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey; an invention that led to subsequent innovations like the MOSFET. (Justifiably they were awarded Nobel Prizes in Physics in 1956.)

Figure 2: John Bardeen, William Shockley,
and Walter Brattain.

In 1955, deciding to move back to where he grew up, Shockley returned to California. He wanted to start his own company to commercialize semiconductor devices. Back in those days much of standard laboratory and engineering equipment wasn’t easy to come by, there were no websites like to buy what he needed so he looked towards his friends. Joining a college friend’s successful company, Beckman Instruments, Shockley was appointed Director of Beckman’s newly founded Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory division which bought the old fruit market at 391 San Antonio.

Shockley, who was nationally famous in the field of electronics at that time recruited the best and brightest scientists and engineers to work at his Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory. However, his domineering management style, bizarre behavior that bordered on paranoia, and his loss of interest in developing commercial transistors and integrated circuits caused eight employees to leave Shockley Labs. That was on Sept. 18, 1957, a day that was ranked by the New York Times newspaper as one of the Top 10 Days That Changed the World. Today, on the contrary, managers try to implement 360- degree development tools that you can find with companies like Qualtrics for employee reviewing and management.

Traitorous Eight
Those “Traitorous Eight”, as Shockley called them, wanted to start their own semiconductor company. (Those engineers are shown in Figure 3. And yes, engineers really did dress that way in the late 1950s.)


Figure 3: The Traitorous Eight in 1957.

Intrigued by these new-fangled transistors, New York industrialist Sherman Fairchild agreed to finance The Traitorous Eight by creating a new company called Fairchild Camera and Instrument. It was at Fairchild that the first commercially-viable integrated circuit was invented. From that single company evolved the greatest collection of semiconductors companies in the world, as well as a California location that came to be known as “Silicon Valley.” Figure 4 gives you some idea of the astounding commercial outgrowth of Fairchild Camera and Instrument.


Figure 4: The offspring of Fairchild Camera and Instrument.

(Figure 4 is a redrawn, without permission, version of a graphic found on page 12 of the in October 2007 issue of The IEEE Spectrum magazine. A more informative version of Figure 4 is available at

The venture capital firm of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers is included in Figure 4 because they provided financial backing for many electronic and information technology startup companies, which no doubt would have helped them to get necessary things like 409a valuations done and in place, should documents like this ever be requested. You may have heard of some of those companies; Amazon, Google, Sun Microsystems, AOL, Compaq, Electronic Arts, Intuit, Netscape, and others.

Transistors, They’re Everywhere
Roughly ten years ago a technologist in the semiconductor industry estimated that mankind produces more transistors annually than grains of rice. That estimate is not as far-fetched as it might seem. In reference [2] the authors stated:

• Semiconductor production has increased by an astounding
average of 16% per year for the last forty years.

• In 2002 there were more bits of memory on a single 300
millimeter silicon wafer than were produced by the entire
semiconductor industry in 1984.


Figure 5: 300 mm silicon wafer.

• There were more transistors produced in 2002 than grains
of rice, and each rice grain could buy 100’s of transistors.

The justification for that last statement as follows: The world produced 450 billion kilograms of rice in one year. Informal measurements suggested that there are roughly 60,000 grains of rice per kilogram, meaning that approximately 27 quadrillion (27×1015) grains of rice were harvested in 2002. Assuming that one bit of semiconductor memory required at least one transistor, the semiconductor industry produced 1000 quadrillion (one quintillion, 1×1018) transistors in 2002. This amounts to about 37 transistors per grains of rice. I imagine that transistor-to-rice grain ratio was even higher in 2013.

Transistors do indeed seem to be nearly everywhere in our modern lives. I walked around the rooms of my 1500 ft2 house and realized that no matter where I stood I was never more than 3 meters from a semiconductor device. (On my bathroom counter resides a battery powered tooth brush, sitting in its recharging base.) I finally stood at the far end of my garage away from the corner where my clothes washer is located, thinking that was a spot surely more than 3 meters from a transistor. Then I realized that on the outside of the garage wall, next to where I was standing, is my electric utility company’s Smart Meter with its RF transmitter circuitry.

The inventions of the transistor and the integrated circuit (interconnected transistors) have literally transformed our world–from singing greeting cards to iPads, from home computers to interplanetary spacecraft. There is no way to overstate the importance of the technology that blossomed from that little fruit market at 391 San Antonio Road.


[2] “Semiconductor Silicon – Proceedings of the Ninth International
Symposium on Silicon Materials Science and Technology”, Editors:
H. Huff, L. Fabry, and S. Kishino, 2002. See pages 125 and 142 at:

[3] Interesting videos describing the rise of the semiconductor
industry can be found at: