THE 555 TIMER IC

An Interview with Hans Camenzind

 

Oral History Hans Camenzind

(Continued)

 

 

 

 

 

Above is a photo of prototypes of the famous 555 timer IC. As Hans mentions in his Oral History, these first prototype units were fully functional, and represented the successful result of a year long design project by Hans as an independent consultant for Signetics. Initial production of the 555 included both formats shown above (eight pin cans and DIPs), in metal and plastic - NE555V was the part number for the plastic DIP version, and SE555T for the metal can version. A 16 pin DIP (two complete 555 ICs in a single package) was released as NE556V. Since initial production in 1971, the 555 design by Hans Camenzind has been the basis for billions of manufactured integrated circuits.

 

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Go To Camenzind Oral History,Page 3

 

 

 

 

 

Oral History Hans Camenzind

(Continued)

 

Was that their primary business?

Yes, the primary linear business, although I think the digital portion (RTL and DTL) was still much larger. For the linear, op amp was king. So they figured that if I designed a circuit that replaced one or two op amps, that would cut into their sales.

 

How did the 555 name come about?

Signetics had 500 numbers, and the earlier product I worked on was the 565, 566 and 567. It was just arbitrarily chosen. It was Art Fury (Marketing Manager) who thought the circuit was gonna sell big who picked the name 555.

 

I wonder how many of these have been made?

At the moment, it is about 1 billion devices a year. These are mostly made in Korea now, Samsung. The electronics industry is big now.

 

Are there other chips with this kind of popularity?

You could say that the op amp is bigger, but there are so many different op amps, they have to specialize there is no perfect op amp, so you optimize it, for different parameters. There must be 500 different op amp types.

 

The first ones were plastic or metal?

Both, simultaneously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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