Geoffrey Dummer

Geoffrey Dummer

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Geoffrey William Arnold Dummer, MBE (1945), C.Eng.
Civil engineer
A civil engineer is a person who practices civil engineering; the application of planning, designing, constructing, maintaining, and operating infrastructures while protecting the public and environmental health, as well as improving existing infrastructures that have been neglected.Originally, a...

, IEE
Institution of Electrical Engineers
The Institution of Electrical Engineers was a British professional organisation of electronics, electrical, manufacturing, and Information Technology professionals, especially electrical engineers. The I.E.E...

 Premium Award
, FIEEE
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is a non-profit professional association headquartered in New York City that is dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence...

, MIEE
Institution of Electrical Engineers
The Institution of Electrical Engineers was a British professional organisation of electronics, electrical, manufacturing, and Information Technology professionals, especially electrical engineers. The I.E.E...

, USA Medal of Freedom with Bronze Palm
Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...

(25 February 1909 – 9 September 2002) was a British electronics engineer and consultant who is credited as being the first person to conceptualise and build a prototype of the integrated circuit
Integrated circuit
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is an electronic circuit manufactured by the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material...

, commonly called the microchip, in the late-1940s and early 1950s. Dummer passed the first radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 trainers and became a pioneer of reliability engineering
Reliability engineering
Reliability engineering is an engineering field, that deals with the study, evaluation, and life-cycle management of reliability: the ability of a system or component to perform its required functions under stated conditions for a specified period of time. It is often measured as a probability of...

 at the Telecommunications Research Establishment
Telecommunications Research Establishment
The Telecommunications Research Establishment was the main United Kingdom research and development organization for radio navigation, radar, infra-red detection for heat seeking missiles, and related work for the Royal Air Force during World War II and the years that followed. The name was...

 in Malvern
Malvern, Worcestershire
Malvern is a town and civil parish in Worcestershire, England, governed by Malvern Town Council. As of the 2001 census it has a population of 28,749, and includes the historical settlement and commercial centre of Great Malvern on the steep eastern flank of the Malvern Hills, and the former...

 in the 1940s.

Born in Hull
Kingston upon Hull
Kingston upon Hull , usually referred to as Hull, is a city and unitary authority area in the ceremonial county of the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It stands on the River Hull at its junction with the Humber estuary, 25 miles inland from the North Sea. Hull has a resident population of...

, Dummer studied electrical engineering at Manchester College of Technology starting in the early 1930s. By the early 1940s he was working at the Telecommunications Research Establishment
Telecommunications Research Establishment
The Telecommunications Research Establishment was the main United Kingdom research and development organization for radio navigation, radar, infra-red detection for heat seeking missiles, and related work for the Royal Air Force during World War II and the years that followed. The name was...

 in Malvern (later to become the Royal Radar Establishment
Royal Radar Establishment
The name Royal Radar Establishment was given to the existing Radar Research Establishment following a visit by Queen Elizabeth II in 1957. Both names were abbreviated to RRE. The establishment had been formed, under its first name, in 1953 by merging the Telecommunications Research Establishment ...

).

His work with colleagues at TRE led him to the belief that it would be possible to fabricate multiple circuit elements on and into a substance like silicon
Silicon
Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. A tetravalent metalloid, it is less reactive than its chemical analog carbon, the nonmetal directly above it in the periodic table, but more reactive than germanium, the metalloid directly below it in the table...

. In 1952 he presented his work at a conference in Washington, DC, some six years before Jack Kilby
Jack Kilby
Jack St. Clair Kilby was an American physicist who took part in the invention of the integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments in 1958. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2000. He is credited with the invention of the integrated circuit or microchip...

 of Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments Inc. , widely known as TI, is an American company based in Dallas, Texas, United States, which develops and commercializes semiconductor and computer technology...

 was awarded a patent
Patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

 for essentially the same idea. As a result he has been called "The Prophet of the Integrated Circuit"

Dummer was admitted to a Nursing home in Malvern in 2000 due to a stroke and died in September 2002, aged 93.

Early years


G.W.A. Dummer was born in Hull, Yorkshire, England, 25 February 1909, and educated at Sale High School and Manchester College of Technology. His first job was with Mullard
Mullard
Mullard Limited was a British manufacturer of electronic components. The Mullard Radio Valve Co. Ltd. of Southfields, London, was founded in 1920 by Captain Stanley R. Mullard, who had previously designed valves for the Admiralty before becoming managing director of the Z Electric Lamp Co. The...

 Radio Valve Company in 1931 examining defective valves returned by customers to establish the cause of failure, the company’s aim being to attribute the cause to rough handling to avoid having to supply free replacements. Technicians were expected to process up to 1000 valves per day.

In 1935 he moved to A. C. Cossor Ltd to work on cathode ray tubes, time bases and circuits. In 1938 he moved to Salford Electrical Instruments and worked in the high frequency laboratories. The following year he joined the Ministry of Defence as a Technical Officer on a salary of £275 pa and worked with the team under R. J. Dippy on time bases at the Air Ministry Research Establishment (later known as the Tele communications Research Establishment, The Royal Radar Establishment
Royal Radar Establishment
The name Royal Radar Establishment was given to the existing Radar Research Establishment following a visit by Queen Elizabeth II in 1957. Both names were abbreviated to RRE. The establishment had been formed, under its first name, in 1953 by merging the Telecommunications Research Establishment ...

 (RRE), Malvern and the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment). The group was responsible for the first plan position indicator
Plan position indicator
The plan position indicator , is the most common type of radar display. The radar antenna is usually represented in the center of the display, so the distance from it and height above ground can be drawn as concentric circles...

 (PPI) ever built, and they were granted two patents for their work.

World War Two


The pace of development increased dramatically during the early war years for the personnel of RRE, Malvern, and a close working relationship was established with the Royal Air Force. In 1942 Geoffrey Dummer started a Synthetic Trainer Design Group, and was responsible for the design, manufacture, installation and servicing of over 70 types of radar training equipment for service use during the war. In 1943 he visited the USA and Canada to advise on trainers and to help set up similar training devices in the USA.

The Drive for Component Reliability


In 1944 he had been made Divisional Leader of the Physical & Tropical Testing Laboratories and the Component Group, which placed contracts with industry for new components and materials. His interest in components grew out of his experience with radar. “They were the bricks and mortar, and many of them were not as reliable as they should have been”, he said. Out of his drive for reliability came the search for new techniques and methods of construction. Together with Dr A. C. Vivian he made the first plastic potted circuit in January 1947 to protect components from shock and moisture. Printed wiring methods and etching techniques were explored, and their use encouraged in radar equipments.

The Integrated Circuit


In May 1952 Geoffrey Dummer read a paper at the US Electronic Components Symposium. At the end of the paper he made the statement:

“With the advent of the transistor and the work on semi-conductors generally, it now seems possible to envisage electronic equipment in a solid block with no connecting wires. The block may consist of layers of insulating, conducting, rectifying
Rectifier
A rectifier is an electrical device that converts alternating current , which periodically reverses direction, to direct current , which flows in only one direction. The process is known as rectification...

 and amplifying materials, the electronic functions being connected directly by cutting out areas of the various layers”.

This is now generally accepted as the first public description of an integrated circuit. At a later date he said, “It seemed so logical to me; we had been working on smaller and smaller components, improving reliability as well as size reduction. I thought the only way we could ever attain our aim was in the form of a solid block. You then do away with all your contact problems, and you have a small circuit with high reliability. And that is why I went on with it. I shook the industry to the bone. I was trying to make them realise how important its invention would be for the future of microelectronics and the national economy”

His ability to turn his idea of an integrated circuit into practical reality was restricted by his lack of responsibility for active devices and the lack of suitable manufacturing techniques. He got over his lack of suitable authority to commission development work by placing a small contract with Plessey
Plessey
The Plessey Company plc was a British-based international electronics, defence and telecommunications company. It originated in 1917, growing and diversifying into electronics. It expanded after the second world war by acquisition of companies and formed overseas companies...

 under the auspices of his Constructional Techniques Group. The result was shown at The International Components Symposium he initiated at R.R.E. Malvern in September 1957, where he presented a model to illustrate the possibilities of solid-circuit techniques. The model represented a flip-flop
Flip-flop (electronics)
In electronics, a flip-flop or latch is a circuit that has two stable states and can be used to store state information. The circuit can be made to change state by signals applied to one or more control inputs and will have one or two outputs. It is the basic storage element in sequential logic...

 in the form of a solid block of semi-conductor material suitably doped and shaped to form four transistors. Four resistors were represented by silicon bridges, and other resistors and capacitors were deposited in film form directly onto the silicon block with intervening insulating films. The model was intended as a design exercise, but was not too different from the circuit patented by Jack St Clair Kilby two years later.

Dummer made no claim to be the inventor of microelectronics, a role he assigned to Robert Noyce
Robert Noyce
Robert Norton Noyce , nicknamed "the Mayor of Silicon Valley", co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 and Intel in 1968...

 and Jean Hoerni, whose planar process
Planar process
The planar process is a manufacturing process used in the semiconductor industry to build individual components of a transistor, and in turn, connect those transistors together. It is the primary process by which modern integrated circuits are built...

 turned the relatively crude ideas of Kilby into a reliable manufacturing product, which is what Dummer had been waiting for. He began a campaign to encourage substantial UK investment in IC development, but was met largely with apathy. The UK military failed to perceive any operational requirements for ICs, and UK companies were unwilling to invest their own money. He later said: “I have attributed it to war-weariness in one of my books, but
that is perhaps an excuse. The plain fact is that nobody would take the risk. The Ministry wouldn’t place a contract because they hadn’t an application. The applications people wouldn’t say we want it because they had no experience with it. It was a chicken-and-egg situation. The Americans took financial gambles, whereas this was very slow in this country”. It was years before the UK had a significant semi-conductor industry.

Later Years


His knowledge and experience of components, their design, construction, application, and reliability had become widely recognised. He liaised with numerous international organisations and authorities. He served on many committees worldwide, both as member and chairman. He appeared on the popular B.B.C. Television programme “Tomorrow’s World, extolling the virtues of integrated circuits. In 1964 he sponsored a symposium on Electronic Beam Techniques for Microelectronics at R.R.E. He produced numerous books on electronic equipments, inventions and discoveries, components and reliability, for several publishing houses, including McGraw-Hill, Pitman and notably, Pergamon Press, whose Electronic Data Series ran to 39 volumes. His retirement as Superintendent of Applied Physics in 1966 allowed him to take up the role of a consultant, as well as continuing to add to his numerous published works. He was Editor-in-Chief of Pergamon’s International Journal “Microelectronics and Reliability”, which he had originally founded, and Editorial Adviser to Electronic Components (United Trade Press).

His wife Dorothy died in 1992, and he married again, to June who survived him. As a result of a stroke in 1999 he spent his last two and a half years at Perrins House, Malvern. He died in September 2002 and was interred in Malvern Cemetery.

Family History


Geoffrey William Arnold Dummer was born 25 February 1909 at Kingston upon Hull
Kingston upon Hull
Kingston upon Hull , usually referred to as Hull, is a city and unitary authority area in the ceremonial county of the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It stands on the River Hull at its junction with the Humber estuary, 25 miles inland from the North Sea. Hull has a resident population of...

, England, the son of Arthur Robert William Dummer, a caretaker, and Daisy Maria King. Geoffrey married Dorothy Whitelegg in 1934, the marriage being registered at Bucklow. Their only son, Stephen John, was born in 1945 at Bearsted
Bearsted
Bearsted is an ancient village and civil parish in mid-Kent, three miles to the east of Maidstone. The original village site was on the north bank of the River Len, a tributary of the River Medway, and at the foot of the North Downs....

, Kent.

In May 1966 Geoffrey was contacted by Michael Dummer, who had started a study of all Dummers, concerning Geoffrey’s family history. At that time Geoffrey knew almost nothing of his ancestors before his grandparents, but was stimulated to start researching them. He was particularly hopeful of establishing a link with the notable Dummer family who had held estates in Hampshire in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, and who included in their number Edmund Dummer
Edmund Dummer (naval engineer)
Edmund Dummer was an English naval engineer and shipbuilder who, as Surveyor of the Navy, founded the Royal Navy dockyard at , Plymouth and extended that at Portsmouth. His survey of the Royal Navy Dockyards is a valuable and well-known historic document...

, Surveyor of The Navy, and Richard Dummer
Richard Dummer
Richard Dummer was an early settler in New England who has been described as "one of the fathers of Massachusetts"....

, one of the founding fathers of Massachusetts.

His researches were to lead him in a different direction however. His father had been born at the City Gaol
Belle Vue Gaol
Belle Vue Gaol was a Victorian prison in Gorton, Manchester, England. It operated between 1850 and 1888. It was notorious at the time for abysmal prisoner living conditions...

, Gorton
Gorton
Gorton is an area of the city of Manchester, in North West England. It is located to the southeast of Manchester city centre. Neighbouring areas include Longsight and Levenshulme....

, where his grandfather, Moses Dummer, was gaoler. Geoffrey found out that Moses was born in the village of Lacock
Lacock
Lacock is a village in Wiltshire, England, 3 miles from the town of Chippenham. The village is owned almost in its entirety by the National Trust, and attracts many visitors by virtue of its unspoiled appearance.-History:...

, Wiltshire. A search through the parish registers at Lacock revealed a long line of Dummers stretching back to 1559, and although it was not possible to positively prove his own line beyond Robert Dummer of 1732, it was obvious that his roots stretched a long way back at Lacock. The names Moses, Robert and Ephraim were a recurrent feature. Like others at Lacock, many of the family had been weavers, and the little packhorse bridge near the church had at one time been known as Dummer’s Bridge. Sadly, Geoffrey’s only son, Stephen, a Merchant Navy officer, was drowned in Mombasa
Mombasa
Mombasa is the second-largest city in Kenya. Lying next to the Indian Ocean, it has a major port and an international airport. The city also serves as the centre of the coastal tourism industry....

 in 1983, terminating Geoffrey’s interest in family history, and he passed his papers to Michael Dummer.

Occupations

  • Head of a specialist team of component fields at the Radar Research Establishment.
  • Member of the Joint Services Radio Components Research and Development Technical Committee.
  • Member of the Radio Components Standardization Committee.
  • Chairman of the R.C.R.D. Panel on Transistor Components.
  • Chairman of the R.C.R.D. sub-committee on Fixed and Variable Resistors.
  • Chairman of the N.A.T.O. sub-committee on standardization of Resistors.
  • Represents the United Kingdom on the N.A.T.O. sub-committee for the standardization of Capacitors.

Honours

  • M.B.E.  (Member of the British Empire) for work on radar synthetic trainers, 1945.
  • American Medal of Freedom (with Bronze Palm) for work on radar synthetic trainers.
  • Wakefield Gold Medal of the Royal Aeronautical Society
    Royal Aeronautical Society
    The Royal Aeronautical Society, also known as the RAeS, is a multidisciplinary professional institution dedicated to the global aerospace community.-Function:...

     for his contribution to air safety through microelectronic reliability (1964).
  • Honorary Citizen of the State of Colorado for his participation by transatlantic telephone in the Electronic Circuit Packaging Symposium at the University of Colorado (1964).
  • The IEEE Cledo Brunetti Award
    IEEE Cledo Brunetti Award
    The IEEE Cledo Brunetti Award is an award is presented for outstanding contributions to nanotechnology and miniaturization in the electronics arts. It may be presented to an individual or a team of up to three...

    for his work on microelectronic components.

Books

  • Fixed Capacitors (Pitman 1956).
  • Fixed Resistors (Pitman 1956).
  • Variable Resistors and Potentiometers (Pitman 1956)
  • Variable Capacitors and Trimmers (Pitman 1957)
  • Electronic Equipment Reliability (with N. Griffin) (Pitman/Wiley 1960 )
  • Fixed & Variable Capacitors (with H. M. Nordenburg) (McGraw-Hill 1960)
  • Microminiaturization: Proceedings of the AGARD Conference 1961 (Pergamon 1961)
  • Miniature & Microminiature Electronics (with J.Wiley Granville) (Pitman 1961)
  • Electronic Equipment Design & Construction (with Cledo Brunetti & Low K. Lee) (McGraw-Hill 1961)
  • Wires & R.F. Cables (with W.T. Blackband) (Pitman 1961)
  • Environmental Testing Techniques for Electronics & Materials (Pergamon 1962)
  • British Transistor Diode & Semiconductor Devices Annual 1962-63 (with J. Mackenzie-Robertson) (Pergamon 1962)
  • Electronic Components, Tubes and Transistors (Pergamon 1963)
  • World Lists of Electronic & Component Specifications (1963 & later) (with J. Mackenzie-Robertson)
  • Solid Circuits & Miniaturization - Proceedings of the Conference held at West Ham College of Technology June 1963 (Macmillan/Pergamon 1964)
  • Proceedings of the First Microelectronics Lecture Course (United Trade, London 1965)
  • Electronics Reliability – Calculations & Design (Commonwealth & International Library 1966)
  • Modern Electronic Components (NY Philosophical Lib. 1959, Pitman 1966)
  • Japanese Miniature Electronic Components Data 1966-67 (Pergamon 1966)
  • Connectors, Relays & Switches (with N. E. Hyde) (Pitman 1966)
  • Medical Electronics Equipment 1966-67 (with J. Mackenzie-Robertson) (eds) (also later editions)
  • Educational Electronics Equipment 1966-67 (Pergamon 1967)
  • Fluidic Components & Equipment 1968-69 (Pergamon 1968)
  • Anglo-American Microelectronics Data (1968) (with J. Mackenzie-Robertson)
  • German Miniature Electronic Components & Assemblies Data (1968)
  • Electronic Connections, Techniques and Equipment (Pergamon 1969) (with J. Mackenzie-Robertson)
  • Materials for Conductive and Resistive Functions (Hayden 1970)
  • Automobile Electronic Equipment 1970-71 (Pergamon)
  • Banking Automation (1971)
  • Electronic Inventions 1745 -1976 (Elsevier 1976, Pergamon 1977)
  • Semiconductor & Microprocessor Technology – Selected Papers Presented at the SEMINEX Technical Seminar (Elsevier 1978)
  • Electronic Inventions and Discoveries: Electronics from Its Earliest Beginnings to the present Day (Ifac Proceedings Series) (Pergamon 1983)
  • The Timetable of Technology (ed) (Hearst 1982)
  • An Elementary Guide to Reliability (Butterworth-Heinemann 1997) (later editions with R.C. Winton and Michael H. Tooley).
  • Newnes Dictionary of Electronics (Newnes 1999) (with S.W. Amos & Roger Amos)
  • The Electronics Book List (with J. Mackenzie-Robertson)

Journals

  • (International Journal) Microelectronics and Reliability (Elsevier Science) - Founding editor

External links