Yesterday Hans Camenzind passed away at the age of 78. Hans was a notable inventor of Swiss decent. Perhaps the most famous of all his inventions occurred in 1972 while working on a contract with Signetics he invented the 555 Timer chip, a simple oscillating IC that was inexpensive, and easy to build with. Now, even 40 years after its introduction, around a billion per year are still made, by dozens of companies around the world. The 555 Timer is often one of the very first IC’s electronics hobbyist begin experimenting with. Its applications are far reaching and while certainly not a CPU, its significance, and that of Camenzind, should not be forgotten.
The 555 Timer has of course been used in many many computers, notably in the Apple II computer as a joystick controller (558 Timer, which is a quad 555). Other uses include the IBM PC, Ataris, and many many more. In honor of Hans Camenzind, and the 555 Timer, go experiment with one and experience the joys of a device over 40 years old. Dont have one? They cost a whopping $0.95 at Sparkfun.