Some Interesting Stories in Electronics and Physics

written by Prof. Sungsik Lee on 8 July 2018 (see more in Director’s Blog)


  1. Pointing Devices (known as Mouse) and WW2:
    • Pointing Devices known as Mouse was first invented by Ralph Benjamin (1922 – present) in 1946 when he was working for the UK’s Royal Navy at the end of the World War 2 (WW2). He did it for the radar control. It is also called Roller Ball, now called Mouse for computers. This was patented in 1947. The trackball was developed by three engineers working for the Canadian Navy in 1952. After that, Xerox was tailored for a personal computer in 1973, which wasn’t introduced to the public yet. And Apple computer first commercially sold it with its computer label ‘Lisa’ in 1983 (one year earlier than Macintosh introduced in 1984). The invention of the mouse has long been credited to Doug Engelbart, who died aged 88. His obituaries recounted how he had first started working on the gadget in 1961, while at the Stanford Research Institute’s (SRI’s) Augmentation Research Center, in California. But it turns out that it was almost 20 years later than Benjamin’s.
  2. Graphic User Interface (known as Window)
  3. Wireless Power Transfer and Tesla
  4. Unit Henry and Magnetic Induction Law of Faraday
  5. Smith Chart and Bell Laboratory:
    • Smith chart was invented by Philip H. Smith (1905-1987) who was working for the Bell lab, so its name is after the inventor ‘Smith’. He first publicised it in 1939 on the journal named ‘Electronics’, taking almost 2-year-review time. In 1944, he published another paper with an improved Smith-chart. He was very good at a graphical analysis while he was asked by his seniors to calculate so many transmission line problems, which was one of the motivations to invent the Smith chart as a transmission line calculator in a graphical representation of many equations. He also invented ‘Stub matching’ method for the first time, being patented in 1932 (issued in 1936), which is currently one of the important matching methods in the RF circuit design. Due to the project people in the MIT Radiation Laboratory, the Smith chart was popularized and heavily used for a waveguide design project between MIT and Bell lab. After the retirement from the Bell lab, he founded a small company in 1970, called “Analog Instruments Company of New Province, New Jersey”, which initially sold Smith Charts. Until his death in 1987 due to Parkinson’s disease, it had been sold by more than nine million copies (further reading).
  6. Einstein and Nobel Prize
  7. Penrose and Hawking
  8. Variable ‘X’ and Descartes
  9. Tycho Brahe’s experiments and Heliocentrism
  10. Steve Jobs Family Story
  11. Feynman and Nobel Prize

to be updated with detailed stories later on…