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Analog Designer Bob Pease Dies In Car Crash 187

Posted by timothy
from the condolences-to-the-pease-family dept.
EdwinFreed writes "It's being widely reported that Bob Pease, well known analog circuit designer and author of Pease Porridge, has died in a car accident. He reportedly was driving alone in his 1969 Beetle and failed to negotiate a turn."
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Analog Designer Bob Pease Dies In Car Crash

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  • No seatbelt (Score:5, Informative)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday June 20, 2011 @07:33PM (#36507826)

    I'm sorry he died, but he wasn't wearing a seat belt. He presumably understood the risk that entailed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Are you serious? First, seatbelts weren't standard in 1969 Beetles. Second, if you did have them, using them was probably more of a risk than not. Third, the article states he wasn't wearing his seatbelt because in this nanny-state day and age, they are almost obligated to state stupid useless facts to coax the rest of us lemmings into following statistically good practices -- but it does not say if it was a factor in his death. He hit a tree dead on in a tiny lightweight 42-ish year old car with a rear

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sonamchauhan (587356)

        Are you serious? Its good you stayed Anonymous, coward. Seatbelts not only save you from ejection, they prevent the steering wheel smashing your head on impact.

        • by kcbnac (854015)

          Unless the front bumper and storage area comes back to you (rear-mounted engine)...then you have more concerns than JUST the steering wheel smashing your head...oh, and in this case...the tree.

          • Unless the front bumper and storage area comes back to you (rear-mounted engine)...then you have more concerns than JUST the steering wheel smashing your head...oh, and in this case...the tree.

            There's a gas tank up there too...

        • by tibit (1762298)

          All true, but there's a reason he didn't make the turn, and I think that seatbelts had nothing to do with the outcome.

          • Re:No seatbelt (Score:5, Insightful)

            by c41rn (880778) * on Monday June 20, 2011 @08:37PM (#36508292)
            Indeed. Pease crashed on Pierce Rd. in Saratoga and I had a very close call myself several years back near the intersection of Pierce Rd. and Hwy 9 in my 1967 VW Karmann Ghia, so I have some experience here. The early VWs (up to 1969 for the Ghia, and I think '70 for the Beetles) had swing axle rear ends that jack up the rear end in turns so that the tires are riding on their edges. Since the engines are in the back, this causes the car to lose control very quickly on tight turns like those on Pierce Rd. and Hwy 9. After '69/70 or so, VW put IRS in their vehicles to fix this problem, keeping the wheels relatively perpendicular to the road in turns.

            IIRC, it was the swing axle rear ends in the Corvairs that led to Nader's "Unsafe at any speed" suit.

            This is a bit off topic, but having a technical discussion about the cause of the crash is probably what Pease would do too ;) Rest in peace.

            • by macs4all (973270)

              IIRC, it was the swing axle rear ends in the Corvairs that led to Nader's "Unsafe at any speed" suit.

              You are correct. Chevrolet fixed the problem in 1964 (IIRC); but by then, the damage to the Corvair's reputation was done, and sales never recovered.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                Corvair nerd here. For '64 Chevy added an anti-roll/sway bar up front and a transverse leaf spring to the swing-axle at the rear which in combination made the handling waaay closer to neutral. Full IRS (non swing-axle) was standard from '65 on.
                • by macs4all (973270)
                  I tip my hat to your greater knowledge. Apparently, IDRC (I Didn't Recall Correctly)!!!

                  I knew there was something about '64 and '65, but I couldn't remember the details, thanx!
            • by deesine (722173)

              Some '68 Beetles had IRS, and all '69 Beetles had it.

              My '64 and '67 were extra fun when one of the rear wheels left the ground. More dangerous than swing axles on Bugs were the Lilliputian brake drums.

            • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

              Indeed. Pease crashed on Pierce Rd. in Saratoga and I had a very close call myself several years back near the intersection of Pierce Rd. and Hwy 9 in my 1967 VW Karmann Ghia, so I have some experience here. The early VWs (up to 1969 for the Ghia, and I think '70 for the Beetles) had swing axle rear ends that jack up the rear end in turns so that the tires are riding on their edges. Since the engines are in the back, this causes the car to lose control very quickly on tight turns like those on Pierce Rd. and Hwy 9. After '69/70 or so, VW put IRS in their vehicles to fix this problem, keeping the wheels relatively perpendicular to the road in turns.

              IIRC, it was the swing axle rear ends in the Corvairs that led to Nader's "Unsafe at any speed" suit.

              This is a bit off topic, but having a technical discussion about the cause of the crash is probably what Pease would do too ;) Rest in peace.

              VW started the switch to what was known as an independent rear suspension beginning in 1967. The swing axle was also an independent suspension, but the the term IRS suspension was used to differentiate between the two. Many swing axle VWs were converted to IRS suspension in the subsequent 40years as they were more readily available until production ceased.

              However, it would appear something else was going on regarding the crash, as a swing axle failure would either cause the car to roll or to spin. Either

          • by tom17 (659054)

            The reason he didn't make the turn is that it's a Beetle. They are known for suddenly understeering you, head on into trees.

            I also doubt that a lack of seatbelt was the cause of death in this particular scenario (or at least, what I can assume about this scenario based on known car traits).

        • I think his point was that we don't know in this particular case, which I think is a fair point.

      • I didn't think they needed the shielding.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by GameboyRMH (1153867)

        in this nanny-state day and age, they are almost obligated to state stupid useless facts to coax the rest of us lemmings into following statistically good practices

        I encourage all libertarians to not wear seatbelts, an awful socialist device brought about by REGULATION! A seatbelt is the government's leash, FIGHT THE POWER!

    • He had just arrived a half hour late to the private funeral service for friend and fellow analog guru Jim Williams. While the most dedicated, most professional, most technical of engineers might be able to apply that skill to their day-to-day life on most days, maybe just this one day he was too distraught to run down life's usual safety checklist.

      If anything, it shows that even the most independent of people shouldn't be left alone when a friend has passed.

      • Man, I am so bummed right now. These guys were some of the greatest in the field. Both were very well known in industry and had done a lot in their time to advance the state of the art. I always figured that if I ever got back into the semiconductor industry I'd try to work wherever they were - of course, I don't want to move to California very much, and Pease had sort of retired, but still.

        I had no idea Jim Williams had died either. Williams' app notes were both clever and clear, just masterpieces of d

        • He was a hell of a guy. About 20 years ago I bought one of his books from him at the ham radio swap meet at mumble-mumble college off of El Monte Blvd. He was there with his Bug and he signed my book. Later I exchanged several emails with him, one of which he based a Pease Porrage on. He will be missed.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        While the most dedicated, most professional, most technical of engineers might be able to apply that skill to their day-to-day life on most days, maybe just this one day he was too distraught to run down life's usual safety checklist.

        Then he was too irresponsible to be permitted to drive.

        When I get into the car I have to remind myself not to put my seatbelt on too soon so that I don't have to take it off when I hop out to unlock the gate. I instilled this habit in myself as a child. Consequently I always wear the thing.

        If you can't program yourself...

  • by Alien Being (18488)

    It sounds like he was a brilliant EE but, if he was driving one of those things, then he was a damned fool when it came to ME and physics.

    • by mirix (1649853)

      Beetles were fairly safe for the era. Not like a modern car, but, then it wouldn't be a classic then, would it.

      Wearing his seatbelt might have been a start, though.

      • Bullshit. They were deathtraps from day one.

        • by mirix (1649853)

          i suppose comparable to other small cars from the era would have been better wording. superior to a motor bike at least :p

          • No, even compared to other small cars and motorcycles, Beetles were dangerous.

            • by mirix (1649853)

              Did a beetle run over your puppy or something? You're just trolling now.

              • by tom17 (659054)

                Probably not, they are just known for hideous understeer. That's what you get for putting the engine in the wrong place.

                And yes, I am aware that one of my favourite cars also has the engine in the same, wrong, place. I guess they have more weight up front to counteract it.

                • by istewart (463887)

                  UNDERsteer, in a rear-engine car? I think you have a bit of confusion in terms there. Oversteer is what occurs when the rear of a vehicle loses traction due to weight imbalance. Additionally, Ralph Nader's criticism of the similarly rear-engined Corvair (and its contemporary Volkswagens) in "Unsafe at Any Speed" had a lot to do with that vehicle's use of a swing-axle transaxle, in which the rear axle's suspension only has one, vertical, degree of freedom and thus has a tendency to bounce upwards during over

                  • by tom17 (659054)

                    I know someone explained below already, but I just have to say, I am *so* not confused when it comes to understeer vs oversteer lol :)

                    Indeed, I did mean understeer. There is not enough weight on the front of a Beetle and they are known to just do nothing when you try to turn to avoid that tree. You end up understeering and hitting the tree head on. I know that people would put bags of sand in the storage area in the front to help turn-in.

                    The 'one of my favourite cars' I mentioned above is in fact the 911 th

                  • by Alsee (515537)

                    Porsche fanatics will tell you that the 911's rear engine placement is actually an advantage in terms of traction during corner exit, so long as you are not foolish enough to lift the throttle in mid-turn.

                    Swell advice, so long as the universe is not foolish enough to present you with a hazard requiring you to back off on the gas.

                    -

                • by jd (1658)

                  Ah yes, and F1 cars place the engines at the back for amusement value? Rear engine cars tend to have better handling.

                  • IIRC most/all F1 cars are mid-engine configuration - they have the engine ahead of the rear axle, like the Porsche 914 and unlike all the other Porsches that I know anything about. The Porsche 911 and its relatives have a lot of stuff that's been done to ameliorate the effects of the weight imbalance.

                    Rear engine cars can start out with understeer (the front wheels being too light to get a grip), then suddenly switch to oversteer (when they finally grip, and the big weight in the back suddenly becomes the e

                    • by tom17 (659054)

                      Thank you for explaining it to him :)

                      There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about engine layouts in this thread :(

                    • All F1 cars are mid-engined, and have been for at least the last 40 years. You can get away with placing the engine outside the wheelbase (most FWD cars and most Porsches have this configuration) but you need an unusual suspension setup to make the car handle well with such layouts. Handling-wise, the closer the engine is to the center of the vehicle, the better. The ideal setup is like an F1 car: The engine is just behind the center of the car, with the driver directly in front to balance it out and put th

              • I'm not trolling. They were notoriously unsafe.

                • by jd (1658)

                  So was the Mini Metro, the Reliant Robin, and the Sinclair C5. All three were probably more dangerous than a VW Beetle.

        • In 1974 I was sitting in a fast food joint in Panama city. A VW beetle in the car park burst into flames. My dad reckons it was the steel springs in the back seat. If you sit down too hard the springs get pushed down on to the battery terminals.

    • by tibit (1762298)

      You're a damned fool in making assumptions. There's nothing out there so far (else post links) that indicates that seat belts (or their lack) played any role in the outcome. Shut up.

      • by xaxa (988988) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @05:11AM (#36510378)

        You're a damned fool in making assumptions. There's nothing out there so far (else post links) that indicates that seat belts (or their lack) played any role in the outcome. Shut up.

        You've made four comments saying pretty much the same thing. Maybe you should close the window and do something else, there's no point getting stressed over a Slashdot comment (or four).

        Also, if you don't wear a seatbelt I strongly suggest you reconsider that decision. At the very least, you must wear one when sitting in the back, as that will prevent you from crushing the person in the front seat in a collision.

    • by retchdog (1319261)

      Analog designer Bob Pease, 71, killed by ADOLF HITLER.

  • by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Monday June 20, 2011 @07:41PM (#36507896)

    As an analog designer, I've come to appreciate Bob's many contributions over the years. He was a good writer and a terrific engineer, and he knew both theory and hands-on practice better than most of us. He could explain complex concepts in simple language, and it seemed he was a no-nonsense kind of guy yet had a good sense of humour. The electronics field, from hobbyists, to other engineers, to semiconductor companies, owes him a debt of gratitude. He will be missed.

  • Sad Day (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StonyCreekBare (540804) on Monday June 20, 2011 @07:47PM (#36507942)
    I used to live for his regular columns. I loved his wit, and curmudgeonly attitude. I met him a few times and found him the same in person as he was in print. He will be missed. Yeah, VW beetles were dangerous little cars. I drove one for years (a 1964 model) and I was very careful, and knew what a death trap they could be. But how many of us ride motorcycles, or other dangerous vehicles. Life is a series of risks. I guess we could wrap ourselves in cotton balls and stay home. He was not a "damned fool" just a human being who chose to do something he knew was risky, who no doubt weighed the risks, and decided to go ahead.
    • Re:Sad Day (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Canonical Coward (2057190) on Monday June 20, 2011 @08:19PM (#36508180)
      Bob was the quintessential curmudgeon and he had the chops and credentials to do it well. But he was never spiteful or hateful.

      He truly did dislike engineers who didn't make smoke and relied on Spice simulations to design things, but he knew what he was talking about. His floobydust stories were spot on. I just had the pleasure of rereading his take on the Taguchi method.

      I never got to meet him, but I did manage once or twice to exchange mail. His column was the first thing I looked for, and his books are legend.

      Goodbye Bob. Thank you Pease family for sharing him with us.

    • He did put more miles on VW Beetles than perhaps a handful of people. So the odds were bound to catch up to him sooner or later.

      No doubt his crash was due way more to his mental state after having just been to Jim Williams' funeral than to anything else.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      It wasn't just his own life at risk though. If he had hit another car or pedestrians other people could have died too.

      Maybe I'm biased because he is such a legend but I'm inclined to chalk this one up to a genuine accident.

  • It's a great loss (Score:4, Informative)

    by 50000BTU_barbecue (588132) on Monday June 20, 2011 @07:48PM (#36507956) Homepage Journal
    The worst part is that Mr Pease was coming back from the funeral of Jim Williams, another analog great working at Linear Tech.
    • by jd (1658)

      Although rare, it is not unknown for someone to give up on life at the death of a close friend. It will never be possible to know what was in his mind, it's entirely likely it was just a very tragic accident, and it would be wrong to not mourn the loss of someone who was a friend to the community at large, but equally it would be wrong to assume that he didn't put the friendship at that high a value. That, of course, is the worst part of tragedies like this, we can never know his choices and therefore canno

  • by MountainLogic (92466) on Monday June 20, 2011 @07:49PM (#36507970) Homepage
    Bob was a great educator of working EEs. His passing is a great loss for all of us.
  • by labnet (457441) on Monday June 20, 2011 @07:49PM (#36507972)

    Bob Pease and Jim Williams (who also died recently) were legends in analog electronics.
    Bob was still an active contributor to many columns.
    His last is here http://electronicdesign.com/article/analog-and-mixed-signal/What-s-All-This-Solo-Hiking-Stuff-Anyhow-.aspx [electronicdesign.com]

    RIP Bob

    • by tibit (1762298)

      Yeah, talk about coincidences. They both died within a week of each other. Someone selected nice pictures [blogspot.com] of both of them.

      • How is it a coincidence? Bob Pease died while leaving Jim Williams' memorial service, which he was late for, presumably because he was distraught. While there's no proof (and may never be), there's certainly enough correlation that I can postulate a reasonable hypothesis of causation.

      • by IICV (652597)

        According to another post, Bob Pease actually died while driving back from Jim Williams' funeral. That's pretty sad.

        (I was going to say "ironic" just to tweak the word usage Nazis, but this is too sad for such things)

  • Thanks Bob (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crisco (4669) on Monday June 20, 2011 @07:56PM (#36508026) Homepage
    I appreciate all the insight you lent me and the fact that you opened my eyes to a better way to troubleshoot and think about systems.
  • by woboyle (1044168) on Monday June 20, 2011 @08:12PM (#36508136)
    Bob will be missed. I have been reading his postings on EDN for many, many years (probably about 25 years now) and always found them interesting, informational, and often quite funny. The Silicon Valley and the industry has lost a real gentleman and guiding light.
  • I can't think of anything digital in a 69 Beetle. From the sounds of it I'd be surprised if he even had an AM radio in there.
    • It didn't have a radio. (That I saw: I was looking over his shoulder.) The main reason he was so into it was precisely because he could fix everything on it -- and he did, too. He had a lot to say about why people shouldn't own anything they couldn't fix, and about how nice it was to be able to walk down to the corner auto shop and get most all the parts he needed to repair or replace anything on the Beetle.

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        It didn't have a radio. (That I saw: I was looking over his shoulder.) The main reason he was so into it was precisely because he could fix everything on it -- and he did, too. He had a lot to say about why people shouldn't own anything they couldn't fix, and about how nice it was to be able to walk down to the corner auto shop and get most all the parts he needed to repair or replace anything on the Beetle.

        Sounds like his time was past if he couldn't own a car any more advanced than a 42 year old Beetle and be able to work on it.

      • by evilviper (135110)

        The main reason he was so into it was precisely because he could fix everything on it --and he did, too. He had a lot to say about why people shouldn't own anything they couldn't fix,

        It's all a matter of degree, though, isn't it? There aren't many people out there who could design and machine their own carburetor from a block of steel, so A) you don't really understand it, and B) you can't really fix it, but only replace it. In both cases, you are no better off than you would be if the vehicle was electr

        • Designing something is harder than fixing it.

          For example, designing a good audio amplifier is hard, but if a transistor (or capacitor) is bad, finding and replacing it is easier than designing the amp from scratch.

          Same thing with a car. Some things cannot be fixed and need to be replaced, but electrical components (relays and such - my car (Mercedes W123 200) was made in 1982 so it does not have very complex electronics) can be fixed most of the time (unless the relay is worn out and there is hard to find).

        • by tekrat (242117)

          You don't have to build a carb out of steel -- that's current car thinking, where they only way to fix it is to replace it -- carbs can be cleaned, rebuilt with a needle and gasket kit, and put back into service as if new. And unless it's filled up with gunk, carbs rarely fail.

          From your entire post, I can tell you've never even looked at a carb -- anybody with half a brain can take one apart, clean and rebuild, and get it working again.

          And if you think those electronically controlled cars are somehow better

          • by geekoid (135745)

            Carbs are incredibly inefficiency.

            Electronically controlled is better. Not perfect, but a lot better in terms of reliability, efficiency, and diagnostics.

            Yes, I could take a carb a apart and clean it while sitting outside a gas station in some podunk town and be on my way. Compared to a modern system, it's not worth it overall.
            The only way the above scenario would happen to me is ig I was in a wet condition, or got silt into my system...things that would have less of an impact on a new system anyways.

            Carbs

  • Anyone who reads Electronic Design knows of Bob Pease. His column was the first thing you read, when you got the new edition. He was clever, witty and a brilliant engineer.

    Bob, you will be sorely missed.
  • I always enjoyed his columns. He was down to earth and not afraid to call bullshit when needed. It's true, always read his column first. He'll be missed.
  • Bob Pease is also the author of the book "How to drive into accidents - and how not to" [amazon.com].
  • I had to go to my shelf to be sure, but yes...one of my favorite electronics books, Troubleshooting Analog Circuits, was penned by the talented Bob Pease. I always enjoyed the clever writing style and humor that came across in that wonderfully detailed book. I received it for a review many years ago, and after reading it decided it earned a place in my permanent library.

    It is unfortunate that only now have I found his regular column ( http://electronicdesign.com/author/904/BobPease.aspx [electronicdesign.com] ). I will enjoy r

  • What terrible news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Schafer (21060) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @01:43AM (#36509650)

    Bob was one of the most clearheaded problem solvers out there, regardless of domain. When I was designing high-voltage CRT drivers, his books and columns were invaluable. When I moved on to digital, then FPGA system architecture, then management, again his thinking was almost always mappable in some way to the problems at hand.

    When he wrote a self-published book on driving, _How to Drive Into Accidents and How Not To_, I bought and read that too (472 pages on driving).

    For those that say Bob was not serious about seatbelts because he apparently was not wearing one, he talked in detail about how that Beetle had rotted belts, how he had purchased nylon webbing to repair them, and his difficulties in finding a good, robust way to sew them. He made the point that a seatbelt "holds you down firmly and helps you AVOID having an accident." [Bob's emphasis]

    The man was not perfect, and I'm sure his actions did not always match his intent (did you ever see pictures of his desk? or the back seat of the Beetle?), but we've lost a great thinker, and he will be greatly missed.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      In a 1969 Beetle, the difference between wearing a seatbelt and not wearing a seatbelt is that one makes it easier to find the body.

      Seriously, that car is a death trap.

  • Bob has certainly left his mark on the analog world. I've attended a few of his seminars, and meeting him in person cannot leave one with any other impression than to know he was simply brilliant, and brilliantly simple. He saw things in ways none of us was ever taught to look at them.

    He will be missed.

  • I loved his columns, I have many of his books. I wrote him several times (in the days before email!) with comments on his columns and he always wrote back. I went to see him talk when he has in town. I will miss him.

  • IS one of the most dangerous cars you can possible be driving.

    He will be missed.

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