My good friend and Burr-Brown Analog mentor, Howard Skolnik passed away on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. I will miss him, but I am so happy that we had a really nice mini re-union Burr-Brownie breakfast at the Hungry Fox restaurant in Tucson on Thursday morning, June 14. We have this kind of get together occasionally, not knowing that this time would be the last time we would see Howard. We had our first such re-union breakfast like this a few years ago at the same restaurant and it quickly became a regular thing.
I remember that when I was still living in NY, I had stopped at a Kosher Deli on Long Island, NY on my way to the airport for a Tucson visit. I picked up a Pastrami on rye, with a pickle and a bottle of cream soda and packed it in a thermal bag for Howard who dearly missed this typical NY kosher deli food from his early days in NY. His eyes were as large as saucers when he saw it at that first get-together at the Hungry Fox in Tucson.
I owe a great deal of my in-depth Op Amp technical knowledge to Howard from my days at Burr-Brown, in the 80s and 90s, from Howard’s tutorials when the field guys came into Tucson four times a year for training.
Old-time Burr-Brownies visiting the Tom Brown conference room a few years ago: Bob Kropp, Paul Kriegshauser, CR Teeple, Robert Hickox, Lee Payne, Gene Tobey, Howard Skolnik, John Weiss, Don McGraw and Paul Prazak
Howard, we will surely miss your smiling face, but we will never forget you.
Yes, Howard's passing removes another of the anchors to the BurrBrown pantheon of industry leaders. I had joined in 1995 more as a current feedback expert over on the high speed side. But, we knew if we had "ANY" question on the more traditional BurrBrown precision op amps and INA's, we could stroll over and get an answer from the source of a lot of that earlier development. Either Howard, Bruce Trump, Mark Stitt, Niel Albaugh, Rod Burt, etc, etc would be around and have a seemingly infinite well of knowledge in those areas. I particularly liked that picture you put up Steve from the BurrBrown conference room in the Engineering bldg on the UA campus here in Tucson. Not only is that an illustrious grouping up front, but Jimmy Naylor is in that picture behind them - the father of digital audio. He developed the original PCM audio DAC's for the Sony Walkman, etc back in 1981. For which, BurrBrown did receive that IEEE Milestone award (thanks to Paul Prazak's efforts) back in 2010. I swung by and got a picture of that this morning at the entrance to the TI-Tucson facility.
Steve said he would try to add the image I got of the Milestone award - for those not aware this is a very rarely granted award where the first one was to Benjamin Frankly (posthumously of course)
All of us former Burr-Brown people are sorry to hear of the death of our friend, Howard Skolnik, a good engineer and a fine man. Howard and Bill Olchefsky (SP?) were the two engineers who interviewed me in 1977 when I was applying for a job in the Analog Division. Things were going pretty well until Howard asked me "What is the diode equation?"... I admitted to him that I hadn't the slightest idea. I guess he thought that was something that I could learn so I joined BB shortly thereafter.
Howard designed a few of our hybrid FET-input op amps but I remember him as the father of the ISO100 optical isolation amplifier, a clever LED- photodiode design. Coincidentaly Bill was also the designer of an isolation amplifier, the self-powered magnetically coupled 3656.
In the days before the big corporate takeover, Burr-Brown had an almost "family" atmosphere. Our family has lost a dear member in Howard Skolnik.