Robert Widlar was one of the original analog circuit pioneers. Not only was he a brilliant engineer, he was also a wild partier. His antics, along with his designs, and recounted in undergraduate analog IC courses to this day.

Widlar began his career at Fairchild semiconductor, where he designed a couple of pioneering op amps. By 1966, the commercial success of his designs became apparent, and Widlar asked for a raise. He was turned down, and jumped ship to the fledgling National Semiconductor. At National he continued to turn out amazing designs, and was able to retire just before his 30th birthday in 1970.

After he retired, Widlar continued to produce designs for National. In 1980, he worked for Linear Technology for a few months.

When Widlar left Fairchild for National in 1966, he wrote on his exit questionnaire "I WANT TO GET RICH," and signed it "X." When frustrated, Widlar would take the axe he kept in his office and attack a convenient linoleum floor or tree.

In 1969, when tough times caused National to cut back on landscaping to save money, Widlar drove out to a farm, bought a sheep and brought it back to the National campus in the back of his Mercedes convertible. He tethered to the bumper of his car and let it munch on the grass for the day. That evening, he took it to a bar with him and tied it to a barstool. Depending on who you believe, he either auctioned it off to the highest bidder or gave it to the bartender.

He was once found wandering drunk down 5th Avenue in New York in the middle of a snow storm. He was trying to find a way to get to New Jersey for a sales call.

Widlar died on February 27th, 1991, at the age of 53. He had drunk himself into an early grave.


Anecdotes from my ENEL 465 professor

A photo of Robert Widlar:

Widlar's antics included bringing a sheep to work to mow the lawns at National during hard times:

741 Op Amp tutorial

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