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The Back Story (May 2005)

Finding Noyce's Notebook

1 min read

When Leslie Berlin started digging into the history of Silicon Valley for her Stanford University Ph.D. thesis, she resolved to read Robert Noyce's biography as a way of following the growth of the Valley's semiconductor industry. Only problem was, there was no full-length biography of Noyce. So she decided to write one herself.

Familiar though she was with Noyce's many achievements, she was still stunned when she came across a transcript of a 1979 speech at Intel Corp. in which Noyce claimed to have conceived the tunnel diode at about the same time as Leo Esaki, the scientist who won the Nobel Prize for that invention.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
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Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush
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Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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