(Pixabay)

One of the inventors of the calculator dies

Jerry Merryman was one of the inventors of the handheld electronic calculator

Jerry Merryman, one of the inventors of the handheld electronic calculator who is described by those who knew him as not only brilliant but also kind with a good sense of humour, has died. He was 86.

Merryman died Feb. 27 at a Dallas hospital from complications of heart and kidney failure, said his stepdaughter, Kim Ikovic.

She said he’d been hospitalized since late December after experiencing complications during surgery to install a pacemaker.

He’s one of the three men credited with inventing the handheld calculator while working at Dallas-based Texas Instruments. The team was led by Jack Kilby, who made way for today’s computers with the invention of the integrated circuit and won the Nobel Prize. The prototype built by the team, which also included James Van Tassel, is at the Smithsonian Institution.

“I have a Ph.D. in material science and I’ve known hundreds of scientists, professors, Nobel prize-winners and so on. Jerry Merryman was the most brilliant man that I’ve ever met. Period. Absolutely, outstandingly brilliant,” said Vernon Porter, a former TI colleague and friend. “He had an incredible memory and he had an ability to pull up formulas, information, on almost any subject.”

READ MORE: Canadian physicist who won Nobel Prize touts science for the sake of science

Another former TI colleague and friend, Ed Millis, said, “Jerry did the circuit design on this thing in three days, and if he was ever around, he’d lean over and say, ‘and nights.’”

Merryman told NPR’s “All Things Considered” in 2013, “It was late 1965 and Jack Kilby, my boss, presented the idea of a calculator. He called some people in his office. He says, we’d like to have some sort of computing device, perhaps to replace the slide rule. It would be nice if it were as small as this little book that I have in my hand.”

Merryman added, “Silly me, I thought we were just making a calculator, but we were creating an electronic revolution.”

The Smithsonian says that the three had made enough progress by September 1967 to apply for a patent, which was subsequently revised before the final application in June 1974.

Friend and former colleague Gaynel Lockhart remembers a telescope in concrete at his home with a motor attached that would allow it to follow a planet throughout the night.

Despite his accomplishments, he was humble. “He wouldn’t ever boast or brag about himself, not ever,” said Melissa Merryman, who became stepsisters with her friend Kim Ikovic when they set up their parents, who got married in 1993.

Jerry Merryman retired from TI in January 1994, the company said.

“He always said that he didn’t care anything about being famous, if his friends thought he did a good job, he was happy,” Phyllis Merryman said.

Jamie Stengle, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Coast Salish public art piece stolen from downtown Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Prime Minister Trudeau comes campaigning in Nanaimo

A day after announcing a May 6 byelection date for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Justin Trudeau visits city

Ladysmith mayor considered running federally, decided against it

Aaron Stone filed papers with Nanaimo-Ladysmith NDP to be vetted as a candidate

Regional District of Nanaimo adds up its assets, all $382 million worth

Regional district completes first asset management review

Trudeau to campaign in Nanaimo today

Prime minister to support Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidate Michelle Corfield

Prime Minister Trudeau comes campaigning in Nanaimo

A day after announcing a May 6 byelection date for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Justin Trudeau visits city

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

COLUMN: Smart phone too powerful a tool to yank from students’ hands

Rather than ban them from schools, let’s teach kids to harness their phone’s power and use it properly

15 Nanaimo athletes chosen basketball all-stars

Vancouver Island Classic announces this year’s rosters

B.C. river cleanup crew finds bag of discarded sex toys

Chilliwack volunteers stumble on unexpected find while removing 600 lbs of trash from riverway

Trudeau sells housing plan in visit to hot real estate market in B.C.

Trudeau said the budget contains measures to help first-time buyers

Most Read