(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

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

Power restored to 120,000 customers after northern B.C. transmission failure

Lightning is suspected to be the cause of the outage, says BC Hydro

Kitimat fire department halts JFJV Labour Day weekend waste burning

Fire chief says tighter controls are now in place

Three people wanted on warrants

Terrace RCMP asking for public’s help

Belgian man linked as possible missing kayaker in Nass River

Family pleads on Facebook for more information

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Newcomer Ferland lines up with sniper Pettersson as Vancouver Canucks camp opens

Ferland provides more depth and a scoring threat up front, Pettersson says

Intelligence official charged seemed to be ‘exemplar of discretion’: UBC professor

Professor Paul Evans says he served on Cameron Ortis’s doctoral dissertation committee

Most Read