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Posts Tagged ‘Phil Kaufman’

Leonardo, Michelangelo, Lucio: A taxonomy of Italian Genius

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

 

There are three types of Italian genius. Leonardo da Vinci characterized one with his brilliant problem solving, creative innovations in the arts and sciences, diverse dabblings that often left completion dates for commissioned projects as sfumato as his oils, and aggressive self-promotion. An apocryphal testimonial to this last: When he finished the Mona Lisa in the early 1500s, he invited friends and foe alike into his studio to show off what he assured them would be the Next Big Thing. Humility was not in Leonardo’s toolkit.

Born in 1475, Michelangelo Buonarroti exemplified a second type of Italian genius. Intense, focused, gifted with extraordinary talents in the visual arts and architecture, and rumored to be so impassioned by his work as to go weeks on end without sleep, his talent was such that monumental commissions were forced upon him by the political and religious powers of the day, although he argued bitterly against the scale of such assignments. He became increasingly cantankerous with age, and in angry response to criticism of one commission in particular, famously painted himself into his vast Last Judgment as a flayed skin victimized by his patrons. Charm and affability were not in Michelangelo’s toolkit.

Fast forward five centuries and find now a completely different type of Italian genius. Shaped by mid-20th century forces in technology, and brought to full fruition in the fertile fields of Silicon Valley, Lucio Lanza exemplifies a third class in the taxonomy, one that encompasses the upsides of those 16th century icons – intelligence, creativity, a passion for innovation and work, a sense of history – without the downsides – egomania, rough irritability, inability to finish a project, or avoid a project too big to handle.

In the wake of two High-Renaissance Florentians, it took one High-Tech Milanese to fill out the taxonomy of Italian genius. Here in the 21st century, Lucio Lanza is in a modern class of his own.

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IDAC: What EDAC might have been

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

 

Before there was EDAC, there was IDAC. But before there was IDAC, there was just DA – Design Automation without Community or Consortium. The EDA industry consisted of a small number of large companies controlling the conversation, and a larger number of smaller companies who thought that if they linked hands they could do it better. It was Rick Carlson and Dave Millman who decided in 1986 to bring that group of small companies together to create IDAC, which stood for Independent Design Automation Companies.

According to Carlson, speaking on a recent phone call, “We wanted to get the small independent companies to work together in a cooperative way to deliver a solution, a flow, that was equal to or better than the big companies. And because even then, the leading-edge algorithms always came out of these small startups, we thought we had good solutions that the customers would appreciate.

“But there was a deeper, more fundamental issue that we hoped to solve by creating IDAC and that was how to grow the industry and foster innovation, whether in through a startup or an established player.”

Things didn’t work out exactly like Carlson and Millman had hoped for.

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Phil Kaufman: At the heart of the matter

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

 

If you knew Phil Kaufman, you would have known how old he was when he died. Brief details of his life can be found through searching online: His last post was CEO of Quickturn, he died while on a business trip to Japan in July 1992, and the EDA Consortium established the Kaufman Award in his honor the following year.

This information is all readily available, but Phil Kaufman’s age at the time of his death is not so easily found. And why would that information be important?

By all reports, Phil Kaufman died of a heart attack, yet clearly he was fully engaged in his career at the time, which indicates his sudden death came as a shock to his family and colleagues. Did he know he had a problem? Did he have a history of cardiac disease? Was he being tracked by a doctor? Was the stress of the job just too much for someone whose health was compromised? I didn’t know Phil Kaufman, so I don’t know the answers to any of these questions.

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