(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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

OUR VIEW: Surrey RCMP Basketball Classic is a keeper

What will become of it once a city police force replaces the RCMP in Surrey?

Deer carcass strung up at Surrey fire hall prompts investigation

Investigation underway following complaint a Surrey firefighter hung a deer carcass in a fire hall

Surrey high schools compete at annual Breakout dance competition

Hundreds of students perform at Salish Secondary

UPDATED: SPCA and RCMP remove 20 animals from private animal rescue in Langley

Dogs, birds, cats, rabbits and one pig in ‘distress’ according to agency

Protesters block entrance to Victoria government building to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

VIDEO: Langley woman without a home after houseboat sinks during snowy weather

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help the Grant’s Landing resident replace her possessions

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

‘Epic sky palace’: B.C. businesses help create dream treehouse for boy recovering from cancer

‘It was kind of a bright shining beacon at the end of a horrible, dark tunnel’

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

B.C. teacher suspended for poking student in stomach, pulling another’s ponytail

Teacher also swore in classroom, used Facebook to contact students

Larry Walker Jr. and Sr. keeping expectations low for hall-of-fame induction

Walker needs 75 percent of votes in order to be inducted into Cooperstown

Most Read