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Jerry Merryman (2019), pocket calculator co-inventor

by Kirk Fox

Helped create the revolutionary device at Texas Instruments.

Jerry Merryman was one of the inventors of the revolutionary pocket calculator. Merryman, Jack Kilby, and James Van Tassell created the device at Texas Instruments. He retired from the company in 1994. The prototype for their calculator is at the Smithsonian.

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Died: Wednesday, February 27, 2019. (Who else died on February 27?)

Details of death: Died at a hospital in Dallas, Texas, at the age of 86.

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On his amazing invention: Merryman told NPR’s “All Things Considered” in 2013 that Kilby challenged the design team to create the calculator. “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. Silly me, I thought we were just making a calculator, but we were creating an electronic revolution.”

What they said about him: “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. He had an incredible memory and he had an ability to pull up formulas, information, on almost any subject.” —Vernon Porter, former Texas Instruments colleague and friend, according to the Associated Press

Full obituary: The Dallas Morning News

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