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We were saddened to learn last week that Swiss-born electrical engineer, Hans Camenzind, had died on August 8th. Over the years, Hans worked for such companies as Signetics (now Philips) and his own Interdesign, and most recently, Array Design. In the course of his career, he designed over 150 different ICs. Camenzind is most famous, and geek-beloved, for his design, in 1971 of the 555 timer chip, the muscle behind many electronics enthusiasts’ projects ever since. The 555 was the first IC I ever held in my hand, experimented on, and I have a feeling that’s the case for many folks reading this. Infinite oscillations to you, Hans. RIP.

Here’s a piece by Charles Platt, author of Make: Electronics, about his unexpected encounter with the 555 man.

In honor of the life and work of Hans Camenzind, we’re declaring this 555 Week. Look for more articles, projects, and interviews about this ubiquitous little IC throughout the week.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear stories about your experiments and projects using the 555. Leave them in the comments below.

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor for Boing Boing and WINK Books. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.


  • http://gravatar.com/dkavanagh David Kavnaagh

    Let’s not forget the 555 timer contest that he helped judge last year! http://blog.makezine.com/2011/04/21/555-contest-winners-announced/

  • chuck

    Too sad. After 40 years of ‘Someday…’ I finally started learning electronics this past year. My first successful soldered circuit was Mimms’ awesome stepped tone generator (thanks MAKE!) and the 555 continues to amaze me with it’s versatility. I recently combined several 555s and a few 4017s with a ton of recycled pots and made a two pattern, eight step music/noise sequencer. It sounds so cool! The 555 chip alone is as good of a legacy as any of us could hope for. Thanks and RIP.

    • Gareth Branwyn

      Chuck, thanks for your story. We’d love to see your project. Have you thought about posting it on Make: Projects?

  • http://sonodrome.co.uk Jim Frize

    RIP. The 555 Timer has been a huge source of inspiration for me. I’m also very thankful to have been judged by Hans in the 555 contest. When I heard of his passing I built this circuit in his honour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MwI6dgCwZo&feature=plcp

  • Pingback: MAKE | Top 10: 555 Timers()

  • Steve Janes

    Whilst experimenting with a 555, I noticed for the first time that the micro-arc from an on/off switch on a Weller soldering gun could trigger the chip! (and be a problem!)

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  • http://gravatar.com/rahere rahere

    The Swiss Camenzind family all come from a small village, Gersau, on the north bank of Lake Lucerne, where they make up something like 40% of the inhabitants. The village is now the poorer.

  • Pingback: MAKE | 555 Timer Contest Highlights()

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