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Icons of Progress


The Invention of On-Demand Data

No product, idea, or achievement is possible without our most critical asset—the collective thought capital of hundreds of thousands of IBMers. The expertise, technical skill, willingness to take risk and overall dedication of IBM employees have led to countless transformative innovations through the years. Meet team members who contributed to this Icon of Progress.

  • Robert Dennard 

    Robert Dennard
    His invention of DRAM is indeed memorable, but certainly not random.

    Born in Terrell, Texas, in 1932, Robert Dennard earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Southern Methodist University in Texas. In 1958, he received a PhD from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pennsylvania. The young engineer and scientist soon joined IBM’s Research Division and eventually began working on integrated circuitry. In 1966, Dennard conceived of a revolutionary approach to computer memory—dynamic random access memory—and received a patent for his invention in 1968. In 1974, Dennard and fellow IBM team members published Design of Ion-Implanted MOSFETs with Very Small Physical Dimensions, which set forth guidelines for long-term advancements in RAM. The document is regarded as a seminal reference in the field of computer hardware. Dennard’s breakthrough technology and innovative concepts enabled the evolution of modern computing, as well as the proliferation of today’s sophisticated electronics products. Throughout his half-century career at IBM, Dennard has won numerous honors and awards. Appointed an IBM Fellow in 1979, he received the US National Medal of Technology from President Reagan in 1988. He was a US National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee in 1997, and received the prestigious IEEE Medal of Honor in 2009. Dennard and his wife, Jane, enjoy choral singing and Scottish dancing.

  • Dale L. Critchlow 

    Dale Critchlow
    Dr. Critchlow spent over three decades at IBM, focusing on MOSFET technology and the advancement of dynamic random access memory.

    After earning a doctoral degree from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1956, Dale Critchlow taught electrical engineering at the school for two years. He then joined IBM, and soon began working on techniques for digital data transmission. From 1964 to 1976, he oversaw MOSFET technology development at IBM Research, managing a team that included Robert Dennard. For more than 20 years, Critchlow focused primarily on dynamic random access memory. He was elected an IEEE Fellow in 1985 and appointed an IBM Fellow in 1986. During his 35-year career with IBM, Critchlow published numerous papers and received several patents. In 1993, Dr. Critchlow retired from corporate life, returning to his original profession, teaching, at the University of Vermont.