Ross Freeman - inventor of the FPGA

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I understand that the inventor of the FPGA was a Ross Freeman, who
aged 45, tragically just 5 years after he co-counded Xilinx.

Does anyone have more details of him?

Best regards.

Re: Ross Freeman - inventor of the FPGA
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Have you seen this:

Some time ago I was wondering about Jim Barnett because I could found no
mentioning of him except that he co-founded Xilinx?!?


Re: Ross Freeman - inventor of the FPGA

Yes, I saw that, (thanks).

Really I wondered how he died so young.

It's a sobering thought that in ~10 years I'll be as old as he was
when he died, and I haven't yet done anything that I'm *really* proud

Re: Ross Freeman - inventor of the FPGA

"Ross Freeman, along with Bernie Vonderschmitt and Jim Barnett, founded
Xilinx in February 1984. It is Ross's invention, the FPGA, that is the
foundation of our company and the basis for a multi-billion-dollar
industry. Quite literally, if it were not for Ross and his vision,
Xilinx would not exist.

"Ross was a brilliant engineer. He was formally educated in physics with
a BS from Michigan State and an MS from the University of Illinois. He
began his IC design career at Teletype. He joined Zilog when it was a
startup. By the time he reached his early 30's he was the Director of
Engineering for the Components Division at Zilog, in charge of all
engineering activities for the division. In 1986, while the VP of
Engineering here at Xilinx, the San Jose Mercury News named Ross one of
Silicon Valley's dozen Rising Stars (along with the likes of Sun's Bill
Joy and Cypress' T. J. Rodgers).

"Unlike many very bright engineers, Ross was not a prima donna. In fact,
he was quite the opposite. He was unassuming and approachable. He heaped
praise on others, often when he was the person deserving of the
recognition. He was supremely self-confident, without being arrogant or

"But more than that, Ross was a good human being. Before he started his
professional career, he was a Peace Corps volunteer, teaching math and
electronics in Ghana. He treated everyone fairly and with respect. He
was extremely loyal. Quite simply, he cared about people.

"As stated before, if it were not for Ross's vision Xilinx would not
exist. But equally important, if it were not for Ross and Bernie's
shared values and beliefs, Xilinx would not be the special company that
it is. Please take a moment and remember Ross."

From an internal website here at Xilinx.

I thought it appropriate that the newsgroup understand who Ross was,
what he accomplished, and what a role model he is to all engineers here
at Xilinx.


Re: Ross Freeman - inventor of the FPGA
Thank you, Austin.
I agree 100% with these words, even if they sound a bit corny.
I came to Xilinx 19 years ago, after some dog-eat-dog years at
Fairchild and AMD with its domineering president Jerry Sanders. Coming
to Xilinx was a very positive experience. Ross Freeman and Bernie
Vonderschmitt were two of the smartest, and simultaneously the two
most decent and caring human beings I ever met. They created a company
culture that attracted many of us, and kept us here at Xilinx, the
best company I ever worked for.
There are few subjects that I feel this unequivocally enthusiastic
about, and leave the usual engineering cynicism behind.
Peter Alfke

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Re: Ross Freeman - inventor of the FPGA

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I only got to see Ross Freeman speak once, but it was a memorable

Back in the late 80's, when I was putting in my time at AMD, the
company was second-sourcing some of the Xilinx product line.  One
year, Freeman was booked as a Field Applications Engineering
conference speaker.  Many of the FAEs were upset by the fact that
Xilinx was selling new part types well before AMD was able to, and
they were out for blood.  AMD FAEs were no wallflowers, and from the
way some of them were talking, Freeman's presentation was going to
turn into a roast.  

The time arrived, and Freeman gave an interesting, upbeat talk about
what was going on at Xilinx, then asked for questions.  One of the
FAEs asked why they were being denied the right to sell new Xilinx
parts as soon as Xilinx released them.  Freeman, in as calm and polite
a way as you could possibly imagine, said (and I'm paraphrasing
through the filter of almost 20 years), "Of course we're selling them
first.  We invented them, we sweated bullets making them, and it's
only right that we get first crack at the sales."

Silence.  There was not a single follow-up question on the subject.
The guy sounded so darned *reasonable* that you would have felt like a
dope arguing the point.

Many people will remember Ross Freeman as a brilliant technical
innovator.  He was certainly that.  But I'll remember him as an
engineer who knew how to talk to people--warmly, politely, yet with
utter conviction.

Bob Perlman
Cambrian Design Works

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