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Monday, 20 August 2012 09:29

Chip designer Vincent Poor dies

Written by Nick Farrell

Chapter in IT history closes

Victor Poor who played an early role in the development of one of Intel’s first commercial chips has died. He was 79.

In 1969, Poor, a self-taught engineer, was working for Computer Terminal. He approached Intel with a proposal to build a processor for a programmable terminal that Computer Terminal wanted built. Intel was tiny at the time, but Intel had already begun designing a simpler microprocessor, later known as the 4004, for a Japanese calculator company.

Financing from Computer Terminal, Intel began building a second microprocessor called the 8008. It would lead later to the 8088 family of microprocessors. This was adopted in 1981 by IBM and by then Intel ruled the world. However Intel stuffed up the 8008 chip and it was not finished in time to meet Computer Terminal’s deadline. Computer Terminal built the processor for its 2200 terminal from multiple chips. Poor was later  involved with a small group of engineers who conceived of a computer network called Arcnet, which became a popular way of linking personal computers to share data.

Poor retired in 1984. However he developed an interest in sailing and looking for a way to communicate while he was at sea, he developed a wireless data communications system, initially called Aplink, for Amtor packet link, and later Winlink. This system was widely adopted by radio amateurs, the United States military, and state and local emergency preparedness teams. His system was one of the few communications systems that worked in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Nick Farrell

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