This is a personal thank you to the semiconductor industry, an industry that I have worked in for almost 40 years. My thank you is for a new hand.
In 1962 I was in a line-of-duty military accident that resulted in the amputation of my left hand. Soon after, in Walter Reed Army Medical Center, I was fitted with a cable-operated prosthesis, the best then available. It used a Dorrance hook opened by a cable connected to a strap looped under my opposite shoulder and closed by two powerful rubber bands. That type of prosthesis served my needs for many years. I have nothing but praise for the US Army and the US Veterans Administration for the medical and prosthetic care I received during that time.
After more than 40 years using a hook, I began experiencing pain in my shoulder. The strap under my arm had been pulling on my shoulder all the time, creating a strain, even when it was not being used to open my hook. To lessen the pain, it was necessary to loosen the strap and use only one rubber band to close my hook. The hook still worked, but not very well. Something needed to be done.
Enter electronics, especially semiconductors. I was fitted for a myoelectric prosthesis, the ETD (Electronic Terminal Device) manufactured by Motion Control Inc. of Salt Lake City. When I tense the muscles of my remaining forearm, as if to raise my hand at the wrist; the ETD senses the muscle tension and opens its hook. When I tense the opposite muscles, as if to lower my hand; the ETD senses the tension in those muscles to close its hook. No strap. No cable. No sore shoulder!
It gets better. I now have a new myoelectric hand, the i-LIMB Pulse, manufactured by Touch Bionics of Livingston, UK. It senses the same muscle contractions; but it opens and closes articulated fingers and a thumb. It's not as good as Luke Skywalker's replacement hand; but it has an opposable thumb and many versatile grips. It can grasp a key, a credit card, a briefcase handle, a ball, a steering wheel, and makes many everyday tasks easier. It’s better than a hook for many uses. Using it feels much more natural.
So my thanks to the semiconductor industry. Why? Because neither the ETD nor the i-LIMB Pulse Hand would be possible without semiconductors. Both are microprocessor controlled and both use semiconductor motor controllers. No other technology could have delivered the combination of processing power and motor control needed. The i-LIMB Pulse even has a built-in Bluetooth connection so that software updates can be accomplished without a physical connection. Semiconductors have improved my life.
I’m not alone. Many other lives have been improved, or even saved, by semiconductors. Those of us in the semiconductor industry often focus on the technology and the business numbers, but let’s pause a moment to consider semiconductors’ impact on people’s lives. There are many examples: Manufacturing jobs require less physical labor than they once did; airline reservations take minutes; pacemakers save lives; MRIs, CAT scans, and other medical instruments improve diagnostic procedures; and family connections are easier to maintain.
Semiconductors have touched every corner of people's lives and have improved those lives immeasurably. Let’s not forget it.