Attention NAE Members
Starting June 30, 2023, login credentials have changed for improved security. For technical assistance, please contact us at 866-291-3932 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For all other inquiries, please contact our Membership Office at 202-334-2198 or NAEMember@nae.edu.
Click here to login if you're an NAE Member
Recover Your Account Information
This is the 24th Volume in the series Memorial Tributes compiled by the National Academy of Engineering as a personal remembrance of the lives and outstanding achievements of its members and international members. These volumes are intended to stand as an enduring record of the many contributions of engineers and engineering to the benefit of humankind. In most cases, the authors of the tributes are contemporaries or colleagues who had personal knowledge of the interests and the engineering accomplishments of the deceased. Through its members and international members, the Academy...
This is the 24th Volume in the series Memorial Tributes compiled by the National Academy of Engineering as a personal remembrance of the lives and outstanding achievements of its members and international members. These volumes are intended to stand as an enduring record of the many contributions of engineers and engineering to the benefit of humankind. In most cases, the authors of the tributes are contemporaries or colleagues who had personal knowledge of the interests and the engineering accomplishments of the deceased. Through its members and international members, the Academy carries out the responsibilities for which it was established in 1964.
Under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering was formed as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. Members are elected on the basis of significant contributions to engineering theory and practice and to the literature of engineering or on the basis of demonstrated unusual accomplishments in the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology. The National Academies share a responsibility to advise the federal government on matters of science and technology. The expertise and credibility that the National Academy of Engineering brings to that task stem directly from the abilities, interests, and achievements of our members and international members, our colleagues and friends, whose special gifts we remember in this book.
BY JOHN M. COHN
DALE L. CRITCHLOW was one of the world’s leading experts in the science and business of semiconductor memory. The innovations that he and his team drove have made possible everything from cell phones to supercomputers.
Dale died May 6, 2016, of cancer in Shelburne, Vermont, at age 84. He was born January 6, 1932, in Harrisville, Pennsylvania, the son of Lee and Susie Critchlow. He was a graduate of Grove City College (1953) and received his master’s (1954) and doctoral (1956) degrees in electrical engineering from Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University). He then spent 2 years as an assistant professor at Carnegie Tech before joining IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, New York, in 1958. In 1977 he moved to IBM East Fishkill, NY, and in 1981 to Essex Junction, VT, where he finished his 35-year IBM career.
At IBM Dale became one of the world’s leading experts in metal oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) and their application to dynamic random access memory (DRAM). In 1973 he and his colleagues Robert Dennard (NAE) and Stanley Schuster published the seminal paper that outlined the physics and mathematics of semiconductor scaling: “Design and Characteristics of n-Channel Insulated-gate Field-Effect Transistors.”1
Dale’s longtime collaborator and one-time employee Bob Dennard relates that Dale set the combined technical and business goal of his group to build the world’s first computer memory that cost less than one milli-cent ($0.00001) per bit. That single-minded focus simultaneously drove innovations in semiconductor process scaling (now known as “Dennard scaling”), process technology innovation, and circuit innovations necessary to make the world’s first truly affordable DRAM. The availability of affordable and reliable DRAM has been a key component in the development of all computers from cell phones to supercomputers and has been a direct driver of the $3 trillion growth of the semiconductor industry over the last 4 decades.
In recognition of this body of work, Dale was named a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 1985 “for contributions to the research and development of LSI [large-scale integration] and VLSI [very large-scale integration] MOSFET technologies.” In 1986 he was named an IBM fellow, the company’s highest technical honor. In 1989 he became a founding member of the IBM Academy of Technology, the company’s technical leadership body.
In 1991 he was deeply honored to be inducted into the National Academy of Engineering—and so inspired by his NAE membership that in 1995 he helped create the Vermont Academy of Science and Engineering (VASE). VASE supports understanding and appreciation of science and technology in Vermont, and under Dale’s guidance established grant programs that support hands-on science in Vermont schools.
In 1993 Dale retired from corporate life and returned to teaching, a wonderful way to share his decades of experience with the next generation, whether they were young employees or students. He was an outstanding and demanding teacher, and for 13 years a much-admired adjunct professor at the University of Vermont.
He was a man of many interests and active in both mind and body. He was an avid cyclist and enjoyed pedaling Vermont’s green mountains into his 80s. He was also a gifted wood-worker and helped establish a state-of-the-art woodworking facility at the Wake Robin retirement community where he and his wife Alice lived. The beautiful and elegant desks and tables he made can be found everywhere around Wake Robin.
Dale leaves behind his beloved wife of 60 years, Alice Ellenberger Critchlow, and large and loving family: their daughter Sally Terris and her husband, Bruce; daughter Kathryn Luther and her husband, Mark; son John Critchlow and his wife, Jennifer; five grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. Dale was able to hold his first great-grandchild just the week before he died.
Dale was a strong and inspiring technical leader. His attention to scientific rigor, his deep understanding of human nature, and his dry, folksy humor made him an inspiring technical and personal mentor to many people at IBM, across the industry, at the University of Vermont, and in the communities where he and his family lived. All of us are very grateful to have known Dale Critchlow.
1 IBM Journal of Research and Development 17(5):430.