Willy and Val

Willy and Val

We found Willy and Val's signature on this Hewlett-Packard 64-bit floating point add chip. Although we didn't know who they were when we first saw the signatures, we assumed they are chip designers for Hewlett-Packard (pretty sharp, aren't we?). We have since found out that Willy stands for Willy McAllister, the chief designer of the chip and Val stands for Valerie Wilson, the layout specialist. Many of the chips we examine contain lists of the designer's names and/or initials, but these are the only cursive signatures that we have ever found on a chip.

Here is a quote from Willy McAllister about the chip:

"One of the things that inspired me in this work was the beauty of the final result and how the beauty contributed to the chip's function. There is a reason that it is called 'artwork'. I thought it appropriate to sign our work. Hence the signatures."

Our communications with Willy McAllister, the chief designer of the integrated circuitry, have revealed some interesting facts about this chip. The Focus Math chips were among the first at Hewlett-Packard that were designed entirely with a CAD system (no pencils). These chips were designed in 1984 as three-chip set of floating-point arithmetic support processors for the first HP-Precision Architecture computers. Other chips in this set are the Buffalo Chip and the Road Runner Chip.


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