Signing off - Embedded.com

Signing off

In 1989 Tyler Sperry, then editor of the print publication Embedded Systems Programming, asked me to write a monthly column for the magazine. That morphed into Embedded Systems Design which in turn succumbed to the demise of print in 2012. During those years I wrote some 260 columns for those publications. A later editor, Lyndsey Vereen, wisely saw the importance of the web and asked me to contribute a weekly on-line column starting in 2001. That was some 700 articles ago.

Over the years the magazine and web site were bought and sold a number of times. This summer Aspencore (part of Arrow Electronics) acquired it from media giant UBM. I have no insight into Arrow’s plans but suspect that not much will change.

But it’s time for one change – this will be my last column. At this point in life I’m cutting back on work activities a bit. Scant free time is taking its toll.

In the intervening years I’ve gone from a relative youngster to being eligible for social security. My family life revolved around a two-year-old son and soon a daughter, to now being a proud father of self-sufficient adults building their own lives. Once a late-night phone call portended some teenage driving incident. Now my cell is always at hand to respond to the exigencies of ancient parents.

How life changes!

And how this field has changed! In the 80s only the latest PCs had 32 bit CPUs – they were a rarity in the embedded world. Windows was unusable and Linux didn’t exist. Connectivity mostly meant an RS-232 port. The web had yet to be invented. A few low-power eight-bitters could run from batteries but any kind of computational horsepower required connection to the AC mains. There was no Wi-Fi nor any of the huge array of wireless protocols available today.

Developers mostly used in-circuit emulators to debug their code. That was my business in the 80s and 90s – we made emulators for a number of processors, but that technology is now obsolete. Propagating bus signals over a long cable at hundreds of MHz is just not feasible. And who sockets processors anymore?

There was no JTAG debugging. No IDEs. No source level debugging. In the embedded world systems were more likely to be coded in assembly than C.

Some surface-mount existed but most avoided it in favor of through-hole technology. None of the exotic packaging like PoP or WLCSP had been invented.

Digital cell phones were not available. Yet two decades later Martin Cooper, the inventor of the hand-held mobile phone, gave a keynote at the ESC and I’ll bet not a single attendee did not have a cell in his or her pocket.

Over the years I’ve made friends with many of you. Some in person, others I only know from email correspondence. You have all enriched my life tremendously, and I’ve learned a lot from our interaction. Thank you, all.

Most web sites have comments that would make a sailor squeamish. Here they are unmoderated, though it’s probably possible to delete those that might be inappropriate. That has never happened, at least for my columns. And that says something pretty special about embedded.com’s readers, who are consistently polite and bursting with useful information.

Though Marybeth would love to see me retire that’s not happening any time soon. I’ll continue my newsletter, seminars, and other activities. This field is so endlessly fascinating that stopping would be like cutting off a limb.

Keep in touch! The best part of writing this column has been interaction with you readers. Thanks for all of the dialog. And keep reading embedded.com. The change that has characterized this field will only accelerate; this site offers the information you need to keep up with the latest technology.


Jack G. Ganssle is a lecturer and consultant on embedded development issues. He conducts seminars on embedded systems and helps companies with their embedded challenges, and works as an expert witness on embedded issues. Contact him at . His website is .

27 thoughts on “Signing off

  1. “Although I know I'll continue to run into you elsewhere – virtually and, I hope, in the real world – I'll miss reading your thoughts and insights here. It takes a brave man to say “no more”, when they have established an institution. I respect your brav

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  2. “Thanks for all the columns, Jack. For me, your column was a bit of a continuation of Embedded Systems (Design) magazine. Take some time to visit a few hamfests before they're completely gone… ;^)”

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  3. “Thanks Jack for the many columns and articles that have enriched my life over the years. I always looked forward to hearing your practical advice.nnBest of luck, smooth sailing and may the wind always be at your back.”

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  4. “I'm not wearing my happy face is all I can say … terms like “end of an era” come to mind … Embedded.com won't be the same without you … we'll leave the light on for you in case you get bored and decide to come back home (or even just drop in to vi

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  5. “Jack, going to miss your columns, here's to wishing you the best. Was wondering about the Muse while reading this article, glad to hear that will continue. Became a fan of yours about 20 years ago under the print version of Embedded Systems Programming.

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  6. “Your columns were much more than university curricula in embedded in particular and engineering in general. nSharing oneu2019s experiences and expertise without expecting anything in return makes you so special. nHonestly, the engineering is so special

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  7. “What they said. To the 10th power with precision and no round off error. Your abundant contributions have enormously helped so many and like so many I will miss you. Your comments, lessons and musings have accompanied me throughout my embedded developm

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  8. “When I was first starting out as a young embedded systems developer, Jack you were the first person I recognized where I realized: wow, there are other people out there that do this too… and who care about doing it better! Thanks for all your help and i

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  9. “Being your devoted reader since your EDN days, I will miss this weekly routine a lot. But, time takes it's toll – I feel it myself too. I hope your newsletter won't follow the same path soon :-)nnBest of luck to you and your family and thanks for all th

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  10. “I can remember fudging my influence in order to qualify for a free copy of ESD so I could read your column and the other articles. You taught me much over the years. Thank you.”

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  11. “Can't say I read your first column, since I was still in school. However, I have been reading them regularly since the mid-90's. I will miss your stories, especially all of the history that you work into your columns. I've learned a lot from you. Than

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  12. “Say it isn't so. I've been reading your columns since the ESP days. I used to rip them out of the print magazine to save for later. Much embedded wisdom there and in your web columns.nnI wish you the best of luck in the future.nnChris Knight”

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  13. “Thanks for all of the columns Jack. I canu2019t remember when I started reading them, in the early 80u2019s I believe, ESP and/or EDN dead-tree editions. As I read more of your work, I thought to myself, u201cwho is this guy? He sounds like a regul

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  14. “I am always a big fan of yours and consider you as my guru. I learned software key debouncing techniques from one of your articles. Applied it one day and can't describe the joy when it worked perfectly. Thanks for all that. Following in The Embedded Muse

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  15. “It's been over a decade since I did any real embedded work, yet I still read every article in this column, for the wisdom here is beyond embedded, and we are entertained while learning. Thank you!n”

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  16. “I was affraid this day would come. Your column is THE one I made sure I read on this site, thank you. I have learned an immense amount from you even as I am approaching veteran status. (almost) I look forward to continued reading of your Embedded Muse.

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  17. “Many of us will miss you Jack. As a budding embedded guy, I continue to learn many tricks and techniques from your articles.nAs some one noted, who is going to fill this gap?nnThanks for all the articles. Reading them was greatest fun I had.n-Venkat D

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  18. “I happened upon this site because I needed information on firmware engineering for a presentation for a class I'm taking, when this post/article caught my eye. Jack, you probably won't see this, but you definitely have a new reader in me, albeit a little

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  19. “In case any of you missed it, Jack's glossary of embedded computing terms a few years back was a side-splitter! I'm sure my colleagues thought I had lost my mind when they heard me laughing so hard! You have a real talent there, Jack, for making me laug

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  20. “We are all going to miss the knowledge that Jack shared with us over the years. I'm glad that I'm still following him over at the Embedded Muse! Best of luck!”

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  21. “Jack, sad day for me as a former and now resurrected Publisher (quaint term these days) of Embedded Systems Design. You have a truly authentic voice and that's a rare thing we all enjoyed and you should be proud of.nnStill hope to see you around event

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  22. “Jack, you will be missed here, I've enjoyed your countless articles and always enjoyed your talks at conferences, Thanks for your contributions to the Embedded World!”

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