WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 -- The original drawing of a Power Metal Strip resistor, rendered by inventor Felix Zandman on a paper napkin, is part of a traveling exhibition, "Doodles, Drafts, and Designs: Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian."
Zandman is chairman, CEO and scientific director of Vishay Intertechnology Inc., a Malvern, Pa.-based manufacturer of discrete semiconductors and passive electronic components. He drew the sketch in 1996 during lunch on a restaurant napkin in Columbus, Neb., near the Vishay Dale facility that is part of Vishay's global electronic component manufacturing operations. It is described in the Smithsonian exhibition as "the classic inventor's sketch on a napkin . . . proving that inspiration can strike anywhere and at any time."
Today, Vishay's patented Power Metal Strip resistors are used in the industrial, consumer, automotive, medical and instrumentation, telecommunications, military/aerospace and computer markets and generate approximately $100 million in annual sales. The resistor is the newest invention highlighted in the exhibition, which also feature drawings from 1882 of the "sound-related inventions" of Charles Tainter that helped lead to the development of phonographs for audio-recording playback, a sketch from the 1920s of Charles Brannock's foot-measuring device that is still widely used in shoe stores, Howard Head's 1974 drawing of a tennis racket with a bigger head that more than doubled the "sweet spot" so important to tennis players and raw material test data sheets of Crayola crayons from the 1970s.
Resistor, 1996, Felix Zandman, Malvern, Pa.; ballpoint pen on paper napkin. (Image courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center.)
Power Metal Strip resistors allow control circuitry to monitor the level of current in an electronic circuit by translating current into a voltage that can be monitored easily. These resistors work by resisting the current flow in a circuit to a calibrated level, thus allowing a voltage drop to be detected and monitored by control circuitry.
"Doodles, Drafts, and Designs: Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian," which will be on tour through 2006, is at The Art League of Bonita Springs, Bonita Springs, Fla., through Nov. 28, and will be at The Octagon in Washington Dec. 18-May 1. An online exhibit and tour schedule are available at: www.sil.si.edu/exhibitions/doodles