The Silicon Chip Inside My Head…

Posted on January 1, 2010


I grew up in Dallas, Texas on the cusp of the “Space and Television Ages” in the 50’s and 60’s.  My Dad was a small town East Texas boy who spent most of his time fly-fishing on Nelson Creek.  My parents met in college in the late 1950’s and times were pretty tough.  After I came along, the three of us spent a lot of time together on those East Texas creek banks. Mom fried ’em up as fast as Dad could catch them.  My folks were the first in their families to graduate with college degrees. Dad earned a degree in Engineering and Physics in 1959 and Mom earned a teaching certificate with a degree in English.

Dad went to work straight out of college and began climbing the ranks at Texas Instruments in Dallas.  He was a dedicated engineer and before long he was heading up the team that put the first integrated circuit into production in the early 1960’s.

I’d  learned by the age of 9 that silicon “slices” were etched into thousands of tiny integrated circuits, each capable of powering TI calculators and even military smart bombs.  I remember visiting the TI plant, walking the production line with my Dad as clean room technicians sliced wafers from thousands of silicon cylinders, each worth a small fortune.

I vividly remember the televised JFK assassination and Moon landing. We returned to N. Dallas in 1968 after Dad completed a 2-year assignment. I remember how hot the airport tarmac was in June 1968 as we heard the news of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Our family next embarked on an extended world tour of Europe, South America and the Far East.  These images made a very strong impression on me growing up!  We were expatriates living abroad in troubled times. Talk about culture shock!

The Telex machine was the communications technology of the day.  I remember waiting with baited breath for Dad to return from the plant with  telex typed messages from home.

Remember Bob Geldoff and the Boomtown Rats?  “The Telex machine is kept so clean and it types to a waiting world.”  Great Song and quite apropos to my upbringing!  Click here for:  “I Don’t Like Mondays!!”

Dad used to say to me me, “My father was a warrior…so that I could become a scientist…so that you could become an artist!”  And so in the mid – 1980’s I began producing music videos for the “MTV Generation” !!

Cheers and thanks for reading my blog. I hope to make a difference in the lives of a few of my fellow Earthlings before I go!

Bob Stephens

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