Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.
Out In Paris With Bob Widlar, Charlie Sporck and Peter Sprague
In his book SPINOFF, Charlie Sporck tells an amazing tale about Bob Widlar the genius analogue IC designer.
Sporck, CEO of National Semiconductor, Peter Sprague, Chairman of National, and Bob Widlar were in Paris where Widlar was to address 500 French engineers.
“When the seminar was about to reconvene, I spotted Widlar weaving back to the head table with a tall glass full of straight gin”, recounts Sporck, “I went over to Peter and told him to get rid of Widlar’s gin, and in one of the most heroic actions ever undertaken by a person in defence of a commercial enterprise, Sprague picked up the glass and drank all the gin.”
However, when Widlar got up to speak he noticed his glass was empty and shouted: “I’m not going on until this is refilled.”
Widlar, according to Sporck, was ‘stone drunk’ during his talk, his speech was slurred, and he answered questions very rudely but, says Sporck: “The audience loved it! Widlar’s brilliance was so obvious that his inebriation just added to the overall effect of his genius.”
After Widlar’s talk they all went out to dinner where Widlar fell out with some Belgians. “I wondered if we were going to have to fight our way out of the restaurant’, recounts Sporck.
They got Widlar back to the hotel, and put him to bed, but, as Sporck retreated to the hotel bar, he noticed Widlar fully dressed and on the way out again.
Sporck followed Widlar into a house of pleasure on the Champs-Elysées where he was demonstrating to some Parisian courtesans a favourite trick of his: ‘How to have a drink without using my hands.’
This involved holding the rim of the glass with his mouth and tilting his head so the contents flowed down his mouth.
However Widlar bit through the glass, cut his mouth, and was bleeding, and the girls took him off to the ladies’ loo to sort him out.
Eventually Sporck got him back to the hotel.Tags: courtesans, french engineers, heroic actions, hotel 2c, hotel bar, national semiconductor