September 30, 1925–December 25, 2004
BY DAVID A. HODGES AND A. RICHARD NEWTON
DONALD O. PEDERSON IS BEST known in the field of electronic design automation for leading the development of a groundbreaking program for integrated-circuit computer simulation called SPICE (Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis). Beginning in the 1960s, he carried on this work with colleagues and students at the University of California, Berkeley. SPICE allows engineers to analyze and design complex electronic circuitry with speed and accuracy. Pederson’s colleagues point out that virtually every electronic microchip developed anywhere in the world today uses SPICE or one of its derivatives at critical stages during its design.
Donald O. Pederson was born in Hallock, Minnesota (just south of the Canadian border), son of Oscar Jorgan and Beda Emilia Pederson, in 1925. He had one sister, Beatrice, two years older. Don never talked much about his youth, but when he won the Medal of Honor of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 1998, he gave a long interview that was the basis for an article published in IEEE’s Spectrum magazine (Perry, 1998). Most of the following account of his youth and early career is adapted from that article, with thanks to and by permission of Tekla S. Perry and IEEE.