John G. Linvill (August 8, 1919 – February 19, 2011)[1] was an American professor (emeritus) of Electrical engineering at Stanford University, known for his pioneering work in higher education, integrated circuits and semiconductors, and for development of the Optacon reading machine for the blind.

John G. Linvill
Born(1919-08-08)August 8, 1919
DiedFebruary 19, 2011(2011-02-19) (aged 91)
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Scientific career
FieldsElectrical engineering
InstitutionsStanford University
Doctoral advisorErnst Guillemin

Early life and educationEdit

He received his A.B. in mathematics in 1941 from William Jewell College, and his B.S., M.S., and Sc.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1943, 1945, and 1949 respectively.


John Linvill with his daughter Candy demonstrating the Optacon in 1974

He worked at Bell Telephone Laboratories from 1951 to 1955, when he joined the Stanford Electrical Engineering department. In 1969 he was appointed head of the EE department, and in 1979 he became Director of the Center for Integrated Systems at Stanford. His teaching and research concentrated on active circuits,[2] transistors, and models of semiconductors.[3]

In 1962, Linvill conceived the Optacon[4] (Optical-to-Tactile Converter) as a means to allow his blind daughter, Candy, to read ordinary print. He sparked the technical development of the device, which required innovations in integrated circuit technology developed under his leadership at Stanford. In 1970 he, Jim Bliss, and others from Stanford and SRI co-founded Telesensory Systems (TSI) to manufacture and distribute the Optacon.

John Linvill was Chairman of the board of TSI, served on the boards of other Silicon Valley corporations, and led technical committees for the National Research Council, NASA, and the IEEE. He holds eleven U.S. patents.[5]

He died February 19, 2011.[1][6]

Honors and awardsEdit


  1. ^ a b "SSDI John G. Linvill". Retrieved March 11, 2011.
  2. ^ Linvill, John G.; Gibbons, James F. (1961). Transistors and Active Circuits. McGraw-Hill. p. 515.
  3. ^ Linvill, John G. (1963). Models of transistors and diodes. McGraw-Hill. p. 190.
  4. ^ Linvill, J. G.; Bliss, J. C. (1966). "A Direct Translation Reading Aid for the Blind". Proceedings of the IEEE. 54 (1): 40–51. doi:10.1109/PROC.1966.4572.
  5. ^ "[US Patent & Trademark Office, Patent Full Text and Image Database]". USPTO. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  6. ^ a b Myers, Andrew (March 10, 2011). "Stanford engineering professor and inventor John G. Linvill dies at 91". Stanford Report. Stanford University. Retrieved March 11, 2011.
  7. ^ "NAE Members Directory - Dr. John G. Linvill". NAE. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  8. ^ "IEEE James H. Mulligan, Jr. Education Medal Recipients" (PDF). IEEE. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  9. ^ "John Scott Award Recipients". John Scott Award Advisory Committee. Archived from the original on July 1, 2010. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  10. ^ "David Packard Medal of Achievement — Previous Winners (1959 to Present)". TechAmerica Foundation. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2011.