Improving Computer Scalability & Reliability to Enable Continued Technology Advancement

Measuring metastability is just 50 years old this year. In 1965 my colleague Tom Chaney took a sampling ‘scope picture of an ECL flip-flop going metastable. S. Lubkin had made mention of the phenomenon over a decade before that, but at that time most engineers were unaware of the phenomenon or did not believe it actually existed. Later many who saw the sampling ‘scope picture doubted the method’s validity. Subsequently, flip-flop output-voltage traces, patiently photographed by Tom in a darkened room, began to turn the tide. This lead to a paper that was rejected because one reviewer (perhaps and electrical engineer) saw a simple analog circuit that he felt was old and uninteresting and another reviewer (perhaps a computer scientist) said metastability could never occur so the paper should be rejected. Later in 1973 the classic Chaney and Molnar paper was accepted for publication in the IEEE Transaction on Computers.

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