Otis Boykin (1920-1982) Pioneer in the Design of Electronic Resistors

Otis Boykin | Biography for Kids

Otis attended the Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas, graduating valedictorian. He received a scholarship to Fisk Uversity, and while attending, worked as a laboratory assistant in the aerospace lab. Upon graduation he moved to Illinois and worked on a post graduate degree at the Illinois Institute of Technology. It is said that he could not afford the tuition and had to stop attending, although he mentioned later that it may have been employment opportunities that caused him to leave.

Otis Boykin has to his credit 26 electronic devices or circuits. In 1953 he invented the control circuit for the heart pacemaker, which has since saved untold numbers of people. His main contribution to the world of electronics may be his smallest. In 1959 he invented a comparitively precise wire resistor to limit current flow in a circuit. Two years later he invented the "thick-film" resistor, which revolutionized the way resistors were made, and is still one of the primary resistive components in use today. Between the two - precision wire and thick film - they are in nearly every electronic device on Earth.

Otis Boykin left Chicago for Paris in 1964, working as a consultant to large companies, and continuing the inovation he started back in 1959. One of the variable resistors he invented while there was used in guided missle systems. He returned to the USA, and in 1982, at the age of 61, he died of heart failure. The little things Otis Boykin did have made such a big difference to all of us.


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