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Jerry Merryman, inventor of the handheld electronic calculator, dead at 86

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 3/6/2019 STORM GIFFORD
Jack Kilby in a suit standing in front of a store © Phyllis Merryman / AP

Jerry Merryman, one of the innovators behind the handheld electronic calculator, has died at the age of 86.

Merryman died Feb. 27 from complications of heart and kidney failure at a Dallas hospital, said his stepdaughter Kim Ikovic.

Along with Jack Kilby and James Van Tassel, Merryman was credited with inventing the revolutionary machine that led the way to computers. The prototype is housed at at the Smithsonian Institution, reported The Associated Press.

“Jerry Merryman was the most brilliant man that I’ve ever met. Period. Absolutely, outstandingly brilliant,” said Vernon Porter, a former colleague of his at Texas Instruments. “He had an incredible memory and he had an ability to pull up formulas, information, on almost any subject.”

Merryman realized the calculator was an important technological breakthrough but had no idea just how remarkable it was at the time.

“Silly me, I thought we were just making a calculator, but we were creating an electronic revolution,” Merryman said in 2013.

According to The Smithsonian, Merryman and his two calculator cronies had made enough progress to apply for a patent in 1967, but the final application was revised in 1974.

Merryman was modest about his accomplishments, said family member Melissa Merryman. “He wouldn’t ever boast or brag about himself, not ever.”

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