Carver Mead was born in Bakersfield, California, in 1934 and holds BS (1956), MS (1957), and PhD (1959) degrees in electrical engineering, all from Caltech.
Mead has made many pioneering contributions to solid-state electronics and was one of the leading forces in Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) design methodology.
His major innovations include the GaAS MESFET, a key amplifying device used in microwave communication systems from radio telescopes to home satellite dishes and cellular phones. Mead is also well-known for pioneering computer-aided design of VLSI circuitry through his methodology of "structured custom design," an approach now used by all semiconductor companies.
Mead's work with VLSI design also included coauthoring, with Lynn Conway, Introduction to VLSI Systems, a book that became the standard reference text for a generation of IC designers.
Mead's other work involves experimenting with "neuromorphic electronic systems" -circuits modeled on living nervous systems.
Mead is the recipient of many awards, including the Lemelson-MIT Prize (1999). He holds over 50 US patents and fellowships or distinguished memberships in seven different scientific and professional societies. Until recently, he was the Gordon and Betty Moore professor at Caltech, having taught there for more than 40 years.