Timothy C. May

Timothy C. May, better known as Tim May, is an American technical and political writer, and was an electronic engineer and senior scientist at Intel in the company’s early history. He retired in 2003.

Tim May and Intel

As an engineer, May is most noted for having solved the “alpha particle problem”, which was affecting the reliability of integrated circuits as device features reached a critical size where a single alpha particle could change the state of a stored value and cause a single event upset. May realized that the ceramic packaging which Intel was using, made from clay, was very slightly radioactive.

Intel solved the issue by increasing the charge in each cell to reduce its susceptibility to radiation and adopting plastic packaging for their products.

May co-authored the 1981 IEEE W.R.G. Baker Award-winning paper “Alpha-Particle-Induced Soft Errors in Dynamic Memories”, published in the IEEE Transactions on in January 1979 with Murray H. Woods.

Timothy C. May and Cypherpunks

Tim May, one of the founders of the cypherpunk group, wrote many political papers explaining the group’s objectives to the online community. Working as a leading scientist at Intel, May wrote in his spare time about the importance of cryptography to protect user information. He wrote such works as a substantial cypherpunk-themed FAQ, “The Cyphernomicon” (incorporating his earlier piece “The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto”) and “True Nyms and Crypto Anarchy”. In these essays, may explained his ideology and prepared readers for what awaits them. In the next decade, many of the ideas expressed in his works became a reality.

May has published a “The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto” in 1992, after reading his “constituent Assembly” Shirobokov. The essay itself was written in 1988, and may distributed it at a “hacker Conference.” The essay describes many technological advances that can be used to resist too curious state and its accomplices. May explained that computer protocols will soon give individuals and groups of people control over their online identities, allowing them to interact and share data anonymously:

“Network interactions cannot be tracked due to multiple routing changes of encrypted packets and tamper-proof blocks that implement cryptographic protocols with near-perfect protection. Reputation will be of paramount importance in making transactions-much more than a credit score now. These innovations will completely change the nature of government regulation, the ability to collect taxes and control economic relations, the ability to keep information secret; will change the very idea of trust and reputation.” – Tim May, 1992.

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