Beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend and colleague, Harvey C. Nathanson, age 83, passed away peacefully at home on November 22, while with his loving family.
A lifelong Pittsburgher, he grew up the son of a pharmacist in Morningside before becoming a pioneer in the field of solid-state electronics. As a boy in the 1950s, he taught himself about electrical circuits and built hi-fi music systems from mail-order kits, interests that led him to decline his father’s invitation to take over the family pharmacy business, Highview Drug in Stanton Heights, and instead pursue an engineering degree at Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Mellon University. After earning his Ph.D. in electrical engineering, he joined Westinghouse Electric, the manufacturing giant that was long one of Pittsburgh’s employers. Working out of the Westinghouse Research Labs in Churchill, in 1965 he conceived of a microscopic device used as a tuner for microelectronic radios. The invention, known as the resonant-gate transistor, became the first device in the field of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), whose technology is now found in consumer products ranging from iPhones to Fitbits. In his work developing similar devices, he pioneered a method of mass production that would later become a mainstay of MEMS manufacturing. In 1973. he patented the use of tiny mirrors to create a video display of the type now found in digital projectors. Named Chief Scientist of the Westinghouse Research Labs in 1988, he retired in 2001 but continued to consult for another decade, completing a 50-year career in which he was awarded more than 50 patents in the field of solid-state electronics.
He enjoyed spending time with his family during weekends at their summer cottage in Fombell, Pa.; summer vacations at Cape May on the Jersey Shore; and scenic rail travel around North America. Favorite activities included driving his restored 1947 Farmall Cub tractor; listening to opera; cuddling his cat Charcoal; cooking for family and friends; and eating filet mignon, Mineo’s pizza and Baskin-Robbins grasshopper pie. He cherished lifelong relationships with friends who met for many years at the Elbow Room and referred to themselves as the Oakland Philosophical Society. He was an active member of Squirrel Hill’s Temple Sinai, where he served multiple terms as Brotherhood president. He will be greatly missed by his loving wife of 56 years, Esther Mishelevich Nathanson, children Marc Nathanson (Jane Lee) and Elinor Nathanson (Peter Kogan), adored grandson Benjamin Kogan, lifelong best friend Louis Lind, and countless other friends, colleagues, and extended family. He was preceded in death by his parents David Nathanson and Ella Sachs Nathanson, his sister Bernice Sniderman and his brother-in-law Milton Sniderman. Services at RALPH SCHUGAR CHAPEL, Centre Avenue, Shadyside, on November 24, at 1 p.m. Visitation one hour prior (noon to 1 p.m.). Interment Beth Shalom Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Temple Sinai, Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh.
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