The WOM Application Contest

The “Submit the best application for the WOM and become famous” contest was dreamed up in early 1973.


MOS production was having yield problems. Since product commitments were hard to keep, marketing and sales were forced to mark time until production could keep up. To fill the advertising void, MOS Marketing Head Bob Dwyer and his crew came up with the idea of a silly part to be made into a contest. The WOM data sheet that had been written earlier and was a natural for the contest.

I wrote the data sheet, our Ad Agency (Hall Butler Blatherwick, Inc.) wrote all the contest material except for the Rules which I wrote. They came up with the motto “Better Living through Electrical Stuff”, a twist on the DuPont motto, “Better Living through Chemistry”. All the humor on the contest brochure was dreamed up by the Agency guys. (Note, the three aforementioned links are in high resolution and can be magnified to easily read all the text displayed. This text has been hitherto accessible only if you had an original brochure in front of you. It’s like opening an ancient 41 year old tomb.)

The “Name a real or imagined” application contest for the WOM required entries to be in “by July 31, 1973” so that’s the public debut of the WOM. The person submitting the “best application” was to have their name become eternally famous. The contest was launched with a brochure bound into an issue of the bi-monthly  Electronics magazine. I’m not sure of the issue date, the lore is, it was April. It was 1973 for sure. We received quite a pile of entertaining but wacky application ideas.

A winner was JEFF LIEBERMANN, from Santa Cruz, California.  He is looking for a copy of his winning application as some are interested. Jeff believes he was a runner-up but I can’t confirm. I was not in on details of finish except to judge entries. My memory is we only picked one.

John G. (Jack) Curtis

9 thoughts on “The WOM Application Contest

  1. Jeff Liebermann

    In the interest of historical accuracy, I did NOT win the grand prize. After 40+ years, my memory is failing badly as to the details. I didn’t receive a dinner, but did get a plastic glasses, nose, and mustache disguise. My name was mentioned in one of the publications (EDN, Electronics, or Electronics Design, I forgot which) as receiving an “honorable mention” or something similar. I don’t recall who won the best application contest and can’t find a copy of my entry.

    Somewhat later, I needed a place holder chip which I could later use to add additional circuitry, should the need arise. I specified a 25120 WOM chip to avoid any arguments with the PCB layout people claiming I was making life difficult for them. I then forgot about it. Sometime later, purchasing was having difficulties finding a stocking distributor for the 25120 chip, and came to me asking about second source vendors. Oops.

    1. jgcurtis Post author

      There was only one prize winner. I read in the included thread where you said you won. That’s my only source. If they gave you the disguise kit, that’s pretty telling. I can’t remember the winner, never met, however my boss Bob Dwyer said it was completed.
      But based on your statement here, I will remove from the blog if you wish.

    2. jgcurtis Post author

      I understand your memory of the contest finish and have corrected the blog accordingly. I like your story of the 25120 holder chip, that kind of spoofing was expected. I would like to add that paragraph to the blog attributed to you. Do you mind and give permission?


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