Life Fellow G. David Forney Jr. will receive the 2016 IEEE Medal of Honor “for pioneering contributions to the theory of error-correcting codes and the development of reliable high-speed data communications.”
Forney began his career in Watertown, Mass., at Codex Corp., one of the first companies to focus on finding practical applications for information theory. He developed error-correcting codes in the late 1960s for NASA’s Pioneer deep-space satellite program. In 1970, he designed the first modern high-speed quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) telephone-line modem, which became an international standard.
He was vice president of R&D at Codex when it was acquired by Motorola in 1977, and he continued to serve as a Motorola vice president until he retired in 1999. Since 1996, he has been an adjunct professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, as well as a researcher in the school’s Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems.