In Memoriam: July 2017

IEEE mourns the loss of five members

26 July 2017

Kurt E. Gsteiger

Semiconductor engineer

Life Senior Member, 89; died 14 February

Gsteiger spent most of his career as an engineer at Harris Semiconductor (now Intersil) in Melbourne, Fla. In his spare time, he was an avid fisherman and computer hobbyist, and he enjoyed classical music and jazz.

Gsteiger was a member of the IEEE Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology; IEEE Electron Devices; and IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques societies.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in the early 1950s.


Ekram Hassib

Professor emeritus

Member, 74; died 20 May

Hassib was professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., where he taught for 31 years.

He joined the college as a professor in 1981 and taught courses in semiconductor devices and circuits, wireless communication circuits, and communication systems and digital electronics. He advised the Phi chapter of IEEE-HKN and the Society of Women Engineers. He eventually was named chair of the electrical and computer engineering department.

He was a member of the IEEE Circuits and Systems and IEEE Communications societies.

Hassib received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cairo University. He earned a master’s degree in EE from Al-Azhar University, in Cairo, and a Ph.D. from Warsaw Technical University.


Gerald “Jerry” Posakony

Ultrasonics pioneer

Honorary member, 92; died 27 May

Posakony was a researcher for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in Richland, Wash.

During his 40-year career at PNNL, he made pioneering contributions to ultrasonic technology for investigating how diseases affect the human body.

After retiring from PNNL in 1991, he consulted throughout the world on nondestructive testing.

Posakony received his IEEE honorary membership in 2009 “for pioneering contributions in ultrasonic techniques for medical diagnosis and nondestructive evaluation.” He was an Eminent Member of IEEE–Eta Kappa Nu (IEEE–HKN), the organization’s honor society.

He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1949 from Iowa State University, in Ames.


Merrill Buckley

Former IEEE president

Life Fellow, 90; died 1 June

Buckley was 1992 IEEE president and served as president of IEEE-USA in 2000.

He began his career at U.S. government laboratories, where he worked on advanced radar technology for airborne systems. He joined RCA and was employed at various company locations, including in California, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. He started at RCA as a project engineer and was promoted to engineering manager, technical director and, finally, manager of program planning. He specialized in project management of complex electronic systems.

Buckley served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Villanova University, in Pennsylvania. He went on to earn a master’s degree in EE from the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.

He was a member of IEEE–HKN and the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems, IEEE Technology and Engineering Management, IEEE Social Implications of Technology, and IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics societies.


Charles Thacker

Designed early personal computer

Member, 74; died 12 June

Thacker was part of a group in the 1970s that designed the first modern personal computer, the Alto, at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), in California. The Alto, completed in 1973, contained a graphical user interface, which Apple and Microsoft would later borrow for their Macintosh and Windows operating systems.

Earlier, in 1968, he was a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, and worked on Project Genie, an effort that resulted in an early computer time-sharing system. The Genie team later formed the Berkeley Computer Corp., where Thacker led the design of a new computer processor.

That year he also helped build a portable computing machine, the Dynabook, which would enable a user to stay in a networked environment, the likes of which were just being developed. He joined the PARC in 1970 and helped invent Ethernet, a network for linking computers that combined hardware and software.

Thacker left the PARC in 1983 to help start the Digital Equipment Corp. Systems Research Center in Palo Alto, where he led the design of Firefly, an experimental computer. In 1997 he went to work for Microsoft; two years later he joined the company’s tablet PC group and was managing the design of its first prototypes.

He received the 2007 IEEE John von Neumann Medal “for a central role in the creation of the personal computer and the development of networked computer systems,” as well as the 2009 Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery. He was a member of the IEEE Computer and IEEE Communications societies.

At age 16, Thacker received a scholarship to study physics at Caltech, but he soon transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1963 he followed his future wife, Karen Baker, to UC Berkeley, where in 1967 he received a bachelor’s degree in physics.

Learn More