Former President of NEC
Member Grade: Life Fellow
Died: 11 November
Tadahiro Sekimoto made significant contributions to the field of communications during his 50 years at NEC Corp.
He joined NEC in 1948 at the company's Central Research Laboratories, in Kawasaki, Japan, where he designed pulse-code modulation equipment. He became head of research in 1965. Sekimoto then accepted a two-year assignment at the Communications Satellite Corp., a telecommunications company in Washington, D.C., where he researched digital transmission technologies for satellite communications. In 1967 he returned to NEC to manage the Central Research Laboratories and was named president of the company in 1980. He served as chairman from 1994 until he retired in 1998.
Sekimoto received the 2004 IEEE Medal of Honor for his "pioneering contributions to digital satellite communications, promotion of information technology R&D, and corporate leadership in computers and communications."
He also received the 1996 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Award for pioneering contributions to digital satellite communications and "industry leadership in developing digital communications."
He earned a bachelor's degree in physics and a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Tokyo in 1948 and 1962, respectively.
DAVID H. SHEPARD
Pioneer in Voice-Recognition Systems
Member Grade: Life Senior Member
Died: 24 November
David H. Shepard invented the first devices for optical character recognition and interactive voice response. The latter uses speech recognition to give telephone callers access to computer stored data.
He served in the U.S. Army during World War II as a cryptanalyst of Japanese code. Later, he broke other codes for the Armed Forces Security Agency, a predecessor of the U.S. National Security Agency. During that time, Shepard and colleague Harvey Cook Jr. invented the Gismo, a machine that could recognize letters of the alphabet produced by a typewriter. In 1952 Shepard and William Lawless Jr. founded Intelligent Machines Research Corp., in Arlington, Va., to manufacture the machines. Later, IBM licensed and manufactured the Gismo, and Shepard used the royalties to make what is widely believed to be the first character-sensing machine ever sold. It was used to read and interpret credit cards.
In 1964, he invented the "conversation machine," which allowed telephone callers to access data stored in a computer by saying "yes" or "no." He also created the Farrington B numeric font, which is still used on credit cards. Shepard went on to found several other companies, including Cognitronics Corp. of Danbury, Conn., now a leading manufacturer of voice information systems.
Shepard received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and a master's in mathematics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
JAMES J. VASSELEU
Former IEEE Region 10 Director
Member Grade: Life Senior Member
Died: 30 November
James J. Vasseleu was Region 10 (Asia-Pacific) director from 1977 to 1978. He also founded the IEEE Australia Section in 1972 and was its chair until 1974.
Vasseleu began his career as an electrical systems design engineer for Crompton Parkinson, an electrical equipment company in England. He then became a sales manager for Federal Pacific Electric Co., a manufacturer of electrical parts in Newark, N.J. Next he was an electrical engineering director at Fowell, Mansfield, Jarvis & Maclurcan in Sydney, Australia. Later he joined Leighton Irwin Proprietary, an architectural services and supply company, also in Sydney, where he was a senior electrical engineer.
Vasseleu received a bachelor's degree in engineering, a higher trade certificate, and a management certificate from Sydney Technical College (now Sydney Institute).