In Memoriam: January 2009

IEEE mourns the loss of the following members

8 January 2009

Diode Inventor
Fellow, 80; died 2 December

John Battiscombe Gunn was the inventor of the Gunn diode, a device that led to an inexpensive and easy method for producing relatively low-power radio signals.

Gunn was a researcher in semiconductor technology at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Lab, in Yorktown, N.Y. In 1963 he discovered that by applying a constant voltage in excess of the current level to opposite faces of a germanium semiconductor, he could produce microwave oscillations. This became known as the Gunn Effect. Prior to IBM, he worked as a research assistant at the Royal Radar Establishment, in Malvern, Worcester, England, a research facility specializing in radar, electronics, and computer hardware. He was also a professor of physics at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver.

He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1978.

Gunn earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1948 from Trinity College, in Cambridge, England.


Computer Pioneer
Life Fellow, 88; died 7 December

James H. Pomerene helped develop computer program controls and computer prototypes.

In 1946 Jon von Neumann, a mathematician who made significant contributions to set theory and functional analysis, invited Pomerene to join the Electric Computer Project at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, N.J. The project involved building a parallel stored computer that was the prototype for a number of machines, such as the Oracle and the Illiac. He was chief engineer of the project from 1951 to 1956.

He joined IBM Corp., in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., as a researcher and in 1960 was promoted to senior staff member at IBM’s corporate headquarters in Armonk, N.Y. He was appointed an IBM Fellow in 1976 and then transferred to the IBM research division.

Pomerene was a member of the IEEE Computer Society and the engineering honor fraternities, Sigma Xi and Tau Beta Phi.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1942 from Northwestern University, in Chicago.


Communications Company Vice President
Life Fellow, 91; died 26 November

Rodolfo Soria was vice president of research and development for Amphenol-Borg/Bunker-Ramo Corp. in Wallingford, Conn., where he worked for 25 years. The company is one of the largest interconnect product companies in the world.

He was a member of the IEEE Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology Society, as well as the IEEE Technology Management Society.

He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from in 1965 and 1969 from MIT. He also earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology.


Industry Pioneer
Fellow 89; died 15 November

Douglas C. Strain was founder, president, and chief executive officer of Electro Scientific Industries, in Portland, Ore., a company that produces high-precision resistance measurement instruments. Strain also helped establish other companies, including Intel’s first office in Portland, known as Silicon Forest.

He also spent much of his time supporting local education programs in Oregon, such as Portland’s Saturday Academy, an elementary school that offers primarily science and technology classes and serving on the board of trustees of Pacific University in Forest Grove.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1942 from the California Institute of Technology.



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