In Memoriam: March 2010

IEEE mourns the loss of the following members

8 March 2010

Saburo Muroga

Computer Pioneer


AGE: 84

DIED: 9 December

Saburo Muroga was one of Japan’s computer pioneers and a leader in the field of information processing.

In 1954 Muroga left Japan to spend six months as a visiting researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he worked on the ILLIAC, the first computer built and owned by a U.S. educational institution. He returned to Japan later that year to oversee the development of the country’s first large-scale computer, MUSASINO-1, for the Communication Laboratories of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corp.

In 1964 he returned to the University of Illinois to become a professor of computer science and electrical engineering. He retired in 2002.

Muroga published several books on very-large-scale integration system design, threshold logic, and switching theory, including Threshold Logic and Its Applications [John Wiley & Sons, 1972].

He received a hybrid bachelor’s/master’s degree in 1947 and a Ph.D. in 1958, both in electrical engineering from the University of Tokyo.



Microwave Systems Pioneer


AGE: 96

DIED: 14 February

Nathan Marcuvitz was a leader in the field of electromagnetic waves, focusing on the development of microwave systems.

He began his career as an engineer in 1936 at RCA Laboratories, in Princeton, N.J., where he researched electron tubes, iconoscopes, and orthicons for television applications. He left in 1941 to head a research team at the MIT Radiation Laboratory, in Cambridge, Mass. During the next few years, he made important contributions to microwave radar, developing an accurate measurement setup and a procedure for determining with great precision the network parameters of geometric discontinuities.

He wrote The Waveguide Handbook [McGraw-Hill, 1951], considered a classic text on microwave behavior.

He left MIT in 1946 to become a professor of electrical engineering at his alma mater, the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn [now the Polytechnic Institute of New York University], in New York City. From 1957 to 1961, he was director of the school’s Microwave Research Institute. He went on to serve as vice president of research and was the acting dean of the school’s Graduate Center until 1963. He left in 1966 to become a professor of applied physics at New York University. He retired in 1973 but continued to teach at the university until his death.

Marcuvitz received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1935 and a master’s in the same field in 1941, both from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.


BG Photo: Cornell University

William E. Gordon

Inventor, Arecibo Radio Telescope


AGE: 92

DIED: 16 February

William E. Gordon developed the Arecibo radio telescope, the world’s largest single-aperture telescope.

He began his career in 1953 as a professor of electrical engineering at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. From 1960 to 1965, he oversaw the construction of the Arecibo Observatory, in Puerto Rico, a facility of the U.S. National Science Foundation operated by Cornell University. The design of the observatory evolved from an idea he had for a radio telescope based on radio backscatter that allowed scientists to study the properties of Earth’s upper atmosphere and the ionosphere. The observatory has since been used to map the surface of Venus, discover planets outside our solar system, and send messages to space in search of life.

Gordon left Cornell in 1966 to become a professor in the science and engineering department at Rice University, Houston. He went on to hold several positions at the school—including dean of science and engineering, dean of natural sciences, interim president, and provost and vice president—before retiring in 1986.

He received a bachelor’s degree in 1939 and a master’s degree in 1942 from Montclair State College in New Jersey. He earned a master’s degree in meteorology in 1946 from New York University and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1953 from Cornell.

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