Life Fellow, 84; died 26 March
Paul Baran helped develop the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, better known as Arpanet. Sponsored by the U.S. government, Arpanet was the world’s first packet-switching network and a precursor to the modern Internet.
Baran began his career in 1949 at the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp., in Philadelphia, where he tested radio tubes for the Univac, an early commercial computer. He left in 1955 to work for Hughes Aircraft, an aerospace and defense contractor in Los Angeles (now owned by General Motors), where he worked on radar processing systems.
In 1959 he joined the computer science department at Rand Corp., a nonprofit research facility in Santa Monica, Calif., funded partially by the U.S. government. He and other researchers there designed a distributed communications network that was less vulnerable to attack or disruption than conventional networks at the time.
Baran left Rand in 1968 and cofounded the Institute for the Future, a nonprofit research group in Palo Alto, Calif., that developed long-range technology forecasting techniques for the communications industry. He also cofounded several companies, including Cabledata Associates, in Palo Alto, and Metricom, a wireless Internet service provider in Cupertino, Calif. The U.S. Defense Department’s Advance Research Projects Agency used some of his distributed network designs to build the Arpanet in 1969.
Baran received the 1990 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal for “pioneering in packet switching.”
He received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1949 from Drexel University, in Philadelphia. He went on to earn a master’s degree in engineering in 1959 from University of California at Los Angeles.
Student member, 21; died 19 April
Matthew Barber was a student at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, where he studied electrical engineering and physics. The cause of death was not released.
Barber was active in the university’s IEEE student branch and had recently volunteered at a robotics fair at the school. He was a few weeks away from graduating with a bachelor’s degree.
Computer music pioneer
Life Fellow, 84; died 21 April
Max Mathews wrote the first software program that enabled sound to be synthesized and played back by a computer. He also helped develop several electronic musical instruments.
Mathews began working as an engineer in 1955 for Bell Telephone Laboratories, in Murray Hill, N.J. Two years later he developed the first version of Music, a software program that enabled an IBM 704 mainframe computer to play a 17-second musical composition that he had written. The experiment demonstrated that sound could be digitized, stored, and retrieved. He developed four subsequent versions of his digital music program and invented several electronic violins.
He also worked on speech processing and voice synthesis, and created the voice of Hal, the menacing computer character in the 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Mathews worked with composers and conductors during the 1970s to found the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique, a research center for digital art and music in Paris.
He continued to work at Bell, serving as director of the Acoustical and Behavioral Research Center until 1985, when he left to become a research professor at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University.
He received the 1973 IEEE David Sarnoff Award for “leadership in applying electronics to art and for his contribution to the production of musical sounds by computer.”
Mathews got a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Caltech in 1950, and master’s and doctoral degrees in 1952 and 1954 from MIT.
Steven Wade Depp
Life Fellow, 66; died 9 May
Steven Wade Depp helped develop the liquid crystal digital display technology now used in laptop computers, televisions, and cellphones.
Depp began his career in 1973 in the electronics division of Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico, where he helped develop the radio frequency identification technology now used in E-ZPass, an electronic toll-collection system installed on many highways in the northeastern United States. In 1977 he joined IBM in San Jose, Calif., where he worked on advanced display technologies, including the first thin-film transistor-driven LCD. He moved in 1982 to the IBM research center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., where he was a liaison for thin-film transistor LCD technology with Toshiba and several other companies. In 1998 he became codirector of IBM’s Personal Systems Institute, which coordinates research on servers. He retired from IBM in 2004 and became a consultant for Fairfield Resources International, an intellectual property firm in Darien, Conn.
Depp earned a Ph.D. in physics in 1972 from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He was a member of the IEEE Electron Devices and Computer societies.
Jack K. Wolf
Pioneer in information theory
Life Fellow, 76; died 12 May
Jack K. Wolf developed widely used coded-modulation methods for high-speed data transmission, as well as interference-cancellation techniques that improved the performance of cellphone networks.
Wolf taught electrical engineering in New York City, at New York University from 1963 to 1965 and at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn from 1965 to 1973. He was chairman of the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, from 1973 to 1975. He left in 1984 to teach electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California at San Diego, where he worked at the Center for Magnetic Recording Research, exploring signal processing for storage systems. Wolf also worked part-time for more than 25 years at Qualcomm, a wireless communications company.
He was president of the IEEE Information Theory Society in 1974, and he received the 2004 IEEE Richard W. Hamming medal for “contributions to the design and analysis of satellite and cellular communication systems and hard disk drives.”
Wolf received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1956 from the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. He earned two master’s degrees and a doctoral degree in engineering from Princeton University in 1957, 1958, and 1960, respectively.
James J. Whalen
Electrical engineering professor
Senior Life Member, 76; died 26 May
James J. Whalen was a professor of electrical engineering at the State University of New York in Buffalo for 40 years.
From 1958 to 1961 Whalen was a U.S. Navy officer stationed at the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Md. He joined SUNY Buffalo in 1970 as an assistant professor and became a full professor in 1981. He was chairman of the department of electrical and computer engineering from 1995 to 1998 and director of undergraduate studies from 2001 until last year. His research focused on measurement, prediction, and suppression of electromagnetic interference in analog and digital circuits. He was a consultant to several companies, including McDonnell Douglas Astronautics of St. Louis and Universal Energy Systems of Dayton, Ohio.
Whalen was a member of the IEEE Electron Devices, Education, Electromagnetic Compatibility, Computer, and Microwave Theory and Techniques societies.
He received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1958 from Cornell University, in New York City. Whalen earned master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering and 1962 and 1969 from Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore.