Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

Robert GalvinRobert Galvin (1922-2011)   (2011)

Robert W. Galvin, former Chairman of Motorola, will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Marconi Society for his historic and lifelong impact on worldwide telecommunications. The award will be presented at the Society’s annual awards gala in La Jolla, CA on September 8th, 2011.

Galvin, a household name in telecommunication circles in the 1980s and 1990s, is considered by many to be the most important and influential business leader to keep the US competitive in the emerging cellular telephone and semiconductor industries in the 1970's through 1990's.

Galvin worked at Motorola, founded by his father as a car radio company, most of his life, and served as chairman for approximately three decades. During that time he made Motorola a global telecommunications equipment leader for both consumer and public safety sectors, and championed the first commercial cellular phone technology both at the base station and handset.

“One of our main thrusts was that our company was always going to be preparing for the next adventure—the next thing,” said Galvin. I was always asking the question, ‘What’s the next thing we could be adding, multiplying; what would be good for our future line-up of products?’”

Although not an engineer himself, Galvin insisted on a strong R&D base and launched Motorola Labs, a leading contributor to cellular, public safety, digital signal processing, power and semiconductor technologies. Galvin was the father of the quality movement at Motorola, where the goal was “six nines” (a.k.a. “six sigma”) manufacturing quality, a term indicating 99.9999% reliability. He also personally invested in sponsoring research and students at US universities. As a technical business icon, he advised several US presidents either formally or informally.

In the late 1980s, Galvin promoted and helped develop Sematech, a government-funded consortium of US semiconductor companies who would collaborate to perform breakthrough R&D to keep the US semiconductor industry competitive to Japan and Taiwan. Soon, he was asked to step into the role of Chairman of the organization.

Amos E. Joel, Jr.Amos E. Joel, Jr. (1918-2008)   (2009)

Amos E. Joel, Jr., was a world authority in the field of switching. A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mr. Joel first became interested in telephones at age 10, when he decided to find out how a dial telephone worked. After earning undergraduate and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from MIT, he joined AT&T Bell Laboratories where he spent a 43 year distinguished career. He holds more than 70 patents on his work, among them the longest U.S. Patent ever issued. Mr. Joel retired in 1983, and he continued to serve as a consultant and worldwide authority on telecommunications switching to AT&T and other companies.

During World War II, Mr. Joel designed circuits for early digital computers and was instrumental in the creation of cryptanalysis machines for military and diplomatic use. Following the war, he prepared and taught the first general Bell System course on switching system and circuit design.

He authored numerous articles on switching subjects that have appeared in encyclopedias and the technical press. His books include Electronic Switching: Central Office Systems of the World as well as the History and Science and Technology in the Bell System Switching Technology. He was a major contributor to Fundamentals of Digital Switching, and he co-authored Electronics, Computers and Telephone Switching.

Among his numerous awards he received Franklin Institute’s Stuart Ballantine Medal (1981) for “his achievements in the bringing into being the electronic switching system, and for his contributions towards the many functions it makes possible for modern telecommunication.” In 1989 Mr. Joel was recognized as “Inventor of the Year” by the New Jersey Congress of Inventors and awarded the Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology, by the Inamori Foundation of Japan, for “recognition of eminent achievements in the field of telecommunications.” He was awarded IEEE’s highest award, the Medal of Honor (1992), as well as the National Medal of Technology (1993) “for his vision, inventiveness and perseverance in introducing technological advances in telecommunications, particularly switching, that have had a major impact on the evolution of the telecommunications industry in the U.S. and worldwide.”

He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering; a Life Fellow of the IEEE, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science. In May, 2008, Mr. Joel was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his patent on the Mobile Communication System. This basic 1972 patent on cellular switching pioneered the most rapidly growing segment of the telecommunications industry. His invention allows for convenient cell phone usage, making them a ubiquitous part of today’s society.


Gordon E. Moor

Gordon E. Moore (2005)

Gordon E. Moore, the chemical engineer who in 1968 co-founded Intel, spearheading decades of technological research and developments that made the company a leader in semiconductor manufacturing and technology, has been named the Marconi Society's 2005 Lifetime Achievement recipient.

Moore is widely known for his 1965 prediction which stated that the number of transistors the industry would be able to place on an integrated circuit would double every year. In 1975, the timeline was updated to once every couple of years. While originally published in Electronics magazine as a rule of thumb, Moore's Law paved the way for semiconductor engineers to efficiently and inexpensively squeeze more transistors onto an integrated circuit to increase computing performance, creating a worldwide industry standard that has extended computing from the domain of the highly technical to the realm of the eminently practical.

Gordon Moore is the third person to receive the Marconi Society's Lifetime Achievement Award during the organization's 31-year history. In 2000, the award was presented to mathematician Claude E. Shannon, the founder of modern information theory who invented the concept of the bit, and in 2003, to William O. Baker, who, as director of research and later president of Bell Laboratories, oversaw the development of a wide array of technologies that earned its researchers eleven Nobel Prizes during his tenure at the helm.

A director of Gilead Sciences, Inc., a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the IEEE, Moore also serves on the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology. He received the National Medal of Technology from President George Bush in 1990. In 2000, Moore and his wife established the Gordon E. and Betty Moore Foundation, which promotes environmental conservation, science, higher education, and the San Francisco Bay Area.


Dr. William O. BakerWilliam O. Baker (2003)

William O. Baker, retired Chairman and President of Bell Labs and a widely recognized champion of communications research and development, today was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Guglielmo Marconi International Fellowship Foundation at Columbia University. Bell Labs is the research and development arm of Lucent Technologies.

This is only the second time the 29-year-old Marconi Foundation has bestowed this honor. Bell Labs' Claude Shannon, the founder of modern information theory, was given a Lifetime Achievement Award three years ago.

Dr. Baker, who throughout his illustrious career preferred to shun personal celebrity, accepted the honor in typical fashion at a small gathering of associates and friends, which included Martin Meyerson, honorary chairman of the Marconi Foundation, and John J. Iselin, its president. Current Bell Labs President Bill O'Shea and former Bell Labs President John Mayo (1991-1995) were also on hand to honor Dr. Baker.

"Bill Baker towers above any other individual as the champion of industrial research in service to society," said Dr. Meyerson, president emeritus of the University of Pennsylvania. "He has devoted more than six decades to being a diplomat of science in advocating and championing basic research for improving life in America."

In his brief acceptance remarks, Dr. Baker noted, "as the Marconi Foundation well knows and promotes in its activities and actions, science and technology ultimately serve humankind by enriching and bettering our lives and spirits." Crediting Shannon, Marconi and other leading innovators with unleashing technologies that yielded advances like optical fiber, electronic switching, digital media, cellular radio, and broadcast radio and television, he added: "Words are not adequate to express our sincere appreciation of what our colleagues have achieved over these many years. Bell Labs was, and continues to be, at the forefront of so many of these advances."

Dr. Baker, 88, who retired from Bell Labs in 1980, is the only individual granted the honorary title of Chairman. He began his career at Bell Labs 41 years earlier as a member of technical staff, working in a converted garage in Summit, New Jersey. His field was polymer chemistry and he was granted eleven patents for this work. In the ensuing four decades, his responsibilities grew steadily, until his appointment as President of Bell Labs in 1973. During Dr. Baker's leadership, Bell Labs forged the model for modern industrial research laboratories.

Often called upon to advise U.S. presidents on science and technology issues, Dr. Baker's leadership in applying science and technology to the areas of national security and intelligence gathering was critical during the Cold War period. Even in retirement, he has continued to advise various foundations, academic institutions, and government agencies.

In addition to his numerous professional awards and more than 25 honorary doctorates, in 1982 he was presented the Presidential National Security Award, and in 1988, the U.S. National Medal of Science.


Claude ShannonClaude Shannon (1916–2001) (2000)


The Foundation in the fall of 2000 honored Dr. Claude Shannon for his lifetime achievement in information theory. Much of his general theory was conceived by Shannon a few years after the death in the late 'thirties of Guglielmo Marconi. Shannon's discoveries, like Marconi's, are among the significant intellectual accomplishments of the twentieth century.

As a young graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Claude Shannon was stimulated by his then professor, Vannevar Bush, to develop the Differential Analyzer, which he did in part by turning to electrical circuits instead of mechanical parts. Early on, he measured information by binary digits, with their yes/no concepts, and conceived the term "bit". By the time he was 21, in 1937, he was imaginatively using Boolean algebraic principles for his scientific and technical propositions. Soon, some of his discoveries were utilized for telephone systems. His master's thesis was "A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits". His brilliant research career at Bell Labs started in 1941.

Shannon's concepts underlie the information society in which we live. His book, A Mathematical Theory of Communication, has been proclaimed the Magna Carta of the information age, and was and still is instrumental in fields as varied as computer science, genetics, linguistics and neuroanatomy.

An engineer with a philosophical bent, his analysis of information (and his sense of the distinction between information and meaning) range across communications media, including radio, television, telephone, computers, cryptography and servomechanisms. His findings provide a key knowledge base for the discipline of communication engineering, and his insights into coding and error-correction shaped the work of a generation of scientists, engineers and designers of information systems. His 1949 essay, "Communication Theory of Secrecy Systems" helped transform cryptography into a science.

On the M.I.T. faculty, Shannon became the distinguished Donner Professor of Science, and given his breadth, he steadily outlined experimental horizons for future analysis. He divided his career years between M.I.T. and Bell Labs (itself a unique research center), where his brilliance and insights set standards for his colleagues, and standards which persist. His numerous awards include the National Medal of Science and the Kyoto Prize in Basic Science. Claude Shannon is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Member of the American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Engineering-and in London, a Fellow of the Royal Society. In recent days, a statue of Shannon was erected in his home state of Michigan, where his first degrees came from the University of Michigan. A casting of that statue has also been placed at Bell Labs.

In May 1998, Lucent Technologies' Bell Laboratories marked the importance of Shannon's work and the 50th anniversary of Information Theory with a special symposium. About half of the participants who spoke there were recipients over the years of the Marconi Foundation's research Fellowships.

This Foundation, recognizing that very many of its Fellows and others associated with it were mentored by him, and convinced that Shannon's information theories provided bases for communications in many areas of activity, bestowed upon him the distinction of the Lifetime Achievement Award. This was the first award of this kind ever conferred by the Marconi Foundation.