Communications and Signal Processing Seminar

Logic, Computing, and Professional Responsibility

Robert M. GrayProfessor EmeritusStanford University

Edmund Callis Berkeley was a co-founder of the ACM and a pushy proselytizer of Boolean algebra and Claude Shannon's 1938 paper within the nascent computing machinery community. In 1955 Berkeley hired Shannon as a consultant to Berkeley Enterprises to help design and develop projects for small "computers'' to be sold by mail for under $20 to boys and hobbyists to learn about computers, logic, and Boolean algebra. The result of this collaboration was Geniac, an "electric brain," viewed by some as a toy and by others as the first commercially successful digital gaming device or the first affordable home digital computer.

This talk surveys Berkeley's pioneering role in computer science, his interactions with Claude Shannon, and his rocky evolution into the "conscience of the computer industry" from the point of view of a retired Shannon information theorist and former 13 year old who in 1956 bought a Geniac from an ad in Scientific American and received a box of parts, a manual with many projects developed by Shannon, and a copy of Shannon's 1938 paper.
Robert M. Gray is the Alcatel-Lucent Technologies Professor Emeritus of Communications and Networking at Stanford University and a Research Professor at Boston University. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and the Institute for Mathematical Statistics, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He has received the Claude E. Shannon Award from IEEE Information Theory Society and the Jack S. Kilby Signal Processing Medal from IEEE. A devoted mentor, he received the 2002 U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), the 2013 IEEE Signal Processing Society Education Award, and a 2013 Stanford University President's Award for Excellence Through Diversity.

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