Erich Bloch

National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Computer Science

For their contributions to the development of the hardware, architecture and systems engineering associated with the IBM System/360, a computer system and technologies which revolutionized the data processing industry and which helped to make the United States dominant in computer technology for many years.

For their contributions to the development of the hardware, architecture and systems engineering associated with the IBM System/360, a computer system and technologies which revolutionized the data processing industry and which helped to make the United States dominant in computer technology for many years.

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Birth
January 9, 1925
Age Awarded
60
Awarded With
Fred Brooks
Bob O. Evans
Country of Birth
Germany
Key Contributions
Ibm System/360
Awarded by
Ronald Wilson Reagan
Education
State University of New York at Buffalo
Areas of Impact
Communication & Information
Affiliations
IBM Corporation
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Erich Bloch, a native of Germany, moved to Switzerland at the age of 14 and there he obtained his pre-college education. He studied electrical engineering for 2 years at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology before immigrating to the US in 1948.

Bloch worked at IBM from 1952 to 1981 in a variety of technology management roles, including overseeing the manufacturing challenges of IBM's groundbreaking “System/360” family of mainframe computers in the 1960s.

“When I started at IBM, I was looked at as a screwball. ‘Yeah, he wants to play around with computers’,” Bloch shared in an interview. “I didn’t want to play around with them—I wanted to put them to use.” IBM’s System/360 was the first family of computers that were designed to cover a complete range of applications, from small to large, both commercial and scientific, and could be customized and upgraded to fit with the needs of a growing company.

Bloch served as director at the U.S. National Science Foundation from 1984 to 1990. He was characterized by Science magazine as an "adept politician and a strong advocate for research," and was ahead of his time in promoting the link between basic research and economic development. 

By Jen Santisi

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