Gordon Bell

National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Computer Science

For his continuing intellectual and industrial achievements in the field of computer design; and for his leading role in establishing cost-effective, powerful computers which serve as a significant tool for engineering, science and industry.

For his continuing intellectual and industrial achievements in the field of computer design; and for his leading role in establishing cost-effective, powerful computers which serve as a significant tool for engineering, science and industry.

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Birth
August 19, 1934
Age Awarded
57
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
High Speed Computers For Engineering
Awarded by
George H. W. Bush
Education
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Areas of Impact
Communication & Information
Affiliations
Stardent Computers
A

As a child, Gordon Bell grew up learning from his father through the family’s business Bell Electric. “I started working occasionally for my father when I was around six,” Bell said in an interview in 2007. “The first skill I learned was how to join a plug to a wire.” By eight, he built a motor.

Described as “the Frank Lloyd Wright of computers,” Bell graduated MIT’s master’s program in electrical engineering in 1957, just as the first computers were being invented.

After graduating, Bell spent 23 years at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) where he was the architect of various mini- and time-sharing computers, and was among the first engineers to fashion computers into a network.  

As the first and founding Assistant Director of the Computers and Information Science and Engineering directorate of the National Science Foundation, Bell led the initiative to link the world’s supercomputers on a high-speed network—the Internet—transforming the way researchers collaborate and share data. 

By Jen Santisi

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