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Marconi prize recognises trailblazers in telcos, Internet

Posted: 16 Jun 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Guglielmo Marconi? radio? Internet? telecommunication? Nobel Prize?

Nominations for the prestigious Marconi prize will be closing soon, an award bestowed to innovators in telecommunications and the Internet.

Gioia Marconi Braga, daughter of Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of radio, wanted to honour her father, so she raised an endowment for the annual Marconi Prize. Like the Nobel Prize, it is given to a living scientist, but since no Nobel Prize specifically recognises achievements in the field of telecommunications and the Internet, she wanted it to become that field's pinnacle honour. She aimed to have the award recognise and highlight the ways in which telecommunications and the Internet have benefited mankind.

Gioia's efforts to promote the prize were helped by her extraordinary connections; she moved among kings and prime ministers with ease. Once established, the award was bestowed on an extraordinary group of scientists and visionaries.

The Marconi Prize has been given to just 47 individuals since it was established in 1974. Arthur C. Clarke and E. Colin Cherry were among the picks in the early years, and in more recent decades, it included most of those scientists who contributed to the fundamental development of the Internet and telecommunications.

Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on wireless telegraphy.

Some Marconi Fellows are household names, for example Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Bob Metcalfe and Vint Cerf. Some are virtual legends within their specific areas of research, but are best known by the public for the companies they helped create.

Irwin Jacobs' great contribution to wireless communications was Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) which increased wireless capacity by orders of magnitude, but he is better known as the founder of enormously successful Qualcomm. His early partner, Andrew Viterbi, created the widely used Viterbi algorithm for interference suppression, used by all four standards for international telephony. Henry Samueli's contribution, the development and commercialisation of analogue and mixed signal circuits for communications systems, led to the creation of Broadcom, another giant in the industry.

Several encryption pioneers have been honoured, including Whit Diffie and Marty Hellman, who created the concept of public key encryption. Ron Rivest built on that foundation to develop the most widely used public key encryption system, offered by the legendary Internet security firm, RSA.

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