Gordon Bell 2014 Cray Award

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LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., 18 September 2014 – Gordon Bell, known as “the father of the minicomputer,” has been named the recipient of the 2014 IEEE Computer Society Seymour Cray Computer Engineering Award for his work in designing computer systems that significantly changed high-performance computing.

Bell, a researcher emeritus in the Microsoft Research Silicon Valley Laboratory, was recognized “for his exceptional contributions in designing and bringing several computer systems to market that changed the world of high-performance computing and of computing in general, the two most important of these being the PDP-6 and the VAX-11/780.” He will be presented with his award on Tuesday, 18 November at SC14 in New Orleans.

One of IEEE Computer Society’s highest awards, the Seymour Cray Computer Engineering Award is presented in recognition of innovative contributions to high-performance computing systems that best exemplify Cray’s creative spirit. The award consists of a crystal memento, a certificate, and a $10,000 honorarium.

An early employee of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) from 1960–1966, Bell designed several of their PDP machines and later became Vice President of Engineering from 1972–1983, overseeing the development of the VAX computing environment.

Bell also founded Encore Computer, one of the first shared memory, multiple-microprocessor computers to use the snooping cache structure. He was a founding member of Ardent Computer in 1986, becoming Vice President of Research and Development in 1988, and remained until it merged with Stellar in 1989, to become Stardent Computer.

During the 1980s, Bell became founding Assistant Director of the CISE Directorate of the US National Science Foundation, and led the cross-agency group that specified the National Research and Education Network.

Bell is a Fellow of IEEE, ACM, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. He is also a member of the US National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Science.

The first recipient of the IEEE John von Neumann Medal, Bell is the recipient of the AeA Inventor Award, the ACM-IEEE Computer Society Eckert-Mauchly Award, the Eta Kappa Nu Vladimir Karapetoff Outstanding Technical Achievement, and the National Medal of Technology Award. He also founded the ACM Gordon Bell Prize.

In 1979, Bell co-founded The Computer Museum in Boston with his wife Gwen Bell, and was a founding board member of its successor, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

Bell began focusing on the use of computers and the necessity of telepresence after joining Microsoft in 1995. He is the experiment subject for the MyLifeBits project, an experiment in life-logging. He and Jim Gemmell co-authored “Total Recall: How the e-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything.”

Cray was a US electrical engineer and supercomputer architect who designed a series of computers that for decades were the fastest in the world. He founded Cray Research, which would build many of these machines. Called “the father of supercomputing,” Cray has been credited with creating the supercomputer industry.

Previous Seymour Cray Award recipients were Ken Batcher, John Cocke, Glen Culler, William J. Dally, Monty Denneau, Alan Gara, John L. Hennessy, Peter  Kogge, Kenichi Miura, Steven L. Scott, Charles Seitz, Burton J. Smith, Marc Snir, Steven Wallach, and Tadashi Watanabe.

Learn more about the IEEE Computer Society awards.