Irwin Mark Jacobs, “Claude Shannon’s enduring impact on my graduate, faculty, and business careers”

April 28, 2016

Irwin Jacobs, Founding Chairman and CEO Emeritus of Qualcomm

Jacobs is Founding Chairman and CEO Emeritus of Qualcomm, a company he co-founded in 1985. As CEO through 2005 and Chairman through 2009, he led its growth from startup to Fortune 500 Company. Qualcomm pioneered the CDMA wireless technology used by all third-generation cellular networks to deliver broadband Internet access to over 3 billion customers, and is the leader in supplying fourth-generation technology. Through continuing innovation, Qualcomm has become the world’s largest semiconductor supplier for mobile devices.

Jacobs previously served as co-founder, CEO and chairman of LINKABIT Corporation, leading the development of Very Small Aperture Earth Terminals (VSATs) and the VideoCipher® satellite-to-home TV system. LINKABIT merged with M/A-COM in August 1980, and Dr. Jacobs served as executive vice president and a member of the board of directors until his resignation in April 1985. Over 100 San Diego communications companies trace their roots to LINKABIT.

From 1959 to 1966, Dr. Jacobs was an assistant, then associate professor of electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). From 1966 to 1972 he served as professor of computer science and engineering at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). While at MIT, Dr. Jacobs co-authored with Jack Wozencraft a textbook on digital communications, Principles of Communication Engineering. First published in 1965, the book remains in use today.

Dr. Jacobs received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1956 from Cornell University and Master of Science and Doctor of Science degrees in electrical engineering from MIT in 1957 and 1959, respectively. He holds fourteen CDMA patents. Dr. Jacobs has chaired the Board of Trustees of the Salk Institute since 2006, was chair of the National Academy of Engineering from 2008 to 2012, has served on the advisory board of the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management since 2000, and currently serves on the Cornell NYC Tech steering committee and the Lang Lang International Music Foundation.

He has received eight Honorary Doctorates and numerous industry, education, business and philanthropy awards, including:

  • Fellow of IEEE, 1974
  • National Academy of Engineering, 1982 (Chairman 2008-2012)
  • The National Medal of Technology Award, the
  • highest award bestowed by the president of the United States, for extraordinary achievements in the commercialization of technology, 1994
  • The IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal, 1995
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2001
  • Bower Award in Business Leadership, the
  • Franklin Institute, 2001
  • Dorothy I. Height Chair’s Award, Leadership Council on Civil Rights, 2004
  • Honorary Professorship, Beijing University of
  • Posts & Telecom (BUPT), 2005
  • Gold Medal in the Arts, John F. Kennedy International Committee, 2005
  • IEEE VTC Inaugural Hall of Fame Award, 2009
  • Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame, 2009
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2010
  • Ernst & Young Lifetime Achievement
  • Award, 2011
  • Marconi Society Fellowship & Prize, 2011
  • Honorary Fellow, The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), 2012
  • U.S. News STEM Leadership Hall of Fame Award, 2013
  • IEEE Medal of Honor, 2013
  • USPTO National Inventors Hall of Fame, 2013
  • Distinguished Technion Medal, 2013
  • American Philosophical Society, 2013
  • Honorary Distinguished Chair Professor, National Tsing Hua University, 2013
  • Computer History Hall of Fame, Hall of
  • Fellows, 2014
  • Clinton Global Citizen Award for Leadership in the Private Sector, 2014
  • Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, 2015
  • National Arts Award, 2015