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Memorial Tributes, Volume 12
the generalization of circuit theory into signal and system theory. He was always a strong advocate for using computers in communication, teaching, and research, and later in his career his work was focused on this burgeoning field.
Huggins arrived at JHU with the rank of full professor and quickly demonstrated his unusual qualities as a teacher—enthusiasm and a rare ability to make complex information seem straightforward by changing the way it is encoded. For example, he established a single course for teaching linear models to students in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and chemical engineering. His mastery of the subject matter and his zeal for teaching were accompanied by a deep respect for students, and he maintained contact with many of them, both undergraduate and graduate, long after they left the university. Letters from former students continue to arrive at JHU even today.
In 1960, Huggins arranged for the purchase of the first computer at JHU, an LGP-30 made by National Cash Register Company. This device read paper tape and had 1,024 fixed (8-bit) memory spaces, 512 of which were taken up by the compiler. Huggins’s fascination with this device and his curiosity about its capabilities spread through the Electrical Engineering Department and to other departments. He and a colleague, James Coleman, who later became one of the most productive sociologists of the twentieth century, collaborated with many students and postdocs to introduce computing to JHU and to the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Huggins was ahead of his time in introducing computer technology into the engineering curriculum and recognizing its potential for helping students learn design. He even wrote a JOBSHOP program by which students could design devices and then simulate their performance. Nevertheless, he also hedged his bets—in addition to commissioning the preparation of a self-teaching text on FORTRAN I, he invested in a lab equipped with personal-analog computers (one for every four students). His enthusiasm for both hardware and software never waned, however, despite disasters like ending up with just 32 seconds worth of movie film after spending his entire sabbatical