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RICHARD HENRY BOLT
1911–2002

Elected in 1978


“For contributions to acoustics and leadership in engineering enterprises and public service.”


BY LEO L. BERANEK


RICHARD HENRY BOLT, cofounder of Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN), a leading acoustical design company, and inventor of the ARPANET, died January 13, 2002, in his 90th year. Dick was a many-faceted “diamond,” a gem of a man with a broad range of interests, the ability to communicate with just about anyone, and a passion for helping his colleagues and students.

Dick was born April 22, 1911, in Peking, China, to a medical missionary couple, Richard Arthur Bolt and Beatrice French Bolt. The family returned to the United States in 1916, where Dick completed his schooling at Berkeley High School. In 1928, he entered the University of California at Berkeley, where he received a B.A. in architecture in 1933. His interest in acoustics was sparked by some articles he read in architectural journals.

Dick married Katherine Mary Smith immediately after graduation, and the couple honeymooned in Europe, where Dick was introduced to Professors Erwin Meyer and Hermann Biehle, who were teaching acoustics in Berlin. In just six weeks, Dick learned enough German to enroll in fall classes, Meyer’s at the Heinrich Hertz Institute and Biehle’s at his own institute. Kay provided the finances for this venture. She wrote a play for Berlin shortwave radio and acted in it, earning enough money to continue the honeymoon and finance Dick’s education for 10 months.



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