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THOMAS G. STOCKHAM, JR.

1933–2004


Elected in 1998


“For contributions to the field of digital audio recording.”


BY ALAN V. OPPENHEIM


THOMAS G. STOCKHAM, JR., professor at the University of Utah and widely regarded as the father of digital audio, died on January 6, 2004, at the age of 70. Professor Stockham was born on December 22, 1933, in Passaic, New Jersey.

Tom was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1998. His career was strongly influenced by his love for teaching, music, perfection, and family and by his incredible skills as an engineer. He received all of his degrees in electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was appointed as an assistant professor at MIT in 1959. In the mid-1960s he joined the research staff at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, and in 1968 he joined the faculty at the University of Utah where he helped establish its computer science department. Early in his academic career at MIT, Tom worked closely with Amar Bose, founder of Bose Corporation, on the use of digital computers for measurement and simulation of room acoustics and for audio recording and enhancement. Through this work he became a pioneer in the field of digital signal processing, a technology that in the 1960s was totally impractical for real-time applications since the processors could fill (and heat) a room, and clock speeds were extremely slow by today’s standards. It was partly through Tom’s pioneering work on digital signal processing algorithms that this technology eventually emerged as critical to virtually all modern communication and multimedia systems.



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