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PAUL BARAN

1926–2011

Elected in 1996

“For the concept of packet-switching and for its
technical development and utilization.”

BY VINTON G. CERF

PAUL BARAN was born in Grodno, Poland (which is now in Belarus), on April 29, 1926. He was the youngest of three children. His family moved to the United States on May 11, 1928, settling in Boston. Later, in Philadelphia, his father, Morris Baran (1884–1979), opened a grocery store. Paul graduated from the Institute of Technology (now Drexel University) in 1949 with a degree in electrical engineering. He received an M.S. in engineering from the University of California in 1959 and honorary doctorates from Drexel University in 1997 and the Pardee RAND Graduate School in 2000. He passed away on March 26, 2011.

Baran joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Company upon graduation from Drexel. There he did technical work on UNIVAC models, the first brand of commercial computers in the United States. He moved on to Raymond Rosen Engineering Products in 1950. There he designed circuits to correct tape speed errors for FM telemetry recording. In 1955 he moved to Los Angeles to work for the Hughes Aircraft Company on radar systems.

Baran joined the RAND Corporation in 1960, two years after the invention of the integrated circuit. There he blazed a new trail in digital communication systems, with a broad exploration of the problem of maintaining command-and-control capability in the event of a nuclear attack. Baran explored the possibility of digital communication in hostile



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