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Alumni Hall of Fame 2015
Ivor Brodie came to SRI in 1973 as a physicist with a background in vacuum tubes and, in particular, the technology of cathode ray displays embodied in various commercial products produced by a company he had cofounded. He entered SRI as director of the Physical Electronics Laboratory and successfully led that organization for two decades, after which he consulted for that group until his retirement in 2002.
In general, Ivor’s SRI research centered on photoconductive surfaces and the emerging field of microfabrication. Of particular note, he directed his lab into the development of a vast array of innovative subminiature objects along with the tool development and material science to make them possible. These developments included photoconductive drums and toners for copiers, field emission arrays for vacuum electronics and flat-panel displays, recorders for medical radiography, and the tools for electron-beam lithography that enabled the printing of submicron features on the substrates of silicon wafers. His contributions to that field were captured in a book he wrote with Dr. Julius Muray: The Physics of Micro/Nano-Fabrication. Ivor also brought to SRI its first electron microscope.
Ivor also helped bring world prominence to his SRI lab, evidenced in part by the creation of this brand-new technology, vacuum nanoelectronics. That innovation led to his staff’s founding of the International Vacuum Nanoelectronics Conference, which is still being held. Ivor was awarded 10 patents while he was at SRI and was named an SRI Fellow. As an indication of his ability to attract and develop talent, four of his staff also became SRI Fellows during his second 10 years as director. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
David Brown joined SRI in late 1963 as the manager of the Computer Techniques Laboratory. It was then one of just four labs in the Engineering Sciences Division and the only one concentrating on computing. Although a decade or so earlier SRI’s large project to create the first banking computer made computing research at SRI almost inevitable, in 1963 it was still not clear what form that research should take. It was incumbent on David in his role as a manager at that time to help figure that out.
In the next several years, David had a hand in bringing to SRI a set of talented researchers such that by the start of 1969 a huge breakout of new identifiable efforts emerged. At that moment, the Engineering Sciences Division expanded from five labs to a dozen identifiable program areas under just two leaders, one of whom was David Brown.
David’s group of six programs included the Artificial Intelligence Group, the Augmented Human Intellect Center, and the Computer Science Group, all of which evolved into independent labs with researchers who became world leaders in their field. As these labs matured, David continued as head of the Information Science Laboratory for another 8 years, and his tenure at SRI would eventually total 30 years.
David’s contribution to this growth was well expressed by a leader of one of those emerging groups: "It was a time of great change and opportunity in technology and little tradition in independent applied research. SRI attracted some very bright and far-seeing researchers and there was a continuous search for sponsors with vision and resources. The result was a kind of start-up culture, with…a variety of growth profiles, some slow, some explosive, with consequent challenges of management—how to find the right staff, how to combine research themes, how to terminate weak programs, how to cultivate sponsors were some of Dave’s contributions. His leadership was crucial in solving these problems and he helped build a home for creativity and a model for a strong institution."
Curt Carlson came to SRI in 1988as an executive from its subsidiary, Sarnoff Corporation, to serve as SRI’s ninth president. He held that position until 2014—longer than anyone else in the organization's nearly 70-year history. It is not just that longevity that prompts this award, however. It is his accomplishments for SRI during those 16 years.
During his tenure, Curt was an engaged and interactive president who relished the opportunity to sit with all staff members to understand their role and their research, with the unspoken goal of encouraging and motivating them. He tackled the perennially difficult issue of interdisciplinary research by bringing different parts of the Institute together to better address a potential client’s needs. He explored the essence of the innovation process and left SRI better able to look for, understand, and meet a client’s needs. His career in research let him relate easily and effectively to those professionals at SRI responsible for the Institute’s livelihood.
Curt’s approach helped increase the Institute’s revenues from $160 million, burdened by debt when he arrived, to $540 million by 2014. His concentration on meeting clients’ needs and submitting more effective proposals resulted in a more uniform profitability across the major R&D divisions, a welcome Institute change.
But his most important legacy is his unprecedented attention toward and profit from SRI’s intellectual properties. Although Curt did not initiate SRI’s entry into the use of its intellectual property, he clearly brought it to a place of prominence and a point of substantial—often crucial—help to the Institute’s bottom line. Also building on prior policy, he saw to it that part of the financial return from that property found its way back to the inventors and to the staff in general. For the first time in its history, royalty and equity became, and are still, key components of SRI’s financial picture.
Ron Moore worked at SRI from 1955 until 1992 as a creative artist, from the days of pen and ink drawings and film photography well into the age of computer graphics. His contributions and forward thinking as an illustrator and graphic designer helped consolidate SRI’s position in the business and scientific communities as a professional research organization.
Ron’s first task was to create, starting with blueprints, an 8-foot-long artist’s conception of a finished explosive device. Many more such illustrations followed, including drawings of SRI’s famous Shakey the Robot. In addition, Ron created illustrations for a variety of media, ranging from SRI promotional pieces and periodicals to posters for special events and slide presentations. His designs of SRI’s publications—the Long Range Planning Service, SRI Journal, Investment in Tomorrow—distinguished them from those of our competitors and won several national awards for cover designs.
Ron recognized early on the importance of a uniform corporate identity, and he worked hard to implement a cohesive corporate identity program that has had long-lasting positive effects on SRI’s reputation. The program included harmonious designs for an array of SRI presentation materials, including logos, stationery, posters, and business cards, that became the SRI style. He was quick to realize the potential of early Apple computers, using his own IIe at home until SRI provided him one. He promoted the use of Apple computers in the publications arena, and helped many staff members—eventually including his boss—learn how to use Apple’s graphic software.
Through the years, Ron worked across the Institute, stimulating staff creativity and capturing ideas in memorable images and publications. His wry humor and quick wit made him a joy to work with as he helped define the visual character of the Institute through its publications.