, ,

Joe Lechlieder, whose DSL is now in 500M homes

By Hatti Hamlin

Marconi Fellow John Cioffi always gave credit to Joe Lechleider of Bellcore for being first to imagine what became DSL. Steve Lohr wrote in Lechleider’s recent New York Times obiturary. “Mr. Lechleider contributed a key idea. .But it was younger engineers like Mr. Cioffi who developed DSL modem technology.”

Both met resistance in the early days. From the article: “There were people who didn’t want to deploy it. There were people who didn’t think it would work. Many of them weren’t sure there was a market for it.”

Marconi Fellows have often met initial resistance to their innovations. Peter Kirstein, who will receive the 2015 Marconi Prize at a ceremony in London this October, was responsible for the first European node of what became the Internet. The British government at first refused to fund his work, and he had to overcome tremendous resistance to the adoption of American network protocols, he says, in a recent interview. Excerpts from the interview are here.

MIMO wireless today doubles the speed of Wi-Fi and many cellphones. When 2014 Marconi Fellow Arogyaswami Paulraj invented MIMO in 1993, few believed his initial insight. Many were skeptical until he built working systems years later. Paulraj video profile.

2006 Fellow Claude Berrou’s breakthrough, Turbo codes, initially was met with disbelief, as you can see in the video for his ceremony. Turbo codes proved to be a breakthrough, bringing communications networks close to the limit of Shannon’s Law. They’ve been used onmissions to Mars and in billions of devices on earth.

What seems to best characterize Marconi Fellows—and all great innovators—is the ability to forge ahead in the face of powerful resistance from colleagues and the Establishment.