Robert W. Lucky

Robert Lucky

Awarded the Marconi Prize in 1987

Cited for the invention of the automatically adaptive equalizer which has brought important technological benefits to mankind through digital communications.

Presented by: The Honorable Warren E. Burger, Chief Justice of the United States, Retired, at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Robert Lucky is an engineer known worldwide for his writing and speaking about technology and society. He has led premier research laboratories in telecommunications over the last several decades, first at Bell Labs and then at Telcordia Technologies, where he was corporate vice president, applied research. In October, 2002 he retired from this position. Now he devotes much of his time to professional activities, including advisory boards, studies, and consulting.

Early in his career he invented the adaptive equalizer, the key enabler for all high speed modems today. He co-authored a textbook on data communications that was the most cited reference in the field over the period of a decade. He is the author of many technical papers and of several books, including Silicon Dreams and Lucky Strikes Again. He has been the editor of a series of books in communications and of several technical journals. However, most engineers know him best because of the monthly columns he has written for Spectrum Magazine over the last twenty years offering philosophical and sometimes humorous observations on engineering, life, and technology.

Dr. Lucky has been a frequent speaker at technical, business, academic, and social occasions. He often gives plenary and keynote addresses to conferences, and has been an invited speaker at more than one hundred different universities. He has also appeared a number of times on network television, including two sessions with Bill Moyers on his “World of Ideas” public television show.

He has been active throughout his career in professional, academic, and government roles. He has been on the advisory boards of about a dozen universities, has chaired the Scientific Advisory Board of the U.S. Air Force, the Technical Advisory Board of the Federal Communications Commission, and the visiting board of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He has been president of the Communications Society of the engineering institute (IEEE) and executive vice president of the IEEE.

He received his doctorate in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 1961. He has since been honored with four honorary doctorates, and has received a number of major awards, including the prestigious Marconi Prize in 1987 for inventing the automatically adaptive equalizer, which brought important technological benefits to mankind through digital communications, and the IEEE Edison Medal. He has been elected a fellow of the IEEE and to membership in the National Academy of Engineering, and to both the American and European Academies of Arts and Sciences.