Adobe Cofounder Charles Geschke Dies at 81

IEEE also mourns the loss of several of its prominent IEEE volunteers

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Photo of Charles M. Geschke

Honorary IEEE Member Charles Greschke, cofounder of Adobe, presenting a drawing from the company's computer software in 1987.

Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis/Getty Images

Charles M. Geschke
Adobe cofounder
Honorary member, 81; died 16 April

Geschke helped create Adobe in 1982 with John Warnock, his colleague from Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in California. Their first Adobe product was PostScript, whose pivotal technology helped spark the desktop publishing revolution.

Geschke earned a bachelor’s degree in classics in 1962 from Xavier University, in Cincinnati, where the next year he earned a master’s degree in mathematics. He then became a math professor at John Carroll University, just outside Cleveland. He left JCU in 1968 to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science at Carnegie Mellon under the advice of IEEE Fellow William Wulf.

After gaining his doctorate in 1972, Geschke joined PARC. His first project was to help build a mainframe computer. He also worked on writing programming languages and developed software tools that were used to build the Xerox Star workstation. In 1978 he established the PARC Imaging Sciences Laboratory, where he conducted research in graphics, optics, and image processing. He and Warnock developed Interpress, a page-description language that could be used to control the company’s laser printers. Unable to convince Xerox management of the commercial value of Interpress, the two left the company to start Adobe.

Geschke was chief operating officer of the company from 1986 to 1994 and president from 1989 until he retired in 2000. He served as chairman of the board with Warnock from 1997 to 2017 and a member of the board until April 2020, when he was named emeritus board member.

He received several awards for his work, including a 2008 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, a 2008 Computer Entrepreneur Award from the IEEE Computer Society, and the 2006 American Electronics Association Medal of Achievement.

He was awarded an IEEE honorary membership in 2000.

Ferial El-Hawary

Former IEEE Canada president

Fellow, 78; died 6 May

El-Hawary was an active IEEE volunteer who served as president of IEEE Canada in 2008 and 2009. She was married to former IEEE Canada President Mo El-Hawary, who died in 2019.

A member of the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society, she was a vice president of the society’s administrative committee and chair of its membership development committee. She helped establish the society’s Canadian Atlantic chapters.

She was the chair of IEEE Canada’s Eastern Canada Council and a member of the IEEE Women in Engineering committee when she died.

El-Hawary served as editor in chief of The Ocean Engineering Handbook and associate editor of the IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering.

She was president and cofounder of BH Engineering Systems. She formerly was a professor of engineering at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, N.S., Canada. She established and directed the Modeling and Signal Analysis Research Laboratory at the university, and she researched control and signal processing for ocean engineering applications.

El-Hawary and her husband helped establish the Higher Engineering Research Institute in Rio de Janeiro in 1972.

She received IEEE Canada’s 2001 Read Award, a 2000 IEEE Third Millennium Medal, and the 1997 IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society Distinguished Service Award.

El-Hawary received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Alexandria University, in Egypt; a master’s degree in EE from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada; and a Ph.D. in ocean engineering from Memorial University in Canada.

Mark Reed

Nanotechnology pioneer

Fellow, 66; died 5 May

Reed coined the term quantum dots in the 1980s to describe tiny nanostructures that exhibit quantum confinement over all three dimensions. Today the term is widely used in semiconductor lasers, telecommunication devices, biomedical imaging, and drug delivery.

He joined the Yale faculty in 1990 after working at Texas Instruments in Dallas, and he taught electrical engineering and applied physics there for more than 30 years. He was director of undergraduate studies for electrical engineering.

While at Yale, he demonstrated the first quantum dot device and developed the first conductance measurement of a single molecule, the first single-molecule transistor, and CMOS nanowire biosensors.

He authored more than 200 papers and six books, and he was granted 33 patents on quantum effect, heterojunction, and molecular devices.

Reed served as editor in chief of the journals Nanotechnology and Nano Futures, and he held numerous editorial and advisory board positions.

He received a 2007 Pioneer Award from the IEEE Nanotechnology Council.

Reed received bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in physics from Syracuse University, in New York.

Ram Gopal Gupta

Chair of the IEEE India Council

Senior member, 72; died 24 April

Gupta worked for India’s Ministry of Information Technology for more than 40 years, becoming senior director.

At the time of his death, he was chair of the IEEE India Council, which coordinates IEEE activities in the country. He served as the 2007–2008 chair of the IEEE Delhi Section .

He received a Ph.D. in nuclear instrumentation in 1975 from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi.

Maurice Papo

Former vice president of IEEE Member and Geographic Activities

Life Fellow, 93; died 17 April

Papo was an active IEEE volunteer for almost 25 years and in 2001 served as vice president of IEEE Regional Activities Board, now Member and Geographic Activities.

He began volunteering in 1983 when he joined the executive committee of the IEEE France Section . He went on to serve as 1997–1998 director of Region 8 (Europe, Middle East and Africa) . While director, Papo established the positions of vice chairs. He helped change the procedures for award nominations and elections, increasing the number of candidates who could be nominated and run. He also was involved in rewriting Region 8’s bylaws.

He served as secretary for the IEEE Educational Activities and Publication Services and Products boards.

Papo had worked for IBM for 35 years, holding several executive positions in Europe and the United States, primarily as an R&D director. After leaving IBM, he became an independent consultant.

The holder of more than 75 international patents, he received two bachelor’s degrees—one from École Polytechnique and the other from Télécom, both in Paris.

C. Sidney Burrus

Former Rice dean of engineering

Life Fellow, 86; died 3 April

Burrus was a member of the electrical and computer engineering faculty at Rice University, in Houston, for 50 years before retiring. He helped develop the curriculum there for the first course in digital signal processing in 1968 alongside fellow faculty member Tom Parks.

Burrus received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Rice in 1958 and 1960. He then served in the U.S. Navy from 1960 to 1962 and taught electrical engineering at the Navy’s nuclear power school, in New London, Conn. After being honorably discharged, he studied electrical engineering at Stanford and earned his Ph.D. there in 1965. He joined the Rice engineering faculty after graduating.

During his career at Rice, he served in several leadership positions. He chaired the electrical and computer engineering department from 1984 to 1992 and directed the Computer and Information Technology Institute from 1992 to 1998. He was dean of engineering from 1998 to 2005 and was interim dean in 2010 and 2011.

The university’s engineering school in November established a teaching and research position in his honor.

Burrus originally specialized in nonlinear analysis but decided to pursue digital signal processing later in his career. He and Parks were interested in digital filters—what they do, how to design them, and how to implement them—according to a 1998 oral history conducted by the IEEE History Center.

“We were interested in algorithms and variations on fast Fourier transforms,” Burrus said. In the mid-1980s, Burrus and Parks published two books that included a unified theory of FFTs and Fortran programs.

For his work, Burrus received the 2009 IEEE Kilby Signal Processing Medal.

Isamu Akasaki

Nobel laureate

Life Fellow, 92; died 1 April

Akasaki helped develop blue light–emitting diodes, a breakthrough in the development of LEDs that earned him a 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics. He shared the award with Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Hiroshi Amano of Nagoya University, in Japan. He also received the 2011 IEEE Edison Medal and the 2012 IEEE Kilby Signal Processing Medal.

After graduating from Kyoto University, in Japan, in 1952, Akasaki worked for the IT company Kobe Kogyo, now called Fujitsu, in Tokyo. He left there in 1959 to attend Nagoya University, where in 1964 he received a Ph.D. in engineering.

After graduating he worked for the Matsushita Research Institute in Tokyo for a few years before returning to Nagoya University in 1981 as a professor in the electronics department. Although Akasaki began working on GaN-based blue LEDs in the late 1960s, it wasn’t until 1985 that he succeeded in growing high-quality crystals of the semiconductor gallium nitride, according to his biography on the Nobel website. He began working at Nagoya University with Amano, who was his graduate student at the time. By the late 1980s they had managed to generate blue light from their chips. Around the same time, Nakamura, who was working at chemical company Nichia in Tokushima, built on their breakthrough to produce a bright-blue LED that would eventually enable the chips to be applied to lighting.

Their invention of blue light–emitting diodes led the way for a vast wave of light sources that are less expensive, more durable and environmentally safer than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, according to the Nobel website.

Akasaki left Nagoya University in 1992 to join the faculty of Meijo University, also in Nagoya. He directed its research center for nitride semiconductor core technologies.

Artur Ziviani

Computer science researcher

Senior member, 47; died 24 March

Ziviani was a senior researcher at Brazil’s National Laboratory of Scientific Computation, in Rio de Janeiro. He led its Data Extreme Lab research group and coordinated its graduate program in computational modeling.

He died due to complications from COVID-19.

Ziviani worked as a visiting researcher in 2008 at the French National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology in Rocquencourt. He was awarded a merit research fellowship from the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico.

He conducted research in the characterization, modeling, and analysis of computer networks, as well as network science, data science, and machine learning. He did interdisciplinary data science research with a networking approach applied to areas including digital health, energy, biodiversity, and bioinformatics.

An active member of the IEEE Communications Society, he was on the editorial board of several of the society’s journals including the IEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials. He served on the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative steering committee.

Ziviani received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electronic engineering from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. He earned a Ph.D. in computer science from Sorbonne Université, in Paris.

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