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Danny Cohen, Inventor of the First Flight Simulator, Dies at 81

The organization also mourns the loss of IEEE-HKN member John Lamont and others

4 min read
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Photo: iStockphoto

Photo of Danny CohenPhoto: David Cohen

Danny Cohen

Flight-simulator inventor

IEEE Fellow, 81; died 12 August

Cohen’s interest in computers began in high school, when he read a news article referring to the machines as “electronic brains,” according to his obituary published in The New York Times. His interest in computers led to the creation of the first flight simulator.

In the 1950s Cohen was a paratrooper in the airborne unit of the Israeli army. After he was discharged from the military, he attended Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa. He graduated in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Cohen immigrated to the United States in 1965 to further his education at MIT, where he studied mathematics.

In 1967, while still at MIT, Cohen developed the first computer flight simulator. It let people experience flying a plane without leaving the ground. After hearing that computer scientist Ivan Edward Sutherland was teaching a computer graphics seminar at Harvard, Cohen decided to continue his studies there. He finished building his flight simulator at Harvard and graduated in 1969 with a Ph.D. in computer science.

He taught computer science at Harvard beginning in 1973, then left in 1976 to teach the subject at Caltech. He went on to teach at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, where he worked on a voice project designed to allow interactive real-time speech over the ARPANET. In 1978 he and his team conducted the first conference call over the system.

In 1993 Cohen was awarded the Meritorious Civilian Service Award from the U.S. Air Force. He became a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2006 and was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2012.

Photo of John LamontPhoto: Adams Funeral Home

John Lamont

Electrical engineering professor

Life member, 76; died 27 November 2018

Lamont began his teaching career in 1968 at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where he taught electrical engineering. He went on to teach EE at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, and the University of Texas at Austin.

He also worked as a project manager for the Electric Power Research Institute, in Palo Alto, Calif.

He spent the last 20 years of his teaching career as a professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at Iowa State University, in Ames, where he served as the director of the university’s Electric Power Research Center. He retired in 2007 as professor emeritus.

Lamont was a member of IEEE Eta Kappa Nu.

He received a bachelor’s degree in EE at the Missouri School of Mines, now the Missouri University of Science and Technology, in Rolla. He got a master’s degree in 1966 and a Ph.D. in 1970, both in EE, at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Photo of Juan Alberto CodagnonePhoto: Luis Remez

Juan Alberto Codagnone


Senior member, 64; died 4 July

Codagnone worked in Argentina on digital systems and computer programming. He was a programmer from 1976 to 1979 for Argenta Sistemas. He served as a computer systems manager from 1979 to 1984 for Atec, an engineering consultant company in Buenos Aires. He left there to become programming chief for SDI Sistemas Digitales, where he worked until 1994. He retired in 2016 after working for 22 years as a technical manager for the software publishing company TCW Argentina, in Buenos Aires.

Codagnone, who received the 2019 Region 9 Oscar C. Fernández Outstanding Volunteer Award, was a member of the IEEE Communications Society and the IEEE Computer Society.

He graduated in 1976 from the Universidad Nacional del Sur, in Bahía Blanca, Argentina, where he became an IEEE student member and earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

Photo of Michael NewmanPhoto: Legacy Obits

Michael Newman

Founder of CSI Telecommunications

Life member, 71; died 16 July

Newman grew up in San Francisco and spent time working at his family’s business, E. Sugarman, a plumbing, heating, and appliance repair company. There he developed an interest in finding out how things worked, according to his SF Gate obituary.

After graduating from the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, with an electrical engineering degree, he worked as an engineer for Pacific Gas and Electric in San Francisco. He then joined the telecommunications company Sprint, where he designed microwave systems. In 1985 he founded CSI Telecommunications, a public safety communications engineering firm in San Francisco.

He was an IEEE Communications Society–certified wireless communications professional and a member of the IEEE Press board.

In his spare time, he worked as a volunteer photographer for the San Francisco Fire Department, according to the obituary. He published a book in 1988, Strike the Box, which featured his photographs.

Photo of Lester Harold FinkPhoto: Lois Row

Lester Harold Fink

Power engineer

Life member, 94; died 10 September

After being discharged from the U.S. Army in 1943, Fink attended the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1950 in electrical engineering.

After graduating, he joined Philadelphia Electric, where he worked for 24 years, becoming supervisor of the engineering research division. He received a master’s degree in EE from Penn in 1961.

In 1974 he became assistant director of the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration in Washington, D.C., where he worked until 1979.

Fink was also an adjunct professor from 1961 to 1964 at Drexel University, in Philadelphia, and he later taught for a year at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Photo of Anne-Marie SahazizianPhoto: Mount Pleasant Group

Anne-Marie Sahazizian

Electrical engineer

Life member, 73; died 13 September

Sahazizian worked as an electrical engineer for Hydro One in Toronto.

An active IEEE volunteer, she was awarded a 2012 IEEE Standards Association Medallion.

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Economics Drives Ray-Gun Resurgence

Laser weapons, cheaper by the shot, should work well against drones and cruise missiles

4 min read
In an artist’s rendering, a truck is shown with five sets of wheels—two sets for the cab, the rest for the trailer—and a box on the top of the trailer, from which a red ray is projected on an angle, upward, ending in the silhouette of an airplane, which is being destroyed

Lockheed Martin's laser packs up to 300 kilowatts—enough to fry a drone or a plane.

Lockheed Martin

The technical challenge of missile defense has been compared with that of hitting a bullet with a bullet. Then there is the still tougher economic challenge of using an expensive interceptor to kill a cheaper target—like hitting a lead bullet with a golden one.

Maybe trouble and money could be saved by shooting down such targets with a laser. Once the system was designed, built, and paid for, the cost per shot would be low. Such considerations led planners at the Pentagon to seek a solution from Lockheed Martin, which has just delivered a 300-kilowatt laser to the U.S. Army. The new weapon combines the output of a large bundle of fiber lasers of varying frequencies to form a single beam of white light. This laser has been undergoing tests in the lab, and it should see its first field trials sometime in 2023. General Atomics, a military contractor in San Diego, is also developing a laser of this power for the Army based on what’s known as the distributed-gain design, which has a single aperture.

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