Harwood Kolsky, an emeritus professor of computer engineering from the University of California, Santa Cruz, was a physicist who became a computer scientist well before that field was a recognized department of academic learning. He worked on many early computers and their applications and architectures. Later in his career he directed a variety of projects including programming languages, scientific applications, and digital image processing.
Dr. Kolsky received his B.S. degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Kansas in 1943. He was in the U.S. Army – Signal Corps, Central Pacific, 1943-46, and earned his Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard University in 1950.
After seven years at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Dr. Kolsky joined IBM in 1957 in Poughkeepsie, New York, as a member of the product planning group for the STRETCH (IBM 7030) computer. In 1959 he became assistant manager of the IBM Federal Systems Division office in Omaha, Nebraska. Following this he was at FSD headquarters, before being named manager of the systems science department of the San Jose Research Laboratory in 1961. In 1962 he headed an advanced technology group in the Advanced Systems Development Division at Los Gatos, California. He joined the Palo Alto Scientific Center when it was formed in 1964 as manager of the atmospheric physics group. Later he headed projects in programming languages, microprogramming, and digital image processing.
Dr. Kolsky was named an IBM Fellow in 1969. He served on the IBM Corporate Technical Committee at Armonk, New York, 1974-75. He was also head of the Board of Consultants for the IBM European Scientific Centers. He published over 30 papers and was a member of four professional societies.
In 1985 he joined the newly-formed UCSC Computer Engineering department as a visiting professor. In 1986 he retired from IBM and began a new career as a full-time professor at UCSC where he helped manage research projects and taught courses in computer architecture and computer history. He retired from UCSC in 1996.