Irwin Jacobs

2014 Fellow

For his pioneering work in digital mobile telephony, data and communications, and technology

"I've always found it very important to do your homework first and then talk."

— Irwin Jacobs

Irwin Mark Jacobs is Founding Chairman and CEO Emeritus of Qualcomm, a company he co-founded in 1985. As CEO through 2005 and Chairman through 2009, he led the growth from startup to Fortune 500 Company, now with over 22,000 employees worldwide. Qualcomm pioneered the development and commercialization of CDMA wireless technology, the basis for all third-generation cellular networks which now provide voice and broadband Internet access for over 1.6 billion customers. Qualcomm is the world's largest semiconductor supplier for wireless products and a leader in introducing fourth-generation technology. For 15 consecutive years, QUALCOMM has been named to Fortune's list of The 100 Best Companies To Work For.

Dr. Jacobs previously served as co-founder, CEO and chairman of LINKABIT Corporation, leading the development of Very Small Aperture Earth Terminals (VSATs) and the VideoCipher® satellite-to-home TV system. LINKABIT merged with M/A-COM in August 1980, and Dr. Jacobs served as executive vice president and a member of the board of directors until his resignation in April 1985. Over 100 San Diego communications companies trace their roots to LINKABIT.

From 1959 to 1966, Dr. Jacobs was an assistant, then associate professor of electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). From 1966 to 1972 he served as professor of computer science and engineering at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). While at MIT, Dr. Jacobs co-authored with Jack Wozencraft a textbook in digital communications Principles of Communication Engineering. First published in 1965, the book remains in use today.

Dr. Jacobs received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1956 from Cornell University and Master of Science and Doctor of Science degrees in electrical engineering from MIT in 1957 and 1959, respectively. He holds fourteen CDMA patents.

Dr. Jacobs was named Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Salk Institute In November 2006 and served as Chair of the National Academy of Engineering from 2008 - 2012. He has served on the UCSD Foundation Board of Trustees, the UC San Diego Health System Advisory Board and is past chairman of the University of California President's Engineering Advisory Council. In June 2011, he was appointed by The Secretary of Education to serve on the Board of the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies (aka, Digital Promise). Additionally, Dr. Jacobs is a board member of Building Engineering & Science Talent (BEST) and has served on the Advisory Board of the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management since the formation in 2000.


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