People and Positions: TurboLinux Names Chen To Board. Forefathers Of IT Share Nobel Prize. Dickson Elected To OMG Board.

October 13, 2000



San Francisco, CALIF. — TurboLinux, Inc., the high-performance Linux company, announced that Sybase, Inc. Chairman, CEO and President John S. Chen was named to the company’s board of directors. Chen, 45, has been chairman, CEO and president of Sybase since 1998, one of the ten largest independent software companies in the world. “John brings more than 20 years of enterprise computing experience to our board of directors,” said T. Paul Thomas, president and CEO of TurboLinux. “His leadership, technology expertise and success in running large public companies will help guide our company as we step up to the next level.” Chen joins the TurboLinux board of directors currently comprised of TurboLinux President and CEO T. Paul Thomas, Managing General Partner of August Capital Andy Rappaport and Oblix, Inc. CEO Gordon Eubanks. “Linux is a disruptive technology that is sweeping across the computing landscape, from embedded devices up to the enterprise,” Chen said. “The opportunity to participate directly in helping to guide a company as dynamic as TurboLinux to even greater success was too compelling to pass.

Chen, a Hong Kong native, holds a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology. He began his IT career at Unisys/Burroughs in where he held a variety of engineering and management positions including vice president and general manager of the $500 million Unisys Convergent UNIX Systems Group and vice president and general manager of the $125 million Unisys Convergent RISC Platform Division. In 1991 he joined Pyramid Technology Corp. and rose to president and chief operating officer before the company was acquired by Siemens Nixdorf Informationsysteme, AG of Munich, Germany. At Siemens he was elevated to president and CEO of the $3 billion Open Enterprise Computing Division before joining Sybase in 1997. Chen currently serves as a member of the board of directors for, CIT, Niku Corporation and Wafer Technology. In addition, he sits on the board and is a member of many distinguished professional associations, including Business Executives for National Security, Chinese Software Professionals Association (board member), Asian American Manufacturing Association (board member), and Committee of 100.


Stockholm, SWEEDEN — Three scientists who laid the foundations of information technology and the computer revolution won the Nobel Physics prize last Tuesday. The prestigious award, worth nearly $1 million this year, went to men who paved the way for computers, CD players and mobile telephones, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said. Russia’s Zhores Alferov of A.F. Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute in St Petersburg and Herbert Kroemer of the University of California at Santa Barbara share half the prize for developing semiconductors with practical uses from cellphones to barcode readers. Jack Kilby of U.S. electronics group Texas Instruments Inc takes the other half for his part in the invention of the integrated circuit, or computer chip. “The birthday of the chip might be the most important birthday of mankind,” Stanford University Physics Professor Stig Hagstrom said. “The chip has brought us a new society with a new economy.”

Alferov, 70, is the first Russian Nobel laureate since Mikhail Gorbachev won the peace prize in 1990 and the first Russian physics winner since 1978. Already toasting the award with sparkling wine, he said the achievement was a tribute to Russian science, often seen as underfunded and overtaken by the west. “It is without doubt a symbol of international recognition of our Soviet and Russian physics,” Alferov told Reuters by telephone from his research institute in St Petersburg. “It should be an encouragement to Russia and Russian scientists. Considering the conditions in which he worked and compared with the West, it is a great achievement,” he said. Kroemer, born in 1928 in Germany, pioneered a radical new kind of transistor called a heterotransistor which could handle much higher frequencies than its predecessors and went on to revolutionize satellite communications and mobile telephones. Kroemer and Alferov later independently came up with the idea of using the technology to fire laser light. That breakthrough was key to fiber-optics, CD players, bar-code readers and light-emitting diodes used in modern car brake lights. “This has changed the world,” said Erling Norrby, secretary-general of the Nobel Committee for Physics. “This will change the world into a better world.”

When the physical limits of transistors were threatening to halt the growth of computer power, young engineer Jack Kilby, born in 1923, unleashed the information technology revolution by building the first miniaturized computer chip. “The chip has played the biggest role in transforming the industrial society into the information society,” Stanford’s Hagstrom said. Kilby is a prolific inventor in many domains, with about 60 patents under his belt and credit as the co-inventor of the pocket calculator. The Nobel prizes, first awarded in 1901, were created by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who died in 1896.

Mr. Kilby was involved in a long and complex patent fight with Dr. Robert N. Noyce, who built an integrated circuit at about the same time and later helped found the Intel Corporation. Many scientists said that if Dr. Noyce, who died in 1990, were still alive, he would have shared a prize with Mr. Kilby. The focus on what some physicists regard as engineering rather than pure science sparked widely differing reactions among scientists. Unlike the particle discoveries oftenhonored by the Nobels, said Dr. Carver Mead, an emeritus professor of engineering and applied science at the California Institute of Technology, “Each of these innovations has made the world a much better place and changed a lot of people’s lives. So I think it’s about time we got centered back on the stuff that really matters to real people.”

But Dr. Michael Riordan, a physicist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and the co-author of “Crystal Fire” (W. W. Norton), a history of the transistor, called the integrated circuit “an engineering feat, not a scientific one,” involving a rearrangement of known elements. By contrast, he said, the invention of the transistor itself, for which a Nobel Prize was awarded in 1956, required an intimate understanding of how electrons behave in semiconducting materials like silicon. Mr. Kilby disputed that assessment, saying that the writers of the news release accompanying the award “did choose to point out the fact that there was some new physics involved.” Dr. Alferov said the criticism did not apply to the research on heterostructures. “This is a basic science achievement – basic science with a lot of applications in engineering.”

Dr. Anders Barany, a professor of physics at Stockholm University and the secretary of the Nobel Committee for Physics, which recommends winners to the full Swedish Academy, admitted that this year’s award was “not in line with the other prizes” in recent times and is of a more applied nature. “Whether this marks a new direction is still a question,” he said. The theme, however, is clear, he said. “If you really think about it, what are these three inventions doing? They are the three inventions that are driving the Internet.” Even some scientists involved in semiconductor research found the turn of events surprising. “I frankly didn’t think it would go in this direction,” said Dr. Nick Holonyak Jr., a professor of electrical and computer engineering and physics at the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois. Scientists in other fields were more critical. This year’s physics prize, said Dr. John Learned, a particle astrophysicist at the University of Hawaii, has “little to do with fundamental science. I guess it is the tilt of our commercial era.”


Cleveland, OHIO — Michael C. Dickson, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of NetGenics, Inc. has been named to the Board of Directors of the Object Management Group (OMG), an open membership, not-for-profit consortium that produces and maintains computer industry specifications for interoperable enterprise applications. The appointment is for the 2001-2003 term. “Mike was selected because of NetGenics’ strong support to the OMG, the OMG process and OMG technologies, and for the key insights he will bring to the board in the area of life sciences standards,” stated OMG Board Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Richard Soley. Prior to his board appointment, Dickson actively participated in standardization efforts within the OMG’s Life Science Research Domain Task Force, of which NetGenics was a founding member. Dickson also played an active role in the recently adopted Life Sciences Research specification for Biomolecular Sequence Analysis.

The OMG is best known for establishing specifications such as CORBA, Unified Modeling Language (UML), Common Warehouse Metamodel (CWM), IIOP, and the Object Management Architecture (OMA). In addition, the group establishes Domain Facilities in industries such as life sciences, healthcare, manufacturing, telecommunications, and many others. The OMG has a roster of about 800 members, representing virtually every large company in the computer industry, and hundreds of smaller ones. Most of the companies that shape enterprise and Internet computing today are represented on the OMG Board of Directors. The 27-member companies that make up the OMG board are AOL, BEA, Citigroup, Compaq, Computer Associates, Concept Five Technologies, Ericsson, Fujitsu, GemStone, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, IBM, Inprise, IONA, MITRE, MSC.Software, NCR, NetGenics, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, Oracle, Critical Path, Siemens, Sun Microsystems, UBS, Unisys and Xerox. NetGenics, Inc., is a privately held company that builds integrated informatics solutions for the life science market. The company’s solutions leverage a combination of NetGenics’ proprietary software components, open architecture framework technology, and consulting, support and custom integration services. NetGenics was established in 1996 and is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio.


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