Amos E. Joel Jr.

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Amos E. Joel Jr.
Born (1918-03-12)March 12, 1918
Died October 25, 2008(2008-10-25) (aged 90)
Maplewood, New Jersey
Residence United States
Nationality American
Alma mater MIT (B.Sc.) (1940)
MIT (M.Sc.) (1942)
Awards IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal (1976)
Stuart Ballantine Medal (1981)
Kyoto Prize (1989)
IEEE Medal of Honor (1992)
National Medal of Technology (1993)
Scientific career
Fields Electrical engineering

Amos Edward Joel Jr. (March 12, 1918 – October 25, 2008)[1] was an American electrical engineer, known for several contributions and over seventy patents related to telecommunications switching systems.


Joel was born in Philadelphia, and spent portions of his youth living in New York City, where he graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx.[2]

He earned his B.Sc. (1940) and M.Sc. (1942) in electrical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked on the Rockefeller Differential Analyzer (project headed by Vannevar Bush), and a thesis on functional design of relays and switch circuits, advised by Samuel H. Caldwell. Joel worked at Bell Labs (1940–83) where he first undertook cryptology studies (collaboration with Claude Shannon), followed by studies on electronic switching system that resulted in the 1ESS switch (1948–60). He then headed the development of advanced telephone services (1961–68), which led to several patents, including one on Traffic Service Position System[3] and a mechanism for handoff in cellular communication (1972).[4] The latter invention made mobile telephony widely available by allowing a multitude of callers to use the limited number of available frequencies simultaneously and by allowing the seamless switching of calls from tower to tower as callers traveled. After 1983, he worked as a consultant to AT&T, developing mechanisms for optical switching.[5]

Joel died in his home in Maplewood, New Jersey on October 25, 2008, at age 90.[2]


  • Electronic Switching: Central Office Systems of the World (IEEE Press, 1976)
  • With Robert J. Chapuis (eds.): 100 Years of Telephone Switching (1878-1978: Part 1: Manual and Electromechanical Switching), Elsevier 1982. Part 2: Electronics, Computers and Telephone Switching (Elsevier, 1990).
  • A History of Engineering and Science in the Bell System: the Early Years, 1875-1925 (Bell Labs, 1985)
  • A History of Engineering and Science in the Bell System: Switching Technology, 1925-1975 (Bell Labs)
  • Asynchronous Transfer Mode (IEEE Press, 1993)



  1. ^ William Aspray (1992). "Amos Joel Oral History, 1992". IEEE Global History Network. IEEE. Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Martin, Andrew. "Amos E. Joel Jr., Cellphone Pioneer, Dies at 90", The New York Times, October 27, 2008. Accessed October 29, 2008.
  3. ^ U.S. Patent 3,731,000
  4. ^ U.S. Patent 3,663,762
  5. ^ U.S. Patent 4,736,462
Preceded by
IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal
Succeeded by
Eberhardt Rechtin