Bernard Marshall Gordon

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Bernard Marshall Gordon (born 1927 in Springfield, Massachusetts) is an American engineer, inventor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is considered "the father of high-speed analog-to-digital conversion".[1]

Early life, education, and career[edit]

At an early age Gordon developed an interest in electronics. Upon graduation from Springfield's Technical High School, he enlisted in the US Navy and later became a commissioned officer. He earned BS and MA degrees in Electrical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology via the V-12 program and the GI Bill.

In 1947, Gordon began his technical career at Philco Corporation and later joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, where he was responsible for the development of the standard circuits, acoustic memory, supervisory control, and input/output circuits of the first commercial computer, UNIVAC I.[2]

He subsequently worked at the Laboratory for Electronics (LFE), a spinoff of the wartime Radiation Laboratory at MIT. While there, Gordon helped create the first current switching digital-to-analog converter in 1951 as part of the first digital pulse position indicators for radar.

A/D conversion[edit]

From the late 1930s into the early 1950s, digital signal processing was an attractive idea. However, progress was limited and then state-of-the-art systems were slow, offering limited precision, and were only a modest improvement over purely manual methods.

In 1953, Gordon and Joseph H. Davis co-founded EPSCO, Inc. to manufacture a variety of electronic components and subassemblies. While at EPSCO, in 1953-54, Gordon created high-precision and high-speed signal processing, including the core technologies of analog-to-digital conversion. These developments were fundamental to the subsequent medical diagnostic tools, and have influenced therapeutic practice as well. Gordon publicized these developments in his paper, "A high-speed AD converter and its possible applications", delivered to the 1955 conference of the Instrument Society of America.

Building on this work, Gordon and his engineering teams developed the first solid-state x-ray generator, the first quadrature-base band phased-array ultrasound system, and the first instant imaging computer-aided tomography system, among many other related inventions. These developments enabled subsequent advances in fields as diverse as aerospace telemetry, industrial control, communications, and many modern consumer products which rely on the digitization of analog measurement, audio, video, and optical inputs.[2][3]

EPSCO grew rapidly for several years. Gordon later left the company and in 1963, founded Gordon Engineering. In 1967, Gordon Engineering became Analogic Corporation and at various times Gordon served as Chairman of the Board of Directors, President, Executive Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer. While at Analogic, he and the teams of engineers he led conceived and developed the first digital waveform analyzing and computing instrumentation; "instant imaging" Computed Tomography (CT) system; portable, mobile CT scanner; and the first three-dimensional, multi-slice, dual-energy explosive detection CT system, among many other pioneering products.[2]

In 2004, after leaving the active management of Analogic, he co-founded NeuroLogica Corporation of Danvers, Massachusetts, where he served as Chairman of the Board. Its first project was a portable imaging system, for neurological scanning applications, which could assist stroke and trauma victims.[2] . The company was acquired by Samsung Electronics in 2013. He retired from Analogic's Board of Directors in 2009.[4]

Involvement with education[edit]

Over the course of his career, Gordon has frequently advocated for more thorough training of engineers and, in particular, for encouraging greater leadership capabilities in engineers. To that end, In 1984 he established the Gordon Institute, a graduate-level program for career engineers located in Wakefield, Massachusetts. In 1992, Gordon allied his Gordon Institute with the Tufts University College of Engineering in nearby Medford, Massachusetts.

In 2002, he established The Gordon Center for systems engineering as part of the Technion Israel Institute of Technology. Its post-graduate program (Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering) has produced hundreds of graduates.[2]

In 2007, Gordon provided a $20 million gift (with a matching requirement) to establish the Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership (GEL) Program, in part to create a national model for preparing the engineering leaders of the 21st century. Immediately following its inception, the program began gathering input from industrial and academic sources to inform creation of the program and curriculum. GEL's foundational document, the Capabilities of Effective Engineering Leaders, was a result.

In 2009, Gordon established the Gordon Institute for Engineering Leadership at Northeastern University through a $40 million grant.[5] The institute's mission is to identify candidates to pursue engineering leadership skills as part of a Master of Science degree in a range of engineering disciplines, or as a standalone Certificate in Engineering Leadership.[6][7]

Gordon has been both influential and supportive of a number of other engineering programs in the US.[which?]

Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education[edit]

Inaugurated in 2001 by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), the intent of the Gordon Prize is to recognize new modalities and experiments in education that develop effective engineering leaders. The focus is on innovations such as curricular design, teaching methods, and technology-enabled learning that strengthen students' capabilities and desire to grow into leadership roles.

The Gordon Prize is presented annually, and the recipient receives a $500,000 cash award, half granted to the recipient and the remainder granted to the recipient's institution to support the continued development, refinement, and dissemination of the recognized innovation. NAE members and non-members who are US citizens or permanent residents of the US, and who currently are and have been substantially engaged in their engineering and scholastic work in institutions within the US are eligible for the Gordon Prize.

Other philanthropy[edit]

Gordon and his wife, Sofia, also provided substantial funding to Brigham and Women's Hospital , Boston; Lahey Clinic (now Lahey Hospital and Medical Center), Burlington, Massachusetts, Salem State University, Salem, Massachusetts, and the Boston Museum of Science.

Awards and honors[edit]


  • Gordon, Bernard (14 October 1981). "Education for electronics leadership". EDN. UBM Canon. ISSN 0012-7515. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  • Gordon, Bernard M. (28 August 1984). "Keynote Presentation: What Is an Engineer?" (PDF). European Society for Engineering Education - Annual Conference. University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  • Gordon, Bernard M. (Editor, 2012) "Toward a New Engineering Education Consensus: Ideas from Industry and Academia for Inculcating and Fostering Leadership Skills," Published under the auspices of the Gordon Foundation, Danvers, Massachusetts, 2012

Patents (partial listing)[edit]