Photo of Amos E. Joel Jr.

Amos E. Joel Jr.

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Communications
For his vision, inventiveness and perseverance in introducing technological advances in telecommunications, particularly in switching, that have had a major impact on the evolution of the telecommunications industry in the U.S. and worldwide.

If you use a cellphone, you can thank Amos E. Joel Jr. Joel’s work at Bell Telephone Laboratories over four decades helped pave the way for huge advancements in telecommunications and cellular phone technology.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology-trained electrical engineer, Joel owned more than 70 patents. But perhaps none was as important as his 1972 patent for an invention that allowed a mobile phone user to make an uninterrupted call while moving from one region to another. That invention would help pave the way for monumental growth in the cellphone industry.

“He gave us the ‘cell’ in ‘cell phone,’” Fred Allen, editor of Invention & Technology magazine, told The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., in 2008, when Joel was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Joel’s interest in electrical engineering took root when he when he was just a boy. A tireless tinkerer, Joel became fascinated as a youngster with the family’s new dial telephone. That curiosity never subsided.

In addition to being a prolific inventor, Joel participated in a number of teaching and training programs at Bell Laboratories, published numerous articles on electronic switching – and for years served as a judge in the New Jersey Science Fair Competition.

By Robert Warren