Photo of Claude E. Shannon

Claude E. Shannon

  • National Medal of Science
  • Engineering
For brilliant contributions to the mathematical theories of communications and information processing and for his early and continuing impact on the development of these disciplines.

As a child, Claude E. Shannon built a telegraph from his house to a friend’s using barbed wire fencing. “I just wondered how things were put together,” he once said.rnrnAfter graduating from the University of Michigan in 1936, Shannon got a job at MIT, where he spearheaded a research project that catapulted the world into the information age.rnrnIn those days, the “differential analyzer,” which operated on gears and motors, was the most advanced in computing technology.rnrnIt took a whole week to solve a single problem.rnrnAhead of his time, Shannon envisioned a computer powered by electrical circuits guided by Boolean algebra, assigning the value of 1 to circuits turned on and 0 to circuits turned off.rnrnToday, the building blocks of digital circuits, called “logic gates,” operate on this concept, making everything we do online – from the emails we send to the videos we watch – a bunch of 1s and 0s strung together.