John S. Mayo’s storied career in electronics can be traced back to his fascination in the 1930s and 1940s with amateur radio. Amateur radio, at the time, was a way for science enthusiasts to talk with each other. Those conversations, he told an interviewer in 1999, pushed him to study electrical engineering in college and “go through to a Ph.D.’’
In the decades after receiving that doctorate in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University in 1955, Mayo’s name would be attached to some of the most technologically-important research on projects ranging from satellites to sonar and computers to telephone networks. He received 12 patents.
Mayo joined Bell Labs out of college and worked on a number of projects. His work with the first transistorized digital computer pioneered the use of transistors. His research also played a role in the development of the Telstar satellite system and the world’s first long-distance digital switching system.
In 1991 Mayo became the seventh president of Bell Labs. Under his leadership Bell launched programs in fiber optics, wireless communication and video.
By Robert Warren