Computer History Museum honours tech legend Raj Reddy

CHM's Fellow Awards recognize extraordinary individuals for a lifetime of achievement in computing and technology

April 16, 2021
The Scitech

The Computer History Museum (CHM) has announced that Raj Reddy, the Moza Bint Nasser University Professor of Computer Science and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, is among its 2021 Fellow Award honourees. CHM's Fellow Awards recognize extraordinary individuals for a lifetime of achievement in computing and technology.

"Being selected to be a Fellow of the Computer History Museum seems like you have become an antique," Reddy said. "I guess when you have been working with computers for over six decades you do become ancient!"

A visionary in artificial intelligence and robotics, Reddy has focused his career on how technology can serve society, particularly in education and in developing societies.

The founding director of CMU's Robotics Institute and a former dean of the School of Computer Science, Reddy developed the first system capable of recognizing continuous speech, and his research team developed many of the concepts underlying modern commercial speech recognition technology. These ideas were adopted in a variety of applied artificial intelligence systems.

His research interests extend beyond speech recognition to include robotics, human-computer interaction, innovations in higher education and efforts to bridge the "digital divide," particularly for people in developing nations. He initiated CMU's autonomous vehicle program, which subsequently has spawned numerous innovations.

Reddy also created the The Universal Digital Library, a free, online digital library that includes more than 1.5 million volumes, with book digitization centers in China, India, Egypt and the United States. He was instrumental in establishing in 2008 the Rajiv Gandi University of Knowledge Technologies, which enrolls thousands of low-income, gifted youth from rural south eastern India.

Reddy's contributions to science and statesmanship were recognized in 2006 by the National Science Board, which presented him its prestigious Vannevar Bush Award. In 1984, France awarded Reddy the Legion of Honour for his work in developing countries. He received computer science's equivalent to the Nobel Prize, the Association for Computing Machinery's Turing Award, in 1994 for his contributions to artificial intelligence.

Over its three-decade history, previous winners of the CHM Fellow Awards include CMU alumni James Gosling, Edward Feigenbaum, Charles M. Geschke and Ivan Sutherland and former faculty such as C. Gordon Bell. Other winners have included Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, software pioneer Rear Adm. Grace Hopper and World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee.

Museum CEO Dan'l Lewin said the impact of the CHM Fellows can be seen in art, healthcare, education, government and myriad other fields and disciplines.

"Their professional and personal stories transcend generations and inspire us all," Lewin said.

Additional 2021 Fellow Award honourees include Raymond Ozzie, Andries van Dam and Lillian Schwartz. A series of virtual events will explore the story and impact of each honouree and the present and future of technology for humanity beginning with an event on March 18 that celebrates Ozzie.

(Source: Carnegie Mellon University news release originally written by Heidi Opdyke)