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Dr. Irwin Mark Jacobs, Innovator of Wireless Communications Technology, to Receive 2013 IEEE Medal of Honor
Irwin Mark Jacobs

Has Played a Central Role in Advancing Modern Digital Communications

30 May 2013 – Dr. Irwin Mark Jacobs, a pioneering engineer and business leader whose vision and expertise have driven revolutionary innovations important to today’s digital and wireless communications systems, is being honored by IEEE with the 2013 IEEE Medal of Honor. IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional organization.

The medal, sponsored by the IEEE Foundation, recognizes Dr. Jacobs for leadership and fundamental contributions to digital communications and wireless technology. The award will be presented on 6 June 2013 at Qualcomm’s Headquarters, and Dr. Jacobs will be recognized during the 2013 IEEE Honors Ceremony in San Diego, CA. The event will be streamlined live at 4:00 p.m. PST on

From his beginnings as a communications theorist, Dr. Jacobs’ success lies in his vision and ability to take ideas that advance digital technology from theory to practice and successful commercialization. As a co-founder of technology companies that have provided important innovations, he has played a key role in the shift from analog to digital communications experienced during the past 40 years.

Dr. Jacobs co-founded Qualcomm Incorporated in 1985 and grew it from a small technology firm to a Fortune 500 company. He helped lead revolutionary innovations such as the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology that greatly improved cellular communications efficiency compared to analog systems. Dr. Jacobs overcame the initial skepticism and controversy involved with introducing the new technology and guided CDMA to successful implementation and standardization. CDMA would become the foundation of third-generation (3G) wireless systems.

Dr. Jacobs was also instrumental in Qualcomm’s development of a satellite communications and tracking system for the trucking industry. Using spread-spectrum technology, advanced signal processing, and an innovative antenna design, the system provided the first two-way communication and positioning system for fleet management. Known commercially as OmniTRACS, the system is still in use around the world today.

Prior to Qualcomm, Dr. Jacobs co-founded Linkabit Corporation in 1968, which provided innovative semiconductor technology and programmable devices that were important to the development of satellite-to-home television services.  Dr. Jacobs, a faculty member at MIT from 1959 to 1966, and John Wozencraft co-authored “Principles of Communication Engineering” (Wiley, 1965), which is considered one of the best communications theory textbooks ever written and is still in use today.

An IEEE Life Fellow, member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Jacobs’ many honors include the U.S. National Medal of Technology (1994) and the inaugural IEEE Vehicular Technology Society Hall of Fame Award (2009). Jacobs is founding Chairman and CEO Emeritus of Qualcomm.


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