George Stibitz with his model K
George Stibitz (April 20, 1904 - January 31, 1995) was a Bell Labs researcher mostly known for his 1930s and 1940s work on the realization of Boolean logic digital circuits using electromechanical relays as the switching element.
Born in York, Pennsylvania, he received his bachelor\'s degree from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, his master\'s degree from Union College in 1927, and his Ph.D. in mathematical physics in 1930 from Cornell University.
In 1937, Claude Shannon produced his master\'s thesis at MIT that implemented Boolean algebra using electronic relays and switches for the first time in history. Entitled A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits, Shannon\'s thesis essentially founded practical digital circuit design.
In November of 1937, George Stibitz, then working at Bell Labs, completed a relay-based computer he dubbed the \"Model K\" (for \"kitchen\", where he had assembled it), which calculated using binary addition. Bell Labs thus authorized a full research program in late 1938 with Stibitz at the helm. Their Complex Number Calculator, completed January 8, 1940, was able to calculate complex numbers. In a demonstration to the American Mathematical Society conference at Dartmouth College on September 11, 1940, Stibitz was able to send the Complex Number Calculator remote commands over telephone lines by a teletype. It was the first computing machine ever used remotely over a phone line.
Stibitz held 38 patents, in addition to those he earned at Bell Labs. He became a member of the faculty at Dartmouth College in 1964 to build bridges between the fields of computing and medicine, and retired from research in 1983.
Both the Smithsonian Institution and the American Computer Museum exhibit (or have exhibited) a replica of the \"Model K\" in honor of his work.
History of Computers