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Isaac L. Auerbach

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Biography

Born: October 9, 1921

Died: December 24, 1992

As both an inventor and an organizational builder, Isaac Auerbach was a leader in the development of the postwar computer industry.

Auerbach was born in Philadelphia in 1921 and received a B.S. in electrical engineering from Drexel University in 1943. During World War II, he served in the United States Navy, where was a lieutenant on a destroyer escort in the North Atlantic and worked on cutting-edge electronics, such as the Mark V IFF system, at the Naval Research Laboratory.

Auerbach earned an M.S. in applied physics at Harvard University after leaving the Navy and then obtained a research position at the Eckert Mauchly Computer Corporation (Sperry Univac), where he helped design the BINAC and UNIVAC computers.

His next position was at Burroughs, where he headed the Defense, Space, and Special Products Division for eight years. He led the development of the U.S. Space Program’s first transistor-based guidance computer system and built encryption computers for the United States government.

Auerbach left Burroughs in 1957 to found the first of more than a dozen companies. Among these firms was Auerbach Associates Inc., which was among America’s first firms to specialize in designing computer systems. It created an air traffic control system for the Federal Aviation Administration, established the first airline reservation system, and programmed computers for the U.S. Ballistic Missile Early Warning System.

He also created a publishing company that produced a monthly digest of advancements in computer technology and information management.

Auerbach held sixteen patents, was a member of the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineers, and, in 1960, was founding president of the International Federal for Information Processing.

Further Reading

Seth Faison, Isaac L. Auerbach Is Dead at 71; Was Early Advocate of Computers, NY Times, 26 Dec 1992.

Memorial Tributes: Isaac L. Auerbach, National Academy of Engineering, Volume 7 (1994).