Manfred R. Schroeder
Prominent researcher at Bell Labs and professor at Göttingen University
Manfred Schroeder was born in 1926 the small town of Ahlen, Germany in the Ruhr coal fields of North Rhine-Westphalia. Nazi persecution was swift and strong in this mining region known for labor unrest, and as witness, young Manfred's original interest in uniforms and parades turned to sharp discomfort with German fascism. Such was not enough to save him from the nation's larger fate: at age 16 he was drafted into the airforce. For the young man himself, this was a fortuitous turn, for it was in the airforce that the math nerd found application for his obscure interests as he applied himself to the radar technologies that were proving central to the defense against aerial bombing.
After the Allied victory, Schroeder received "one pair of long johns and a very nice blanket" and was left adrift, as so often happens to the soldiers of a losing army. At his grandmother's prompting, he then enrolled at Göttingen University to study physics. A quick study, Manfred finished his PhD by 1953 and after groping through the fog of post-war distrust between the vanquished and the victor, he secured a position as a researcher at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, NJ.
Once in New Jersey, Manfred continued his work on acoustics, although at the time it seemed quite periferal to ATT's communications business. However, as computers and other digital technologies developed, Manfred's research grew in importance. His early work on Vocoders ("voice coders") eventually gave voice to voiceless computers and other machines. Through this work he eventually developed code excited linear prediciton, which is a speech coding algorithm stll used today in the MPEG-4 format.