Monday, October 31, 2005

Dr. William O. Baker, 1915 - 2005, Led Bell Labs through Golden Age

Lucent Technologies' announced that Dr. William O. Baker, Bell Labs president from 1973 to 1979, died yesterday in Chatham, New Jersey. He was 90.

After receiving his doctorate in chemistry from Princeton University in the summer of 1938 Dr. Baker joined Bell Labs the following May as a member of technical staff. He became Head of the Polymer Research and Development Department at Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1948. From 1951 to 1955, he was Assistant Director of Chemical and Metallurgical Research. Dr. Baker became Vice President of Research in 1955, after a short period as Director of Physical Sciences Research. He was elected President of Bell Labs in 1973 and served until 1979.

In his early research Dr. Baker focused on the development and application of polymer chemistry, resulting in crucial advancement in the development of synthetic rubber, a ubiquitous substance found throughout the world today in everything from shoes to tires. During his career, Dr. Baker was granted eleven patents for this work.

Dr. Baker was honored with the Presidential Medal of Science, the Presidential National Security Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Marconi International Fellowship Foundation, 27 honorary doctorates, and numerous professional awards from such organizations as the American Chemical Society, the Franklin Institute's Fahrney Medal, the American Institute of Chemists, the National Science Foundation, and the Materials Research Society. Dr. Baker was the first person to hold membership in all three of the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.

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