Dr. Irwin Jacobs is an IEEE Life Fellow and board member of QUALCOMM Incorporated, a company he co-founded in 1985. As CEO through 2005 and Chairman through 2009, he led Qualcomm from startup to Fortune 500 Company. Qualcomm pioneered the development and commercialization of CDMA mobile wireless technology, now adopted for all third-generation cellular communications and in use by over one billion consumers worldwide for voice and mobile broadband Internet access. He holds thirteen CDMA patents. QUALCOMM has been named for 13 consecutive years to the Fortune list of The 100 Best Companies To Work For.
Dr. Jacobs previously served as co-founder, CEO and chairman of LINKABIT Corporation, leading the development of Very Small Aperture Earth Terminals (VSATs) and the VideoCipher® satellite-to-home TV system. LINKABIT merged with M/A-COM in August 1980, and Dr. Jacobs served as executive vice president and a member of the board of directors until his resignation in April 1985. Over 100 San Diego communications companies trace their roots to LINKABIT.
From 1966 to 1972 he served as professor of computer science and engineering at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). From 1959 to 1966, he was an assistant, then associate professor of electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). While at MIT, Dr. Jacobs co-authored with Jack Wozencraft a textbook in digital communications Principles of Communication Engineering.
Dr. Jacobs received a BEE degree in 1956 from Cornell University and MS and ScD degrees in electrical engineering from MIT in 1957 and 1959, respectively. He was named Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Salk Institute in 2006 and Chair of the National Academy of Engineering in 2008.
In addition to being an IEEE Life Fellow and a member of the National Academy of Engineering, he is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Jacobs was awarded the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal for outstanding contributions to telecommunications, including leadership theory, practice and product development. Among other awards, he received The National Medal of Technology in 1994 and the IEEE/ Royal Society of Edinburgh Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award with Andrew Viterbi in 2007.
He and his wife Joan have been cited by Business Week among the 50 Most-Generous Philanthropists in the United States.