A Reluctant Father of the Digital Age


MIT\'s Technology Review profiles the pioneering information theorist Claude Shannon:

The entire science of information theory grew out of one electrifying paper that Shannon published in 1948, when he was a 32-year-old researcher at Bell Laboratories. Shannon showed how the once-vague notion of information could be defined and quantified with absolute precision. He demonstrated the essential unity of all information media, pointing out that text, telephone signals, radio waves, pictures, film and every other mode of communication could be encoded in the universal language of binary digits, or bits—a term that his article was the first to use in print. Shannon laid forth the idea that once information became digital, it could be transmitted without error. This was a breathtaking conceptual leap that led directly to such familiar and robust objects as CDs. Shannon had written \"a blueprint for the digital age,\" says MIT information theorist Robert Gallager, who is still awed by the 1948 paper.

A statue of Claude Shannon was erected in his hometown of Gaylord, Michigan on October 6, 2000.

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