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Gerald Estrin's Online Memorial Photo

Memorial Curator

Memorial Biography

Dr. Gerald (Jerry) Estrin, devoted husband, father, grandfather, UCLA Professor Emeritus and Computer pioneer died on Thursday, March 29th at his home in Santa Monica, California at the age of 90. Jerry was born in New York where he met and married his wife of 70 years, Thelma Estrin, Ph.D. He was educated at the University of Wisconsin where he received B.S, M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in 1948, 1949, and 1951. He served as a research engineer in the von Neumann group at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, NJ, working on one of the earliest computers. In 1954, he and Thelma traveled to the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, where he led the development of WEIZAC, the first large-scale electronic computer outside of the United States or Western Europe. Dr. Estrin joined the UCLA Faculty in 1956 and served as Chairperson of the UCLA Computer Science Department from 1979-1982 and from 1985-1988. In 1991, Dr. Estrin retired and became a Professor Emeritus.

Among his many academic accomplishments was developing the concept of reconfigurable computing, an idea that led to new types of programmable computer chips that are part of many of the systems and devices we use today. Many of the original Internet pioneers were his students or colleagues. He was an IEEE Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a member of the Board of Governors of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel.

Until his final days, Jerry remained an avid fan of the UCLA Bruins basketball team and the Metropolitan Opera and enjoyed taking walks along the ocean. He touched so many lives through his guidance, teaching and research and will always be remembered for his inspiration, commitment to excellence and challenge of conventional wisdom.

Jerry is survived and greatly missed by his wife Thelma, three daughters, Margo, Judy and Deborah, four grandchildren, Rachel, Joshua, Leah and David, as well as an extended family of students, colleagues and friends.

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