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Jonathan Titus, M.S. ’69
Titus ’69 Receives Stibitz Computer Pioneer Award

Jonathan Titus, M.S. ’69, was awarded a 2002 George R. Stibitz Computer & Communications Pioneer Award, joining an elite group of information-age trailblazers. The Stibitz Award, which pays tribute to the living pioneers of the computer and information age, is presented by the American Computer Museum in conjunction with the Computer Science Department of Montana State University. Titus received his award at the American Computer Museum in Bozeman, Mont., in October.

Titus was recognized for the invention of the Mark-8, the first hobbyist microcomputer, which appeared as a construction project in the July 1974 issue of Radio-Electronics magazine. In a description he wrote of the development of the Mark-8, Titus recalled: “the computer caused quite a stir in the hobbyist-experimenter circles. Remember that at that time there were no—or almost no—hobbyists who had their own computer. Here comes one that they can build for about $350.”

The original Mark-8 computer now resides in the permanent Information Age exhibit in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.

Radio-Electronics magazine
Titus is a freelance technical writer and editor, and a computer-design consultant. He is one of the founders of the Blacksburg Group Inc., a small company that developed educational electronic equipment and published books about electronics and computers from 1974 to 1985. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, master’s from Rensselaer, and Ph.D. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, all in chemistry.

The Stibitz Award is named in honor of George R. Stibitz, who in 1937 pioneered the use of relays for digital computation at Bell Laboratories. Of the 24 individuals who have been recognized since the award was created in 1997, three are Rensselaer graduates: Ted Hoff ’58, co-inventor of the microprocessor, Ray Tomlinson ’63, inventor of e-mail, and now Titus.

In his description of the Mark-8, Titus addressed the perennial question—Did you get rich?: “There was no market for small computers, so no one was going to sell a lot of them. I did get rich, but not in terms of money. I’m rich because I enjoyed helping people start using small computers and I made them aware that they could get their hands in them and get the computers to do interesting things. I’m rich because I met and talked with a lot of interesting people.”

To learn more about the development of the Mark-8 Minicomputer, visit www.his.com/~jlewczyk/adavie/mark8b.html.

Rensselaer Magazine: March 2003
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