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Memorial Tributes: Volume 3 (1989)

Chapter:Hendrick Wade Bode

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Suggested Citation:"Hendrick Wade Bode." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
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Suggested Citation:"Hendrick Wade Bode." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
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Suggested Citation:"Hendrick Wade Bode." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
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Suggested Citation:"Hendrick Wade Bode." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
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Page53
Suggested Citation:"Hendrick Wade Bode." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
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Page54
Suggested Citation:"Hendrick Wade Bode." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
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HENDRIK WADE BODE 1905-1982 BY HARVEY BROOKS HENDRIK WADE BODE was wiclely known as one of the most articulate, thoughtful exponents of the philosophy and prac- tice of systems engineering—the science and art of integrat- ing technical components into a coherent system that is op- timally aciapted to its social function. After a career of more than forty years with Bell Telephone Laboratories, which he joined shortly after its founcling in 1926, Dr. Bode retirect in 1967 to become Gordon McKay Professor of Systems Engi- neering (on a half-time basis) in what was then the Division of Engineering and Applied Physics at Harvard. He became professor emeritus in July ~ 974. He died at his home in Cambridge on June 2l, 1982, at the age of seventy-six. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Poore Bode, whom he married in 1933, and by two daugh- ters, Dr. Katharine Bode Darlington of Philadelphia ant! Mrs. Anne Hathaway Bode Aarnes of Washington, D.C. Hencirik Bode was born in Madison, Wisconsin, on De- cember 24, 1905. After attending grade school in Tempe, Arizona, and high school in Urbana, Illinois, he went on to Ohio State University, from which he receiver! his B.A. in 1924 and his M.A. in 1926, both in mathematics. He joined Bell Labs in 1926 to work on electrical network theory and the design of electric filters. While at Bell, he also pursues] graduate studies at Columbia University, receiving his Ph.D. in physics in ~ 935. 51

52 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES In 1929 he transferred to Bell's mathematical research group, which was heacled by T. C. Fry and specialized in net- work theory ant] its application to long-distance communi- cations. His extensive research in this field led eventually to the publication in 1945 of his classic book, Network Analysis and Feedback Amplifier Design. During World War II, Bode participated in the develop- ment of electrical fire control devices, receiving the Presiclen- tial Certificate of Merit in 1948 for his contributions. After the war, he continuer! his work on military system clevelop- ment, which inclucled artillery fire control and tracking sys- tems for antiaircraft missiles and later for antiballistic missile systems. He also specialized in command-and-control com- munications systems. In 1944 Bode was placed in charge of the mathematical research group; in 1952 he became director of mathematical research for Bell Labs. In 1955 he was named director of physical sciences research (including mathematics). In 1958 he became one of two vice-presidents of Bell Labs anct hac! responsibility for military systems projects. During his career at Bell, he was granted twenty-five patents for innovations in the areas of transmission networks, transformer systems, electrical wave amplification, broadband amplifiers, and ar- tillery computing. Bocle always felt a strong sense of unity in his career clevel- opment and saw common genealogy in the technologies he worked on: from long-ctistance communications systems through artillery fire control to tracking systems for surface- to-air missiles. Bode's view was that a tracking system pro- ducec! information, "and that's a message, and communica- tion theory is concerned with messages and getting the correct message out of something garbled, .. . so much of the basic technology of telephone communications clid turn out to be applicable, in this sense, to the problems of fire control." During Hendrik Bode's Harvard tenure, beginning in 1967, he taught courses in communications systems and a

HENDRIK WADE BODE 53 general education course on the management anc! philoso- phy of the development of complex technologies. He synthe- sizect the lessons he had learned from his long working life in a book published by Bell Labs in 1971 entitled: Synergy: Technical Integration and Technological Innovation in the Bell Sys- tem. The book is an excellent exposition, in layman's terms, of the philosophy of systems engineering as it was developecl, practiced, and perfected in the Bell system prior to divesti- ture and deregulation. Yet in retrospect, this lucidly written book exhibits not only the enormous strengths but also some of the weaknesses anct vulnerabilities of this system of inno- vat~on. Bode received many honors cluring his career. In 1969 he was awarded the prestigious Edison Medal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers "for fundamental con- butions to the arts of communication, computation and con- trol and for guidance and creative counsel in systems engi- neering." In addition, in 1979 he was the first recipient of the Control Heritage Award from the American Automatic Control Council. He received the Rufus Olclenberger Award of the Ameri- can Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1975. He was electec! to the National Academy of Sciences in 1957 and was a char- ter member of the National Academy of Engineering, which was founded in December 1964. He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Physical Society, and he was a member of the American Mathematical Society and the Society of Inclustrial and Ap- pliect Mathematics. Hendrik Bocie server! the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in many ways during his career. From 1967 to 1971 he was a member of the Council of the National Academy of Sciences; in addi- tion, he was the representative of the Acaclemy's Engineering Section on the original Committee on Science and Public Pol- icy (COSPUP), which was established under the chairman-

54 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES ship of George Kistiakowsky in 1965. He was also an active contributor to three widely known COSPUP studies: Basic Research and National Goals ~1965), Applied Science and Techno- logical Progress (1967), and Technology: Processes of Assessment and Choice ~ ~ 969~. These reports were the first to be prepared directly by the academy for the legislative branch specifi- cally, the Committee on Science and Astronautics of the U.S. House of Representatives. Bocle was a mo(lest, private person; yet he was in great clemancT as a member of important government and private advisory committees. His advice was much sought after, not only on technical matters but also regarding questions of or- ganization, management strategy, and even ethics. He was a lucict writer and expositor and was notect for his broad hu- manistic approach to engineering and technology. A colleague has remarked that "he will sit for hours through a long meeting of complex discussion and heated argument without saying a word ant] then, in the end, in two sentences, will bring the whole argument and the whole meeting to a focus." Although an accomplished mathemati- cian, he never user! more mathematics than were necessary to make his point in an explanation, and he was able to trans- late complex mathematical results into simple physical pic- tures and analogies. With the death of Hen(lrik Bode, the country and the uni- versity community lost one of the great engineering philos- ophers of his time.

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