Joel, Amos, National Medal of Technology, 1993
Innovations in technology, MEMS 16x16 (256) Mirror (Optical Switch Array)
"In the 20th century the United States continued to be the leader in
telecommunications. The telephone superseded the telegraph as the principal means of telecommunicating.
"The range and quality of the telephone was greatly improved by the
inventions of the vacuum tube and transistor. Woven communication paths became more available using multiplex techniques on the transmission media of coaxial cable, optical fiber, and satellites transmission media, all of which were American inventions. America was also the source of invention and exploitation of the first mechanization and later the general automation of selection in call processing known as ‘switching.' These innovations replaced manual processing by operators. Throughout the entire century this country has been recognized the world over as the source of most of the great innovations in telecommunications.
"The Internet innovation is based upon the use of computer and the
telecommunications infrastructure pioneered mostly by Americans. It is
expected to be the future for many types of communications and commerce. As new electronic technologies become available they will be applied to telecommunications and computers. Wireless technology using switching between terrestrial cells for mobile terminals is another important element in the future of both the Internet and communication systems."