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Biographies: Obituaries -- Roger Lee Sisson Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129938D
Original Publication Date: 1996-Jun-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 7 page(s) / 32K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

IEEE Computer Society: OWNER


Biographies: Obituaries -- Roger Lee Sisson

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Copyright ©; 1996 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Biographies: Obituaries -- Roger Lee Sisson

Roger Lee Sisson, a pioneering leader in the use of computers to plan and control business operations, died suddenly of cardiac arrest on January 22, 1996 in New York City. He was 65.

Early Life and Education

Born in Brookline, Mass. on June 24, 1926, Roger was a quiet and introspective child, but a brilliant and well-motivated student. His younger sister considered Rog, as his friends and family called him, to be a genius with the unique ability to visualize electronic circuits in his head. He accelerated the end of his high school career by going briefly to a private school so he could graduate early and attend one semester at MIT before he turned 18 and enlisted in the Navy. This semester would guarantee him reentry to MIT after the war. He entered MIT in 1943, choosing electrical engineering in spite of warnings that major firms in the electrical industry, like GE and Westinghouse, would not hire Jewish engineers. After one semester he entered the Navy, was trained in radar, went to officers' training school, and was discharged at the war's end and returned to MIT without any overseas service.

In 1947, while at MIT, he married Bernice Shay, from his home town. He graduated with a BS in electrical engineering in 1948, immediately entered the master's program and, inspired by a talk about computers by Jay Forrester, jumped at a chance to join the Whirlwind Group. Here, his main work was on the cathode ray tube display. He earned his MS in electrical engineering in January 1950. His thesis was done jointly with the late Alfred Susskind; one wrote about analog to digital conversion, the other about digital to analog.

West Coast Days

The Sissons went to Los Angeles where Roger entered the UCLA doctoral program. After one term, in June 1950, he answered an employment advertisement by the Electronic Engineering Company of California (EECo), a firm that both did government work and fed employees to the civil service. After a few weeks in Los Angeles, he was sent to the Naval Air Missile Test Center, Point Mugu, Calif, and was assigned to the Range Instrumentation Department to prepare for the installation of Raytheon Manufacturing Company's Project Hurricane Computer, (later known as RAYDAC for Raytheon digital computer and eventually, after many modifications, as DATAMATIC), a new, advanced digital computer for missile flight data reduction and real-time missile control. Since the Raytheon hardware was extremely late in arriving, Roger and his associates, one of whom was Richard G. Canning, first worked on the design of analog data reduction equipment, which they humorously called Project Breeze to differentiate it from Hurricane. [Editor's note: Those were the days of cute names for computers, and windy n...