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Listen or download interview (mp3, 42 minutes, 40 MB)
Born in Bergamo, Italy, Andrew Viterbi came to the United States when he was just a boy. His family eventually settled in Boston, and he attended public schools there, including the renowned Boston Latin School. Developing an interest in engineering as a preteen, he studied electronics and electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). After graduation, he moved to California, where he earned a Ph.D. in digital communications from the University of Southern California, taught communications theory at the University of California, Los Angeles, and consulted at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology.
In 1968 he cofounded Linkabit Corporation and in 1985 QUALCOMM Inc. He is also the president of the venture capital investment fund The Viterbi Group, LLC. A pioneer in the field of communications, Andrew Viterbi is the creator of the Viterbi algorithm, which is used by four international standards for digital cellular telephony. He is a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. In 2004, the University of Southern California’s School of Engineering was renamed the Viterbi School of Engineering in his honor.
By the time he went to college, Andrew Viterbi knew he wanted to become an engineer. No one in his family had been in engineering, yet Viterbi was influenced by the close proximity of his home to MIT. Earning high marks in school, he received a scholarship to MIT, where he was introduced to statistical communications theory.
Last Updated: 10-06-2009
The audio files linked above are part of the National Academy of Sciences InterViews series. Opinions and statements included in these audio files are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Academy of Sciences.