In this 1976 interview, a Bell Telephone newsmagazine reporter talks with former executive and scientist John Robinson Pierce about his vision of the future.
Pierce spent 35 years at Bell Laboratories. In 1970, Pierce left Bell to teach electrical engineering at CalTech. He also became Chief Engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. An electronic music composer since the 1960s, Pierce remained heavily involved in computer music, and in 1980, he worked with Stanford’s CCRMA as a visiting professor of music, where he also was co-credited as discovering a non-octave music scale, called the Bohlen-Pierce scale.
One of his last projects at Bell Labs in the late 1960s was the Network for Block Switching of Data, sometimes referred to as the data ring.
Along with Claude Shannon and Bernard Oliver, Pierce is credited with the co-invention of PCM, pulse code modulation, a method of converting analog signals to digital.