Bernard Oliver, one of the most prolific and influential inventors of his generation, helped give birth to the era of digital information with his invention of "pulse code modulation," or PCM. This allowed information of all kinds to be translated into the digital language of binary code, then transmitted to receivers capable of manipulating the information or restoring it to its original form. Today, PCM is an integral part of much of the digital technology that defines the modern world.
Other highlights in Oliver's prolific career include his development of early forms of radar, pioneering work in television technology, practical handheld calculators, and visionary work using radio telescopes to search space for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations. In his later years, Oliver made large financial contributions to support scientific research, higher education, and cultural institutions.
Born in Soquel, California, Oliver completed a B.A. in electrical engineering at Stanford University when he was 19. A year later he received an M.S. from Caltech, where he earned a Ph.D., graduating magna cum laude at the age of 24. He earned a reputation as a brilliant inventor at Bell Laboratories before creating the research and development department at Hewlett-Packard, where he remained until his retirement.