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INFORMATION THEORY
SOCIETY

Claude Shannon



Arthur W. Astrin
(Artur Ichnowski)
1945 - 2016

Long time Chapter Chair

Art Astrin Photo

Artur Ichnowski, known professionally as Arthur W. Astrin, passed away March 24, 2016, in Palo Alto, CA, at the age of 70 after a gallant 13 year long struggle with metastatic melanoma. He was born in Krakow, in Russian- occupied Poland, on December 6, 1945. His father Wladyslaw Wilhelm was the Polish Forestry Minister and his mother Maria Kupferblum, a concert pianist, was a radio music archivist and a pioneer in music therapy. Both were Holocaust survivors.

At an early age Art developed his lifelong interest in science and, more specifically, radios. Before he was 9, he had constructed his own telegraph. He built his own radio and as a teenager secretly listened to rock music over Voice of America and Radio Free Europe with his friends. During the Cuban Missile crisis they hovered over Art’s radio to learn the true status of negotiations between Kennedy and Khrushchev. His high school army unit was mobilized and waiting on the tarmac for a Russian transport plane when the crisis ended. This was too close a call for his mother’s peace of mind. She applied for a US student visa for him. It was none too soon, because when the government subsequently banned the music of Elvis, Brenda Lee, and Ricky Nelson, Art was arrested as he and his friends marched down the main street of Warsaw in protest. He was released on condition he leave Poland in 24 hours.

Art arrived in the US on January 2, 1964. He lived with family friends in Los Angeles, took ESL classes at night (though he says he really learned English by watching cartoons), and enrolled at Cal State University, Northridge, where he studied math and physics. He received a Master Degree in Mathematics from UC San Diego, and, in 1984, a PhD in Communication Engineering from UCLA.

Art’s first engineering job was at Northridge Engineering/Unicomp. There he developed a Fast Fourier Transform algorithm in hardware for radar applications. He loved to describe his 1970 encounter with the legendary US Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper whom he met when he was sent to an aircraft carrier to repair the FFT. In 1977 Art moved to Palo Alto where he continued a long career in tech. He held technical and management positions and developed computer and communication systems for Memorex, ROLM, Siemens, and Apple. At Apple, he was recruited to convert the Apple product line to wireless. He was instrumental in birthing the Wi-Fi industry. He has seven patents.

Throughout his career, Art was active in IEEE. He was Chair of the IEEE Information Theory Group in Santa Clara, a Senior Member of IEEE, a recipient of the IEEE Third Millennium Medal, and in 2011 he was honored with the IEEE Hans Karlsson Award for the leadership and diplomatic skills he applied in developing network standards. He was a member of the Bluetooth SIG and a member of the IEEE 802.11/15 standards committee since 1997. Beginning 2005 he lead the stanardization in Body Area Network (BAN) and at the time of his death he was chair of the BAN Task Group 6 of IEEE 802.15 (see BAN Standardization and future applications). Art also taught communication and computer engineering at San Jose State University and UC Berkeley. He never forgot a face or a name – even if he met someone only once

One of Art’s passions in life was skiing. He and his wife, Jeanne, met on the slopes and were married in July, 1968. He loved sailing and was intrepid when sailing his “little” 25 foot McGregor in the Bay and when hauling his “big” 25 foot McGregor up to the Sierras to sail at Huntington Lake. He was an Eagle Scout in Poland and remained active in the Boy Scouts in the US. He did 50 mile hikes in the Grand Canyon (rim to rim to rim) and in the Sierras. He loved swimming and continued doing laps even when metastasis left him partially paralyzed. He joked at the time that he was only able to swim circles. His wacky sense of humor made an impression on everyone he met.

He is survived by his wife Jeanne, his daughter Amy, son Jeff, daughter-in-law Chrissy Kistler, 3 grandsons: Alexander, Roy and Carl; his sister Elizabeth and her husband Elliot Landaw and nephews Maximilian and Julian and numerous cousins around the world. Contributions may be made in his honor to the Computer History Museum, 1401 N Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View, CA 94043. A private memorial has been held for his family and close friends



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