Irwin Mark Jacobs

Founding Chairman and CEO Emeritus, Qualcomm

Irwin Mark Jacobs is founding chairman and CEO Emeritus of Qualcomm, a company he co-founded in 1985. As CEO through 2005 and chairman through 2009, he led the growth from startup to Fortune 500 company, now with over 22,000 employees worldwide. Qualcomm pioneered the development and commercialization of CDMA wireless technology, the basis for all third-generation cellular networks which now provide voice and broadband Internet access for over 1.6 billion customers. Qualcomm is the world's largest semiconductor supplier for wireless products and a leader in introducing fourth-generation technology. For 14 consecutive years, Qualcomm has been named to Fortune's list of "The 100 Best Companies To Work For."

Dr. Jacobs previously served as co-founder, CEO, and chairman of LINKABIT Corp., leading the development of Very Small Aperture Earth Terminals (VSATs) and the VideoCipher® satellite-to-home TV system. LINKABIT merged with M/A-COM in August 1980, and Irwin served as executive vice president and a member of the board of directors until his resignation in April 1985. Over 100 San Diego communications companies trace their roots to LINKABIT.

From 1959 to 1966, Irwin was an assistant, then associate professor, of Electrical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). From 1966 to 1972, he served as professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). While at MIT, Irwin co-authored with Jack Wozencraft a textbook in digital communications, Principles of Communication Engineering. First published in 1965, the book remains in use today.

Irwin received a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering in 1956 from Cornell University and master of science and doctor of science degrees in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 1957 and 1959, respectively. He holds 14 CDMA patents.

Irwin was named chair of the board of trustees of the Salk Institute in November 2006 and chair of the National Academy of Engineering in July 2008. He serves on the UCSD Foundation board of trustees in addition to the UC San Diego Health System advisory board and is past chairman of the University of California President's Engineering Advisory Council. In June 2011, he was appointed by the Secretary of Education to serve on the board of the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies (aka, Digital Promise). Additionally, Irwin is a board member of Building Engineering & Science Talent (BEST).

Irwin is the recipient of numerous industry, education, and business awards, including:

  • Fellow of IEEE, 1974
  • National Academy of Engineering, 1982
  • National Medal of Technology Award, the highest award bestowed by the president of the United States, for extraordinary achievements in the commercialization of technology, 1994
  • IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal, 1995
  • American Electronics Association (AEA) Medal of Achievement Award, 1998
  • Radio Communication Report (RCR) Wireless Hall of Fame, March 2000
  • Honorary doctorate degree, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, 2000
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2001
  • Bower Award in Business Leadership, the Franklin Institute, 2001
  • Honorary doctorate degree, University of Pennsylvania, 2002
  • Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award, Fabless Semiconductor Association (FSA), 2003
  • Dorothy I. Height Chair's Award, Leadership Council on Civil Rights, 2004
  • Honorary doctorate degree, Waterloo University, 2005
  • Honorary Professorship, Beijing University of Posts & Telecom (BUPT), 2005
  • Lifetime Achievement Award (for 25 years in telecommunications), Financial Times, 2005
  • Honorary doctorate degree, San Diego State University, 2006
  • Honorary doctorate degree, University of San Diego, 2007
  • IEEE/Royal Society of Edinburgh Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award with Andrew Viterbi, 2007
  • Robert N. Noyce Award, Semiconductor Industry Association, 2007
  • Honorary doctorate degree, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, 2008
  • Visionary Award, SDForum, 2008
  • Inaugural Hall of Fame Award, IEEE VTC, 2009
  • Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame, 2009
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2010
  • Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa, Tel Aviv University, 2010
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, EE Times, 2011
  • Ernst & Young Lifetime Achievement Award, 2011
  • Marconi Society Fellowship & Prize, 2011
  • 29th Annual Executive of the Year, W.P. Carrey School of Business, Arizona State University, 2012

Irwin and his wife, Joan, have been cited by BusinessWeek and the Chronicle of Philanthropy as among the "50 Most-Generous Philanthropists" in the United States.


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News for: Irwin Mark Jacobs

Speaker at FiRe 2006, 2010, 2012, 2012, 2019

News Headlines  (10 of 11)
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Wireless Phone Dispute Setttled
Posted on 24 Sep 2017 at 7:26am

Qualcomm narrows focus, sells handset business
Posted on 1 Jan 2002 at 4:43pm

Like Father, Like Son At Qualcomm
Posted on 29 Oct 2006 at 9:00pm

Call for small-biz research funding
Posted on 17 Feb 2011 at 3:59am

Qualcomm settles suit
Posted on 1 Jan 2001 at 3:59am



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