Claude Shannon

Like most tech people, I know of Claude Shannon but not much about him. We all know he is the father of Information Theory but how many know anything about the man himself? Jimmy Soni and Rod Goodman have written A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age, a biography of Shannon and his work.

The IEEE Spectrum has a nice article based on excerpts from the book. I always appreciated that Shannon was smart but he actually had a genius level intellect. He, along with Barney Oliver and John Pierce were legendary at the Bell Labs headquarters in Manhattan during the Second World War. One interesting fact is that although Shannon slaved away on war related projects during the day, at night he was working on his ground breaking theories about information. Virtually no one knew anything about his work or the results he had obtained until he published them after a decade of labor.

When he published his work, scientists were amazed. No one had anticipated his results or even thought very much about exactly what “information” is. Read the Spectrum article and you will have a new appreciation for how groundbreaking his work was and what a genius he was.

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