John M. Atalla

For his outstanding contributions as an engineer, innovator, entrepreneur, and visionary in the semiconductor processing and computer-data-security industries, the Schools of Engineering are proud to present the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award to John M. Atalla.

Dr. Atalla is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TriStrata Corporation, a developer of a unified privacy and security infrastructure to provide all applications with software solutions that protect, control, and track information on the Internet. He received bachelor s degrees in mechanical and aeronautical engineering from Cairo University in 1945. He received master's and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from Purdue in 1947 and 1949, respectively.

After Purdue, Dr. Atalla joined Bell Telephone Laboratories, where he worked with Nobel Prize-winners William Shockley, Walter Brattain, and John Bardeen. Dr. Atalla extended some of their research and discovered the means to stabilize silicon surfaces. His work led to the emergence of Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors.

In 1961, Dr. Atalla co-founded Hewlett-Packard Associates, and in 1969 he joined Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corporation.

Dr. Atalla founded the Atalla Corporation in 1973 to address security problems in banking. In 1987, he merged the corporation with Tandem Computers and, in 1990, he retired renowned as the inventor of the PIN, or Personal Identification Number, and the Atalla Box, which currently secures 80 percent of all ATM transactions worldwide.

Dr. Atalla returned to work in 1993, focusing on encryption technology for the Internet. He founded TriStrata Corporation in 1996 in Redwood Shores, California.