An Wang

An Wang

Born 7th February 1920

An Wang was born in Shanghai, China in 1920. He moved to the United States in 1945 to study at Harvard University, where he earned a doctorate in Applied Physics. After graduating from Harvard he worked at the Harvard Computation Laboratory. There he worked with Howard Aiken on the Harvard Mark IV computer.

While at the Harvard Computation Lab, Wang also worked on a magnetic pulse controlling device, the principle on which magnetic core memory is based. Wang submitted a patent for in 1949. This patent was awarded in 1955. Following the awarding of the patent he sold the rights for his core memory patent to IBM for $500,000.

In 1951 Wang founded Wang Laboratories to develop speciality electronic devices. The company was a major player in the high-tech industry before declining in the mid-1980s. In 1984 Wang was estimated to be the fifth richest man in America by Forbes magazine. Wang was one of the largest and most visible philanthropists in the Boston area during this time, donating money to causes including Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston's performing arts theatre, and educational institutions.

In the early 1980s Wang Laboratories' fortunes took a turn, as the company was failing to keep up with the fast changes happening in the industry, and was battling against bankruptcy when Wang died in 1990 at the age of 70.




Photograph of An Wang Click for a larger version

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