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Internet2 Mourns the Loss of Former NSF Director Erich Bloch

Posted on Nov 30, 2016 by Sara Aly
Tags: Frontpage News, Internet2 Member, National Science Foundation

Erich Bloch, a true visionary, was revered throughout the Research and Education community. He passed away November 25 at the age of 91 due to complications from Alzheimer's disease. 

Bloch began his career with IBM as an electrical engineer in 1952. His work on the iconic IBM System/360 was groundbreaking. Not only did it help make NASA’s Apollo 11 mission a reality, it also ushered in the era of modern computing as we know it today.

Bloch's brilliance was in his ability to recognize early on the critical roles of research collaboration and scientific infrastructure. During his tenure as director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 1984 to 1990, Bloch played an integral role in establishing the nation’s supercomputer centers, which built collaborations that addressed national-level challenges in science and engineering and spurred economic development.

Bloch was known for championing the funding of high-risk, revolutionary projects. "One of the most intense and rewarding learning periods of my life was working for Erich when he was NSF director," said Jim Bottum, Internet2, presidential fellow. "Truly a great mentor and teacher."

At Internet2, we will remember him most for his integral role in supporting the National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET), a "network of networks" that gave rise to today's internet. "Erich Bloch's support for the NSFNET project was firm and unequivocal," said Stephen Wolff, Internet2, principal scientist. "From turning away gaggles of telco lawyers asserting that NSF was trespassing on their turf, to defending the choice of the TCP/IP protocols against the proponents of other networking schemes, he always had our back."

Watch a tribute to Erich Bloch on YouTube.