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Black History Facts - Philip Emeagwali

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We are celebrating Philip Emeagwali for Black History Facts.

An ingenious invention that effectively made the internet and other modern IT technologies possible, the linked supercomputer system is Nigerian computer scientist Philip Emeagwali, who in 1989 came up with the idea of linking multiple microprocessors to turbo-charge computing power after observing bees in nature.

Philip Emeagwali was born on August 23, 1954, in Akure, Nigeria, to James and Agatha Emeagwali, the oldest of their nine children. Philip Emeagwali's father tutored him in mathematics from a young age, cultivating his interest in the subject. He self-study and, in 1973, passed a high school equivalency test. Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, awarded Emeagwali a scholarship to study there. Emeagwali earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from the institution in 1977. It was there that ignited Emeagwali's interest in computers.

In 1981, he earned an MS in environmental engineering from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Later, in 1986, he earned an MS in Ocean, Coastal, and Marine engineering from George Washington University. In 1986, he received an MS in mathematics from the University of Maryland.

He later pursued his civil engineering (scientific computing) doctorate at the University of Michigan. Emeagwali's most outstanding achievement was "The Connection Machine," a supercomputer that warranted the most praise. In 1989, he programmed over 65,000 computers to produce the fastest computer globally to make up the supercomputer. This supercomputer performed 3.1 billion calculations per second, faster than the theoretical top speed of the Cray Supercomputer.

I was the lone wolf 24/7 programmer of the first and only 65,536-processor powered supercomputer. ~ Philip Emeagwali

Though Emeagwali did not "invent" The Connection Machine in 1989, his contribution won him the Gordon Bell Prize – the Nobel Prize for computation. The Connection Machine was a significant advancement over previous designs built by IBM's Thomas J. Watson, Jr. and Fred Brook design teams.

Currently, meteorologists use supercomputers to forecast the weather. They also use supercomputers to predict the likelihood and effects of future global warming. Dr. Philip Emeagwali is described as the "Father of the Internet" and the Bill Gates of Africa.


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Last update: 2/16/2022

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