Charles Rosen


Charles Rosen
Montreal, QC, Canada
Death date


Charles Rosen was born in Montreal on December 7, 1917. Mr. Rosen came to the United States as a teenager, and studied electrical engineering at Cooper Union in New York City. He earned his Ph.D. at Syracuse University and during World War II, he returned to Canada to work on Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft being sent to Britain. After the war ended, he worked on transistor theory at General Electric Research Laboratories in Schenectady, N.Y., and was a coauthor of "Principles of Transistor Circuits", an early book on the subject.

In 1957 he moved to California to join the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, where his efforts included projects to developing neural networks. Digital computing falls short in many problems requiring human intelligence, and neural networks attempt to create computational machines based on the organization of the biological brain through neurons, rather than bits allowing for an on and off state. With other institute scientists, he developed one of the early mobile, intelligent robots, Shakey. Shakey combined all existing machine intelligence advances into a single unit and could see and feel objects in its path and navigate around them on its own. Some of the algorithms created to run the robot are still used for Internet mapping services such as MapQuest.

The work on Shakey led directly to Stanford lend a focus on artificial intelligence and the creation in 1966 of the institute's Artificial Intelligence Center, which Mr. Rosen directed. After his retirement from the research institute in 1978, as he sat on the boards of directors of 10 companies and started companies to deliver pharmaceutical drugs and make pickles at home.

In addition to his work on neural networks, Rosen was involved in winemaking. In 1959, Mr. Rosen and several friends from the institute bought a 40-acre vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, overlooking what later came to be known as Silicon Valley. For several years, working only on weekends, they restored the property, which they called Ridge Vineyards, making a little wine for themselves and selling most of their grapes to other winemakers. Rosen and his wife, Blanche, remained involved in Ridge affairs until it was sold in 1986 to a Japanese industrialist. Mrs. Rosen died in June. They had been married 60 years.

Rosen died on Dec. 8, 2002 of pneumonia.