Maurice Papo


Maurice Papo
Maurice Papo
Death date
Associated organizations
IEEE, IBM, INSEAD, Ecole Polytechnique, Ecole Nationale Superieure des Telecommunications
Fields of study
Telecommunications, Computing
IEEE Fellow (1987), IEEE Millenium Medal (1984), Larry Wilson Transnational Award (2000), IEEE Haraden Pratt Award (2008), Officier, Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur (1996)


Maurice Papo was born in 1928. He received degrees from Ecole Polytechnique in 1951 and the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Telecommunications three years later, after which he joined IBM's laboratory in Paris. During the 1950s he was a leading contributor to the logic of IBM's World Wide Accounting Machine (WWAM) on which the logic of the IBM 1401 computer ("Data Processing System") was based, and which contributed to the design of the IBM System/360 series of computers.

Dr. Papo worked 35 years at IBM, where he held a broad range of executive positions in Europe and the United States, primarily as R&D director. In that role he oversaw the relocation of IBM France's laboratories in 1962 from Paris to a building designed by Marcel Breuer in La Gaude outside Nice, a location that met a government mandate to decentralize industry and attracted young researchers. Under his leadership, La Gaude staff were also responsible for innovation of the IBM 270x series of communication controllers, modems, and related products used with IBM System/360 computers around the world. In the late 1960s, La Gaude engineers developed the IBM 2750 Switching System, an electronic Private Automatic Branch Exchange, the first stored program-controlled PABX. This and its successors, the 3750 (1970) and 1750 (1979) enabled efficient processing of and accounting for the increasing volume of telephone calls across western Europe and North America. An IEEE Life Fellow, Papo held more than 75 international patents. On retirement, Papo was an independent senior consultant and was active in numerous engineering societies.

Within IEEE, Maurice Papo influenced improvements in the strategic planning process of one of the IEEE’s major operating boards and mentored many new volunteers. He held a variety of volunteer positions and was active in IEEE committees for nearly 25 years, beginning with the executive committee for the France Section in 1983.

His most notable posts were director of Region 8 (Europe, Middle East and Africa) (1997-98), and vice president of the Regional Activities Board (RAB 1997, currently Membership and Geographic Activities). As Region 8 Director, Papo initiated major changes in the operation of its committee, including the establishment of the positions of vice-chairs and development of volunteers from the region.

In his role as vice president of RAB, he improved the effectiveness and efficiency of operations through delegation of responsibilities and authorities. Papo encouraged major enhancements to the integrity and independence of the nominations and appointments procedures to encourage the appointment of transnational members within IEEE at all levels. He served as the vice-chair, strategic planning and nominations committee, and was involved in the restructuring of the Region 8 Bylaws. A former chair of the IEEE France Section, Papo also served as IEEE Secretary (1999) and on IEEE Educational Activities and Publications Boards.