Walter E. Proebster

Walter E. Proebster
Walter E. Proebster
Mannbeim, Germany
Associated organizations
Fields of study
IEEE Haraden Pratt Award


Walter E. Proebster was born on April 2, 1928 in Mannbeim, Germany. He obtained the Dipl.-Ing. and the Dr.-Ing. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Technical University of Munich in 1951 and 1956, respectively. His doctoral work was on the design and construction of a high-speed parallel computer called PERM, which was built with more than 2000 vacuum tubes and was for several weeks the fastest computer in the world. For several years it served the Technical University of Munich as a work-horse computer and is now on permanent display at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. In 1956, Dr. Proebster joined the IBM Research Laboratory in Zurich as Project Manager, where his work involved research on new magnetic devices for computer logic and memories, particularly thin magnetic film. His group proved experimentally for the first time the nano-second switching behavior of these films, more than 100 times faster than the ferrite cores in use then. This work eventually led to the design of high speed thin magnetic film memories used in two IBM high end computers. From 1962 to 1964, Dr. Proebster was Director of Experimental Machines at the IBM Research Center, Yorktown, NY. He returned to Germany in 1964 to assume the position of Director of the IBM Research and Development Laboratories in Germany. In 1973, he was appointed

Director of Research and Development Coordination, and from 1983 to 1989, as Director of Scientific/Technical Relations, he concentrated his efforts on cooperation between IBM and technical universities in Germany. After his retirement from IBM in 1989, he was appointed University Professor at the Technical University of Munich at the Institute of Computer Science, engaged in computer technology and applications including networking. He was elected "Honorary Professor" at the Technical University Karlsruhe in 1972, and at the Technical University of Munich in 1995.

Dr. Proebster is Life Fellow of IEEE. He has received a number of technical awards, including an IEEE Solid-State Conference Prize Paper Award, an IBM Outstanding Contribution Award, and IBM Patent Achievement Awards. For almost two decades, Dr. Proebster has been engaged in numerous IEEE activities: he has served as Chairman of the IEEE Germany Section, Director of IEEE Region 8: Europe, Africa, Near-East, IEEE Secretary. He has served as Chairman of International IEEE Conferences, including: Eurocon, Amcon, and Intermag. He was co- founder of COMPEURO and worked to promote holding IEEE technical conferences in Region 8. He is a recipient of the IEEE Larry K. Wilson Award for Regional service. Since 1985, Dr. Proebster has served as Membership Development Chair for IEEE Region 8. During this time, membership in Region 8 has more than doubled from 15,000 to more than 30,000. He has also worked successfully to increase student membership, and is currently devoting efforts to supporting Eastern European activities in the Institute.

In 1996 Dr. Proebster won the IEEE Haraden Pratt Award 'For outstanding leadership and service to the Institute, especially for fostering a variety of activities and membership growth in Region 8.'

Further Reading

Walter Proebster Oral History