Alexander Feiner

Alexander Feiner
Alexander Feiner
Associated organizations
Bell Labs
IEEE Medal for Engineering Excellence


Alexander Feiner was born in Vienna, Austria on April 12, 1928. He completed his undergraduate work in Electrical Engineering at the Technische Hochschule in Vienna and in 1951 transferred to Columbia University where he obtained the M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1952.

In 1953 Mr. Feiner joined AT&T Bell Laboratories and soon thereafter became a member of a team investigating the application of electronic techniques to telephone switching. In 1955 he became a supervisor of a group concerned with reducing outside plant costs by the application of remote concentration techniques. During that time, he made a first proposal for automating operator services in the Bell System. In 1959, responding to the need for a switching, network element of a new electronic switching office, he proposed a new type of electromagnetic device-the ferreed, as well as suggesting a new network topology for the switching network based on that device. Soon thereafter, he was promoted to department head becoming responsible for the development of much of the hardware of the No. 1 Electronic Switching System (#1 ESS). During that time, Mr. Feiner developed a keen interest in the transmission properties of #1 ESS making a number of personal contributions to the design of lossless conference circuits, negative impedance compensation schemes, and range extension.

In 1969, Mr. Feiner became a director of a laboratory concerned with advancing the technology used in customer premises switching, developing a large number of successful systems for business telephony and laying a strong foundation for the application of stored program techniques in this realm.

On October 1, 1983, he assumed the position of Executive Director, Integrated Systems Division responsible for the development of office automation products. AT&T's very successful business communication system, DEFINITY® Generic 1 is the most recent offspring of Mr. Feiner's organization.

He held forty patents, mostly in communications, and was the author of numerous articles on switching networks and devices.

Mr. Feiner received the Bell Laboratories Fellow Award in 1982 for the concept and implementation of stored program control in customer premises equipment and its key role in application to the HORIZON® communications system and the DIMENSION® PBX. In 1983 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He was named a Fellow of the IEEE in 1986. He was a member of the Mycological Society of America and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Monmouth Day Care Center. Mr. Feiner was also a member of Sigma Xi. He received the 1991 IEEE Medal for Engineering Excellence "For exceptional contributions to system architecture, methodology, and design of modern digital PBXs."

Mr. Feiner and his wife, Dr. Helen Feiner, had three children, Leonard, Deborah, and Gillian. His outside interests included skiing and the study of mushrooms.