Ed Fredkin

IRL Name: 
Ed Fredkin

At age 19, Ed Fredkin left college (Caltech) to join the U.S. Air Force to become a fighter pilot. Fredkin’s computer career started in 1956 when the air force assigned him to MIT Lincoln Laboratory where we worked on the SAGE computer. He joined contract research firm Bolt Beranek & Newman (BBN) in the early 1960s where he wrote a PDP-1 assembler (FRAP) and participated in early projects using the machine. He went on to become a major contributor in the field of artificial intelligence.

He returned to academia in 1968, starting at MIT as a full professor in electrical engineering where, from 1971 to 1974, he was director of the innovative research program in operating systems, timesharing, and artificial intelligence known as Project MAC.


He founded his first company, Information International, Incorporated (III) in 1961 which created PDP-1 applications.

He is the inventor of the Trie data structure, the Fredkin Gate and the Billiard Ball Model for reversible computing.