TitleComputer Time Line
AuthorKolsky, Harwood G.
Biographical NotesHarwood G. Kolsky, an emeritus professor of computer engineering from the University
of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), was a physicist who became a computer scientist
well before that field was a recognized department of academic learning. He worked on
many early computers and their applications and architectures. Later in his career he
directed a variety of projects involving programming languages, scientific applications,
and digital image processing.
Kolsky was born on January 18, 1921. He received a B.S. degree in Engineering
Physics from the University of Kansas in 1943. He was in the U.S. Army’s Central
Pacific Signal Corps from 1943 to 1946. In 1950 he was awarded a Ph.D. in Physics
from Harvard University.
In 1957, after seven years at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, he joined
International Business Machines (IBM) working out of the Poughkeepsie, New York
facility. He was a member of the product planning group for the STRETCH (IBM 7030)
computer. In 1959, he became assistant manager of the IBM Federal Systems Division
(FSD) office in Omaha, Nebraska. Kolsky was named manager of the systems science
department of IBM’s San Jose Research Laboratory in 1961. In 1962, he headed an
advanced technology group in the Advanced Systems Development Division at Los
Gatos, California. He joined the Palo Alto Scientific Center when it was formed in 1964
as manager of the atmospheric physics group. Later, he headed projects in
programming languages, microprogramming, and digital image processing.
Dr. Kolsky was named an IBM Fellow in 1969. He served on the IBM Corporate
Technical Committee at Armonk, New York from 1974 to 1975. He was also head of
the Board of Consultants for the IBM European Scientific Centers. He published over
30 papers and was a member of four professional societies.
In 1985, he joined the newly-formed UCSC Computer Engineering department as a
visiting professor. In 1986, he retired from IBM and began a new career as a full-time
professor at UCSC. At UCSC, Kolsky helped manage research projects and taught
courses in computer architecture and computer history until his retirement in 1996.
Kolsky is married to Frances Cilek Kolsky, also a 1943 graduate of the University of
Kansas. She taught high school while Harwood was in the Army. The Kolskys have four
children and three grandchildren.