Broadcom Corp. co-founder and Chairman Henry Samueli has won the 2012 Marconi Society Prize and Fellowship, considered a top honor in the information-technology field.
Samueli’s work at the Irvine-based chipmaker has led to numerous advancements in the broadband industry. He was selected for the Marconi Society award for pioneering development and commercialization of analog and mixed signal circuits for cable modems and other communications applications.
Broadcom was built on such products, with the company eventually moving into other broadband markets such as Ethernet networking and wireless communications. Today it is the 10th largest chipmaker in the world with $7.1 billion in sales in 2011.
The Marconi Prize comes with a $100,000 award. It is given annually to one or more scientists who advance technologies that benefit social, economic and cultural development.
The award, named after radio inventor Guglielmo Marconi, holds added meaning to Samueli, who found early inspiration building a radio in his seventh grade shop class.
“At that moment it became my mission in life to find out how radios worked,” he said. “By the time I received my Ph.D. in electrical engineering, I finally did understand it.”
Samueli is the son of Holocaust survivors Aaron and Sala, who left Poland in 1950 for California. He worked in his family’s liquor store on Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles during middle school and high school.
Samueli earned a bachelor’s, master and doctoral degree in engineering from University of California, Los Angeles, where he later served on the faculty. Today, UCLA’s engineering school is named for him and so is the engineering school at University of California, Irvine.
He co-founded Broadcom with Henry Nicholas, a former colleague at TRW and his first Ph.D. student. Each invested $5,000 and used Nicholas’ garage in Redondo Beach as headquarters.
Samueli, who also serves as Broadcom’s chief technical officer, last month was named Broadcom chairman for the second time in the past three years.
The move brought Samueli’s storied career at Broadcom full circle, after he took a three-year absence from the board to distance himself from the company during a lengthy legal battle over backdated stock options.
Samueli served as chairman and chief technical officer until 2008, when he stepped down amid a federal probe that resulted in the Securities and Exchange Commission suing him and other executives in what regulators called a “massive fraud scheme” to backdate stock options.
In 2009, a judge threw out the criminal charge against Samueli, who was accused of lying to investigators, citing prosecutor misconduct and a lack of evidence.
The SEC civil case also was dropped.
Samueli reassumed an executive post at Broadcom later that year and rejoined the board of directors last year, taking a seat on the compensation committee.
Samueli will receive the award Sept. 6 and will organize a symposium featuring some of the leading minds in the industry on that date, a Broadcom spokesperson said.