Erich Bloch
8th Director of the National Science Foundation
In office
PresidentRonald Reagan
Preceded byEdward A. Knapp
Succeeded byWalter E. Massey
Personal details
Born(1925-01-09)January 9, 1925
Sulzburg, Germany
DiedNovember 25, 2016(2016-11-25) (aged 91)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Alma materETH Zurich
University at Buffalo (BS, 1952)
Known forIBM 360
AwardsNational Medal of Technology and Innovation
National Academy of Engineering Member
Computer Pioneer Award (1993)
Vannevar Bush Award (2002)
Computer History Museum Fellow
Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences Member
IEEE Fellow
Scientific career
FieldsElectrical engineering
InstitutionsIBM (1952–1984)
National Science Foundation Director (1984–1990)

Erich Bloch (January 9, 1925 – November 25, 2016) was a German-born American electrical engineer and administrator. He was involved with developing IBM's first transistorized supercomputer, 7030 Stretch, and mainframe computer, System/360. He served as director of the National Science Foundation from 1984 to 1990.


Bloch was born in Sulzburg, Germany in 1925.[1] Bloch, the son of a Jewish businessman and housewife, lost his parents in the Holocaust, survived the war in a refugee camp in Switzerland and immigrated in 1948 to the United States.[2] He studied electrical engineering at ETH Zurich and received his Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Buffalo.[3]

Bloch joined IBM after graduating in 1952. He was engineering manager of IBM's STRETCH supercomputer system and director of several research sites during his career. In June 1984, Ronald Reagan nominated Bloch to succeed Edward Alan Knapp become director of the National Science Foundation.[1] The same year, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. In 1985, Bloch was awarded one of the first National Medals of Technology and Innovation along with Bob O. Evans and Fred Brooks for their work on the IBM System/360.[4]

After stepping down as director of the National Science Foundation, Bloch joined the Council on Competitiveness as its first distinguished fellow.[5] The IEEE Computer Society awarded him the Computer Pioneer Award in 1993 for high speed computing.[6] In 2002, the National Science Board honored Bloch with the Vannevar Bush Award.[7] He was made a Fellow of the Computer History Museum in 2004 "for engineering management of the IBM Stretch supercomputer, and of the Solid Logic Technology used in the IBM System/360, which revolutionized the computer industry."[3]

Bloch died at the age of 91 from complications of Alzheimer's disease on 25 November 2016 in Washington, D.C.[2][8]



  1. ^ a b Reagan, Ronald (June 6, 1984). "Nomination of Erich Bloch To Be Director of the National Science Foundation". Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Ronald Reagan, 1984.
  2. ^ a b Roberts, Sam (November 30, 2016). "Erich Bloch, Who Helped Develop IBM Mainframe, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Erich Bloch". Computer History Museum. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
  4. ^ "1985 Laureates- National Medal of Technology and Innovation". United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  5. ^ Wineka, Sam (November 28, 2016). "Computing Pioneer Erich Bloch Dies at 91". U.S. Council on Competitiveness. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  6. ^ "Computer Pioneer Award". IEEE Computer Society. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  7. ^ Noxon, Bill (April 24, 2002). Erich Bloch Honored with Vannevar Bush Award for Long-Running Contributions to S&T.. Retrieved April 8, 2007.
  8. ^ Langer, Emily (November 28, 2016). "Erich Bloch, IBM pioneer who later led National Science Foundation, dies at 91". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 28, 2016.
Government offices Preceded byEdward A. Knapp Director of the National Science Foundation September 1984 - August 1990 Succeeded byWalter E. Massey