The winners of the 2009 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical or Scientific Research are the American reasearchers Martin Cooper and Raymond S. Tomlinson, considered the fathers of the mobile phone and email respectively.
The award, in the name of the Crown Prince of Spain, is in recognition of research in a scientific or technical domain that has provided a significant contribution to the progress of humanity.
The winners were announced by jury president Enrique Moreno in Oviedo. They receive a prize of 50 000 euros and a special sculpture by the artist Joan Miro.
Martin Cooper made the first mobile telephone call in 1973. He was working for Motorola at the time and phoned up his rivals AT&T using a device that weighed one kilo. It was Cooper’s vision that drove Motorola to develop mobile phones – carphones did exist already but Cooper made the leap to enable communication with a person rather than a place.
Raymond Tomlinson was working for a Boston based company in 1971 when he wrote the script which enables people to send a message between two computers, it was he too who decided on the use of the “at“ symbol to separate the name of a user from the name of the machine.
Fathers of email and mobile phone win Asturias Award