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Samuel Labate, a native of Easton, Pa., and a member of Lafayette College's Class of 1940, has been selected as the recipient of the College's George Washington Kidd, Class of 1836 Award. The award is presented to alumni who have distinguished themselves in their careers.

Lafayette is honoring Labate for his executive leadership at Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc., pioneers in developing the Internet. In June 1999, BBN's Technology unit received the highest award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for its extraordinary work in this area. During his career Labate served as BBN's president, chief executive officer, and chairman.

Under his leadership, BBN's use of some of the earliest computers available to analyze acoustical data led to the establishment of the company's Computer Systems group, which succeeded in obtaining, in 1969, a contract from the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the Department of Defense to develop packet-switched data communications. Within one year of the awarding of this contract, BBN designed, developed, and built a hardware/software system known as ARPANET – the ancestor of the Internet — that allowed geographically separated computers of different makes to communicate with each other. This led to the development of an electronic message handling system that allowed users to communicate with each other directly. We know it today as email.

On the occasion of Labate's retirement on October 24, 1990, BBN's board of directors passed a resolution which stated, in part, that he “provided the leadership which held the company together and gave it direction” and that his “influence, guidance and extensive skills were indispensable to the establishment of the Company's position of international distinction and prominence.”

After graduating from Lafayette, Labate taught freshman math at the University of Pennsylvania until joining the Army, where he spent four years creating and implementing communications systems during WWII. After the war, he entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in 1948 completed his graduate work in the field of acoustics. He then joined with two MIT professors, Bolt and Beranek, in a new partnership offering consulting services in the field of acoustics, serving as both consulting engineer and general manager. During this time he published and presented a series of technical papers and was elected a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America

In the early 1950's, Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. did much of the initial pioneering work required to place acoustic consulting on a scientific foundation by initiating a scientific approach to the solution of noise control problems. The company did groundbreaking work in areas ranging from improving acoustics in architectural spaces, to developing airport noise monitoring systems and analyzing US Naval data leading to improvements in sonar performance. The company also carried out scientific analyses that led to important findings in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the shootings at Kent State, and the analysis of the Watergate tapes. In the late 1950's, technical developments in acoustics became the avenue by which BBN entered the fields of information sciences and computer technology.

Labate resides in Cataumet, Mass., with his wife, Ruth Ringstrom. They are the parents of two children, Antonia and Christina.

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