Arun N. Netravali

Computer Engineer

Murray Hill, NJ

Born in 1946 in the beautiful town of Ankola, Karnataka, Arun Netravali is commonly referred to as the father of HDTV. At a young age Netravali and his family moved to Mumbai, where he did the majority of his schooling. He attended municipal school for a few years before joining King George High School and later Elphinstone College. He excelled and was accepted to Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, where he graduated with honors and a bachelor of technology in Electrical Engineering. He moved to the United States to attend Rice University in Houston, Texas where he received his masters of science and Ph.D. in 1969 and 1970 respectively; both degrees were in Electrical Engineering.

The initial years of Netravali’s career were spent at NASA Labs. There he worked on problems relating to filtering, guidance and control for the space shuttle. After two years, he moved from NASA to Bell Laboratories, an important milestone. He swiftly moved up the career ladder: in 1972, he was a member of the technical staff, but by 1978 he had become Head of the Visual Communications Research Department. In 1983, he became the Director of the Computing Systems Research and Technology Conversion Laboratories with responsibility for research in communication networks, distributed computing, programming languages, and high definition television (HDTV). In 1990, he became the leader of research and development program for HDTV and soon after he was successful. Though HDTV did not become mainstream due to funding, most TV stations today use a video encoder based on his work for their high definition broadcasts. Netravali’s contributions to the field helped move the transition of television from analog to digital. His accomplishments led to him becoming the ninth president of Bell Labs from 1999-2001. Since then, he has begun teaching as an adjunct professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and teaches graduate courses at City College, Columbia University, and Rutgers University.

Netravali has quite the list of awards and accolades to his name including: the IEEE Donald g. Fink Prize Paper Award, the Alexander Graham Bell Medal in 1991, EMMY for the HDTV Grand Alliance, IEEE Frederik Philips Award, National Association of Software and Services Companies in India Medal, IEEE Kilby Medal, the Padma Bhushan Award from the Indian Government, and the United States National Medal of Technology. In addition, he is a member of Tau Beta Phi and Sigma Xi honors societies, a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and a member of the US National Academy of Engineering. In his personal life, Netravali has won numerous tennis tournament championships. As a pioneer in his field, Arun Netravali made strides towards the future, and we would not be anywhere near where we are today technologically without his contributions.



“Arun N. Netravali.” Arun N. Netravali – Engineering and Technology History Wiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.

“Dr. Arun Netravali.” Iloveindia. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

Kanavi, Shivanand. “Reflections.” Arun Netravali: Father of HDTV. Blogger, 04 Feb. 2001. Web. 12 June 2017.

“Leaders of the Labs.” Presidents of Bell Labs – Bell Labs. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *