William O. Baker

William_O_BakerWilliam Oliver Baker (July 15, 1915 - October 31, 2005) was a physical chemist and former President of Bell Labs who had advised five Presidents on scientific matters. Baker earned a bachelor's degree in physical chemistry from Washington College in Chestertown in 1935 and a Ph.D. from Princeton in 1938. The next year he joined Bell Labs, then Bell Telephone Laboratories, as a research scientist. In World War II, his work there contributed to the development of synthetic rubber. He held 11 patents in all. 

He headed Bell Labs from 1973 to 1979. Prior to being named president, he had served as Bell Labs Vice President for Research since 1955. During Baker's tenure as president, Bell Labs scientists twice won the Nobel Prize in Physics.

As an adviser to Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Reagan, Mr. Baker was consulted on a variety of scientific issues, including the technology of information gathering. He was for many years a member of the President's Science Advisory Committee, the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the Federal Emergency Management Advisory Board.  Dr. Baker’s influence on Washington projects and agencies began in 1956 in national security under President Eisenhower. The “Baker Report” of 1958 had major impact on the technology of information gathering by the intelligence community during the Cold War, including the use of special computers and satellite reconnaissance. In 1959, at the request of President Eisenhower, Dr. Baker developed the plan for the establishment of the Defense Communications Agency, which was eventually implemented in 1961 under President Kennedy.  He served formally as a member of the President’s Science Advisory Committee (PSAC) and also on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (from 1957 to 1977 and again from 1981 to1990). He was a staunch supporter of a strong intelligence enterprise for the United States, utilizing the most advanced communications and computing technology.

In addition to the William Procter Prize, his awards include Perkin Medal (1963), Willard Gibbs Award (1978), Vannevar Bush Award (1981), National Medal of Science (1988), Marconi Society (2003).