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For Immediate Release
February 18, 2008

Former TCNJ Board member elected to National Inventors Hall of Fame

EWING, NJ … Erna Hoover, a visionary member of the Board of Trustees of The College of New Jersey during the 1970s, was elected to the National Inventors Hall of Fame for her key contributions to the system design of the first computerized switching system for telephone call traffic developed by Bell Labs. The announcement of 2008 inductees was made on February 14.

Erna HooverFor this work, Hoover was awarded one of the first software patents ever issued (#3,623,007, Nov. 23, 1971). The principles of the system design are still in use today. The invention earned her a position as the first female supervisor of a technical department at Bell Labs.

According to George Facas, professor of mechanical engineering at TCNJ, “this distinction is given to inventors who saw their idea/invention being implemented and that had a significant impact on some aspect of society or the public welfare.”

Harold Eickhoff, president of the College from 1980-1998, commented, “As a member of the College’s board of trustees, especially as chair in the early ‘80s, Erna had two passions: increasing the number of women on the faculty, and the enrollment of New Jersey’s best prepared high school graduates. She was remarkably successful in the pursuit of both.” Hoover was also a tireless lobbyist for state funding.

Hoover received a BA from Wellesley College in classical and medieval philosophy and history in 1948 and a PhD from Yale University in philosophy and foundations of mathematics in 1951. She was a professor in Swarthmore College from 1951 to 1954 when she joined Bell Labs.  Later, she worked on the Development of the Safeguard Anti-Ballistic Missile System.