Claude Shannon, nicknamed “the father of information theory” for his work on digital computing and electronic communication, was also a juggling unicyclist who would have turned 100 on Saturday.
To mark his birthday and his achievements, Saturday’s Google Doodle honored Shannon, depicting him juggling a set of ones and zeroes, the numbers he used to transform computing after learning they could be used to represent words, pictures, videos and more. While he was a research assistant at MIT, Shannon drew from Boolean algebra to pioneer digital computing, using the value of “1” for circuits turned on, and the value of “0” for circuits that were off. Before Shannon moved to MIT, he also became known for a different talent: juggling while riding a unicycle around Bell Labs.
Outside of his research lab, Shannon also had a knack for inventions, some of which—including his flame-throwing trumpets and rocket-powered Frisbees—had little practical function. He died in 2001 at the age of 84 after suffering from dementia.
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