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Easy solutions to difficult problems: Giorgio Coraluppi’s talent

Giorgio Coraluppi, the Italian talent behind the algorithm that brought video conferencing within everyone’s reach.

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During the Pandemic and the lockdown weeks, apps like WhatsApp, FaceTime, Zoom, and similar video conferencing solutions made much of our social life possible and ensured the business continuity of many companies. But what, or rather who is behind the technology that has enabled all this? Engineer Giorgio Coraluppi is one of the most important innovators many have never heard of. He passed away a few days ago at the age of 88. He invented the algorithm behind video conferencing.

Born in L’Aquila in 1934, he studied engineering in Milan, where he obtained a PhD. He worked at Olivetti and IBM but, in the 1960s, decided to move with his wife to Monroeville for two years. He graduated for the second time from Carnegie Mellon University and continued to live here.

A technology developed for NASA

As is often the case, a technology now within everyone’s reach was initially created for exclusive use. The video conferencing algorithm was developed in the 1980s initially to enable NASA to connect thousands of technicians and engineers for the planning of the Apollo, and later Shuttle mission launches.

In fact, because of the new Apollo missions, the American space agency had launched a tender to find an alternative to the Nascom analogue system, which required dozens of engineers (up to 50!) to create video connections from space.

Mission control

Computenix and solving difficult problems

Coraluppi founded Computenix, which, as Jerry Pompa, senior vice president, pointed out, is ‘a David among Goliaths’ in the landscape of big technology companies. But if the company is small, its vision is big: ‘Easy solutions to difficult problems’ is the motto that drives Giorgio Coraluppi, nicknamed Dr C.

In 1992, the Computenix technology replaced the old system thanks to the newborn algorithm. Coraluppi also participated in the design of DeepBlue, the computer that defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.

Gasparov and DeepBlue

Finally, in 2017, he and his 650 collaborators developed a system to quickly decipher encrypted communications – often used for exchanges between terrorist organisations – and automatically notify law enforcement of the threat.

Many thanks to the talent and genius of those like Mr Coraluppi, who seek solutions that bring innovation to Italy and the world!

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