skip to main content

2019 Distinguished Alumni Service Award

Shig Matsushita
Shig Matsushita

Having earned a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship in 1962, Shigenori “Shig" Matsushita (MS EE ‘63) joined the University of Illinois where he worked to develop a pattern recognition computer, ILLIAC III. Matsushita then went on to receive his Doctor of Engineering degree from UTokyo in 1974.

Prior to joining Illinois, Matsushita worked for Toshiba Corporation where he designed basic transistor circuits for computers. He was a chief design engineer for a patchboard programmed computer and a magnetic drum internal-program computer. While at Toshiba, in partnership with Kyoto University, they completed the first full-scale microprogrammed computer, KT-P. This work was presented at the International Federation of Information Processing IFIP Congress and attracted attention for its variable microprograms, which were implemented by patch boards and punched-hole cards covering photo-transistors. Based on this technology, the development of a high-speed microprogrammed computer, TOSBAC-3400, for commercialization was initiated. Matsushita served as the chief design engineer.

Matsushita continued to play vital roles in both project development and management throughout his career at Toshiba. In holding positions like Associate General Manager and Executive Vice President of Information Systems, Matsushita was responsible for the structuring and planning of new business opportunities and mergers. In 1985 he established the company’s strategy for an IBM-compatible laptop personal computer, the T-1100, which was the forerunner of Toshiba’s notebook computers.

When a new breed of companies emerged overseas, Matsushita promoted several alliances, including Toshiba’s OEM contract with Sun Microsystems, a joint company with Computer-Vision, a joint company with Olivetti, and a sales contract of internet browsers with Netscape. The contracts with Sun Microsystems and Netscape are said to be the first such contracts entered by any Japanese company.

Matsushita is a member of the Japanese Computer Pioneers elected by the Information Processing Society of Japan (IPSJ). He is also involved with a non-profit called Friends of UTokyo, Inc., which awards scholarships to students of the University of Tokyo and to U.S. universities for mutual study abroad.  Since 2015, he has been a Director and the Chairman of the Scholarship Committee.

In 2000, Matsushita was a major contributor to the Saburo Muroga Endowed Fellowship, which was established by the late Prof. Saburo Muroga. The Muroga Fellowship is awarded to outstanding graduate students in computer science ever since then.