• John Frye

Marian Croak : Co-Inventor of VoIP

Updated: Jul 27


Have you ever wondered who invented VoIP (Voice-over Internet Protocol)? Well, as with many complex technologies, that’s not easy to pin down. As an example, f you do an internet search on the question of who invented the internet, you'll find that it was a series of inventors and visionaries who built on each others' work. It's the same with VoIP, but there are far fewer key people who moved the technology toward what we know as VoIP today.


Without a doubt, one of the biggest contributors to the VoIP technology we use today is Dr. Marian Rogers Croak. Dr. Croak was employed as a Vice President of Engineering at Google, and as Senior Vice President of Research and Development at AT&T Labs. She is credited as a developer of Voice over IP creating most of methods and features that both improved its reliability and ushered in its nearly universal adoption.


She holds more than 200 patents, and has spent more than three decades developing advanced technologies for voice and data networks (and the Internet).


In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Dr. Croak invented a text-to-donate technology that revolutionized how people donate to charitable organizations when a natural disaster occurs. For this innovation, she received the 2013 Thomas Edison Patent Award. She led more than 2,000 engineers and computer scientists while a senior vice president at AT&T, and is currently vice president of access strategy and emerging markets at Google. She was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 2013. She was elected as Vice Chair of ATIS, a technology development organisation. She was honored for “Outstanding Technical Contribution – Industry” at the 28th annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Conference in Washington, D.C. in 2014. In the same year she was listed in the Most Influential Women in Wireless list by FierceWireless. She was further honored at Culture Shifting: A Weekend of Innovation in 2014.


I think it's safe to say that when Marian Croak started at AT&T in 1982 (at Bell Laboratories), there were not a lot of female engineers. Fewer still African-American women. It's not difficult to imagine the barriers she must have pushed through, but in her interviews over the years, she's never even mentioned it (at least, not that I've seen).


I've done my best to instill that attitude in my daughters: work your butt off and don't let limiting beliefs hold you back - your's or other people's.


My favorite Dr. Croak quote: “Go for it. The world is waiting for you.”


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