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7/18/2007
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IBM Research Head Steps Down

The new leader of the computing industry's largest research arm is John Kelly, most recently IBM's senior VP for technology and intellectual property.

IBM research chief Paul Horn is leaving the company after 28 years, IBM announced Tuesday. The company said Horn, 60, is retiring from corporate life.

Replacing Horn atop the computing industry's largest research arm is John Kelly, most recently IBM's senior VP for technology and intellectual property.

As senior VP for research, Horn led IBM's labs for 11 years. Under his watch, the company's research operations adopted a more product-oriented focus as scientists were encouraged to communicate directly with IBM's customers to help solve their business problems.

Horn also oversaw the development of the chess-playing supercomputer Blue Gene, the world's first copper chip, and strained silicon, a conductive material that allows microprocessors to run 35% faster.

He also spearheaded IBM's development of so-called autonomic computers -- systems that can automatically adjust their output to meet usage demands and perform self-diagnostics and repairs.

Horn plans to take up a research position at New York University.

It's likely Kelly, 53, will continue to push the commercialization of IBM's $20 billion R&D operation. As head of the company's intellectual property arm, he led an effort to extract more revenue from IBM's vast patent trove. Earlier this year, the company won a lucrative court victory over Amazon.com after IBM sued the Internet retailer for intellectual property violations.

Kelly was formerly the director of IBM's semiconductor research and development unit. He holds a doctorate in materials engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

IBM is scheduled to report second-quarter earnings at the close of trading Wednesday.

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