Portrait of Gordon Bell

Gordon Bell

Researcher Emeritus


Gordon Bell is a researcher emeritus (ret.) at the Microsoft Research Silicon Valley Laboratory. His interests include extreme lifelogging, digital lives, preserving everything in cyberspace, and cloud computing as a new computer class and platform aka Bell’s Law. He proselytizes Jim Gray’s Fourth Paradigm of Science.

Gordon joined Microsoft’s Bay Area Research Center Research in 1995, working on Telepresence “being there, while being here, at possibly some later time.” This work included multimedia in the home. In 1999 he began work on what became the project to capture all of life’s bits digitally.

MyLifeBits is a personal transaction processing database for everything. Gordon has captured a lifetime’s worth of articles, books, CDs, letters, memos, papers, photos, presentations, music, home movies, and videotaped lectures. He also has in his collection recordings of phone calls, IM transcripts, years of email, web browsing, and daily activities captured by the SenseCam. One of the challenges of MyLifeBits has been to build rich applications to encourage people to take their personal memorabilia out of the shoebox and store them digitally for all kinds of future usage including immortality. Gordon co-authored a book with Jim Gemmell called Total Recall. Released in 2009, the book is a culmination of their thoughts and experiences during the project.

Gordon’s previous roles have been vice president of research and development at Digital Equipment Corporation (1960-1983); professor of computer science and electrical engineering at Carnegie-Mellon University (1966-72); founding assistant director of the National Science Foundation’s Computing and Information Sciences and Engineering (CISE) Directorate (1986-1988); panel chair of the National Research and Education Network (NREN) for creating the Internet (1987-1988); advisor/investor to 100+ High Tech start-up companies; and a founding trustee of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. He is a member of the ACM, American Academy of Arts & Sciences, IEEE, NAE, NAS, and 1991 National Medal of Technology medalist.



Established: November 2, 2001

MylifeBits is a lifetime store of everything. It is the fulfillment of Vannevar Bush’s 1945 Memex vision including full-text search, text & audio annotations, and hyperlinks. The book Total Recall (paperback title Your Life, Uploaded) is the culmination of…


Hardware, devices and quantum computing

Medical, health and genomics

Computer systems and networking


Search and information retrieval

Graphics and multimedia

Human-centered computing

Social sciences

Data visualization, analytics, and platform


In 1975, Gordon Bell founded the Computer Museum along with his wife, Gwen, and Ken Olsen. In 1998, the museum was relocated to Mountain View, CA, and renamed the Computer History Museum. Gordon serves on the board of trustees for the museum, and he was named a fellow of the Computer History Museum in 2003.