San Diego Business Journal Franklin Antonio, one of seven people who founded Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) in 1985, has died, the company announced.

“We at Qualcomm are remembering Franklin Antonio, EVP & Chief Scientist, Emeritus, who passed away this week,” the company said in a statement. “As employee #7, Franklin was one of Qualcomm’s original founders, a brilliant mind and prolific inventor who was granted close to 400 patents. Not only does Franklin represent a significant part of who Qualcomm is today, but he also made meaningful societal impact through his substantial philanthropic contributions to organizations such as UCSD, Father Joe’s Villages, and SETI.”


Antonio graduated from UC San Diego in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Physics and Information Science. After college, he worked at Linkabit for 12 years before joining Irwin Jacobs, Andrew Viterbi and four others to create Qualcomm in 1985.


Antonio led the growth of Qualcomm’s engineering departments, served as project engineer for Qualcomm’s OmniTRACS satellite communication system, and contributed to Qualcomm’s code division multiple access (CDMA) technology and Globalstar low-Earth-orbit satellite system. He provided strategic technical guidance and engineering mentoring across all of Qualcomm’s engineering programs.


Antonio donated $30 million to the University of California San Diego. The university has finished construction on a building bearing his name. Staff from the university’s Jacobs School of Engineering will be moving into the building over the spring and summer.


“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Franklin Antonio,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Franklin’s dedication and involvement with UC San Diego went far beyond his generous financial support. He was a good friend who provided wise counsel and an excellent mentor to many of our students and community members. He will be greatly missed, but his impact on UC San Diego and the world will continue through the collaborative research and innovation that will happen at Franklin Antonio Hall.”

“I will miss Franklin greatly. He was a true visionary and a brilliant engineer,” said Albert P. Pisano, dean of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. “His generosity and collaboration were remarkable. Franklin and I connected on a deep understanding of the importance of creating an engineering building that puts the student experience first by baking the circulation of people and ideas into the design of the building.”