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Thomas Stockham, 70; Digital Audio Pioneer

January 09, 2004|Dennis McLellan | Times Staff Writer

But to make high-quality digital recordings of music, he said, "we needed considerably more power and sophistication than we needed for speech.... I started working on the digital recording of music back in 1962, and it wasn't until 1970 that the technology required to accomplish it with any commercial feasibility began to emerge."

He began laying the groundwork for Soundstream after moving to the University of Utah, where he helped create its computer science department.

During 1973-74, he was the primary investigator on the six-member panel that analyzed the White House's Watergate tapes for Chief U.S. District Judge John J. Sirica.

Stockham and the other panelists concluded that someone deliberately erased the 18 1/2- minute gap on one tape. The finding provided evidence of a coverup and led to Nixon's resignation.

In 1998, Stockham was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for his contributions to the field of digital audio recording.

In addition to his son Tom, he is survived by his wife, Martha; sons John and David; daughter, Carol Forester; and eight grandchildren.

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