Dr. Marian Croak: Creator of VoIP, The Technology Behind Skype, SMS Messaging & More!

(Photo credit: Youtube screenshot)

Using the internet or wifi to make phone calls or video conferencing is a way of life for many people. Businesses and individuals use it every day, but many people don’t know that a Black woman is behind it all.

Yes, a Black woman.

Marian Croak, Ph.D. is credited for creating the technology called, Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VoIP. VoIP allows for the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet.

As a mother of three, she joined AT&T at Bell Labs in 1982. She advocated for switching from wired phone technology to internet protocol. She holds over 200 patents, including over one hundred in relation to Voice over IP. She pioneered the use of phone network services to make it easy for the public to donate to crisis appeals. When AT&T partnered with American Idol to use a text message voting system, 22 % of viewers learned to text to take part in the show. She filed the patent for text-based donations to charity in 2005. This revolutionized how people can donate money to charitable organizations. The 2010 Haiti earthquake collected over $30 million. She led the Domain 2.0 Architecture and managed over 2,000 engineers.

Marian says that when the internet first become popular, she predicted that IP and the internet “were going to explode.” She thus felt a need to start developing technology that would “transform the internet”. And she did exactly that; She developed the fundamentals for what is now called VOIP.

With VoIP, instead of being transmitted over a circuit-switched network, the digital information is packetized, and transmission occurs as IP packets over a packet-switched network. They transport media streams using special media delivery protocols that encode audio and video.

Croak was inducted into the Women in Technology Hall of Fame in 2013. She was elected as Vice Chair of ATIS, a tech organization. She was named the 2014 Black Engineer of the Year award and Firece Wireless Most Influential Women in Wireless. She was honored at Culture Shifting: A Weekend of Innovation in 2014.

In 2014 she left AT&T to join Google, where she serves now as a Vice President for Engineering. She led Google’s service expansion into emerging markets, including managing the team who developed the…