“Jon was totally dedicated to RLE. Over the years, the entire RLE community has benefited immeasurably from his wisdom and energy. There is no way for me to describe how much he will be missed,” said acting director of the RLE Daniel Kleppner in a letter to the RLE community.
Allen’s research included speech processing and computational linguistics. He was a principal investigator in the Circuits and Systems and the Speech Communication groups of the RLE.
In the 1970s Allen developed a computer named Morris that could talk and read, and he later developed a communications system for physicist Stephen Hawking.
He had intended to teach at Cambridge University this year as a visiting fellow, studying the use of computers in interactive learning. A fund will be established at MIT in his memory.
A native of West Newton, MA, Allen came to MIT in 1968 as an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He became a full professor in 1975 and assumed direction of the RLE three years later.
Allen is survived by his wife, Ann Chase, sons Douglas and Jay, and sister Sylvia Nelson. A memorial service for Allen is being planned.