Technology entrepreneur and electrical engineer John Terry was born on September 29, 1966 in Norfolk, Virginia. He grew up with his mother, Deborah Kathleen Terry, and his grandparents in the Liberty Park public housing project in Norfolk with his two younger siblings. Terry dreamed of becoming a professional basketball player. However, he could not stay on the school team because he had to work to help support his family. His high school guidance counselor helped him win a scholarship to Old Dominion University where he earned his B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1988.
After graduation, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio to work at the NASA Lewis Research Center. He was an experimental research engineer whose work focused on satellite communications. Terry connected his signal processing undergraduate research with his NASA communications research for his master's degree on array signal processing, also known as MIMO technology. While working at NASA, Terry attended graduate school and earned his M.S. degree from Cleveland State University in 1993. After NASA, Terry worked at Texas Instruments as a satellite systems engineer in 1995. Next, he attended the Georgia Institute of Technology and received his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering and research in 1999.
Terry started working at the Nokia Corporation's Research Center in Dallas, Texas just before he finished his Ph.D. degree. He worked his way up and eventually became one of Nokia's principal scientists where he worked to improve Nokia’s wireless service. In 2001, Terry founded his own company, Terry Consultants, Incorporated (TCI). The company specializes in helping businesses develop and apply new wireless technologies. Terry owns or co-owns more than seventeen issued and pending patents. In 2004, he spent a year as director of WiQuest Communications for baseband systems engineering and in 2005, he co-founded Witivity, which helps customer's use of broadband wireless technology.
Terry has published two books, Blind Adaptive Array Techniques for Mobile Satellite Communications (1999) and OFDM Wireless LANs: A Theoretical and Practical Guide (2001, with Juha Heiskala). He has received a number of awards including the 2002 Black Engineer of the Year Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution in an Industry. He has published several articles and taught classes at Southern Methodist University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Technology in Helsinki, Finland. Terry has also been very active in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE). Terry and his wife, Barbara Terry, reside in Virginia. They have three sons, Amiel, William, and Shalamar and one granddaughter, Arianna.
John Terry was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 13, 2007.