The National Inventors Hall of Fame announced its list of new inductees on March 1, 2012. The most recognizable name in this year’s group is Steve Jobs, the late co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc. Although he is known mainly for his enormously successful business acumen, Job’s credentials as an inventor are equally impressive. A search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s database reveals that Jobs was named on 263 patents issued since 1976.
In addition to Jobs, nine other inventors were included in the list of new inductees. Perhaps not surprisingly, four of these inductees made their mark, like Jobs, in the fertile field of computer and information technology. Barbara Liskov, currently a professor at MIT, was recognized for her innovative research in the design of computer programming languages. Lubomyr Romankiw and David Thompson, both of IBM, invented the first practical magnetic thin-film storage heads, which has had a profound effect on magnetic disk storage capacity. Gary Starkweather, a researcher at Xerox, was selected for induction because of his work in developing the laser printer.
This year’s induction class is not, however, all about computers. Other fields represented include medicine and biotechnology, optics, laser systems, and solar energy. Akira Endo, director of Biopharm Research Labratories in Japan, developed the first statin drug that has proven to be effective in lowering human cholesterol levels. Alejandro Zaffaroni has done pioneering research and development in the field of controlled drug delivery systems which have been used to treat glaucoma, diabetes, chronic pain, nicotine addiction, and motion sickness. The late Hungarian engineer, Dennis Gabor, was honored for crucial innovations he developed in the field of holography. C. Kumar N. Patel, a professor of physics at UCLA, continues to develop applications related to laser technology. Finally, Maria Telkes, who died in 1995, was considered during her lifetime to be the foremost authority on solar energy.
Induction ceremonies for the 2012 honorees will be May 2nd in Washington, DC at the old Patent Office Building, which now houses the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. The National Inventors Hall of Fame has been annually recognizing distinguished individuals since its founding in 1973. This year’s ceremony will bring the total number of inductees to 470.
The National Inventors Hall of Fame is part of Invent Now, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging innovation through a variety of educational and programming activities that include—in addition to the Hall of Fame—Camp Invention and Club Invention for elementary school students, the Collegiate Inventors Competition, and the annual Independent Inventors Conference. The National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Alexandria, VA, on the campus of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
As a designated Patent and Trademark Resource Center, the Government Documents Department of the Birmingham Public Library provides access to resources related to inventions patented in the United States since 1790.
Submitted by Jim Murray
Government Documents Department