Given the prevalence of digitally themed innovation exhibited each year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the prestigious event was a fitting site for the National Inventors Hall of Fame Class of 2019 announcement.
The Hall revealed the induction of 19 inventors on January 8. Although inductees’ innovations ranged from the UNIX operating system to fluoride toothpaste, technological achievement was a dominant theme.
Inductees and their inventions: Chieko Asakawa for the Home Page Reader, the first practical voice browser to provide effective internet access for blind and visually impaired computer users; Jeff Kodosky and James Truchard for LabVIEW, a virtual programming language; Rebecca Richards-Kortum, medical devices for low-resource settings; Dennis Ritchie (posthumous) and Ken Thompson, the UNIX operating system that still runs machinery from supercomputers to smartphones 50 years after its inception; Edmund O. Schweitzer III, digital protective relay; David Walt, microwell arrays that analyze thousands of genes simultaneously; and William J. Warner, the Avid Media Composer digital nonlinear editing system.
“I am honored to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame,” Warner said. “I love how inventions can change the world for the better, and I am thrilled to join this year’s class.”
Solely posthumous inductees included John Baer, Karl H. Beyer Jr., Frederick Novello and James Sprague, part of the Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories team that pioneered thiazide diuretics, the first class of drugs to safely and effectively treat hypertension. Others were S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker, portable hand-held electric drill; Andrew Higgins, landing craft crucial to U.S. military success in World War II; Joseph Lee, a son of slaves who was a pioneer in the automation of bread and bread-crumb making during the late 1800s; and Joseph Muhler and William Nebergall, who developed stannous fluoride toothpaste.
The hall of fame, in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, will honor the new inductees in Washington, D.C., on May 1-2.