The National Inventors Hall of Fame Announces 2019 Inductees

Rachel Rodriguez

February 11, 2019

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On January 8, at the International Consumer Electronics Show, the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) inducted 19 innovators into their hall of fame. Since 1973, the NIHF has spotlighted inventors who designed products that have furthered the STEM field.

To be considered for induction, one must hold a patent for an invention that furthered society and the industry it was designed for, the inventor must have overcome obstacles to get where they are, and they must work toward furthering the next generation of inventors.

NIHF recognized the following inventors:

  • Chieko Asakawa
  • —has worked with IBM to develop the Home Page Reader (HPR) to assist blind and visually impaired computer users and is also a 2003 WITI (Women in Technology International) Hall of Fame Inductee.
  • Jeff Kodosky and James Truchard
  • —created LabVIEW (Laboratory Virtual Instrumentation Engineering Workbench) in 1986. LabVIEW is a graphical programming language enabling user-identified testing, measurement, and control systems and has been used worldwide.
  • Rebecca Richards-Kortum
  • —recognized that high-cost testing equipment was not always readily accessible to people in poorer communities, so she worked to create a battery-powered, low-cost imaging system designed to detect precancerous tissues without requiring a biopsy.
  • Edmund O. Schweitzer III
  • —created the SEL 21, which revolutionized the electric power utility company, bringing microprocessor-based digital protective relay to the market. He was able to take something that previously relied on expensive, bulky technology and reinvent a relay that was one-eighth the size, one-tenth the weight, and one-third the price.
  • Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson
  • —worked together to create the UNIX operating system and the C programming language which were spotlight creations in the evolution of computer science. The UNIX system is still running on machinery from computers to smartphones, 50 years after its inception.
  • David Walt
  • —worked to create microwell arrays that could analyze thousands of genes simultaneously. This invention was pivotal for the field of genetics analysis as it has made DNA sequencing more affordable and accessible.
  • William J. Warner
  • —created the Avid Media Composer, which allowed for instantaneous changes in a nonlinear fashion and was used to make films such as Titanic and The Matrix, taking film editing into a real time process.
  • John Baer, Karl H. Beyer Jr., Frederick Novello, and James Sprague
  • —created Thiazide Diuretics (Chlorothiazide), which was the first class of drugs to safely and effectively treat hypertension.
  • S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker
  • —S. Duncan and Alonzo are the founders of Black & Decker and are notable for the first line of power tools in 1946 and the first, cordless power tool in 1961.
  • Andrew Higgins
  • —is best known for the Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (LCVP), or Higgins Boat, which was instrumental on D-Day, assisting American troops with landing on the beaches of Normandy. He was honored by the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps for his work, and he has been named on 18 patents.
  • Joseph Lee
  • —is most noted for the automation of bread and bread crumb making. He invented machines which automated the mixing and kneading of bread dough and created crumbs from older loaves. These machines were widely used in the hospitality industry.
  • Joseph Muhler and William Nebergall
  • —worked together to create a cavity-preventing product which used stannous fluoride, and in 1956, Crest toothpaste was introduced to the public. In 1960, it was the first toothpaste recognized by the American Dental Association for its ability to prevent decay.

Full biographies for each inductee can be found here, and information for nominating someone can be found here.

Rachel Rodriguez is a professional writer and editor. She is an assistant editor with and has a BA in professional writing from Southeastern Louisiana University.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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