2015 Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees Honored at the Smithsonian

by Brian Fletcher on May 14, 2015

2015 Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees

From the Commerce Department:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) inducted fourteen of America’s greatest innovators into the National Inventors Hall of Fame on Tuesday night, May 12, 2015. Held at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. – a former home of the Patent Office – CBS News correspondent and television personality Mo Rocca moderated the event, while Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee presented induction medals. Seven living inventors were inducted, and another seven were named posthumously.

The inductees’ patented innovations revolutionized their industries and changed people’s lives. Those honored include Nobel Prize winner Shuji Nakamura, responsible for the blue light-emitting diode (LED) which enabled the white LED, and the blue laser diode; Jaap Haartsen, the inventor of Bluetooth® technology, now used in 2.7 billion devices and growing; George Alcorn, who furthered deep space exploration with his X-ray spectrometer; Kristina M. Johnson and Gary Sharp, pioneers in display technology related to rear projection television and 3D applications; duo Ioannis Yannas and John Burke, who have saved the lives of many burn victims with their invention of Artificial Skin; and Thomas Jennings, the first African American to receive a patent, who invented the precursor to modern dry cleaning. View a complete list of the honorees and their inventions online.

You can also visit the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Alexandria, Virginia, on the USPTO campus. The agency established it in 1973 with non-profit Invent Now, an organization that also educates more than 100,000 grade-school and middle-school students every year through interactive programs such as Camp Invention. Honored in the museum are more than 500 important individuals whose innovations have saved lives and transformed society while stimulating economic growth and job creation. They have done that in part through use of the intellectual property protections afforded to them for their innovation. To be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, one must hold a U.S. patent, as well as contribute significantly to the nation’s welfare and the advancement of science and the useful arts.

The induction ceremony was part of a three-day event series to honor both the new and previous inductees. It kicked off with an illumination ceremony at the USPTO campus in Alexandria, Virginia on May 11, was followed by the induction on May 12, and concluded with an “Innovation Echo” discussion on May 13 moderated by Mo Rocca that featured noteworthy panel members including past and present inductees.

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