Press Release:

16 Inventors to Take Their Place in History for Contributions to our Everyday Lives

National Inventors Hall of Fame Announces 30th Class of Inductees at HP

A new class of inventors will soon take its place of distinction in history beside the 168 inventors currently honored in the National Inventors Hall of Fame, it was announced today at a ceremony at the headquarters of HP (NYSE:HPQ), the leading corporate sponsor of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. The inductees' achievements, which span the fields of medicine, technology, the environment and automotive safety, have had a significant impact on the way people live.

The inventors honored today are:

  • Raymond Kurzweil - Kurzweil Reading Machine
  • Nils Bohlin - 3-point Safety Belt
  • Rangaswamy Srinivasan, James Wynne and Samuel Blum - Excimer Laser Surgery
  • M. Stephen Heilman, Alois Langer, Morton Mower and Michel Mirowski - Implantable Defibrillator
  • Ronald Bagley, Irwin Lachman and Ronald Lewis - Ceramic Substrate for Catalytic Converters
  • Felix Hoffman (posthumous) - Aspirin
  • John Presper Eckert, Jr. and John Mauchly (posthumous) - ENIAC Data Translating Device
  • Henry Bessemer (posthumous) - Bessemer Steel Process
In its 200 years of existence, the United States Patent & Trademark Office has issued over six million patents. Yet only a few patent holders are widely known despite the significant impact of their inventions on our lives and future.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame each year celebrates invention by honoring the men and women who have changed the way we live through their patented technologies that save lives and make human, social and economic progress possible.

"This year's class of inductees comprises some of the brightest minds of our time," said Donald Keck, president, National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation. "The imaginative and innovative contributions of the 16 inventors before us have helped shape the lifestyles we live today."

HP's sponsorship of the National Inventors Hall of Fame is part of the company's Invent sponsorship program, which encourages technological invention for future generations by supporting creative and pioneering organizations around the world.

"To recognize the contributions of these individuals is not only an honor in and of itself," said Richard DeMillo, vice president of Technology Strategy for HP. "It is an opportunity to reflect on the true power of acting on a single idea."

The achievements of this year's inductees include1:

Kurzweil Reading Machine -Raymond Kurzweil
Invented by Raymond Kurzweil, regarded as the Thomas Edison of our day, this technology scans and reads printed material and is considered the most significant advancement for the blind since Braille. Stevie Wonder bought the first one, and it was introduced to the world on January 13, 1976, when Walter Cronkite closed the news by using it to say, "And that's the way it is..." To invent the reading machine, Kurzweil pioneered many of today's computer technologies such as the scanners we have at our desks. He also is an author and expert on artificial intelligence and virtual reality, and is leading the idea that computers may someday surpass the thinking power of humans. (Patent issued, latest version, Feb. 23, 1999)

3-Point Safety Belt -Nils Bohlin
Invented by the first safety engineer ever hired by Volvo, Nils Bohlin. He was an advocate for seat belt safety and is proud every time he hears that a seat belt saved a life. His work to convince the U.S. public to accept seat belts is part of the reason they are mandated in 49 states today. (Patent issued July 10, 1962)

Excimer Laser Surgery -Rangaswamy Srinivasan, James Wynne, Samuel Blum
This is the procedure used in LASIK eye surgery, which has restored sight for over two million Americans and over five million people worldwide. It took this IBM team much effort to convince the medical community that the laser was safe and would not harm surrounding tissue. (Patent issued November 15, 1988)

Implantable Defibrillator - M. Stephen Heilman, Alois Langer, Morton Mower, Michel Mirowski
Dick Cheney has one, and so do over 300,000 heart patients who would otherwise die from sudden cardiac arrhythmia. The implantable defibrillator is over 99 percent effective in preventing sudden cardiac arrest. (Patent issued May 13, 1980)

Ceramic Substrate For Catalytic Converters - Rodney Bagley, Irwin Lachman, Ronald Lewis
The Clean Air Act of 1970 challenged these inventors to create a way to remove toxins from automotive emissions. Because of them, we have unleaded gas and significantly cleaner air today. (Patent issued February 5, 1974)

Aspirin -Felix Hoffmann (1868-1946)
The closest thing we have to a miracle drug in our lives. Hippocrates used the bark of willow trees to alleviate labor pain, but Hoffmann's effort to develop and market the drug, which he gave to his father to help his arthritis, is the reason for its widespread use today. A chemist at Bayer, Hoffmann found that his company did not want to manufacture or market the drug so he conducted tests in secrecy. Thousands take an aspirin a day to prevent heart attack and stroke. The latest studies link aspirin to a cure for prostate cancer. (Patent issued February 27, 1900)

ENIAC Data Translating Device - John Presper Eckert, Jr. (1919-1995) and John Mauchly (1907-1980)
ENAIC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) is the basis of the modern computer, although it weighed 30 tons, was 150 feet long and had to be manually programmed by over 200 operators. WWII and a contract from the government gave birth to the project, which was originally meant to calculate missile information and was used to develop the H-bomb. Although 1,000 times faster than anything before it, ENIAC would be outperformed by a 1970s calculator. (Patent issued December 4, 1951)

Bessemer Steel Process -Henry Bessemer (1813-1898)
Steel was scarce until he invented the process that made steel production cheaper and faster, truly the foundation of modern industry. (Patent issued November 11, 1856)

Each September, a new group of inventors is inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Inventors may be nominated by anyone, but inductees must hold a U. S. patent to be considered. The nominee's invention must have contributed to the welfare of mankind and have promoted the progress of science and the useful arts. This year's induction ceremony will be held on September 21, 2002 in Akron, Ohio.

About HP

HP is a leading global provider of products, technologies, solutions and services to consumers and businesses. The company's offerings span IT infrastructure, personal computing and access devices, global services and imaging and printing. HP merged with Compaq Computer Corp. on May 3, 2002. The merged company had combined revenue of approximately $81.7 billion in fiscal 2001 and operations in more than 160 countries. More information about HP is available at

About the National Inventors Hall of Fame

The not-for-profit National Inventors Hall of Fame® is the premier organization in America dedicated to honoring and fostering creativity and invention. Each year a new class of inventors is inducted into the National Hall of Fame in recognition of their patented inventions that make human, social and economic progress possible. Founded in 1973 by the U.S. Patent & Trademark

Office and the National Council of Intellectual Property Law Associations, the Hall's permanent home is Akron, Ohio, and serves as both a museum and an educational programming resource. For more information or to nominate an inventor, go to

1 To download press releases on each invention to be honored this year, as well as images of the inventors, please go to

About HP

HP Inc. creates technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere. Through our portfolio of printers, PCs, mobile devices, solutions, and services, we engineer experiences that amaze. More information about HP Inc. is available at