16 Inventors Added To Hall Of Fame In Akron

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) - The creators of the lap-and-shoulder seat belt, the process used in laser eye surgery and a machine that reads text to the blind were among 16 people named to the National Inventors Hall of Fame on Thursday.

The inventors of an early computer, aspirin and modern steel production also were in the new class of inductees, announced in a ceremony at Hewlett-Packard Co. headquarters in Palo Alto. They are to formally join the 168 other inventors in the Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio, on Sept. 21.

Each of the inventors has "helped shape the lifestyles we live today," said Donald Keck, president of the Hall of Fame's foundation.

The new inductees are:

  • Raymond Kurzweil, an expert on artificial intelligence and virtual reality who in 1976 introduced a reading machine that scans printed material and reads it aloud to the blind.
  • Nils Bohlin, who invented the three-point seat belt for Volvo and patented it in 1962.
  • Rangaswamy Srinivasan, James Wynne and Samuel Blum, who developed the procedure used in LASIK eye surgery at IBM in the 1980s.
  • M. Stephen Heilman, Alois Langer, Morton Mower and Michael Mirowski, who in 1980 patented the implantable defibrillator, which constantly monitors a patient's heartbeat and jolts it back to normal in case of cardiac arrest.
  • Rodney Bagley, Irwin Lachman and Ronald Lewis, who invented a ceramic substrate for catalytic converters, the device used in reducing auto emissions, and patented it in 1974.

The posthumous additions are:

  • Felix Hoffmann, the chemist who patented aspirin in 1900.
  • John Presper Eckert Jr. and John Mauchly, the developers of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, or ENIAC, the forerunner to the modern computer. Built at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1940s to help the military calculate missile trajectories, ENIAC weighed 30 tons and was 150 feet long.
  • Henry Bessemer, an Englishman who in 1856 patented a process that made steel production faster and less expensive, a major development in modern industry.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame was founded in 1973 by the U.S. Patent Office and the National Council of Intellectual Property Law Associations.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)