MEDIA: Kurzweil to receive National Medal of Technology

From: Natasha Vita-More (
Date: Tue Feb 01 2000 - 19:29:30 MST

>Ray Kurzweil to Receive National Medal of Technology from President Clinton
>February 1, 2000. The White House announced this morning that Ray Kurzweil
>will receive the National Medal of Technology, the nation's highest honor in
>technology, from President Clinton in a White House Ceremony on March 14,
>The citation on Mr. Kurzweil's National Medal of Technology will read:
>For pioneering and innovative achievements in computer science that have
>overcome barriers for and enriched the lives of disabled persons and of all
>Americans, including developing the first print-to-speech reading machine
>for the blind, the first commercially marketed large vocabulary speech
>recognition technology, and the ground-breaking Kurzweil 250 computer music
>Following is background information on the National Medal of Technology, and
>Ray Kurzweil's Brief Biography released by the White House.
>Background on the National Medal of Technology.
>The National Medal of Technology is the nation's highest honor in
>technology. Enacted by Congress in 1980, the Medal has been awarded by the
>President of the United States each year since 1985. It is awarded to
>several individuals (and/or groups of individuals) each year. In most
>years, a company has also been honored. There are no categories specified
>in the award.
>Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley writes: "The National Medal of
>Technology is the Nation's highest honor for technological achievement,
>presented annually by the President of the United States. The men and women
>awarded the National Medal of Technology are those whose extraordinary works
>in research, development and design have made significant contributions to
>U.S. prosperity and competitiveness, our overall quality of life, and our
>understanding of the world around us."
>President Clinton, in his remarks at the April 27, 1999 White House ceremony
>bestowing the National Medal of Technology to the 1998 Laureates said "Your
>success in illuminating the hows and whys of our world and raising the
>quality of human existence have helped make the time in which we live
>perhaps the most exciting in human history. . . In an age when the entire
>store of knowledge doubles every five years, where prosperity depends upon
>command of that ever-growing store, the United States is the strongest it
>has ever been, thanks in large measure to the remarkable pace and scope of
>American Science and technology in the last 50 years. . ."
>Ray Kurzweil's Brief Biography Released by the White House
>When Ray Kurzweil was developing the Kurzweil Reading Machine, the first
>print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, he worked closely with a team
>of blind engineers and scientists, not just to test the Kurzweil Reading
>Machine and design its user interface, but on all facets of this complex
>undertaking. It was a simple but pioneering design philosophy-work closely
>with the intended users of one's inventions as key participants in the
>invention process. That philosophy combined with Kurzweil's own innovative
>genius has led to a dazzling array of landmark inventions.
>The Reading Machine itself has been called the most significant advance for
>the blind since the invention of Braille in the nineteenth century.
>Introduced in 1976, it reads ordinary printed materials such as books,
>magazines and memos to blind, visually impaired and dyslexic persons in a
>synthesized voice. Its invention required solving several important computer
>science problems and resulted in the creation of the first omni-font optical
>character recognition (OCR) technology, the first CCD (Charge Coupled
>Device) flat-bed scanner and the first text-to-speech synthesizer. Unlike
>limited-font OCR systems, Kurzweil's OCR recognized print regardless of type
>style. It would be ten years before anyone else was able to duplicate this
>Each of these inventions evolved into what is today a major commercial field
>or industry, and the technologies that Kurzweil created, and their
>successors, continue to be market leaders within those industries. Virtually
>all American information workers use, at least indirectly, CCD flat-bed
>scanning and omni-font OCR, technologies first created and pioneered by
>Kurzweil. These are key enabling technologies that have made possible text
>and multi-media data bases, on-line information services, image and text
>documents on the World Wide Web and other manifestations of the information
>When Kurzweil turned his attention to developing the first computer music
>keyboard that could accurately and convincingly recreate the sounds of the
>grand piano and other orchestral (i.e., acoustic) instruments, he applied
>the same lesson he had learned in developing the reading machine. All the
>engineers and scientists that worked on the new project were musicians, and
>many were quite accomplished. The Kurzweil 250, introduced in 1984, was able
>to fool concert pianists in an A-B "blind" comparison as to whether they
>were hearing a grand piano or the Kurzweil invention. The technology
>Kurzweil created allowed musicians for the first time to play the sounds of
>any acoustic instrument, to play them polyphonically (i.e., multiple notes
>at a time), and to apply the full range of computer control techniques such
>as sequencing, layering and sound modification to the rich desirable sounds
>of acoustic instruments. As with the Reading Machine and the OCR technology,
>it would be several years before any other person or organization would
>duplicate this feat..
>The type of computer-based music synthesis that Kurzweil pioneered has
>evolved into what is today a multi-billion dollar industry and is used to
>create virtually all commercial music-recorded albums, movies, TV, etc. The
>Kurzweil brand of electronic musical instruments is a market leader and sold
>in 45 countries.
>Kurzweil was also the principal developer of the first commercially marketed
>large vocabulary speech recognition technology. Kurzweil VOICE Report,
>introduced in 1987, could convert speech into print, the opposite of the
>reading machine. Today it is widely used by hands-disabled persons to create
>written documents, use computers, and control their environment. A
>combination of Kurzweil's speech recognition technology with a
>Kurzweil-developed medical expert system and knowledge base is also widely
>used by physicians to create medical reports.
>Overall, Kurzweil's inventions have involved major advances in computer
>science, while at the same time yielding practical products that meet
>fundamental needs. It is rare for one individual to successfully work at
>both ends of this spectrum. He has also created multiple businesses to bring
>these inventions to market, all of which continue today as market leaders.
>His inventions have provided significant benefit to mankind by overcoming
>major barriers for disabled persons, enriching the world of music, and
>expanding the usefulness of computers for everyone.
>In addition to his inventions, Kurzweil is a prolific author. His latest
>book, The Age of Spiritual Machines, When Computers Exceed Human
>Intelligence (Viking, 1999), has quickly achieved a high level of critical
>and commercial success.
>Kurzweil received his BS in computer science and literature from MIT.
>Background on the Other 1999 National Medal of Technology Laureates.
>Robert Taylor, former head of the Xerox PARC Computer Science Lab,
>co-creator (with Alan Kay) of the Alto (the first personal computer), and
>the graphic user interface. Subsequently, director of the Information
>Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) of ARPA, where he was instrumental in
>the creation of ARPAnet, the forerunner to the Internet.
>The late Robert Swanson, founder of Genentech; regarded as the father of the
>biotechnology industry.
>Glen Culler, UCSB (University of California at Santa Barbara) Professor,
>pioneered e-mail and voice messaging; created the UCSB On-Line System, a
>forerunner to the ARPAnet, and one of the original ARPAnet sites.
>Also being honored is the company Symbol Technologies (Holtsville, New
>York), a pioneer in wireless communication.
>National Medal of Technology Laureates in Software, Computer Science, and
>Communications in the Years 1985 through 1998
>Only a few former recipients of the National Medal of Technology have been
>drawn from the field of software technology, although a substantial number
>have been in the computer and communications fields. Here are the National
>Medal of Technology Laureates in the fields of software, computer science,
>and communications from the years 1985 through 1998:
>Joint award to Kenneth L. Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie for inventing the
>UNIX operating system, and the C programming language.
>Joint award to Vinton Gray Cerf and Robert E. Kahn for inventing the
>(TCP/IP) protocol on which the Internet is based.
>Edward R. McCracken, pioneer in 3D visual graphics, built Silicon Graphics.
>Joint award to Praveen Chaudhari, Jerome J. Cuomo, and Richard J. Gambino
>for development of the basis of read-write optical storage.
>Joint award to Joel S. Engel and Richard Frenkiel for the development of
>cellular communication technology.
>Irwin M. Jacobs, for leadership in wireless communication, founder and CEO
>of Qualcomm, Inc.
>Amos E. Joel, Jr. for pioneering work in telecommunications switching
>Kenneth H. Olsen, for pioneering work in establishing the minicomputer
>industry; founder and CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation.
>William H. Gates III for his contribution to the development of the personal
>computing industry; founder and CEO of Microsoft Corp.
>J. Joseph Woodland, for inventing bar code technology.
>C. Gordon Bell, for achievements in computer design; CTO of Digital
>Equipment Corporation.
>John Cocke, for development of the Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC)
>Grace Murray Hopper, for developing the first high-level computer language
>(COBOL, in the 1940s).
>John V. Atanasoff, for the invention of the first electronic digital
>computer (in 1940).
>Jack St. Clair Kilby, an inventor of the integrated circuit.
>John S. Mayo, for overseeing the conversion of the national telephone
>network from analog to digital technology.
>Gordon E. Moore, an inventor of the integrated circuit and microprocessor.
>Joint award to Jay W. Forrester and Robert R. Everett, for pioneering
>real-time computer applications.
>Robert H. Dennard, inventor of the one-transistor memory cell used in
>virtually all RAM memory.
>David Packard, for technical leadership, and development of Hewlett-Packard
>Robert N. Noyce, for inventions in integrated circuits and the
>Bernard Gordon, father of analog-to-digital conversion, founder and CEO of
>Analogic Corporation.
>Reynold B. Johnson, developer of magnetic disk storage.
>William C. Norris, for advancement of computer technology, and creating
>Control Data Corp.
>AT&T Bell Labs for contributions to electronic communications.
>Joint award to Erich Bloch, Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., and Bob O. Evans, for
>creating the IBM System/360.
>Joint award to Steven P. Jobs and Stephen Wozniak for development of the
>personal computer.
>Contact Information
>Pete Arnold, Peter Arnold Agency, 781-239-1030,
>Ray Kurzweil, 781-263-0000 Extension 222,
># # # # # #
>Attachment Converted: "c:\eudora\attach\PB20100 -Press Announcement on
National Medal of Technology.doc"

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