IEEE Life Fellows Lubomyr Romankiw and David A. Thompson were inducted into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame, in Alexandria, Va. They were honored for contributions to the development of the thin-film magnetic head, which dramatically increased the capacity of magnetic disk storage devices as well as reducing their size and cost.
Romankiw [left] is an IBM Fellow at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., where he works on solar power technology.
Thompson [right] retired as director of IBM’s Advanced Magnetic Recording Laboratory, in San Jose, Calif.
The two worked together in 1978 at the Watson Research Center when they were granted a U.S. patent for the thin-film inductive transducer. The invention was a component of the first thin-film magnetic head—a device that reads and writes bits of data on a magnetic disk or tape. IBM began selling disk drives with the thin-film heads in 1979, and electronics manufacturers around the world soon followed suit. The technology is now used to store data on MP3 players, smartphones, and other portable digital devices.
IEEE Life Fellow George H. Heilmeier is one of four recipients of this year’s annual Charles Stark Draper Prize, given by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. The prize is awarded to engineers whose accomplishments have benefited society. Heilmeier, the only one of the four who is an IEEE member, was honored for his contributions to the development of the first LCD. The award comes with a US $500 000 honorarium.
Heilmeier is chairman emeritus of Science Applications International, a company based in McLean, Va., that develops technology for applications in national defense, public health, environmental monitoring, and cybersecurity. He is a member of the U.S. National Security Agency Scientific Advisory Board.
While working as a researcher during the 1960s at RCA Laboratories, in Princeton, N.J., he discovered several electro-optic effects in liquid crystals. One was the dynamic scattering effect, which causes a strong dispersal of light when voltage is applied to a liquid crystal mixture. That discovery eventually led to the first LCD displays in watches and calculators.
Heilmeier received the 1997 IEEE Medal of Honor for his discovery and initial development of electro-optic effects in liquid crystals. He is a member of the IEEE Communications, Computer, and Electron Devices societies.