Our everyday lives are bettered by visionary inventors, and we were reminded of that on May 2, 2012, when ten new inductees to the National Inventors Hall of Fame were honored by David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The 40th annual induction ceremony took place at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, the site of the historic Patent Office where the Hall of Fame’s first inductee, Thomas Edison, received his patents.
Most of the 2012 honorees were on hand, including Barbara Liskov, whose innovations in the organization of computer programming can be found in almost all modern programming languages; C. Kumar N. Patel, whose carbon dioxide laser developed while at Bell Labs is an essential component in the medical, industrial and military arenas; and Gary Starkweather, who while with the Xerox PARC facility invented the laser printer. They were joined on stage by 21 previous inductees.
Three honorees were inducted posthumously, including Mária Telkes, known as the “Sun Queen” for her pioneering work in solar energy; and Steve Jobs, whose influence spanned personal computing, film animation, consumer technology, and digital publishing.
A list of all ten honorees and their accomplishments can be found on the USPTO web site . Every National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee is required to be a U.S. patent owner. “Much like the thousands of patent and trademark applications the USPTO examines each and every day,” the Under Secretary said at the dinner, “your spirit serves as a reminder that our nation continues to be built by those willing to challenge traditions—willing to push the boundaries of convention and willing to test new limits in design and thought.”
“It’s why we’ve made investing in the classroom—the source where innovators of all stripes get their start—a top priority, by arming schools with the IP curriculums necessary to cultivate the brightest minds of tomorrow,” the Under Secretary said. “And it’s why the Obama administration has worked to ensure that access to such world class STEM education remains affordable for all students from the playground to the university lab.”
The National Inventors Hall of Fame  is the premier non-profit organization in America dedicated to honoring legendary inventors whose innovations and entrepreneurial endeavors have changed the world. Founded in 1973 by the USPTO and the National Council of Intellectual Property Law Association, the Hall of Fame has 470 inductees with its 2012 induction. You can visit the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum in the atrium of the Madison Building on the USPTO campus in Alexandria, Virginia, Monday through Saturday. Admission is free.