Videogame, GPS, cabling pioneers entering National Inventors Hall of Fame

Today's fiber-optic networks owe debt to sheathing invented by Bell Labs scientists in 1940s

Videogame, satellite navigation system and cabling protection pioneers are being inducted Wednesday into the National Inventors Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The ceremony, which also honors the inventors of Post-It Notes and Aqualung diving equipment (see full list), is sponsored in part by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Kauffman Foundation.

Those honored from the general computer and networking worlds include:

Ralph Baer, who invented what became known as the Magnavox Odyssey Home Video game System, which debuted in 1972 (he created it while working for defense contractor Sanders Associates, where his main focus was on military systems). He also created Simon, a single-chip memory game introduced in 1978. The German-born Baer came to the United States as a teen and served in the U.S. Army. He received the National Medal of Technology in 2004.

Roger Easton, who created the satellite-based TIMATION (TIMe NavigATION) system for the Naval Air Systems Command. Elements of that system are now used in GPS offerings to provide precise time and positioning.

Lincoln Hawkins, Vincent Lanza and Field Winslow, who were honored posthumously for coming up during the 1940s with the process while with Bell Labs to make plastic sheathing used to protect communications cables even when exposed to sunlight or other conditions. They came up with "a unique formulation of additives to polyethylene" that proved sturdier than earlier plastics and more practical than other protective sheathing, such as lead. Today's fiber-optic and electrical cables still use the sort of sheathing developed by these scientists.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.