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Engineering a Better Tomorrow

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April 4, 2013

Bitzer inducted into National Inventors Hall of Fame

Dr. Bitzer

Dr. Donald L. Bitzer, who helped develop the technology behind the plasma-screen televisions that sit in millions of living rooms, has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Bitzer is Distinguished University Research Professor of Computer Science at North Carolina State University.

The Hall of Fame, which was founded in 1973, honors inventors whose innovations and entrepreneurial endeavors have changed the world. Its membership includes Thomas Edison, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Alexander Graham Bell and Steve Jobs.

Bitzer co-invented the flat plasma display panel in 1964. The invention was originally designed as an educational aid that made it more comfortable for students to work in front of computers for long periods of time, as plasma screens do not flicker. The technology was eventually applied to television screens, and millions of plasma TVs have been sold to the public since their introduction in the 1990s.

Bitzer is also known as the “Father of PLATO,” or Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations, the first computer system to combine graphics and touch-screen displays. His work on the technology began around 1960; descendant systems still operate today.

In 2002, Bitzer received an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for his work advancing television technology. He has been a member of the National Academy of Engineering since 1974.

Bitzer received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering in 1955, 1956, and 1960, respectively, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

He joined the faculty at NC State in 1989.

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