The 2005 Class of Inductees

Updated May 8, 2019 | Infoplease Staff

Matthias Baldwin, 1795–1866, Steam Locomotive. Baldwin was the first American to build steam locomotives of the same quality as were made in Europe. His “Old Ironsides” was the first locomotive to carry passengers. He later invented a series of improvements, including a powerful high-pressure steam engine.

C. Donald Bateman, 1932–, Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS). In response to tragic airline crashes during the 1960s, Bateman invented a device that automatically warned pilots if their aircraft was approaching the ground or water.

Clarence Birdseye, 1886–1956, Food Preservation. During an expedition to Labrador, a young Birdseye observed native fishermen freezing their catch. He later observed that rapid freezing retained close to the original flavor and texture. Birdseye is credited with increasing the quality of the American diet by providing high quality foods for long-term preservation without drying, pickling, or canning.

Leopold Godowsky, Jr., 1900–1983, and Leopold Mannes, 1893–1964, Color Film. The duo affectionately known by colleagues and friends as “God and Man” were professional musicians who enjoyed photography as a hobby. In 1916 they started experimenting with color images by taking multiple black-and-white exposures through filters of various colors. They eventually invented a practical, high-quality color film released as Kodachrome film in 1936.

Robert Gundlach, 1926–, Photocopying. Gundlach devoted over three decades to transforming photocopiers into small, robust products that revolutionized xerography. As the field advanced, Gundlach invented ways to produce color copies and use digital technology. He has earned more than 150 patents; while most are related to xerography, they also include a snow-making machine, a comfortable backpack, and a water-based heat pump system.

Alec Jeffreys, 1950–, Genetic Fingerprinting. Jeffreys discovered a process that detects extremely variable DNA regions, enabling genetic fingerprinting. This made it possible to conclusively link suspects to the scene of a crime based on samples of blood, semen, skin, or hair. It also exonerated numerous people falsely convicted before genetic fingerprinting was invented.

Dean Kamen, 1951–, Medication Infusion Pumps. Kamen's first major innovation was the AutoSyringe, a wearable device that delivered precise doses of medication to diabetics and other patients with a variety of medical conditions. This gave patients greater freedom and control over their disease, dramatically improving their quality of life while reducing complications and painful daily injections. Among Kamen's other inventions are a portable peritoneal dialysis machine and the IBOT, a sophisticated wheelchair capable of climbing stairs.

Garrett Morgan, 1877–1963, Safety Hood, Traffic Light. Morgan's first well-known invention was the safety hood, a forerunner of the gas mask. When 32 workers in Cleveland, Ohio, were trapped during a tunnel collapse in 1916, Morgan and several volunteers using the masks were able to reach the trapped men and rescue several survivors. In 1923, Morgan patented his best-known invention, the three-way traffic signal, based on signs that signaled stop and go. He sold his patent rights to General Electric, which developed an electrical version.

Les Paul, 1915–, Electric Guitar, Multi-Track Recording. Paul's innovations led to his first solid-body electric guitar in 1946. He produced a series of extremely popular recordings—using advanced multi-track tape recorders he designed and built himself—that introduced the public to fast, multi-layered productions, in which he played as many as six musical parts simultaneously. Les Paul's work inspired a generation of musicians to embrace his guitar and recording techniques.

Jacob Rabinow, 1910–1999, Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Rabinow invented a process that allowed machine scanners to determine which letters or numbers were printed on a page. Over the years he crafted a series of improvements that made the process more reliable, eventually incorporating dictionaries into computer memories so the machines could determine the identity of a smudged or messy character.

Glenn T. Seaborg, 1912–1999, Atomic Technology. The nuclear chemist's best-known achievement was the synthesis and isolation of the radioactive element plutonium. He pioneered the creation of new exotic isotopes and elements by bombarding materials with atomic particles in particle accelerators, many of which his research team helped design. He was one of the most important participants in the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb during World War II.

Leo Sternbach, 1908–, Benzodiazepines. With the assistance of Lowell Randall and Earl Reeder, he discovered a new class of drugs, called benzodiazepines. Librium (1960) and Valium (1963), the first two drugs from this class, proved to be more effective at reducing stress and anxiety than previous tranquilizers, and had fewer side effects. Their success prompted further research, and several variants were developed, including Versed, Klonopin, Dalmane, Lexotan, Atavan, and Xanax.

Selman Waksman, 1888–1973, Streptomycin. A pioneer in microbiology, Waksman specialized in the study of microbes in soil. His most important find, streptomycin, provided the first effective treatment for tuberculosis, a disease that had ravaged mankind. Previously, tuberculosis victims were kept in sanitaria where their main treatment was fresh air and a healthy diet. Waksman's success inspired others to research antibiotics.

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