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2017 CT Hall of Fame: Darrell Issa and Dean Kamen


Darrell Issa and Dean Kamen will be inducted along with 10 other industry leaders at an awards dinner on Tuesday evening, November 7, at the Rainbow Room in New York.

The Consumer Technology Hall of Fame honors visionaries who have made a significant impact on the consumer technology industry. These leaders and entrepreneurs have laid the foundation for the technologies, products, services and apps that are improving lives around the world.

Darrell Issa and Dean Kamen will be inducted along with 10 other industry leaders at an awards dinner on Tuesday evening, November 7, at the Rainbow Room in New York. Over the next several weeks, i3 will highlight this prestigious class. Please join us for the awards dinner as we celebrate this extraordinary group of honorees. Register for the dinner today.

Darrell Issa

The words "entrepreneur" and "politician" do not often describe the same person, yet both portray the unique career of Darrell Issa. Issa is the founder of Directed Electronics Inc. (DEI), which became the premier vehicle anti-theft device supplier in the U.S. In 2000, he switched careers and became the premier technology-centric member of the U.S. Congress.

Issa was born in Cleveland, OH, the second of six children of Martha and William Issa. At age 17 as a senior in high school, Issa enlisted in the Army and became an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician. Thanks to an ROTC scholarship, Issa graduated with a business degree from Sienna Heights University in Adrian, MI, was commissioned as an Army officer and ultimately achieved the rank of captain.

After leaving active service in 1980, Issa and his wife pooled their savings, borrowed from family and invested in a business that assembled goods for a number of clients, including car alarm manufacturer Steal Stopper. When Steal Stopper faltered, Issa bought the company and turned it around by procuring contracts with major car makers to supply factory-installed auto security systems.

In 1982, Issa founded Directed Electronics Inc. (DEI) to design and sell aftermarket car security systems. In 1989, DEI introduced Python and, later, Viper, which became the industry’s premier anti-theft auto system. Viper could detect motion and pressure on a car, triggering the alarm and horn.

In 1992, Viper added Back Talk, featuring Issa's own voice saying: "Protected by Viper! Stand back!" and "Please step away from the car!" Versions of Viper also introduced remote alarm control, remote door lock control and remote starting, all from a wireless keychain fob.

DEI's sales more than doubled between 1989 and 1990. In 1992, DEI trebled its operating space with a 66,000-square-foot corporate HQ in Vista, CA on newly-created Viper Way – a building soon dubbed "The Snake Pit." That year, DEI had record sales of $47 million and shipped more than 400,000 systems, 35 percent more than the year before. The following year, DEI reached 42 percent market share thanks to several new products including Failsafe, which could shut down a car after a theft, Soft Chirp, a quieter overnight alarm, and Sound-Off, an undercar material that dampened road noise. By 1996, DEI was selling 700 different products.

In 1994, Issa was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. Magazine. He also served as chairman of CTA.

In 2000, Issa was elected to the U.S. Congress for Southern California's 48th District, since renamed the 49th after redistricting. During his career, he has authored and advanced legislation important to the consumer technology industry.

As a holder of 37 patents, Issa has been especially vigilant about protecting the intellectual property rights of entrepreneurs and America's position at the forefront of innovation. In 2011, Issa spearheaded the defeat of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). In recognition for his legislative support for technology and innovation, Issa was named one of the four inaugural CTA Digital Patriots in 2005.

Dean Kamen

Dean Kamen is much more than just the inventor of the Segway, a personal transportation scooter. Granted more than 440 patents, he is one of the world's most prolific inventors and entrepreneurs, and a tireless advocate for science and technology.

In addition to the Segway, Kamen has developed a plethora of breakthrough medical devices and technologies to help supply clean water and energy in developing countries as well as founding FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), which is designed to promote student involvement in science, technology and engineering.

Kamen was born April 5, 1951, in Long Island, NY. His father, Jack, was a hard-working illustrator for various comics such as Mad, Tales from the Crypt and Weird Science. He gave his son a memorable piece of advice: "Figure out what you love. Then figure out how to build a career doing it."

What Kamen found a love for was technology. While he was in high school, he began developing a drug infusion pump that would shake up how doctors at Ivy League research hospitals administered chemotherapy to babies.

After high school, Kamen attended Worchester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. But instead of concentrating on the curriculum, Kamen spent five years in his college dorm room creating the first wearable drug infusion pump, now widely used in chemotherapy, neonatology and endocrinology.

In 1976, Kamen founded his first company, AutoSyringe, to manufacture and market the pumps. In 1982, Kamen founded DEKA Research & Development to develop his own inventions and provide R&D for corporate clients. Kamen led DEKA's creation of the HomeChoice portable home dialysis machine along with multiple other breakthrough medical devices and technologies. Kamen also used his medical device pump and infusion technologies to help Coca-Cola develop Freestyle, the now-familiar movie theater soda machine that can dispense more than 100 different soda varieties.

At DEKA, Kamen also developed the Slingshot water purifier, which can purify more than 250,000 liters of water per year regardless of where the water originated or how dirty it is. A Slingshot is packed inside the Ekocenter, a "downtown in a box" shipping container developed by Kamen and Coca-Cola and designed to be dropped into underdeveloped villages. Inside the red container is a solar-powered, web-connected bodega filled with canned food, toilet paper, cooking oil, first-aid supplies and even a TV. More than 2,000 Slingshots and Ekocenters have been distributed in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

In 1989, Kamen founded FIRST, which annually motivates more than 400,000 students ages 6 to 18 in more than 80 countries and provides more than $20 million in scholarships. Another breakthrough was Kamen's iBOT, a battery-powered, six-wheeled, self-balancing multi-terrain wheelchair that enables users to climb stairs, raise themselves upright and perform other functions able-bodied people take for granted. But for Kamen, iBOT didn't go far enough. Kamen figured he could use iBOT's self-balancing technology to create a more fun device for everyone, a "super scooter" he called the Segway. It was unveiled in December 2001.

Segways operate on electric motors, a series of gyroscopes and hundreds of sensors, and are now used by thousands of police, security officials, postal and emergency medical personnel, as well as tourists and a growing number of consumers.

Kamen has received a plethora of awards including the National Medal of Technology in 2000, the Lemelson-MIT Prize in 2002, and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May 2005.

Stewart Wolpin

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