The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), inducted 12 industry leaders into the Consumer Technology (CT) Hall of Fame at its 19th annual awards dinner, held Tuesday night at the Rainbow Room, atop 30 Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. CTA created the Hall of Fame in 2000 to honor industry visionaries and pioneers.
This year's honorees include Marcia Grand, publisher of TWICE
magazine; Arlene Harris, founder of GreatCall and the Jitterbug phone; Ray Kurzweil, famed futurist and inventor; Mike Lazaridis, founder of BlackBerry; Mitch Mohr, founder of Celluphone; and Charles Tandy, legendary retailer.
In addition, two teams were inducted. First, the team that developed MPEG, Dr. Leonardo Chiariglione and Dr. Hiroshi Yasuda. Next, McIntosh Labs founder Frank McIntosh and prominent audio pioneer and McIntosh president Gordon Gow were honored.
Rep. Darrell Issa, congressman, businessman and tech advocate, and Dean Kamen, inventor and founder of Segway and FIRST, were named to the 2017 class but due to schedule conflicts will be recognized in the future.
Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA, praised the inductees for their contributions to the growth of the $321 billion U.S. consumer technology industry. He said, "This is one of the most extraordinary nights of the year. Tonight we celebrate the leaders in the consumer technology industry who inspire us. This isn't just about the past, this is about the future."
The first inductee to be honored, Marcia Grand, began her publishing career by answering a newspaper ad and eventually became a respected vice president and publisher at TWICE
, a leading consumer tech trade publication. She said, "I fell into what is without a doubt the most spectacular industry on earth, and I worked with so many spectacular people throughout the years."
Arlene Harris, a serial entrepreneur called "the first lady of wireless" and, among many accomplishments, developed the Jitterbug phone for seniors. She thanked her husband Martin Cooper who was inducted into the CT Hall of Fame in 2008. She said, "The tools we have today are incredible. The work that so many have done improves our ability to bring solutions to families, to kids and to seniors. Today there is a wonderful opportunity for businesses to focus on the needs of those that are underserved."
Another wireless pioneer, Mike Lazaridis, co-founded BlackBerry, formerly Research in Motion, and in doing so, created the first smartphone. When he accepted his award, he said, "I think it's important to step back for a second and think about where we came from as an industry, because today we're blinded by the magic of technology."
Mitch Mohr founded Celluphone in 1984, which became one of the nation's largest wireless distributors. Since Mitch passed away recently, his son Mike Mohr accepted his award. He said, "My dad was a salesman's salesman. He had the confidence, the drive and a bigger-than-life charisma, that dominated every room he was in. While most of us are thinking about retirement at 60, my dad started Celluphone."
Retailer Charles Tandy grew RadioShack from nine stores to more than 7,000 outlets worldwide, generating annual sales of more than $1.2 billion. He passed away at 60 in 1978 but A.R. Tandy accepted his award. He said, "Charles was a rare combination of charisma, intellect, integrity and drive. If he were here tonight, he would be humbled and honored by this recognition."
The first team to be honored for the 2017 class was Frank McIntosh and Gordon Gow, the pair responsible for developing a breakthrough circuit that enabled high-power sound amplification with low distortion. Their work led to the creation of the iconic McIntosh Labs. Since both have passed away, Palma Gordon accepted the award for her husband in a poem. "Bigger than life is what Gordon always said." President of McIntosh Labs Charles Randall added, "Between Frank McIntosh and Gordon Gow, they created a legacy. For instance, the MC275, an amplifier that debuted in 1961 is still in production today."
Dr. Leonardo Chiariglione and Dr. Hiroshi Yasuda, the team that developed JPEG and MPEG, were honored next. Dr. Yasuda travelled from Japan to accept the award. Holding an SD card in one hand and a roll of film in the other, he remarked how the compression techniques the team created helped expand digital libraries. "These [techniques] enhanced the function of these [SD cards] to squeeze the amount of data." He added, "Our technology is for everyone. When you use a digital camera, and when you watch a video, please remember."
Concluding the evening, futurist, inventor, author and entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil accepted his award and then gave a few predictions on where he sees the industry heading. He said, "Technology is accelerating, it's growing exponentially. Technology is also miniaturizing. We will have devices that are as powerful as our cell phones today that are the size of blood cells in the 2030s, and they will go through our blood stream, keeping us healthy.
"Technology has been making life better. Over the next decade with biotechnology, we will get little devices that are robotic, intelligent and can augment our immune system. I think the future is going to be dramatically better. Despite the darkness that I've alluded to - there's still a lot of human suffering - it is the advance of these exponential technologies that is going to help us overcome age old afflictions like disease, poverty and environmental degradation. If we keep our focus on both the promise and the peril, we'll have a very bright future."
With the 2017 class, the CT Hall of Fame grows to 246 inventors, engineers, retailers, journalists and entrepreneurs who conceived, promoted and/or wrote about the innovative technologies, products and services that connect and improve the lives of consumers around the world.
The inductees are selected by a group of media and industry professionals, who judge the nominations submitted by manufacturers, retailers and industry journalists. To learn more about the CT Hall of Fame program and for information on the 2018 nomination process, visit CTA.tech
. Find complete profiles of the honorees in the November issue of It Is Innovation (i3)