Jerome Lemelson – Inventor of the Bar Code
We take for granted today’s technology all to often? Ever stand in line at the supermarket and complain about the long line? Maybe you haven’t complained, but you’ve heard others shout for a new lane to be opened up while standing in line. Can you imagine everything being keyed in at the supermarket manually? You’d be in that line a lot longer.
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There are many tasks that we undertake each day that become “ordinary” and we do not give them a second thought. For instance, how many prefer to use the self-check lane to get out of the department or grocery store? In order to pay for the items, they are dragged over a reader which reads the bar code. Until a few years ago, the bar code was not on every product but today there is nothing untouched. This is just one example of the inventions by Jerome Lemelson has touched our daily lives. His innovative thinking is reflected in many of the things we do every day from checking out at the store to videoing grandchildren.
Early Years of Jerome Lemelson
Jerome Lemelson was born in Staten Island, New York on July 18, 1923 and passed from this life on October 1, 1997. His innovative ideas and inventions still play major roles in our lives every single day. He had an early start as he created his first invention for his father who was a local physician. It was a lighted tongue depressor. As a teenager he ran his own business from the basement of his home in which he made and sold gas powered model airplanes. After he served in WWII, where he served in the Army Air Corps Engineering Department, Lemelson attended New York University. He received two master’s degrees after the war. One was in Industrial engineering and the other in Aeronautical Engineering. He worked for some time after the war on Project SQUID for the Office of Naval Research where he worked to develop rocket engines and pulse jet engines. He also worked with a team on the design of guided missiles. His last job that he held before going to work as an independent inventor was at a smelting plant in New Jersey where he was a safety engineer. He quit when the company would not listen to him regarding safety improvements that Lemelson felt would save lives.
The first invention that Lemelson came up with was a universal robot that could be used with several different types of industrial systems. The robot could perform many different actions including welding, measuring and moving products. It used special optical image technology that could scan items for flaws as they traveled through the production line. In 1954, he penned an application for this first patent that he called, “Machine Vision.” Various aspects of this automated warehouse system were licensed to the Triax Corporation.
In the 50’s he also worked on different types of systems that could be used for video filing. The system videotaped documents to preserve them and then they could be read from a monitor or on stop frame images. He later licensed this and other mechanisms which were used to manipulate and control the tape to Sony Corporation. They used these devices in both video and audio cassette players. Lemelson also worked on several different patents which were for developing various word processing and data processing technologies; these he licensed toIBMin 1981. Even though IBM offered him a permanent position with the company, he turned it down to remain independent as an inventor.
Types of Patents
Lemelson received an average of one patent each month for over 40 years. He spanned several fields related to technology such as the automated warehouse, cordless phones, industrial robots, videocassette recorders, fax machines, camcorders and magnetic tape drives which are used in the Sony Walkman. After battling with liver cancer for about a year, he died in 1997. In that one year he had applied for more than 40 more patents. In 2009, US Patent No. 7,602,947 was issued in his name, it was for a “facial recognition vehicle security system.” In his latter years he focused in the field of biomedical technology such as is used for detection and treatment of cancer.
This entry was posted by Eugene Aronsky & Moshe Zchut on March 13, 2013 at 10:30 am, and is filed under inventions, inventors, modern inventors, tech history, technology icons. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0.You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.