IBM Inventors Named National Inventors Hall of Fame 2012 Inductees

Dr. Lubomyr Romankiw and Dr. David Thompson Honored for Thin Film Magnetic Head Invention

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ARMONK, N.Y. - 01 Mar 2012: The National Inventors Hall of Fame today announced it will induct two IBM (NYSE: IBM) scientists whose invention paved the way for the advancement of commercial disk storage technology used in computers, digital cameras and other devices. Dr. Lubomyr Romankiw and Dr. David Thompson (retired) are being honored for their invention of a technique that produced the first practical and manufacturable thin film magnetic head, which increased the density of data stored on magnetic disks and dramatically reduced the cost of data storage.

Over 30 years ago, Romankiw and Thompson patented their thin film inductive transducer invention (U.S. Patent #4,295,173), which enabled magnetic disk storage devices to be produced smaller and less expensively than previously possible. The technique, along with two other patented inventions (#3,921,217 and #3,908,194) and a new through mask electroplating process and tools, enabled an industry estimated to generate more than $35 billion in annual sales. It also has facilitated very small and sensitive magnetic disk storage devices able to store increasingly greater amounts of information. Today, a disk drive in a typical desktop computer can store up to 400 gigabytes (or 400 billion bytes) of data.

With Romankiw and Thompson's induction, IBM's growing presence in the prestigious National Inventors Hall of Fame includes:

  • Recognition for a variety of seminal inventions ranging from LASIK Eye Surgery to the Scanning Tunneling Microscope, used to obtain atomic-scale images of the surface of metals.
  • The 2011 induction of IBM inventor Norman Joseph Woodland for his contributions to the Optically Scanned Barcode invention, which helped enable Universal Product Code (UPC) systems, used worldwide by retailers, government, academia and companies in all industries.

"IBM's global technical community shares a passion for invention and innovation, along with a  relentless pursuit of progress that can help make our world a better place," said IBM Fellow and Vice President of Innovation, Bernie Meyerson. "The accomplishments of Lubomyr Romankiw, David Thompson and other IBMers in the Inventors Hall of Fame illustrates that our continuing commitment to R&D is consistently delivering benefits to IBM clients and society."

IBM scientists continue to push the limits of storage technology and pursue the future of data storage through projects like Atomic Scale Magnetic Memory and Racetrack Memory. IBM also holds more than 4,000 active storage patents.

Romankiw and Thompson will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in a ceremony on May 2, 2012.

Other IBM National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees include:

Romankiw holds over 65 patents and has published over 150 scientific papers. He is an IBM Fellow, a member of the IBM Academy of Technology, an IEEE Fellow, and an Electrochemical Society Fellow. He received the 1993 Society of Chemical Industry Perkin Medal, the 1994 IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Technical Field Award, and the 1994 Electrochemical Society Vittorio de Nora Award. 

Thompson holds over 20 patents and has published over 30 scientific papers. He is a retired IBM Fellow, a member of the IBM Academy of Technology, an IEEE Fellow, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Thompson received the 1992 IEEE Cledo Brunetti Award. 

The National Inventors Hall of Fame, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to recognizing and honoring invention and creativity.  The Hall of Fame honors the men and women responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social and economic progress possible.  The organization seeks to give these outstanding individuals the recognition they so rightly deserve as well as inspire future generations of innovators through the light of their examples.       

For more information, please visit IBM Research.

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