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CTA Reveals 2016 Hall of Fame Class

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) inducted 17 industry leaders into its annual Consumer Technology Hall of Fame.

TWICE’s editor at large Steve Smith (left) with CTA president/CEO Gary Shapiro

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) inducted 17 industry leaders into its annual Consumer Technology Hall of Fame at an awards dinner held November 9 at the Rainbow Room, atop 30 Rockefeller Center in New York. CTA created the Hall of Fame in 2000 to honor industry visionaries. 

This year’s honorees were Sidney Cooper, founder of Silo; Dr. Jaap Haartsen, the “Father of Bluetooth”; David B. Lorsch, founder and CEO of DBL Distributing; Chuck Pagano, ESPN chief technical officer and HDTV pioneer; Steve Smith, former editor-in-chief of TWICE; Joel S. Spira, founder of Lutron Electronics; Nat Tiffen, founder of the Tiffen Company; and Hiroshi Yamauchi, former president of Nintendo. 

In addition to these individuals, two teams were inducted into the 2016 class. The first team developed the first handheld GPS system. Under the leadership of Magellan founder Ed Tuck, Norman Hunt and Don Rea developed and released the Magellan GPS NAV 1000 in 1989.

The second group to be honored were the six individuals who comprised the HDTV Grand Alliance—Dr. Peter Bingham, president of Phillips Labs; Dr. Jim Carnes, CEO of Sarnoff Labs; Dr. Curt Crawford, president of AT&T Microelectronics; Dr. Jae Lim, professor at MIT; Jerry Pearlman, CEO of Zenith Electronics; and Donald Rumsfeld, CEO of General Instrument—were honored for their work in developing and implementing a unified digital TV broadcasting system. 

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA, praised the inductees for their contributions to the growth of the consumer technology industry and their innovations that helped better our world. “Tonight we celebrate our rich heritage by honoring the legends in our industry,” he said. “Those inventors, entrepreneurs, retailers, and business executives who were willing to take risks to bring new products and services to market and had the imagination to create new technologies.” 

Dr. Jaap Haartsen, the “Father of Bluetooth,” stressed that the creation of Bluetooth was possible because of the contributions of many individuals. “I accept this award as a tribute to all the people who joined me on this exciting journey of setting a new standard for personal wireless connectivity, and I’m happy to accept this award on behalf of the Bluetooth community.”

Accepting the award for his late father Sidney Cooper, Richard Cooper reflected on the man who founded the Silo Discount Center retail chain. “He was a pioneer, but he never saw himself as one. He simply knew that the world was changing faster than anyone could fathom, and he knew that if he stayed in one place too long, everyone would pass him by.”

David Lorsch thanked his wife and family for helping him build DBL Distributing into a powerhouse. “We were an American success story. We started from 1,500 square feet in Tempe, AZ and we grew all the way to our final headquarters of 144,000.”

Accepting the award on behalf of her father, Joel Spira, creator of the first solid-state dimmer, Lutron co-chairman and co-CEO Susan Hakkarainen reflected on her father’s endless desire to learn. “Our father was insatiably curious; his interests had almost no boundaries. He was always looking for new ideas, and was fascinated by fine craftsmanship.”

Chuck Pagano, who was responsible for leading ESPN into the high definition era, thanked ESPN for its willingness to accept new technology. “My fantastic team of smart engineers, I want to thank them. Our vocation in life was to serve the fans. ESPN’s journey is now solidified, and HD is in their DNA.”

Nat Tiffen grew a business he and his brothers started into a Hollywood cornerstone. Steve Tiffen, CEO of the Tiffen Company, accepted the award for his father. He said, “My dad lived by a single principle: find out what the customer wants, and give it to them.”

Nintendo’s success is due partly to the risks taken by Hiroshi Yamauchi. In addition to his persistence, hard work and vision, he was humble, according to his granddaughter, Maki Arakawa, who accepted his award. She said, “Even with success, my grandfather continued the same lifestyle.”

The Magellan team was represented by Ed Tuck’s daughter Jean Tuck McGregor and Norm Hunt’s children Laura Hunt Ross and her brother Jay Hunt, a soldier who said, “Wherever I was in the world, it was always the tinkerers who got me home.”

Dr. Curt Crawford and Dr. Jae Lim represented the HDTV Grand Alliance team, that despite differences among the group, pushed to develop the HDTV technology that consumers enjoy today. “We argued a lot and we talked a lot. But we worked it out and made it happen,” Lim said.

Journalist Steve Smith’s dream was to work for a major newspaper or magazine right out of college, but instead found his love for technology journalism and became one of the foremost tech journalists of our generation. He said, “In life, if you’re a little lucky, dreams can become a reality.”

With the 2016 class, the CT Hall of Fame has grown to 234 inventors, engineers, retailers, journalists, and entrepreneurs who conceived, developed, promoted, and wrote about the innovative technologies, products, and services that connect and improve the lives of global consumers. Watch highlights from the evening:

The inductees were selected by a group of media and industry professionals, who judged the nominations submitted by manufacturers, retailers, and industry journalists.