What do the computer mouse, liquid crystal, and the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) have in common? Sure, they are all amazing twentieth century discoveries that have changed the way we live. But they also have something else in common. The inventors of these modern day marvels are being honored by the Commerce Department's Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) with the 1998 Ronald H. Brown American Innovator Award.
In a 6:30 p.m. ceremony on Wednesday, October 14, 1998, Alma Brown, widow of the former secretary of commerce for whom the award is named, and Robert Mallett, deputy secretary of commerce, will join PTO Commissioner Bruce A. Lehman in the U.S. Department of Commerce auditorium to bestow the prestigious award on Douglas Engelbart, James L. Fergason, and Kary Banks Mullis.
"The American Innovator Award, established in 1995, was renamed in 1996 to honor the late Secretary Ronald H. Brown, who was a strong supporter of the intellectual property system," said Commerce Secretary William Daley. "Through this award, we recognize the enormous social and economic contributions made by American inventors. Without their efforts, America wouldn't be the world's largest and strongest economy."
In acknowledging the significant work achieved by Engelbart who invented the computer mouse, Fergason who invented liquid crystal, and Mullis who invented PCR-a feat for which he won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry-Commissioner Lehman noted that "the 1998 award showcases three outstanding Americans whose creativity has increased the length and quality of human life and enhanced the exchange of information and communication among people and nations."
Note: The award ceremony will take place in the U.S. Department of Commerce auditorium, 14th & Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., (14th Street entrance). A reception will precede the ceremony at 5:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Commerce Department.