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New National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees received vital NSF support

cessfully by the military in the early 1950s.

Viterbi, who in 1967 had published research that revolutionized aspects of digital communication, received a second NSF SBIR award in 1989. Together, the two awards totaled more than $265,000. Qualcomm generated $19 billion in revenues in 2012.

Bitzer used his NSF support to broaden use of the first computer system to offer high-quality, computer-based education that was later coupled with plasma display technology. He, along with colleagues at the University of Illinois in the early 1960s, created PLATO, the first computer system to combine graphics and touch-sensitive screens to provide free, computer-assisted instruction to university students and local schools.

This was a novel idea at the time, seen as a way of teaching the many new students who were enrolling in U.S. colleges and universities. The increase in enrollment was in part a result of the G.I. Bill, which offered military veterans cash payments for tuition and living expenses to attend college.

Once the computer scientists were convinced that PLATO, more formally known as Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations, would work, Bitzer and colleagues then pursued a belief that it was important for researchers and students to become better trained in the concepts of parallel processing on which the system operated. They submitted a grant proposal to NSF and in 1967 received funding that allowed them to grow the University of Illinois' now highly-regarded Computer-based Education Research Laboratory (CERL), which had been formally established in 1966.

From 1968 through 1974, CERL received 11 awards totaling about $4.5 million, most of them for making PLATO available for use nationally and internationally. Bitzer's NSF awards were funded by the former Office of Computing Activities, which served as a precursor to NSF's Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE).

With NS

Contact: Bobbie Mixon
National Science Foundation

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