George Heilmeier dies at 77; was a principal developer of liquid-crystal display technology
WashingtonPost.com reports that George Heilmeier, one of the principal creators of the liquid-crystal display (LCD) technology that made it possible to hang television sets on walls and carry computers in coat pockets, died April 21 at a hospital in Plano, Tex., near Dallas. He was 77.
He died after a stroke, according to his daughter, Beth Jarvie.
Dr. Heilmeier, the son of a janitor, was the first member of his family to finish high school. He went on to achieve widespread recognition for helping to pave the way toward the slender and graceful, yet prodigiously powerful, electronic devices that characterize modern life.
In 2006, he won Japan’s Kyoto Prize for achievements benefiting humanity; two years ago, he shared the Draper Prize, awarded by the National Academy of Engineering. Both are regarded as equivalents of the Nobel Prize.
The “liquid crystal” description of the materials that Dr. Heilmeier worked with appeared at first to be an oxymoron. Crystals carry an image of rigidity and regularity — almost exactly the opposite of liquids.
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