Dr. Donald Bitzer

As prices have fallen in recent years, plasma-screen televisions have become nearly ubiquitous in American homes. For that, we can partially thank Dr. Donald Bitzer, Distinguished University Research Professor of Computer Science.

Bitzer co-invented the flat plasma display panel in 1964. Originally invented as an educational aid to help students working in front of computers for long periods of time, plasma screens do not flicker and are a significant advance in television technology. The invention won the Industrial Research 100 Award in 1966.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering since 1974, Bitzer received an Emmy Award for his work to advance television technology from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2002. He is also the namesake of the Bitzer Creativity Awards, given annually to undergraduate computer science students who display extraordinary creativity.

“Creativity is thinking outside the box,” Bitzer said at the 2011 presentation of the awards.

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