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Dr. Jerome Cuomo

As an IBM researcher in the early 1970s, Dr. Jerome Cuomo, distinguished research professor of material science, was part of a team that revolutionized data storage.

Cuomo and his colleagues invented the rewritable magneto-optic disk, technology that capitalized on the magnetic properties of several elements that suited them well for data storage. These super-thin materials were then used to hold data. Magneto-optic disk technology ultimately became the foundation of a $2 billion industry.

Dr. Jerome Cuomo

Earlier this year, Cuomo told IBM that the team’s seven-year quest was a bit like the Frank Capra holiday film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“Everything we do affects other people,” he says. “Looking back, it’s easy to see how the chain of events that led us to the substance and properties we were looking for might have been broken at any point.”

IBM included the magneto-optical disk’s invention in a list of 100 Icons of Progress from the company’s history. In 1995, Cuomo received the National Medal of Technology, the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement. His inventions have resulted in 125 patents, and he has helped to launch four companies.