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Inventors to Be Honored on Capitol Hill

Robert Metcalf, inventor of Ethernet, among honorees.

(Washington) Inventors of the MRI, the Ethernet, the LP record and a popular weedkiller are among 18 people picked for induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

The 2007 class of inductees was to be announced at an event Thursday on Capitol Hill. The honorees are joining luminaries such as Thomas Edison, Velcro inventor George de Mestral and Charles Goodyear, developer of vulcanized rubber.

"Some of these inventors ... have literally changed the way we live our lives," said Rini Paiva, spokeswoman for the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation. But, she added, "they are not household names."

Among the latest inductees and their inventions are:

  • Paul C. Lauterbur, for the MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging
  • Robert M. Metcalfe, for high-speed networking known as Ethernet
  • the late Peter C. Goldmark, for the long-playing record
  • John E. Franz, for the herbicide Roundup

The Akron, Ohio-based hall was founded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the National Council of Intellectual Property Law Associations. It has inducted members since 1973 and will have honored 331 inventors with the new class.

Metcalfe recalls the early days of working on the Ethernet project at Xerox Corp.'s research center in Palo Alto, Calif. "We had no idea in 1973 that it would get that big," he said. "We were just computer guys building our own tools."

Paul Baran was selected this year for developing a decentralized way of networking digital communication, called digital packet switching.

"I think that we give a lot of attention to music and football, why not those who come up with ideas that we use in a different way," said Baran, whose research was conducted while at Rand Corp.

The new inductees include seven living and 11 deceased inventors. The induction ceremony will take place in May in Akron.

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