Donald Bitzer

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Donald L. Bitzer (born January 1, 1934)[1] is an American electrical engineer and computer scientist. He was the co-inventor of the plasma display, is largely regarded as the "father of PLATO", and has made a career of improving classroom productivity by using computer and telecommunications technologies.

He received three degrees in electrical engineering (B.S., 1955; M.S., 1956; Ph.D., 1960) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.[2]

Bitzer holds patents for inventions including the plasma-display panel, the binary-weighted solenoid, a high-quality modem, and new satellite communications techniques. The creation of the PLATO computer system, the first system to combine graphics and touch-sensitive screens, is the hallmark of his efforts.

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 display was also a way of overcoming the limited memory of the computer systems being used. In 1973 the National Academy of Engineering presented Bitzer with the Vladimir K. Zworykin Award,[3] which honors the inventor of the iconoscope. The invention won the Industrial Research 100 Award in 1966.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering since 1974, Bitzer was designated a National Associate by the National Academies in 2002. In October the same year, he was awarded an Emmy by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for his efforts in advancing television technology. He is also a Computer Society Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a member of the American Society for Engineering Education.

Following several decades on the faculty of UIUC's College of Engineering, Bitzer is currently a Distinguished University Research Professor of Computer Science at North Carolina State University.

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