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.

Education and career[edit]

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 several patents in numerous areas, while the creation of the PLATO computer system, the first system to combine graphics and touch-sensitive screens, is the hallmark of his efforts.[3]

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.[4]

In 1974, Bitzer was elected as a member into the National Academy of Engineering for his leadership in the utilization and development of technology for improving the effectiveness of education.

As of 1989, Bitzer is a Distinguished University Research Professor of Computer Science at North Carolina State University.[5]


In 1973 the National Academy of Engineering presented Bitzer with the Vladimir K. Zworykin Award,[6] which honors the inventor of the iconoscope. The invention won the Industrial Research 100 Award in 1966.

Bitzer is a designated National Associate, an honor which was granted to him by the National Academies in 2002. He is also a member of the American Society for Engineering Education.[5]


  1. ^ Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame 2006 inductee bio Archived October 12, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Donald L. Bitzer". Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  3. ^ Ashish Valentine (November 26, 2014). "Professor Don Bitzer: Father of PLATO discusses his work". Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  4. ^ "Dr. Donald Bitzer". November 29, 2011. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Alma Mater Inducts Bitzer". North Carolina State University. March 23, 2011. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  6. ^ "College of Engineering at NC State University, Achieve!". Archived from the original on December 30, 2007. Retrieved October 21, 2007.
  7. ^ "NAE Elects 78 New Members". Science. 184 (4135): 446. 1974. doi:10.1126/science.184.4135.446. PMID 17736512.
  8. ^ "Rouskas named IEEE Fellow" (PDF). North Carolina State University. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  9. ^ "Donald L. Bitzer and H. Gene Slottow Creativity Award". Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  10. ^ Michael Barbaro (October 7, 2002). "The Emmy Goes to . . . Flat-Screen Plasma TV". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  11. ^ "Donald L. Bitzer". National Inventors Hall of Fame. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  12. ^ "Bitzer named Fellow of National Academy of Inventors". National Academy of Inventors. May 2, 2018. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  13. ^ Emily Packard (May 7, 2019). "Two Faculty Win Holladay Medal". Retrieved September 4, 2019.

External links[edit]