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Jacob Rabinow

American Jewish Inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame

Jacob Rabinow: Inducted
into the National Inventors
Hall of Fame-2005

by Seymour “Sy” Brody

Jacob Rabinow was an American Jewish inductee into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 2005, for his optical character recognition invention. Patent number 2,933,246.

He was born on January 5, 1910, in Kharkov, Ukraine. During the Bolshevik Revolution, his family was living in Siberia. In 1919, his family moved to China and in 1921, his family emigrated to the United States. Rabinow attended and graduated from the City College of New York, with a B.S. degree in engineering, in 1933, and he received a Masters Degree in electrical engineering, in 1934.

Many people tried to discourage him from pursuing a career as an engineer as Jews were not welcomed into this field. His discarded this advise because of his love for inventing. His career began when he went to work for the National Bureau of Standards (known today as the National Institute of Standards and Technology) in 1938. In World War II, Rabinow worked on the development of mechanical and safety aspects of the proximity fuse used in bombs and improved guided missiles.

In 1954, he left the Federal Government and formed his own company, Rabinow Engineering Company, to provide consulting services. In 1964, he sold it to Control Data Corporation and he became a Vice President. In 1972, Rabinow rejoined the National Bureau of Standards and he retired in 1975.

Rabinow held more than 230 patents and among these were mechanisms for automatic self-regulating clocks and watches, the automatic letter-sorting machine used by the U.S. Post Office, the magnetic particle clutch, the first magnetic disk memory, the best match principal in optical and magnetic character reading machines, etc

Jacob Rabinow received many honors and awards:
■ Naval Ordinance Development Award, 1945
■ Certificate of Commendation from the NDRC, 1945
■ President’s Certificate of Merit, 1948
■ War Department’s Certificate of Appreciation, 1949
■ Edward Longstreth Medal from the Franklin Institute, 1959
■ CCNY Engineering School’s 50thAnniversary Medal, 1969
■ Jefferson Medal certificate from the American parent Law Association, 1973
■ IEEE’s Harry Diamond Award, 1977
■ Industrial Research and Development Scientist of the Year, 1977
■ Industrial Research and Development Scientist of the Year Award, 1980
■ Doctor of Humane Letters, Towson State University, 1983
■ Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award, 1998
■ Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 2005

Jacob Rabinow died in 1999.

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