Born Feb 12 1948
Patent Number(s) 6,199,042
Ray Kurzweil invented the Kurzweil Reading Machine, the first device
to transform print into computer-spoken words, enabling blind and visually
impaired people to read printed materials. When this print-to-speech
reading machine was invented in 1976, the technology was regarded as
the most significant advancement for the blind since Brailles
introduction in 1829.
Kurzweil graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in
1970, majoring in computer science and literature. Several years later,
he formed a company to explore pattern recognition technology such as
Optical Character Recognition (OCR). He advanced the technology by developing
the first omni-font OCR in 1974, creating software that understood letter
shapes in any font. In conjunction with this, Kurzweil and the team
he led also developed the first Charge Couple Device (CCD) flatbed scanner,
the ubiquitous scanners in workplaces and homes. Other contributions
include the Kurzweil 250 music synthesizer, which recreates the rich
sounds of orchestral instruments.
Since 1973, Kurzweil has founded nine companies. A pioneer in artificial
intelligence, he is the author of The Age of Intelligent Machines and
The Age of Spiritual Machines. Honored by many awards, Kurzweil received
the National Medal of Technology in 1999.