A who’s who of CE industry greats didn’t let an autumn deluge rain on its parade last night.
Aptly sheltered in the Rainbow Room atop New York’s Rockefeller Center, they and their hosts, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), celebrated the lives and contributions of this year’s inductees into the Consumer Technology Hall of Fame.
Among the honorees was TWICE’s own Marcia Grand, who led the publication to industry prominence during her nearly three-decade run as its publisher.
In accepting her award, Grand recounted how her trajectory from Bronx housing projects to industry eminence began by answering a classified ad for “a gal Friday creative momma” placed by fellow CT Hall of Famer Richard Ekstract, who was in attendance.
Grand thanked Ekstract, and longtime editor-in-chief Steve Smith, himself inducted in 2016, as well as the judges, “for giving this to me while I’m alive.” She also commemorated the late Bruce Alpert, her friend and associate publisher. "I know he's here with me tonight," she said.
Other highlights included remarks by 73-year-old inductee Hiroshi Yasuda, a member of the international engineering team that developed the JPEG and MPEG compression technologies which made portable digital images, music and video possible.
Yasuda demonstrated his team’s accomplishments by holding up a roll of film and a flash drive. “This holds 24 or 36 exposures,” he said raising the film roll. The flash drive, he said, “holds 30,000. Thirty-six … 30,000.”
Closing the ceremonies was inventor, futurist, Google engineering director and HOF inductee Ray Kurzweil, who brought some perspective to CE’s present and future. A child in Africa with a smartphone has access to more information today than a U.S. president did 20 years ago, he noted, while computers the size of blood cells and other coming tech advances will soon cure all diseases, radically extend life, and end human suffering.
“The sands of time will run in rather than run out,” he projected.
Master of ceremonies Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, also paid tribute to the late Jim Barry, a fixture of the trade group and the industry, and announced a $500,000 donation in his name to the CTA Foundation.