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Dr. James L. Fergason

Dr. James L. Fergason Dr. James L. Fergason died on December 9, 2008. Jim is widely recognized at the one of the leading independent inventors of the past 50 years and as the father of the modern liquid crystal industry. His technical insights, leadership, creativity, optimism and hard work led him on a life long path of major technology contributions. His breakthrough products employ hundreds of thousands of people and contribute billions of dollars to the world economy. Along the way he found time to mentor independent inventors, contribute to patent reform and love his wife for over 52 years, their four children and 10 grandchildren. Jim also proudly served as an officer in the United States Army. Jim has always been an individual contributor and independent inventor. He overcame a series of hurdles to achieve his accomplishments. The boy from rural Carroll County Missouri became a leading scientist in liquid crystal technology. The scientist became a world-class inventor. The inventor became an entrepreneur when he could find no corporations to pursue his dream. And the small businessman challenged world-class corporations to protect his rights. His story is certainly one of pursuing the American dream. Jim has been awarded more than 130 patents and the father of at least five families of display products including the original twisted nematic LCD. Through his alliances with the US Patent Office, Inventors Hall of Fame, SPIE, OSA, and other professional organizations he mentored independent inventors. Serving on the USPTO advisory board, he supported efforts to improve the quality of patents. His inventions have had a major economic impact. His twisted nematic LCD is a critical element of the technology that has enabled the explosive growth of the mobile information, communications and entertainment services, and the related consumer electronics equipment markets that are a cornerstone of the world economy. Jim's achievements have been widely recognized and he has been honored with dozens of awards including the Richardson Medal from the American Optical Society, induction into the Inventor Hall of Fame and the Lemelson Prize, the highest award offered anywhere in the world for invention. Above his desk is an Honorary Doctorate from his alma mater, the University of Missouri. Dora, the love of Jim's life, wife and partner, stood beside Jim and supported his career and their family for over 52 years. He was a loving father and doting grandfather. Jim is survived by Dora and their four children, Teresa, Jeffrey, John and Susan, his 10 grandchildren and his brother Lewis. A memorial ceremony open to friends and colleagues will be in January.
Published in San Jose Mercury News on Dec. 16, 2008
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