Eli Harari *73, a pioneer in data storage, and F. Thomson Leighton ’78, who applied mathematics to improve content delivery online, will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame May 4 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. They are among 15 honorees this year, a group that includes the inventors of Band-Aids, lead-free solder, industrial lasers, drywall, and oversized tennis rackets.
Harari, who earned a Princeton Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering, conducted research to create the first practical EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory), paving the way for flash memory, which retains data without a power supply. He cofounded the company now known as SanDisk, which provides data storage for portable devices such as digital cameras. President Barack Obama presented Harari with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2014.
Leighton, who graduated with highest honors in electrical engineering and computer science, is being recognized with collaborator Daniel Lewin. According to a biographical sketch from National Inventors Hall of Fame, “Leighton and Lewin invented the methods needed to intelligently replicate and deliver content over a large network of distributed servers, technology that would ultimately solve what was becoming a frustrating problem for internet users known as the ‘World Wide Wait.’” The two founded Akamai Technologies, a leader in content delivery and cloud-security services.
Harari and Leighton join an illustrious group of Princetonians in the National Inventors Hall of Fame, including recent inductees Ioannis Yannas *66 and Frances Arnold ’79; chemist Lewis Sarett *42; and two-time Nobel Prize winner John Bardeen *36.