of the compact disc
in the late 1960's.
James Russell was born in Bremerton, Washington in 1931. At age six, he built a radio-controlled battleship lunch box. After high school, he earned his BA in Physics from Reed College in 1953. He then went to work as a physicist in General Electric's nearby labs in Richland, Washington. He was one of the first to use a CRT/keyboard as the sole I/O between computer and operator. While working for GE, Russell designed and built the first electron beam welder.
In 1965, James Russell went to work for Battelle Memorial Institute, when it opened a branch in Richland. Like many frustrated audiophiles of the time, Russell disliked easily-damageable vinyl records. Working by himself on a Saturday afternoon, Russell sketched out his plans for storing data on 1-micron wide light/dark patches in a binary pattern, to be read by a laser. His original plan was to make 3x5-inch rectangular audio media, but this was later discarded in favor of a disc shape.
Russell worked on his idea throughout the 1970's under the sponsorship of Battelle. He continued to refine the compact disc, adapting it to hold and form of data. Sony, Philips, and several other audio companies realized the implications of his work, and purchased licences.
By 1985, Russell had earned 26 patents for CD-ROM technology. He founded his own consulting firm, where he continued to create and patent improvements in optical storage systems, along with bar code scanners, liquid crystal shutters, and other industrial optical instruments. His most revolutionary recent invention is a high-speed optical data recorder / player that has no moving parts. Russell earned another 11 patents for this "Optical Random Access Memory", or ORAM, device, which is currently being refined for the market.
All in all, an interesting guy!