Categotry Archives: Business

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Jerry Lippman

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Categories: Business

jlippman.jpgJerome Lippman, the inventor of heavy-duty, waterless hand soap, died on March 2. Cause of death was not released. He was 92.

The son of Eastern European immigrants, Lippman was just a teenager when he began running his own laundry business. The Buffalo, N.Y., native dropped out of high school in the 11th grade then moved to Akron, Ohio. During World War II, Lippman and his first wife, Goldie, worked in area factories — he at the Goodyear Aircraft plant and she at the Miller Tire Co.

The work was repetitious and dirty. Although Lippman didn’t mind so much, Goldie disliked coming home covered in sticky black carbon. At the time, only borax or benzene could remove the grime and both cleansers were rough on her skin. So Lippman joined forces with Kent State University chemistry professor Clarence Cook to develop a strong, grease-cutting soap that could be used with or without water.

The cleanser was such a hit that Lippman was able to quit his factory job and open his own company, GOJO Industries Inc. Soon he was spending his nights making the heavy-duty hand cleaner and his days selling the product from the back of his car. When local garage and factory owners complained about the costs of the soap, he invented a portion-controlled dispenser for their employees to use.

Over the next half century, GOJO Industries became a leader in the heavy-duty hand cleaner market. Today the company employs hundreds of workers and sells a wide range of skin care products — including the successful Purell hand sanitizer — to automotive, food service and healthcare facilities all around the world. In 1996, Lippman received the American Eagle Award from the American Supply and Machinery Manufacturers Association for outstanding entrepreneurial leadership.

Lippman was also a dedicated philanthropist who supported charities for the poor and victims of violence. He had a keen interest in helping children obtain an education, and put up the first $1,000 for what became known as the Jerome Lippman Jewish Community Day School. In recent years, his company established a scholarship in his honor for nontraditional students pursuing a degree at Summit College in Akron.

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George Atkinson

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Categories: Business

George William Atkinson, a businessman who opened the first video rental store, died on March 3 from complications of emphysema. He was 69.
Born in Shanghai to an English father and a Russian mother, Atkinson immigrated to America when he was 14 years old. During World War II, his family was forced to endure more than two years in a Japanese internment camp. Atkinson graduated with a degree in English literature from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1958, served two years in the U.S. Army, accepted bit parts in a couple of TV shows in the late-1960s then ran a small company renting Super 8 movies and projectors.
Convinced consumers would pay to rent tapes of feature films as well, Atkinson opened Video Station in 1977. At the time, VCRs cost $1,000. Yet after advertising his video rental concept in The Los Angeles Times, hundreds of people agreed to rent the videos he kept in stock.
That first storefront on Wilshire Boulevard in West Los Angeles offered an inventory of 50 movie titles in both Betamax and VHS versions. Atkinson charged $50 for an annual rental membership and $100 for a lifetime membership. Individual rentals cost $10 a day. Over the next two decades, more than 550 Video Station franchises opened in the United States and Canada.
Corporate scandal erupted in 1982 when Video Station Inc.’s board of directors issued a news release admitting the company had overstated profits by $1 million. Atkinson resigned the following year and pleaded guilty to filing false financial reports. He was sentenced to three months in a community treatment center, five years of probation and 2,000 hours of community service. His brother, Edward, who was also an executive with the company, was convicted of perjury and securities fraud and sentenced to five years in prison.
In 1991, Atkinson was inducted into the Video Hall of Fame.
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Jef Raskin

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Categories: Business, Education, Writers/Editors

jraskin.jpgJef Raskin, an author, educator and computer interface expert who was known as the “Father of the Macintosh,” died on Feb. 26 of cancer. He was 61.
The New York native studied mathematics and philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and earned a master’s degree in computer science at Pennsylvania State University. He enrolled in the graduate music program at the University of California at San Diego, then spent four years teaching art, photography and computer science there.
In 1978, Apple hired Raskin to run its publications department. At the time, computers were mostly used by scientists and academics, but Raskin believed the machines should make tasks easier for ordinary people to use. With this vision in mind, he assembled the initial development team that created the first Macintosh computer, which was named after Raskin’s favorite variety of apple. He wrote the manual for the Apple II, pioneered the use of the word “font” and helped invent the “click and drag” method of manipulating icons on the screen.
But when the first Macintosh debuted in 1984, Raskin was no longer with the company. In fact, he’d quit two years earlier after his relationship with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs went sour.
Raskin later designed the Canon Cat, a small computer that used a text-based user interface, and published the landmark computer book, “The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems.” He also wrote and/or edited for Forbes ASAP, Wired, Mac Home Journal, Pacifica Tribune and Model Airplane News. In recent years, Raskin worked on The Humane Environment, a revolutionary software system that incorporates open source elements with his own user interface concepts.
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Samuel Alderson

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Categories: Business, Scientists

Samuel W. Alderson was no dummy. But he designed one that saved countless lives.
Born in Cleveland and raised in Southern California, Alderson graduated from high school at 15 and attended four colleges: Reed College, the California Institute of Technology, the University of California Berkeley, and Columbia University. His education was interrupted several times during the Depression when he would return home to help out in his father’s sheet metal shop.
During World War II, Alderson improved missile guidance systems for the U.S. military and developed a special coating that helped enhance vision on submarine periscopes. He then formed Alderson Research Labs, a company that designed an anthropomorphic test device later known as the crash test dummy. Weighing approximately the same as humans, these mechanical surrogates were used by the military and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to test ejection seats, parachutes and exposure to radiation.
The first crash test dummies for the automobile industry were cadavers. Since the bodies deteriorated quickly during repeat trials and had no uniformity in size or shape, automakers began seeking a new way to test its safety features. Alderson built the first automobile test dummy in 1960, but few took notice until five years later when former presidential candidate and consumer advocate Ralph Nader published the book, “Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile.” In 1966, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act passed, which authorized the government to set and regulate safety standards for motor vehicles and highways.
Alderson’s dummy, which was built specifically for automotive testing, resembled an average-sized adult man. It had a nearly featureless face, a steel rib cage, articulated joints and a flexible neck and lumbar spine. Instruments designed to collect data during crashes were implanted inside the dummy’s head, chest and thighs.
In 1973, Alderson formed Humanoid Systems, another company that designed and produced test dummies. Humanoid Systems and Alderson Research Labs competed against each other until 1990, when they merged to form First Technology Safety Systems. Today, Alderson’s original dummy has been improved and expanded into a high-tech family that includes women, children and infants.
Alderson died on Feb. 11 from complications of myelofibrosis and pneumonia. He was 90.
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Max Schmeling

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Categories: Business, Military, Sports

mschmeling.jpgMaximilian Adolph Otto Siegfried Schmeling, the German boxing legend who twice squared off against world heavyweight champion Joe Louis, died on Feb. 2. Cause of death was not released. He was 99.
Born in Uckermar, Germany, Schmeling was a self-taught boxer with a powerful right-handed punch. He turned pro in 1924 and won the German light heavyweight title three years later. Known as the “Black Uhlan of the Rhine,” Schmeling was the first German, and European, to become the heavyweight world champion when he beat Jack Sharkey in 1930. Sharkey won the title back in 1932 on a disputed decision.
Although he was not a member of the Nazi Party, Schmeling was touted in propaganda as a symbol of Aryan supremacy. When he squared off with the undefeated Louis in 1936, the fight took on mythic proportions in the boxing and political arenas. In the 12th round, Schmeling knocked out the “Brown Bomber.” Louis’ defeat sparked riots in Harlem; one man who had bet on Schmeling was later hospitalized with a fractured skull and multiple stab wounds.
At their rematch in 1938, the tables turned and Louis knocked Schmeling out two minutes and four seconds into the first round. En route to the hospital, Schmeling’s ambulance had to make a detour to avoid the celebratory street parties. Schmeling returned to Germany on a stretcher two weeks later, still healing from two broken vertebra.
Despite the differences in their races and nationalities, Schmeling and Louis remained friends for many years. Schmeling occasionally gave money to the Louis family, and even paid for the American boxer’s funeral in 1981.
Schmeling was drafted into the military and served as a German paratrooper during World War II, but he didn’t support the Third Reich’s ethnic cleansing efforts. He refused to fire his Jewish-American manager Joe Jacobs, or divorce his wife, actress Anny Ondra, and marry a member of the “master race.” He also hid two Jewish boys in his hotel apartment and helped sneak them out of the country.
After the war, the nearly destitute Schmeling resumed his boxing career. He fought until 1948 before retiring at the age of 43 with a record of 56-10-4 and 39 knockouts. His life was chronicled in the bestselling 1977 autobiography, “Max Schmeling.” In 1992, the pugilist was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Schmeling used his fight proceeds to buy Coca-Cola distributorships in Germany and became wealthy bottling and distributing the soft drink. Through the Max Schmeling Foundation, he gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to help the elderly and the poor.
Listen to the Ringside Broadcast of the Joe Louis-Max Schmeling Rematch
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