• 1881 August 31
    (b.) -
    1970 September 13


Born in Moscow, he moved first to Germany and later to Israel. He described himself as ?a chemist by learning, physicist by calling, and a mechanic by birth.? Earlier interested in engineering, he studied Chemistry at the University of Moscow and at several German universities, and remained in Germany after 1904 to avoid antisemitism in Russia. In 1906 he received a Ph.D from the University of Leipzig for research at the Institute for Physical Chemistry, led by Wilhelm Ostwald on the kinetics of photochemical reactions. He contributed a wide range of theoretic and practical advances relating to light and media and was the founding head of Zeiss Ikon, the famous photographic products company in Dresden, Germany. His inventions include microdots, the Kinamo movie camera, the Contax 35 mm camera, a very early search engine, and equipment for sensitometry. He and his former teacher and collaborator Robert Luther were instrumental in the acceptance at the International Congress of Photography in Dresden in 1931 of the widely adopted German national film speed DIN 4512. At the same Congress he introduced his ?Statistical Machine,? a document search engine that used photoelectric cells and pattern recognition to search the metadata on rolls of microfilmed documents (US patent 1,838,389, 29 December 1931). This technology was used in a variant form in 1938 by Vannevar Bush in his ?microfilm rapid selector,? his ?comparator? (for cryptanalysis), and was the technological basis for the imaginary Memex in Bush?s influential 1945 essay ?As we may think.? In Germany he was noted for his educational displays at exhibitions, served as consultant on aerial photography in the First World War, and was a consultant to the Carl Zeiss firm in Jena. In Palestine and later Israel he was deeply engaged as an advisory to both civilian and military spheres. The apprenticeship scheme that he introduced in Tel Aviv provided advanced technical skills to many who went on to develop the Israeli high tech industry. In 1968, he was awarded the Israel Prize, in exact science.
  • Date of Birth:

    1881 August 31
  • Date of Death:

    1970 September 13
  • Gender:

  • Noted For:

    Contributor of a wide range of theoretic and practical advances relating to light and media and inventor of a very early search engine
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