National Medal of Technology

Ralph Baer receives the National Medal of Technology

The National Medal of Technology is an honor granted by the President of the United States to inventors and innovators that have made significant contributions to the development of new and important technology. The award may be granted to a specific person, to a group of people or to an entire organization or corporation. It is the highest honor the United States can confer for achievements related to technological progress.


The National Medal of Technology was created in 1980 by the United States Congress under the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act. It was a bipartisan effort to foster technological innovation and the technological competitiveness of the United States in the international arena. The first National Medals of Technology were issued in 1985 by then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan to 14 individuals and one company. Among the first recipients were technology giants like Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak, founders of Apple Computer, and AT&T Bell Laboratories, a veritable powerhouse in technological innovation. The medal has since been awarded annually with the most recent winners, the recipients in 2004, having been announced on November 14 2005.

Award process

Each year the Technology Administration under the U.S. Department of Commerce calls for the nomination of new candidates for the National Medal of Science. Candidates are nominated by their peers that have direct, first-hand knowledge of the candidates achievements. Candidates may be individuals, teams of individuals (up to 4), organizations or corporations. Individuals and all members of teams nominated must be U.S. citizens and organizations and corporations must be U.S.-owned (i.e. 50% of their assets or shares must be currently held by U.S. citizens).

All nominations are referred to the National Medal of Technology Evaluation Committee which issues recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. The Secretary of Commerce is then able to advise the President of the United States as to which candidates ought to receive the National Medal of Technology. The new National Medal of Technology laureates are then announced by the U.S. President once the final selections have been made.


As of 2005, there have been more than 135 individuals and 12 companies recognized. Summarized here is a list of the most notable laureates and a summary of their accomplishments.

Eminent Laureates of the National Medal of Technology, 1985-2005
Year Name Topic
2005 Ralph Baer "For inventing the first video game console."
2003 Robert Metcalfe "For leadership in the invention, standardization, and commercialization of the Ethernet."
2000 Douglas Engelbart For inventing the computer mouse and helping develop hypertext
2000 Dean Kamen "For inventions that have advanced medical care worldwide, and for ... awakening America to the excitement of science and technology."
1999 Robert W. Taylor "For visionary leadership in the development of modern computing technology, including computer networks, the personal computer and the graphical user interface."
1998 Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie "For co-inventing the UNIX operating system and the C programming language which together have led to enormous advance to computer hardware, software and networking systems. And assimilated the growth of an entire industry thereby enhancing American leadership in the information age."
1992 Bill Gates "For his early vision of universal computing at home and in the office..."
1991 Grace Murray Hopper "For her pioneering accomplishments in the development of computer programming languages..."
1990 John Atanasoff "For his invention of the electronic digital computer..."
1990 Gordon Moore "For his seminal leadership in ... large-scale integrated memory and the microprocessor..."
1988 Arnold O. Beckman "For exceptional creativity in designing analytical instruments..."
1988 David Packard "For extraordinary and unselfish leadership in both industry and government, particularly in widely diversified technological fields..."
1987 Robert N. Noyce "For his inventions in the field of semiconductor integrated circuits..."
1985 Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak "For their development and introduction of the personal computer..."