Thomas Edison (1847 - 1931)
Thomas Alva Edison was considered "slow" by his teachers due to learning disabilities and at age twelve was almost completely deafened by scarlet fever. Edison became an inventor, scientist, and businessman who developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" by a newspaper reporter, he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large teamwork to the process of invention, and therefore is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.
Edison is the third most prolific inventor in history, holding 1,093 US patents, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. He is credited with numerous inventions that contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications. These inventions include a stock ticker, a mechanical vote recorder, a battery for an electric car, electrical power, recorded music, and motion pictures. His advanced work in these fields was an outgrowth of his early career as a telegraph operator. Edison originated the concept and implementation of electric-power generation and distribution to homes, businesses, and factories - a crucial development in the modern industrialized world.
Vinton Cerf (1943-present)
You can read this email because of Vinton Cerf, who created the first commercial email service to be connected to the Internet. Cerf, who is hearing impaired, has been called "one of the fathers of the Internet" for his pioneering work in computer science and information technology. He used early text messaging technologies to communicate with his wife, who is deaf. He said, "I have spent, as you can imagine, a fair chunk of my time trying to persuade people with hearing impairments to make use of electronic mail because I found it so powerful myself." Had it not been for Cerf's using text messaging to the extent he did, we may not have had integrated email as part of the functionality of the ARPAnet, the predecessor to the Internet. To read more about Vinton Cerf: http://www.icann.org/en/biog/cerf.htm
Jack Kilby (1923-2005)
If you used a handheld calculator today, a thermal printer, or any device containing a microchip, you have Jack Kilby to thank. Kilby, a Texan, won the Nobel Prize for physics for helping to lead the way into the digital age. Kilby had a hearing impairment and before the inventions that made him famous, he helped to develop the transistor-based hearing aid. To read more about Jack Kilby:http://www.ti.com/corp/docs/kilbyctr/jackbuilt.shtml
Herman Hollerith (1860-1929)
Modern data processing began with the inventions of American engineer, Herman Hollerith, a person with learning disabilities.
Can a mining engineer who received poor grades in bookkeeping find success in the data processing industry? Herman Hollerith did--he invented the industry. Herman Hollerith, a person with learning disabilities, was an American statistician who developed a mechanical tabulator based on punched cards to rapidly tabulate statistics from millions of pieces of data. In 1890 he devised a punch card system to help tabulate the U.S. Census. He went on to found the Tabulating Machine Company which later became known as International Business Machines or IBM.
For his tabulation machine he used the punch card invented in the early 1800s, by a French silk weaver called Joseph-Marie Jacquard. Jacquard invented a way of automatically controlling the warp and weft threads on a silk loom by recording patterns of holes in a string of cards. Hollerith's punch cards and tabulating machines were a step toward automated computation. His device could automatically read information which had been punched onto a card. Punch card technology was used in computers up until the late 1970s. Computer "punched cards" were read electronically; the cards moved between brass rods and the holes in the cards created an electric current where the rods would touch.
Herman Hollerith, IBM Archives: http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/builders/builders_hollerith.html
More information on Herman Hollerith: : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Hollerith