A few Ghanaians and indeed Africans know of his exploits but Victor B. Lawrence is as formidable as they come. He is among a select few inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his exploits.
He was part of those inducted at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery on May 5, 2016, joining an august ensemble including Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.
Lawrence was born in Ghana on May 10, 1945, and a graduate of Achimota College. As an electrical engineer, he has been with Bell laboratories for most of his career.
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“Lawrence developed his signature achievement in the 1980s as the world started moving away from data transmissions bogged down by masses of wires and cords to a more wireless future. After completing his PhD from the University of London, he was recruited by AT&T,” CBS News reported.
Brilliant yet meek, he noted upon his induction: “I was so humbled when I found out. I did not believe it, because this is such a great honor. For me, this is something that I was really not expecting; it is really a big honor for me.”
Lawrence is credited with improving transmission for the modern Internet, made high-speed connections more available, and stimulated the growth of the global Internet. His work advanced data encoding and transmission, modem technology, silicon chip design, ATM switching and protocols, DSL, speech and audio coding, and digital video.
At Bell Laboratories, he manipulated data for faster and more reliable travel over telephone lines. He streamlined signal travel while using less bandwidth, and his chipsets formed the heart of voice-band modems and DSL technologies.
Lawrence now 85 and based in the US was lead engineer of AT&T’s 2.4kbps full duplex modem. His innovations pushed modems to 56kbps. Lawrence helped turn the Internet into a global industry useful for more than simple text-based functions. He also developed methods of including more information in a signal, facilitating the introduction of digital video and radio, and the development of high-definition and digital television.
Born in Ghana, Lawrence received B.Sc., DIC, and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of London. Lawrence is now on the faculty of Stevens Institute of Technology. An advocate of bringing Internet access to the world’s poorest countries, Lawrence has spearheaded efforts to lay high capacity fiber optic cable along the west coast of Africa.
The curious thing about Lawrence as submitted by Ghanaian journalist PaJohn Benstifi Dadson is that he was one of the people Ghana’s first president Dr. Kwame Nkrumah sponsored to go and learn, return and invent things in Africa but upon Nkrumah’s overthrow he was chased out of the country mistrusted by the military regime about where their allegiance lied.
Dadson added “he holds patent to about 400 inventions including HMM that allows you to watch digital programs on your phone, television and etc.”