LED technology helps news get on air

Published 10/09 2012 10:39PM

Updated 10/10 2012 11:05AM

CHAMPAIGN -- A UI professor is celebrated for an invention that changed the history of technology. In fact, you might be using it to see WCIA-3's newscast on TV. It's called the light emitting diode, better known as the LED.

50 years ago today, the man who created it showed it off for the first time. And much of how WCIA-3 is able to produce a newscast is thanks to his invention.

Working as our master-control-operator is a non-stop task for Dave Warner. He's basically in charge of every program and commercial that airs on our station. And doing that means pushing these LED lit buttons.

"Switches always have LED's under them," said Warner. "These little displays are LED's."

The same goes for much of the control room and also our newsroom.

"Right now I'm trying to pick a story. Not only to write it but I have to look through the video," said Mary Davies.

She's our 10:00 pm producer. Davies spends about 8 hours a day staring at a constant reminder of the useful invention.

"I'm using the computer monitor, the mouse; I'm using all the different programs on the computer. We all have cell phones that we use, you guys have work phones."

All these things help make our jobs possible, and it's all thanks to Dr. Nick Holonyak, Jr. The UI professor designed the LED while working as a scientist for General Electric. Students and staff honored his break through Tuesday, half a century after the bright idea made its debut.

"I learned to make almost anything I wanted myself," said Holonyak.

Christmas lights, toys, alarm clocks. Holonyak's design is almost impossible to avoid nowadays.

"I think it's something that we take for granted. But I think if you stop and think about it, it's like wow it's everywhere," said Davies.

The honors just keep on coming for Holonyak. In November, he was inducted into the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame. Other famous inventors on the list include Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers.

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