Captioning’s Night on the Red Carpet


Today may be Blue Monday, the day popularly estimated to be the saddest of the year, but what better occasion to look ahead to the most magical time of year for every TV-viewer — award season! The drama! The heartbreak! The montages! The month of the year when hundreds of our most talented actors, actresses, and sound-mixing geeks get all dolled up and take home shiny paperweights. (That goes for you, too, Coach ______ Harbaugh).  

And why should the closed captioning industry miss out on the fun? Flash back to 1980 and this guy, Jim Jesperson, posing here with his very own Emmy.

No, it isn’t for best moustache in leading role. It’s for inventing the process we now know and love — closed captioning. Along with NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) engineers George Kamas and Dick Davis, the physicist received his Emmy award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development in 1980. Other winners in his Emmy class were  Stuart Margolin from “The Rockford Files” and Johnny Carson, who received the Governor’s Award. Respectable company, indeed!

When he was not busy inventing groundbreaking technologies, the late Jesperson enjoyed writing poetry and beekeeping. He was a Colorado native, and the award still resides in Boulder, Colorado, in the NIST office lobby. One VITAC blog enthusiast paid homage last week, obtaining this exclusive photo:

So, cheer up, folks. If a group scientists can win a glamorous award like this one, just think of what you can do.