I thought your biography was well done. It provided a
lot a detail and made clear a complex timeline. Still,
it was not boring but rather an engaging narrative.
I was also impressed with your strong conclusion and
educated guess about the future of this new
Incidentally, your writing (in English) has improved
tremendously in the last year.
Photo courtesy of Overclockersclub.com.
Profile of Joe Jacobson, Inventor of E-paper
By Gang Wu, for J791 Interactive Journalism, Sep 20, 2005.
If you happen to come across the picture of Joe Jacobson holding a plastic sheet on a 10-year-old magazine, you will not believe that this young man, with his curly short hair and a smiling baby face, is the inventor of a new medium that will revolutionize an industry that has barely changed much for about 2000 years. What the now MIT Media Lab associate professor held in hand was electronic paper, or as he prefers to call it, E-ink.
While horse-drawn carriages become automobiles, typewriters are replaced by computers and everything seems to be turning digital, the traditional paper made from tree pulps stubbornly stays on in the information age. People are still carrying bundles of paper documents around, and mountains of newspapers and books are trucked to news stands or books stores every day.
But imagine one day that all texts and graphics are “printed” on just one piece of paper, an electronic paper. Hundreds of pages, or the pages of hundreds of thousands of books are incorporated into this piece of paper. Wherever you go, you just carry the e-paper. When you feel like to read, you just take it out of your pocket, unfold it, and within a couple of touches, you can read whatever information via wireless connection to the Internet. No more heavy books. No more bulking laptop computers. Just a piece of paper.
Joseph Jacobson is a person who was ambitious enough to envision such a wonderful world a decade ago. According to a story written by Emily Sohn on Sciencenewsforkids.org, Jacobson was sitting on the beach when he first dreamed of creating electronic ink. He had just finished reading a novel and wished that he didn't have to get up to go buy another one. Wouldn't it be great, he thought, if he could simply turn the book he had just read into a new one?
Actually scientists have been working on electronic paper since the 1970s. Due to the absence of related supporting technologies, those attempts had to be aborted halfway. Unaware of what his predecessors had done, Jacobson began to experiment with his ideas in 1995 when he was a Stanford University physics postdoctoral researcher. Later that year after he was appointed an assistant professor position at the MIT Media lab, he continued his research in E-ink. Two years later, with his two undergraduate students and Harvard Business School graduate Russell J. Wilcox, he co-founded E Ink Corporation in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Jacobson’s theory of E-ink is not hard to understand. He puts two kinds of tiny particles into a microcapsule that is filled with a clear liquid. One group of the particles is black. The other is white. All of the particles have an electrical charge. While an exterior charge is added, the positively and negatively charged particles will either be attracted to or repelled away from a surface, thus forming a black or white dot, or pixel. A sheet of electronic paper comes into place when millions of the particle-filled microcapsules are put onto a piece of plastic.
Ten years later, a number of competitor companies have been founded or started to develop similar products. Jujitsu, for example announced in July that it developed “the world's first” bendable color electronic paper with an image memory function. Later that month, Hitachi followed with the announcement of “the world’s largest” e-paper, which measured 27cm*22cm, equal to the size of a 15-inch PC monitor.
No matter what new features these e-paper products boasted, the basic theories are similar to Jacobson’s E-ink technology. It is possible that maybe one day a brand new technology will replace the older ones to make even better e-paper. However, it is not what kind of e-paper that matters. It is his concept of creating an erasable and rewritable electronic sheet that will make a difference to the media industry. For decades, people have been predicting the demise of newspapers, either as a result of the advent of Television or the Internet. But the newspaper publishing keeps moving on and on, even though circulation has been falling over the years.
If there should be an end to the traditional newspapers, it will not happen until real handy and affordable e-paper comes into place. The e-paper can be an e-newspaper, or an e-book, or the screen of a computer that incorporates almost all media content into one place, text, graphics, audio and video. Wherever you go, you can stay informed of any news in the world as long as you bring this e-paper PC along. Or as an civilian journalist, you can also add your version of news report to the Internet, sharing with people with every bit of information around the world. At that time, the world will become the real “Global Village.”