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The David Sarnoff Research Center: Enabling Technological Innovation

"David Sarnoff's prophetic visions of the enormous possibilities of wireless communications for commerce, information, and entertainment, combined with his knowledge of the technical possibilities, provided the objectives and challenges of a major segment of the wireless communications industry for more than half a century."


David Sarnoff began his career as an office boy and wireless telegraph operator, then went on to become head of the world's foremost electronics company, the RCA Corporation. Eventually, Sarnoff was recognized around the world as the spokesman for his industry.

The Center of Innovation

The David Sarnoff Research Center continues in the tradition of its namesake to pioneer new communications technologies. A subsidiary of SRI International, Sarnoff applies its expertise in software and digital integrated circuit (IC) design, process and materials research, digital signal processing hardware and software, electromechanical devices and displays to projects for commercial and government clients in the areas of consumer and solid state electronics materials science, communications, and biomedical technology.

David Sarnoff announces the birth of television in 1939

Many of the major advances in electronics during the past 50 years have been pioneered at the David Sarnoff Research Center in West Windsor. Originally it was established as RCA Laboratories in 1942, but after RCA was sold to General Electric in 1986, the Sarnoff Center became part of SRI International, in Menlo Park, CA. Developments made at Sarnoff include color television, injection lasers, liquid crystal technology, solid state amplifiers for satellite communications, high-speed computer memories, MOS transistors and logic arrays, and optical and capacitive video disc systems.

1990s Bring Accelerating Change

In 1994, Sarnoff continued to commercialize some of its own technologies and introduced three new ventures. Sarnoff Real Time Corporation was introduced to target the video server and video production markets. The nation's first interactive health network, called Healthnet, was announced by Sarnoff and Steven Schlossstein as a consumer-oriented medical and health information service for emerging interactive TV systems. Finally, Sarif, Inc. was formed to develop and commercialize polysilicon active matrix flat panel displays.

Sensar, the Company's first spin-out introduced in 1992, is helping commercialize computer vision technologies to clients worldwide.

In December 1994, Sarnoff received notification from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that it would receive funding for the application of modern electronics and electromechanical technologies to biomedical problems as a fully automated DNA "MicroLab" as part of the Department of Commerce's Advanced Technology Program. Sarnoff also enlarged its biomedical technologies group to provide more services in the area of FDA compliance for manufacturers and be a greater force in the biomedical industry.

Tomorrow's Technology Today

Nineteen ninety-five saw Sarnoff underscore its expertise in digital video compression when it announced its MPEG video compliance bitstreams, a giant step toward making digital video an industry standard. In April 1996, Sarnoff announced enhancements to its compliance bitstreams (licensed by Tektronix, which distributes them in conjunction with the MTS100 MPEG Protocol Test System).

Other recent advances includes the continuation of the development of a system for HDTV through Sarnoff's participation in the Grand Alliance, in addition to other activities for consumer and commercial products.

Whether it is helping a client bring a product to market, forming alliances to advance R&D, or spinning out new companies that will attack electronic imaging problems, Sarnoff expects to play a significant role in the evolution of digital imaging technologies.