Walk of Fame honours Banting, gyroscope inventor

Two generations of the Rogers family and the inventor of a mail-sorting system made the inaugural list of 10 innovators to be inducted into Canada’s Technology Walk of Fame.

Conceived by new media event Gigathon organizer Julian Wharton, the Walk of Fame covers categories like hardware and software, health, productivity, communication and education.

Rogers Communications chairman Ted Rogers earned the Lifetime achievement award for his work in broadcasting, while his father, Ted Rogers Sr., was honoured for his pioneering work in radio transmission. The hardware mention went to gyroscope inventor Reginald A. Fessenden, while Maurice Levy won the productivity spot for his 1957 creation of a postal sorting machine. In some cases, making a formal presentation to the Walk of Fame recipients will be challenging.

“The one thing I would say I have learned from this process is, how do you contact people who are dead?” he said. “I thought at one point we were going to have to get out the Ouija board.”

Instead, Wharton has researchers working through the extensive records provided by the Mormon church to track down family members or associates of deceased honorees, who will accept the awards in their place.

Unlike the Hollywood Walk of Fame at Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, the honorees will be recognized by circuit boards using fibre optic lighting that will be either cemented into ground or mounted perpendicularly between Fraser and Jefferson St.

The public was invited to electronically suggest nominees, and Wharton said they ran the gamut of 700 nominations from well-known names like Frederick Banting (who discovered insulin and won the health spot on the Walk) to “companies I’d never heard of.” The final list was e-mailed to 75 judges across Canada, who were asked to vote on specific categories.

Wharton said he was pleased with the process but would have changed the way the project rolled out.

“I think we lost momentum because we announced early, and then there was Gigathon, and then Walk of Fame was announced later,” he said.

Next spring, Wharton and his partners will host a Technology Summit Week that will wrap in the Canadian New Media awards and other well-known events. The Technology Walk of Fame will be added to the lineup, with Gigathon as the finale. Wharton said he is trying to get technology companies to open their doors and the City of Toronto to bus people around on tours. “We’ll combine our efforts with other people’s efforts so people will get more bang for their buck.”

Wharton said his biggest fear came through when the City of Toronto said it was falling 90 days late on the construction on the walk. The board of directors behind the Walk have decided to postpone the ceremony until next spring. “I don’t think you want a bunch of CEOs out in the cold,” he said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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