Obit of the Day: Scantron Inventor
A piece of paper with lettered circles or open rectangles and a number 2 pencil. These have become two of the most important pieces of equipment in education throughout the United States and the person to thank - or blame - is Michael Sokolski.
Mr. Sokolski, a Polish native, lost his mother at the age of sixteen when his home was destroyed by the Nazis. He fled his country carrying only a loaf of bread. Making his way west, he enlisted in the British Eighth Army Command. He would serve in Italy, earning a medal for his actions during the Battle of Monte Cassino.
After the war, Mr. Sokolski would emigrate to St. Paul, Minnesota and attend the University of Minnesota, earning a degree in mechanical engineering. Over the next twenty years, he would work for IBM, found Datronics and sell it to 3M, and become a U.S. citizen.
But education history would change forever in 1972 when he would founded Scantron, a company that created optical scanning test sheets that would haunt students from elementary school through college for the next forty years. As of 2012 80 of the 100 largest school districts in the United States use Scantron. And like Kleenex, Band-Aid, and aspirin Scantron is a brand-name that has become a proprietary eponym. (All scanning forms are referred to as “scantrons”)
Michael Sokolski died at the age of 85.
(Image is courtesy of lytrod.com)
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