International Standards and Conformity Assessment for all electrical, electronic and related technologies

News release – 2010 Number 8

Thomas A. Edison Award Laureates

IEC Recognizes TC/SC & CA Officers' exceptional current achievements


Geneva, Switzerland, 2010-09-02 The IEC Thomas A. Edison Award, a newly created prize, is attributed to a maximum of nine persons who are currently managing a Technical Committee or Subcommittee in the IEC or one of the IEC Conformity Assessment Systems.


IEC Thomas A. Edison Award

Every year the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) honours the commitment and work of a select group of experts who, through their leadership and technical expertise contribute to making technology-based products and systems safer, enabling the roll-out of innovations on a global scale and protecting the lives of millions from electric shocks and other hazards.


The IEC Thomas A. Edison Award, a newly created prize, is attributed to a maximum of nine persons who are currently managing a Technical Committee or Subcommittee in the IEC or one of the IEC Conformity Assessment Systems.


Just like Edison in his day, experts working in the IEC are often world renowned in their area. They not only try to find safe and sometimes creative solutions to overcome challenges, but their work answers true global needs. They fulfil the role of technology enablers, sharing their knowledge so that others don’t have to repeat mistakes or reinvent the wheel.


2010 Thomas A. Edison Award Laureates:

  • Al Brazauski, Secretary
    IEC TC 108: Safety of electronic equipment within the field of audio/video, information technology and communication technology / Underwriters Laboratories, USA
  • Nic Maennling, Secretary
    IEC TC 89: Fire hazard testing / Independent Expert, Canada
  • Reinhard Pelta, Secretary
    IEC TC 64: Electrical installations and protection against electric shock / Siemens, Germany
  • Ron Petersen, Chairman
    IEC TC 106: Methods for the assessment of electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields associated with human exposure / Independent Expert, USA
  • Umberto Rossi, Chairman
    IEC TC 86: Fibre optics / Independent Expert, Italy
  • Hiroshi Sasaki, Chairman
    IEC SC 61B: Safety of microwave ovens / The Japan Electrical Manufacturers' Association (Panasonic), Japan


The Thomas A. Edison Award will be given during the IEC General Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA. The laureates will receive their silver medal, lapel pin and a certificate from the hands of Frank Kitzantides, IEC Vice-President and Chairman of the SMB (Standardization Management Board).


Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)


Lighting / light bulb (incandescent), power station, phonograph, current (direct)
As the holder of more than a thousand patents and a reputation for hard work barely matched by any other in electrical history, Edison is for many the very model of the inventive genius.


Born in Ohio, USA, Thomas Edison grew up in the bustling city of Port Huron, Michigan. Suffering from increasing deafness throughout his early life, the education he received from his mother left Thomas with a creatively unorthodox approach to science and technology. After brief adventures in running his own newspaper and a domestic chemical laboratory, he became a telegraph operator at 14, soon devising improvements to transmission equipment. In Boston just two years later, he produced his first invention, an automatic repeater; but opposition to his first patent for an electric vote-recording machine convinced him to be more pragmatic about making only devices for which there would be real demand. After hearing lectures in 1861 on the cutting-edge technology of "multiplexing" telegraph signalling, Edison improved duplex transmission technology and later patented the first quadruplex transmitter. By 1874 the income he received from his successful patents enabled him to set up a fully staffed research and development laboratory in Newark, moving two years later to Menlo Park, New Jersey. It was here that Edison’s great period of creativity began.


Narrowly beaten by Alexander Graham Bell to develop a fully working telephone system in 1876, the 29-year old Edison developed a carbon transmitter which soon became a standard feature in telephones. The following year, Edison patented the phonograph for recording and playing back human speech; later versions of this device grounded the enormous growth of the recorded music industry. Although he announced dramatically in 1878 that he was about to reveal the world’s first viable electrical filament lamp, it was not until three years later that Edison dazzled America with his brightest but most labour-intensive invention. And by 1884 he had learned enough from the gas industry’s supply system to offer the world complete direct current electrical supply systems. Eventually Edison lost the ”battle of the systems” to alternating current generation, but his innovations continued in the dictaphone and early forms of cinema – both silent motion pictures and eventually ”talkies” as well.