23 May/16

The Ingenuity of Bulgaria

Ingenuity of Bulgaria
The Ingenuity of Bulgaria. The inventors of Facebook, computers and digital watches – all have Bulgarian roots

The Ingenuity of Bulgaria
Facebook, Computers & Digital Watches

He is the inaugural winner of the Axel Springer Award, launched in 2016, which recognizes outstanding entrepreneurial personalities and their innovative, cultural and social commitment. According to Forbes magazine, he is the youngest of the ten richest people in the world, aged 31 and with an estimated fortune of $44.6 billion. We are referring to Mark Zuckerberg [born 1984] – the co-founder of Facebook. While studying psychology and computer science at Harvard University, the visionary with Bulgarian roots developed the social network together with fellow students Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes, Andrew McCollum and Eduardo Saverin. The American’s ancestors on his mother’s side came from Bulgaria – in fact, he was named after his grandfather, Marko. Today, Facebook has approximately 1.6 billion (!) users worldwide, with more than a billion people using Facebook on a daily basis.

Almost 70 years before Facebook, one of the prerequisites for a virtual social network was invented – the computer. This groundbreaking accomplishment can be attributed to New York-born scientist John Atanasoff [1903-1995], whose family also has roots in Bulgaria. With the assistance of graduate student Clifford Berry, this son of an electrical engineer and a teacher of mathematics designed the first electronic digital computer at Iowa State College – the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC). It was able to solve difficult linear equations, although the device was not a computer in the conventional sense as used today, as it was not programmable. In 1970, the inventor was awarded the Order of Saints Cyril and Methodius, First Class, by the Bulgarian government for his technical breakthrough. After a long legal dispute over the patent for the first computer, which initially belonged to the ENIAC model, Judge Earl R. Larson found in 1973 that the Atanasoff-Berry Computer was the first electronic digital computer. Eventually, the computer pioneer received the United States National Medal of Technology for his innovation, awarded to him by US President George H.W. Bush in 1990, half a century after his invention.

The inventor of the first digital watch also came from Bulgaria. Shortly before the end of the Second World War, Bulgarian scientist Peter Dimitroff Petroff (1919-2003) fled the advancing Red Army to Germany, where he obtained a degree in electrical, mechanical and civil engineering in 1947. In the early 1960s, he moved to the USA as a NASA engineer, where he later struck out on his own. With his company, Care Electrics, he developed the first wireless heart monitor and then, under the Electro/Data name, the first digital watch, marketed by the Hamilton Watch Company for $2,100 in 1971 as the Pulsar and featuring a red LED display.

Bulgaria is full of potential, and is particularly impressive in the IT sector, which offers innovative software solutions. Talented people often leave their homeland to bring their ideas out into the world. EVS Translations, however, employs its Bulgarian specialists in translation engineering on site at its office in Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria.