Bert Praetorius wasn't a famous inventor, but many of you will recognize and appreciate his contributions to a simple function we've all used at some time or another—rewinding. Rather than rewrite his story ourselves, here's the poignant obituary from one of his grandchildren:
Late Tuesday night, at approximately 10:20PM ET, my maternal grandfather, Bert Praetorius, passed away at approximately 90 years of age...During World War II, he worked for the US Army in signals intelligence (SIGINT) along the east coast of the United States and Canada in efforts to help locate and track German U-boats. After the war, he was honorably discharged and returned to New York City to work for NBC as an electrical engineer, often working on broadcasts of Yankees games (he knew and was friends with many of the players, including many who are considered "greats" today). It was here that he developed the technology for rewinding to work properly (think of something like when you're watching tv and you see someone drop an egg on the sidewalk, and then you'll see the entire think in reverse flawlessly, without the lines you would see like when you would try to do the same with a tape in the VCR- and remember, at this time, this was many years before the advent of home video recording). For this, he received little recognition, despite the now complete ubiquity of his invention...I just felt that it was important to let at least some people know who he was, as his invention, while it likely hasn't actually affected your life much at all, is something with which almost everyone is likely familiar and has never even thought about, as well as him just having had an interesting life.