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U of I Inventor, Bypassed For Nobel, To Share Draper Prize

Nick Holonyak, Jr.

LED Inventor and retired U of I professor Nick Holonyak, Jr. (U of I News Bureau)

A retired University of Illinois professor who invented the first light-emitting diode will share the Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering. 

The National Academy of Engineering announced Tuesday that 86-year-old Nick Holonyak Jr. will share the 2015 award with M. George Craford, Russell Dupuis, Isamu Akasaki and Shuji Nakamura. 

Holonyak invented the tiny red light that made fiber-optics networks, DVDs and many other technologies possible. But when last year's Nobel Prize went to the men who created the first blue LED, Holonyak and some other scientists felt that he'd been snubbed. 

They say his invention laid the groundwork for everything that came afterward.  

Holonyak says he's pleased to be among those receiving the $500,000 Draper Prize, but won't be able to attend the Feb. 24 ceremony in Washington D.C.