Rao R. Tummala led a team that invented the first plasma display

He left his village nearly five decades ago to study and then work in the U.S. Today, Rammohana Rao Tummala is highly respected as a scientist and inventor. He holds 71 U.S. patents and credit for inventions. He has invented and manufactured the first ever plasma display for the IBM.

Six months in a year he travels extensively as adviser to several academic, research bodies and consultant to many Fortune 500 electronic companies in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. In spite of his hectic life, Prof. Rao R. Tummala always makes time to visit his native village, Nandamuru, on the Vijayawada-Gudivada Road.

He came to make a presentation at the Nano Conference at Bangalore and came to spend some time with his cousins in his village. Born in Nandamuru, he did his entire schooling in the village. He is the son of the soil in the true sense because his father was a farmer. Prof. Rao did his science degree in Andhra Loyola College in Vijayawada and his engineering degree in Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. In 1965, he left India to do his MS in Metallurgical Engineering in Canada. After that, there was no turning back for Prof. Rao. After working for several years with the IBM, he became an IBM Fellow in 1983 and held the honour till 1993.

Claim to fame

“My claim to fame is heading the team that invented the first plasma display and manufacturing it. It was small (he used his hands to indicate that it was about five inches long and wide), but IBM made 300 million dollars with it,” he said. After being the IBM fellow, Prof. Rao moved over to academics and is today a professor at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, more popularly known as Georgia Tech at Atlanta. Prof. Rao has published over 320 technical papers and has authored several books, including the first modern reference book for Microsystems.

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