Kees Schouhamer Immink

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Kees Schouhamer Immink
Kees Schouhamer Immink in 2004 with his Emmy Award
Born (1946-12-18) December 18, 1946 (age 71)
Alma materEindhoven University of Technology
Known forCompact Disc, DVD, Blu-ray Disc
AwardsIEEE Medal of Honor
Emmy Award
Edison Medal
Faraday Medal
AES Gold Medal
SMPTE Progress Medal
Scientific career
FieldsElectronics, Information Theory
InstitutionsTuring Machines Inc
Philips Research Laboratories
Institute for Experimental Mathematics
National University of Singapore

Kornelis Antonie "Kees" Schouhamer Immink (born 18 December 1946) is a Dutch scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur, who pioneered and advanced the era of digital audio, video, and data recording, including popular digital media such as Compact Disc, DVD and Blu-ray Disc.[1] He has been a prolific and influential engineer, who holds more than 1100 U.S. and international patents.[2] A large portion of the commonly used audio and video playback and recording devices use technologies based on his work.[3] His contributions to coding systems assisted the digital video and audio revolution, by enabling reliable data storage at information densities previously unattainable.[3]

Immink received several tributes that summarize the impact of his contributions to the digital audio and video revolution. Among the accolades received are the IEEE Medal of Honor "for pioneering contributions to video, audio, and data recording technology, including compact disc, DVD, and Blu-ray", the Edison Medal[3] and an individual Technology Emmy award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS).[4][5] Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands bestowed him a knighthood in 2000.

Currently, Immink holds the position of president of Turing Machines Inc, which was founded in 1998. During his career, Immink, in addition to his practical contributions, has contributed to information theory.[6][7] He wrote over 120 articles and four books, including Codes for Mass Data Storage Media.[8][9] He has been an adjunct professor at the Institute for Experimental Mathematics, University of Duisburg and Essen, Germany, since 1994, as well as affiliated with the National University of Singapore (NUS) as a visiting professor since 1997.


Immink obtained an Engineer's degree (Ir.) in electrical engineering (1974, cum laude) and a PhD degree (1985) from Eindhoven University of Technology on a thesis entitled Properties and Constructions of Binary Channel Codes .[10]

Early years at Philips Research[edit]

Fresh from engineering school, in 1967, he joined Philips Research Labs in Eindhoven, where he spent thirty years in a fruitful association. The renowned physicist Hendrik Casimir was director of Philips Research till 1972. Immink formulated the atmosphere at that time: "We were able to conduct whatever research we found relevant, and had no pre-determined tasks; instead, we received full freedom and support of autonomous research. We went to work, not knowing what we would do that day. This view -or rather ambiguous view- on how research should be conducted, led to amazing inventions as a result. It was an innovation heaven".[11] Immink worked in various groups, and in 1974, he joined the research group Optics, where pioneering work was done on optical laserdisc systems. He contributed mainly to the electronics and servo technology of the video disc.[12][13][14] In a joint effort, MCA and Philips brought the laserdisc system to the market. Laserdisc was first available in Atlanta in 1978, two years after the VHS and four years before the CD. The Laserdisc never managed a significant presence in market share. The Philips/MCA Laserdisc operation was not successful and discontinued in 1981.

Compact Disc[edit]

Around 1976, Philips and Sony[15] showed prototypes of digital audio disc players, which were based on optical videodisc technology. In the interview by Tekla Perry for the IEEE Spectrum, May 2017,[16] Immink explains that he got involved in the CD project at the end of 1979 when Sony and Philips had decided to jointly settle one design. Both Philips and Sony had shown prototype CD players to the press in 1978. The team at Philips, he says, "needed someone to do measurements of the two competing systems, the quality, how they coped with scratches, how they coped with imperfections of the disc. My job with the LaserDisc was finished, so I said, 'Sure, I could do it.'" Both Philips and Sony had come up with different rules for translating digital audio data to sequences of pits and lands. After a lot of experimentation, Immink improved the playing time by thirty percent by inventing a code that could better cope with the servo systems. The encoding system Immink devised came to be called Eight-to-fourteen modulation (EFM).

Immink took part in the joint SonyPhilips task force, which developed the Compact Disc standard, the Red Book. He contributed to the EFM and CIRC coding schemes.[17][18]

In the article, "Shannon, Beethoven, and the Compact Disc",[19] Immink presents a historical review of the years leading up to the launch of the CD, and the various crucial decisions made. He refutes the urban legend that the compact disc's diameter was increased from 115 to 120 mm solely to hold the 74 minutes playing time of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler.[20] Commercial disputes also played a part.[19][21][22]

After the CD standard was set in 1980, Immink and his co-workers conducted pioneering experiments with magneto-optical audio recording on pre-grooved discs.[23] They also found a simple method to extend the analog videodisc standard with digital sound.[24] The new systems were brought to market as MiniDisc and CD Video. Laserdisc’s fabricated after 1984 have digitally encoded sound signals.

DVD and Blu-ray Disc[edit]

In 1993, Toshiba engineers developed the Super Density Disc, the successor of the Compact Disc. Immink was member of the Philips and Sony task force, which developed a competing disc format, called MultiMedia CD. Immink created EFMPlus, a more efficient successor of EFM used in CD.[25][26][27] The electronics industry feared a repeat of the format war between VHS and Betamax in the 1980s. IBM's president, Lou Gerstner, urged them to adopt Immink’s EFMPlus coding scheme as EFM has a proven record.[28] In September 1995, an agreement was made among the major industries: Philips/Sony surrendered to Toshiba's SuperDensity Disc and Toshiba accepted the EFMPlus modulation. The DVD encompasses the sound-only Super Audio CD (SACD) and DVD-audio formats, developed independently by Sony and Toshiba, which are incompatible formats for delivering very high-fidelity audio content. SACD is in a format war with DVD-Audio, but neither has yet managed to replace audio CDs.

Immediately after the DVD standard was settled in 1996, Philips and Sony, disappointed after the DVD failure, decided to develop a next-generation blue-laser-based digital video recorder (DVR), which would be positioned as DVD's high-density successor.[28] Philips and Sony set up a joint task force, where Immink and his co-workers developed DVRs, later called Blu-ray's, code design.[29][30][31][32] In 2005, seven years after its design, the Blu-ray Disc was brought to market. In 2002, the DVD forum adopted an alternative format, the HD DVD.[33] The two resulting standards had significant differences that made each incompatible with the other. The blue-laser format war with Toshiba’s HD DVD was settled in early 2008 when Toshiba withdrew their system effectively ending the high definition optical disc format war.

DV and DCC[edit]

In 1985, Immink joined Philips’ magnetic recording group, where he contributed to the design of coding technologies of the digital video tape recorder, DV[34][35] and the Digital Compact Cassette (DCC).[36][37] The DCC was short-lived: introduced in 1992 and discontinued in 1996. The DV, launched in 1994, has become a popular tape standard for home and semi-professional video production.

Turing Machines[edit]

After more than thirty years, Immink left Philips Research in 1998, and founded Turing Machines Inc., where he currently serves as its president. The small research institute has been successful in creating new coding technology, and was granted around ten US patents.[38]

Service to engineering society[edit]

Immink has served in officer and board positions for a number of technical societies, government and academic organizations, including the Audio Engineering Society, IEEE, Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, and several universities. He is a trustee of the Shannon Foundation, and was a governor of the IEEE Consumer Electronics and Information Theory Societies. He was on the governors board of the Audio Engineering Society for over 10 years, and was its president in 2002–2003.

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ National Academy of Engineering Archived 2008-11-29 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Immink's home page". Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  3. ^ a b c "Kees A. S. Immink". IEEE Global History Network. IEEE. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  4. ^ Winners 2003 Emmy Award. Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ CEA Digital audio pioneers Archived 2008-02-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Immink’s literature
  7. ^ IEEE Information Theory Society Golden Jubilee Awards for Technological Innovation Archived 2007-02-26 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Kees A. Schouhamer Immink (November 2004). Codes for Mass Data Storage Systems (Second fully revised ed.). Eindhoven, The Netherlands: Shannon Foundation Publishers. ISBN 978-90-74249-27-0. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
  9. ^ Codes for Mass Data Storage Systems (Chinese).[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Properties and Constructions of Binary Channel Codes, PhD Thesis, 1985". Retrieved 2014-06-17.
  11. ^ "NatLab's History". Archived from the original on 30 April 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  12. ^ U.S. Patent 4,286,318 Control loop for videodisc.
  13. ^ U.S. Patent 4,357,696 Optical scanning apparatus with focussing system.
  14. ^ U.S. Patent 4,193,091 Optical videodisc read unit with tracking and focussing wobble
  15. ^ "A Long-Play Digital Audio Disk System". Retrieved 2008-02-19.
  16. ^ Perry, Tekla (2017). "Kees Immink: The Man Who put the Compact Disc on Track". IEEE Spectrum. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  17. ^ U.S. Patent 4,501,000, EFM Patent, Compact Disc, CD-R, MiniDisc, 1985.
  18. ^ U.S. Patent 4,477,903 Error correction system, CIRC, 1984.
  19. ^ a b K. Schouhamer Immink (2007). "Shannon, Beethoven, and the Compact Disc". IEEE Information Theory Society Newsletter. 57: 42–46. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  20. ^ K. Schouhamer Immink (1998). "Compact Disc Story". Journal of the Audio Engineering Society. 46 (5): 458–460. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  21. ^ Cassidy, Fergus (2005-10-23). "Great Lengths". Sunday Tribune. Archived from the original (reprint) on 2007-12-22. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
  22. ^ K.A. Schouhamer Immink (2018). "How we made the compact disc". Nature Electronics. 1. Retrieved 2018-04-16. An international collaboration between Philips and the Sony Corporation lead to the creation of the compact disc. The author explains how it came about
  23. ^ K. Schouhamer Immink and J. Braat (1984). "Experiments Toward an Erasable Compact Disc". J. Audio Eng. Soc. 32: 531–538. Retrieved 2018-02-02.
  24. ^ "Digital audio modulation in the PAL and NTSC video disc formats, J. Audio Eng. Soc. vol. 32, pp. 883, 1984". Retrieved 2008-02-21.
  25. ^ "EFMPlus: The Coding Format of the MultiMedia Compact Disc". IEEE Trans. Consumer Electr. 41 (3): 491–497. August 1995.
  26. ^ U.S. Patent 5,696,505, EFMPlus Patent, DVD, DVD-RW, and SACD.
  27. ^ K.A.S. Immink The Digital Video Disc (DVD): System requirements and coding, SMPTE Journal, pp. 483, 1996.
  28. ^ a b Blu-ray vs HD DVD: State of the Division.
  29. ^ U.S. Patent 6,225,921, Blu-ray base code.
  30. ^ U.S. Patent 6,496,541, Blu-ray base code.
  31. ^ U.S. Patent 6,545,615, Blu-ray base code.
  32. ^ "Sony Shows 'DVR-Blue' Prototype". 2000-10-11. Archived from the original on 2008-02-29. Retrieved 2008-02-25.
  33. ^ "DVD Forum backs Toshiba-NEC format". 2003-11-28. Archived from the original on 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
  34. ^ "K.A.S. Immink and J. Kahlman, Channel code with embedded pilot tracking tones for DVC-R, IEEE Trans. Consumer Electronics, vol. CE-41, no. 1, p. 180, 1995". Retrieved 2008-02-24.
  35. ^ List of Winners SMPTE Progress Medal.
  36. ^ U.S. Patent 4,620,311, DCC code.
  37. ^ "K.A.S. Immink and G. van den Enden, A Comparison of Rotary-and Stationary-Head Video Tape Recorders, IEEE Trans. Consumer Electr., vol. CE-42, p. 998, Nov. 1996". Retrieved 2008-02-24.
  38. ^ Immink's US patents.
  39. ^ "IEEE Medal of Honor 2017".
  40. ^ "IET Achievement Award winners announced, 2015". Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  41. ^ "Finalist for the European Inventor Award, 2015". Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  42. ^ "Digital pioneer Prof Immink inspires UJ engineering graduates". UJ Newsroom. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  43. ^ "Foreign Associates of the NAE, 2007". Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  44. ^ "SMPTE Progress Medal Past Recipients". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2008-02-17.
  45. ^ "AES Heyser Lecture "From Analog to Digital"". Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  46. ^ "IEEE Honors Ceremony, London, 1999". Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  47. ^ "Golden Jubilee Awards for Technological Innovation". IEEE Information Theory Society. Retrieved July 14, 2011.
  48. ^ "Kees Schouhamer Immink". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  49. ^ Winners of the IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award..


External links[edit]