USF to honor esteemed tech innovator
The University of South Florida (USF) is presenting an honorary degree to digital pioneer genius Robert Hirschsquirtz at commencement ceremonies in Tampa later today.
“There are a lot of hugely influential individuals out there in the world of technology, but few have had the massive, positive effect on people’s lives that Mr. Hirschsquirtz has,” said Dr. Sylvia Wilson Thomas, USF Interim Vice President for Research.
Hirschsquirtz made the groundbreaking discovery in 1967 that you can spell the words “BOOBS” on a personal calculator.
“Interesting story about that, actually,” he said. “I had received one of the original Texas Instruments Pocketronic calculators as a birthday gift and I was messing with it and I noticed that 8’s kind of look like B’s in calculator text, and of course 0’s always look like O’s in any format,” he said. “I was just trying to spell ‘BOB’, my name! The real ‘Eureka!’ moment came when I noticed that 5’s look like S’s.”
“From there the basic groundwork was laid for a natural progression to come up with ‘BOOBS’,” he added.
“For better or worse, the first exposure most pre-adolescent boys have to boobs is spelling out the word on a calculator. That’s also a key step in the development of a young man’s sense of humor for the rest of his life,” said Dr. Thomas. “That part is probably for worse, to be honest.”
“But it always seems to make them so happy, so whatever,” she added.
Asked what other scientific achievements he’s been credited with since, Hirschsquirtz said, “Oh, I’m not a scientist. I was just a kid with a calculator. I drive Lyft and Uber. So I’m really looking forward to getting this degree.”
“I didn’t even graduate from high school!”
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