Auburn Library to host Auburn alumnus, an inventor who’s the subject of new biography ‘Genius in America’

Inventor and Auburn University alumnus C. Harry KnowlesAUBURN UNIVERSITY –Inventor and Auburn physics alumnus C. Harry Knowles will be the featured guest Thursday, March 27 at an Auburn University Libraries event marking the publication this month of his biography, “Genius in America: The Story of C. Harry Knowles, Inventor.”

At 3 p.m. in the Special Collections and Archives Department of the Ralph Brown Draughon Library, the author of “Genius in America”, Mary Ellen Hendrix, will read from the book. Knowles will discuss his career and answer questions from the audience. Immediately following the program there will be a reception and a book signing.

Knowles recently donated his personal papers and photos to the university. Some of the photos include glimpses of Auburn life from 1945 to 1951 and will be on display.

Receiving his physics degree from Auburn in 1951, Birmingham native Knowles went on to earn more than 400 patents in transistor, laser and bar code scanning technology. As founder of Metrologic Instruments Inc. in New Jersey in 1968, and head of the global bar code scanning company for nearly 40 years, Knowles introduced some of the earliest handheld bar code scanners, profoundly altering the marketplace for retailers and consumers alike.

Knowles’ scientific contributions include not only innovative scanner technologies, but also transistors that served the nation’s first satellite and computers of the late 1950s and 1960s. His star transistor, universally recognized as the “2N2222” transistor, became an industry workhorse manufactured in the billions. In addition, Knowles developed and presented in 1964 the basic concepts of and precursor to the renowned Moore’s Law forecasting model for the semiconductor industry.

Knowles was honored by Auburn University in 2006 as a College of Sciences and Mathematics Distinguished Alumnus; in 2007, with a Lifetime Achievement Award; and, in 2008, with the university’s highest recognition – an honorary doctorate.

Award-winning author Hendrix, who retired from the university in 2007, worked with Auburn University alumni for many years in her capacity as associate editor for The Auburn Alumnews and Auburn Magazine. During her Auburn tenure, Hendrix, who holds a dual degree in journalism and English from Auburn, interviewed some of the university’s brightest and most successful alumni, ultimately leading to the book on Knowles.

(Written by Jayson Hill.)

Contact: Jayson Hill, Auburn University Libraries, (334) 844-7439 (,
Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (