Kornelis Antonie (Kees) Schouhamer Immink
(born 18 December
) 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
Disc. He has been a prolific and influential engineer, who holds more than 1100 US and international patents. The impact of his work on consumer electronics is so large that it is virtually impossible to enjoy digital audio or video that does not reflect his work. His contributions to coding systems jump started the digital video and audio revolution, by enabling reliable data storage at information densities previously thought unattainable.
Immink received several tributes that summarize the impact of his contributions to the digital audio and video revolution. Among the accolades received are the Edison Medal for a career of creative contributions to the technologies of digital video, audio, and data recording, and an individual Technology Emmy award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS). 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 . He wrote over 120 articles and four books including Codes for Mass Data Storage Media . 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 received a Bachelor's degree from the Rotterdam
Academy of Arts and Engineering Sciences (1967), a Masters degree in electrical engineering
(1974, cum laude) and a PhD
(1985) from Eindhoven University of Technology
on a thesis
entitled Properties and Constructions of Binary Channel Codes
Early years at Philips Research
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 worked in various groups. In 1974, he joined the research group Optics
, where pioneering work was done on optical laserdisc
systems. He contributed mainly to the electronics
technology of the video disc . 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.
Around 1976, Philips and Sony showed prototypes of digital audio disc players, which were based on optical videodisc
technology. In 1979, Philips and Sony decided to join forces, and Immink took part in the joint Sony
task force, which developed the Compact Disc
standard, the Red Book
. He contributed to
coding schemes .
In the article, ‘’Shannon, Beethoven, and the Compact Disc’’, Immink presents a historical review of the years leading up to the launch of the cd, and the various crucial decisions made. He strongly refutes the urban legend that the compact disc's diameter was increased from 115 to 120mm to hold the 74 minutes playing time of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler.
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. They also found a simple method to extend the analog videodisc standard with digital sound. 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
In 1993, Toshiba
engineers developed the Super Density Disc
, the successor of the Compact Disc
. Immink was member of the Philips
task force, which developed a competing disc format, called MultMedia CD. Immink created EFMPlus
, a more efficient successor of EFM
used in CD
. The electronics industry feared a repeat of the format war between VHS
in the 1980s. IBM's president, Lou Gerstner
, urged them to adopt Immink’s EFMPlus coding scheme as EFM
has a proven record. 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
, which are incompatible formats for delivering very high-fidelity
audio content. SACD is in a format war
, 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 DVDs high-density successor. Philips and Sony set up a joint task force, where Immink and his co-workers developed DVRs, later called Blu-Ray's, code design. 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. 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
In 1985, Immink joined Philips’ magnetic recording
group, where he contributed to the design of coding technologies of the digital video tape recorder, DV
and the Digital Compact Cassette
(DCC). 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 Inc.
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.
Service to engineering society
Immink has served in officer and board positions for a number of technical societies, government and academic organizations - including the Audio Engineering Society
, 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 honors
Foreign associate, National Academy of Engineering, 2007.
SMPTE Progress Medal awarded by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers
(SMPTE), 2004, For the central role played in research and development of audio and video recording products.
IEEE Consumer Electronics Engineering Excellence Award, 2004.
Heyser Memorial lecturer awarded by the Audio Engineering Society, May 2004.
Technology and Engineering Emmy Award awarded by the National Television Academy 2003, For coding technology for optical recording formats.
Inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame, (CEA), 2003.
Knighthood in the Order of Orange-Nassau awarded by Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands, 2000. Honorary member, Netherlands Electronics and Radio Society (NERG), 2000. Millennium Medal awarded by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers,
(IEEE), 2000. AES Gold Medal awarded by the Audio Engineering Society, (AES), 1999,
For significant contributions to the advancement of consumer audio technology. IEEE Edison Medal, 1999, For a career of creative
contributions to the technologies of digital video, audio, and data recording. Golden Jubilee Award for Technological Innovation awarded by the IEEE Information Theory Society, 1998, For the invention of constrained codes for commercial recording systems. AES 50th Anniversary Commemorative Medal awarded by the Audio Engineering Society, 1998.Academician, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, (KNAW) 1996. Fellow, Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE),1996. IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award
awarded by the IEEE, 1996, For pioneering contributions to consumer digital audio and video recording products Alexander M. Poniatoff Gold Medal Award for Technical Excellence awarded by
the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, 1994, For outstanding contributions to the development of new techniques and/or equipment that have
contributed to the advancement of audio or video magnetic recording and reproduction. Sir J.J. Thomson Medal awarded by the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE),
1993, For distinguished contributions to electronics. AES Silver Medal awarded by the Audio Engineering Society, 1992, For major contributions to the development of digital audio recording systems.
- Codes for Mass Data Storage Systems, Second fully revised edition, Shannon Foundation Publishers, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, Nov. 2004. ISBN 90-74249-27-2
- The Compact Disc Story, AES Journal, pp. 458-465, May 1998
- The future of digital audio recording, AES Journal., pp. 171-172, 1999
- , EFM Patent, base code applied in Compact Disc, CD-R, MiniDisc
- , EFMPlus Patent, base code applied in DVD, DVD-RW, SACD