Isaac S. Blonder, 92, husband, father, inventor, businessman, and technology visionary, died on August 29, 2008 after a long and productive life. Mr. Blonder was born in NYC on June 24, 1916, and grew up in an apartment over his family's garage and gas station in New London, Connecticut. One of five children of immigrants from Russia, “Ike” developed his early engineering skills wandering among junked cars, a blacksmith forge and his mother’s egg-laying hens. He was the first in his family to attend college and was the University of Connecticut's first engineering physics major, graduating in 1938. Mr. Blonder went on to receive a masters in science from Cornell University.
Mr. Blonder entered the army in early 1941 as a member of the Electronic Training Group. As part of a secret clause in the lend-lease agreement between Roosevelt and Churchill, the ETG was sent to England before Pearl Harbor to operate classified radar installations under the auspices of the British government. After the war he gravitated to the burgeoning field of electronics engineering and in 1950, with friend and fellow engineer, Ben Tongue founded NJ-based Blonder-Tongue Laboratories. They manufactured TV cameras, monitors, cable TV equipment, and other products related to the television industry. Under their leadership, Blonder-Tongue Labs created jobs for more than 200 people for 39 years, an accomplishment that Mr. Blonder was as proud of as his 39 patents.
Mr. Blonder had a long history of pioneering innovations. A dispute over one key invention, the asymmetric log-periodic television antenna, made it to the Supreme Court where Blonder-Tongue prevailed and established a key legal precedent on collateral estoppel.
Beyond his many products serving the cable TV industry, Mr. Blonder created the first successful Spanish-language television station in the country. Later, fascinated with 3-D technology, he launched an experimental 3-D TV channel in conjunction with Stevens Institute of Technology. Mr. Blonder was also the first to invent a pay-per view system for cable television. In 2002 Mr. Blonder and Mr Tongue were inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame.
In the 1970's along with Robert Rines (a wartime friend and B-T patent attorney) he joined the Academy of Applied Sciences which sponsored many expeditions to Loch Ness using sonar, underwater photography and pheromones. Soon Loch Ness became an annual family pilgrimage and Mr. Blonder's preferred "vacation." The team did capture underwater photos of a large, moving body- the presence of which was corroborated by sonar readings.
He was married to Lois Blonder for 46 years, with whom he had three children Greg, Brad and Terry. Until her death in 1999, Lois, an artist, broadened his world with art, theater, travel, and stimulating conversation.
Mr. Blonder leaves two children, four grandchildren and three siblings- Bertha Lee Krantz, Esther Lobel and David Blonder, all of Florida.
Donations in Isaac Blonder’s name can be made to The Cable Center