A technology entrepreneur, Jim Fruchterman is a former rocket scientist who has founded two of the foremost optical character recognition companies and developed successful social enterprises. Jim co-founded Calera Recognition Systems in 1982. Calera developed character recognition that allowed computers to read virtually all printed text.
In 1989, Jim founded Arkenstone, a nonprofit social enterprise, to produce reading machines for the disabled community based on the Calera technology. Following the sale of the Arkenstone product line in 2000, Jim used all the resulting capital to fund Benetech, with an explicit goal of using the power of technology to serve humanity.
Jim has also been active in public service, with two stints on U.S. federal advisory committees. In 2006, he received a MacArthur Fellowship. Jim was named an Outstanding Social Entrepreneur in 2003 by the Schwab Foundation and continues to participate in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Benetech received the Skoll Award for social entrepreneurship under Jim’s leadership. Jim also received the Robert F. Bray Award from the American Council of the Blind in recognition of his outstanding efforts to make literary works accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired.
Jim believes that technology is the ultimate leveler, allowing disadvantaged people to achieve more equality in society. “I’m an advance scout for social applications,” notes Jim. “I find exciting technology waiting to be turned into non-commercial tools for disadvantaged groups.”
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