Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 30/1/2004Today is Shuji Nakamura's day! You haven't heard of him?

Friday 30/1/2004

Today is Shuji Nakamura's day! You haven't heard of him? He's changed your life. He is the chap who invented the blue LED -- thus breaking forever the dominance of those red, green and orange twinkly lights that festooned our electronic equipment for 30 pointlessly dull years. Now our phones, our hi-fis, our car dashboards are all seas of glorious, beautiful blueness, with tiny, bright little lights that don't burn out, don't take much power but mostly just look gorgeous.

For this work of world-shattering brilliance, Nakamura was awarded around £120 by his company, which subsequently went on to earn somewhere north of £700m in royalties. The company, Nichia Corp, claims that as it was invented on its time, Nakamura has no rights to the blue LED at all: he, unsurprisingly, disagrees. It has to be said that his invention was a work of genius: he pursued an idea that everyone else dismissed, ran entirely contrary to received wisdom and came up with the goods through unalloyed, 24 carat braininess. He deserves more.

A court in Tokyo agreed, and decided that more in this case should be £120m, give or take. Of course, there'll be an appeal -- but I say no. The man has adorned the globe in gorgeousness. Give him his just reward.