Arnold Spielberg, father of USC Shoah Foundation Institute founder Steven Spielberg, was honored Thursday with the Institute’s inaugural Inspiration Award at a private luncheon in Los Angeles.
Arnold was recognized for his many years of mentorship and support of the Institute’s work, especially in the area of humanity through technology.
A computer pioneer and former electrical engineer, Arnold was a volunteer and guiding light helping inspire the early team at the organization to overcome technical and logistical hurdles.
The Inspiration Award, which will hereafter be known as the Arnold Spielberg Inspiration Award, was established to honor friends who have supported the Institute, and to raise awareness of the Institute’s goals of promoting tolerance, cultural understanding, and mutual respect through the educational use of the testimonies in its Visual History Archive.
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The USC Shoah Foundation Institute has collected and maintains an archive of nearly 52,000 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses, from 56 countries in 32 languages – claimed to be the largest visual history archive of its kind in the world.
“I am so pleased and touched to be able to recognize my father’s vital contributions to the organization,” said Steven Spielberg, founder of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute. “With this Inspiration Award that will carry his name in perpetuity, my father will continue to be a beacon as we pursue our mission.”
Microsoft served as presenting sponsor of the event.
“It is a great privilege to be a part of this special celebration to recognize Arnold Spielberg for his contribution to the Institute by building upon the promise of transforming and promoting humanity through technology,” said Don Mattrick, president of interactive entertainment business, Microsoft.
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During World War II, Arnold served with the 490th “Skull & Wings” Bomb Squadron, known as the “Burma Bridge Busters,” and became communications chief.
Arnold helped design and build the first business computer. He also invented and patented the first electronic library system and designed the first electronic cash register, transforming the “point of sale” retail industry, according to the Institute.
“I am very proud that my son Steven had the foresight to record the stories of the survivors so that future generations could learn lessons from the voices of those who were subjected to intolerance and hatred, and scholars could research the archive and use the content in whatever way they could to benefit humanity,” Arnold said.
Established in 1994 by Steven Spielberg to collect and preserve the testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute maintains one of the largest video digital libraries in the world: nearly 52,000 video testimonies in 32 languages and from 56 countries.