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Tech association packs in diversity with Hall of Fame honorees

In an age when massive amounts of complex data can be easily shared via a tweet, YouTube clip or miniaturized URL, it’s difficult to fathom a time when communication between computers was painfully slow and unwieldy.

The ZIP file format, which was invented more than two decades ago by Milwaukee entrepreneur and inventor Phil Katz, forever changed digital communication by using a compression algorithm to simply and reliably transmit heavy loads of disparate information. This Thursday, the Downers Grove-based international information technology trade association CompTIA will induct Katz (who died of alcohol-related ailments in 2000) into its Hall of Fame during a ceremony hosted at Swissotel Chicago.

“We wouldn’t be in the position where we are today without him,” said CompTIA president and CEO Todd Thibodeaux. “The algorithms that were required to take a big file, turn it into something else and unpack it — we take that for granted.”

Also entering CompTIA’s Hall of Fame this week is Earl Pace, co-founder of national Black Data Processor Associates organization. The BDPA was founded in 1975 to promote education and career advancement among minorities in information technology industries. Among the more than 50 nationwide chapters, Pace said BDPA Chicago members have historically enjoyed superior ties to the business and corporate communities.

“(Former Allstate chief information officer) Frank Pollard used to say that we were his food chain,” said Pace, adding that high school students that participated in BDPA youth conferences would eventually graduate into full-time jobs with Allstate, Kraft and other local companies.

More information about CompTIA and its Hall of Fame nominees can be found at

NuclearWatchDog Android app details local plant safety information

Highland Park-based developer Lee Guthman created the NuclearWatchDog mobile application, a free app that tracks power plant information within a 50-mile radius of the user, and details things like age, ownership and the power output of the plants. It is available on Android devices and may soon come to the iPhone.

Business Marketing Association Explores Social Media 3.0

Former Sun-Times “Tech Matters” columnist Michael Krauss this Wednesday will moderate a panel on social media and business-to-business marketing during a lunchtime seminar at the Standard Club. Hosted by the Chicago chapter of the Business Marketing Association, the Social Media 3.0 panel will include insight from executives from Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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