That big screen, high definition television you’ve been watching? Foster City resident Sam Runco had a hand in developing the technology behind it.
A big hand.
Runco has been working for a better “home theater,” a term he coined, experience since the early 1970s.
He recently received an Emmy Award for the world’s first aspect ratio controller known as the Arc IV, a device he developed in 1991.
An industry legend, its the latest of numerous honors he’s earned. The award was bestowed upon him as part of the 64th Annual Technology and Engineering Emmy Awards.
“It is a pleasure to have received the Emmy,” Runco said. “Any time a person is recognized by their peers for an accomplishment that is worthy of singling out is gratifying and this ward is one of the most important that I have received.”
His immediate family, wife Lori, sons Sammy and Nicky (both Serra High grads), and daughter Sarah, who owns Bones Doggy Day Care in Foster City, were also in attendance.
“What is interesting to me is how much fun and enjoyment my wife and children are having with the Emmy award,” Runco said. “That is a real pleasure to watch.”
Runco won in the category ‘Pioneering Development and Deployment of Aspect Ratio Control Technologies and Systems For Letterbox Images Within Consumer Devices.’
Whatever the category, the device simply works well enough that all of us can enjoy the enhanced experience of television. It allows for the full images intended to be shown on television.
The Arc IV was meant to be used with the Super Improved Definition Television system he developed about the same time. It also forecast the formats used today.
“I played around with a video switcher that had four modes, each having the ability for setting height and width controls,” Runco said. “I modified those controls to all four aspect ratios that are used today. Three were guesses, educated maybe, good guesses, but still guesses.”
Runco has a long list of trademarks and products to his credit, all of which were aimed as producing a better experience on a bigger screen in the home. He never patented the technology however, which is used by almost every television manufacturers.
“We never did anything to protect the intellectual property on the ARC IV,” Runco once told a convention audience. “We developed an aspect ratio controller that will probably be a worldwide standard, and we did nothing to protect it.”
He founded Runco International with his wife in 1987. Two years later Runco introduced the CinemaPro 600 video projector, which replaced the CinemaBeam products that helped launch his company. The projector became extremely popular.
Then came the Super IDTV system and the ARC IV. He continued to tinker and develop new products.
“It is an experience, and like most experiences, it has to be experienced,” Runco told HDTV Magazine. “It can't be synthesized. The whole industry can profit from the experiences of a few companies. One of those companies is Runco.”
Runco was named the most influential person in the Consumer Electronics Industry from an industry survey completed in January.
His other accomplishments include CEDIA Lifetime Achievement Award, DealerScope Magazine Hall of Fame, AVS Forum Lifetime Achievement Award and the CEA Hall of Fame.