R.I.P. Mr. Scantron
First there was the mimeograph paper. You know they wet white paper that had purple words, letters and numbers printed that we would all sniff in hopes to get high. Of course, we never did, but eventually, the mimeograph was replaced by slender green and white paper that all we had to do is color in a bubble with a #2 pencil.
So who do we blame for removing our childhood humor of getting high from a test? We blame the same man who gave us the standardized test, Michael Sokolski, who introduced the Scantron. Instead of waiting days for the paper and test to be graded, we had to only wait minutes. I mean all you had to do is fill in a bubble and you would be either right or wrong. No gray area.
Oh, and make sure you fill in the whole bubble or it will be counted as wrong. And lest we forget, don’t be sloppy, it could end up on another bubble and count you wrong. And IF you want to change your answer, it COULD count your previous answer as wrong, if you didn’t erase it completely.
Well, today, the man who helped amp up our test-taking anxiety, Michael Sokolski has died on June 13 from congestive heart failure at the age of 85.
So who was the pencil-pushing bubble-master? Michael Sokolski was Polish born in 1926. He was raised by his father, as he lost his mother during a German attack on his homeland during World War II and made him enlist in the Polish Forces where he was a tank driver and was wounded in action, garnering him Italy Star and War Medal for his service.
He eventually went to the University of Minnesota and graduated with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and was quickly hired at at IBM. Many years later he sold a business that he created to 3M and made a tidy sum of money, which opened the door for him to form Scan-Tron, which completely reinvented the way everyone took tests.
For a bit of Tron…as in ScanTron humor, the nerdery is now open: