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Scantron Inventor Michael Sokolski Dies at 85

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Scantron was the only way to take standardized tests when I was a kid. Armed with a number two pencil and a head full of potential, students would hunker down over these sheets and attempt to “fill in the bubble completely”, as per our teacher’s instructions. If you’re living with OCD, making sure that these little circles are completely and evenly darkened is akin to absolute madness. Trust me.

Sadly, the inventor of this testing format, Michael Sokolski, died on June 13 from congestive heart failure. He was 85 years-old.

Sokolski was born in Poland on September 25th, 1926. He lost his mother during a German attack on his homeland during World War II, an event which prompted him to serve in the Polish Forces under the British Eighth Army Command. Between the years 1945 and 1947, Sokolski served in Italy, fighting in the battle of Monte Cassino as a tank driver. During this exchange, Sokolski was wounded, earning him the Italy Star and War Medal for his service.

Following his graduation from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, the decorated war hero soon found work at IBM Rochester. In 1966, Sokolski founded Datronics, which he eventually sold to the 3M Corporation. Although he’d already made considerable progress in his career, the world wouldn’t know the man’s name until he formed Scan-Tron, which completely reinvented the way everyone took tests.

If all of this wasn’t enough to keep him busy, this tireless individual was a Technical Reserve for the Santa Ana Police Department in 1979, as well as a member of Advisory Board for the Orange County Sheriff Department. Following his retirement, Sokolski developed a passion for fishing, catching several 50-pound salmon during his many trips to the sea with his wife and family.

Although they may not know him by name, Twitter users are certainly aware of Scantron’s contributions to education. Below you can sample some of their reactions to Sokolski’s death.

Scantron Inventor Michael Sokolski Dies at 85
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  • David Wakefield

    I think the reporter needs to be fired …if he can’t get the date of a major battle right ..or the times the war was fought he should not have this type of job …the editor should be demoted too..for letting it get by …..

  • Frank

    Other than the obvious lunacy that WWII continued on in Italy until 1947, this is a very poorly written obituary.

    Also, as an article providing information regarding the life and death of the decedant, I would think it is in very poor taste for the author to begin the piece about himself.

    The added Twitter comments are an embarrassment.

  • Guest

    Who moved WWII? Last I looked, VE day was May 8, 1945. The Battle of Monte Cassino was a year prior.

    Also, “he was 85 years-old”? The author needs to study-more. There is no place in that sentence where a hyphen is appropriate.

  • Polack

    Very clever smart Pole man Americans make fun of the Poles and throwing Polish joke With his invention benefit for USA
    Poland fought with two Side Germany and Russia
    Poland lost 2000 man The Battle of Monte Cassinoin in Italy Poland win this battle of Monte Cassino. Hitler and Stalin want split Poland not give up in WWII. My grandfather was not lucky 1945 year Russian take him from the street send him to Siberia he was at the time 17 years old 2 years and 8 moths he dig holes and ditches He travel 4 month to home Poland it was 3 long f years at age 20 young man back home.
    Michael Sokolski lost him mother young age. What life was hard for Poles.

  • keleve

    call this number 310-567-7683

  • Chico

    Too bad they didn’t teach you that the comma goes INSIDE the quotation marks as well as they did to color inside the circle. Yes, not bubble. Circle. It’s a circle.

    • KryptoniteBalls

      I’m beginning to think there’s some circle of hell which is crafted for grammar nazis.

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