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Transcript of interview with Dr. Thomas Nartker by Dr. David Emerson, November 13, 2006






Thomas Nartker was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, and most of his family, including three brothers and a sister, still live there. He attended grade school and high school there, and then attended the University of Dayton. He majored in chemical engineering, following the example of his father, who had a degree in electrical engineering. By the time he was a sophomore in college, he was six-foot nine and had spent some time on the basketball court, but when asked to play his senior year at U. of D., he declined. He had already been accepted for graduate study at the University of Tennessee. Thomas finished all course work and research on his master's in one year, everything but the thesis. He interviewed over 30 companies before he graduated, but an interview with DuPont in Delaware made him think about the value of a PhD in his line of work. He applied and was accepted at Texas A&M. He worked with Dave Billingsley, who was the resident computer expert, and Dave showed him how to process all the data he had collected for his master's thesis on the IBM 650. Tom had found a new passion. Within a year, Tom was working as an assistant in the data processing center at Texas A&M, and was also the teaching assistant for the computer programming class. After completing his PhD, which took 6 years, Thomas began interviewing again. He accepted a position at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMIMT) as assistant professor of mathematics and director of the computing center. He left NMIMT in 1981 and took a job with Shell Oil Company, which included 5 years as a visiting staff member at Los Alamos. In 1985 he met John Werth, who ultimately offered Tom a job at UNLV. Tom made the move to Las Vegas in July of 1985. Dr. Nartket and Dr. Taghva started the UNLV Information Science Research Institute and did experimental research on Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for the Department of Energy (DOE). They invented many metrics never seen before, including a metric called Nonstop Word Accuracy. Today UNLV is known worldwide for being the premier center for doing research in OCR technology. Thomas is in his seventies today and continues with his research and teaching because he loves it. He has enjoyed over two decades at UNLV and finds it a rewarding and intellectual place to be. He considers this university to be one of the most exciting in the country as it grows in research and service.

Digital ID



Dr. Thomas Nartker oral history interview, 2006 November 13. OH-01362. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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An Interview with Dr. Thomas Nartker An Oral History Conducted by Dr. David Emerson The UNLV @ Fifty Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas 2007 ©UNLV@ FIFTY Oral History Proje