The name Michael Sokolski might not be of the household variety, but if you've ever filled in the little bubbles of a standardized test with a No. 2 pencil, you're familiar with his work. Sokolski, the man who invented the Scantron test format, died earlier this month at the age of 85 of congestive heart failure. His memorial was held Thursday in Southern California.
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We first saw the news over at TMZ. Sokolski's obituary was published in the Orange Country Register. Born in Poland in 1926, he left his homeland at the age of 16 after his house was bombed and his mother killed during World War II. He served as a tank driver in the Polish Forces. Following his time in the military, he moved to the United States and became a U.S. citizen in 1963.
Eventually settling in Orange County, California, Sokolski founded Scantron in 1972. The Scantron forms, though reviled by many a student on exam day, revolutionized test-taking around the world. The obituary states that Sokolski held a number of patents relating to his creation. In his free time, he sailed, fish, and flew as a private pilot.
Following news of Sokolski's death, folks took to Twitter to pay their respects. Many of the comments were tongue-in-cheek tributes to his famous invention. One fan wrote, "The inventor of the scantron died today. If he doesn't know what to say at the pearly gates, I hope he remembers to just mark 'c.'" Another wrote, "The co-founder of Scantron passed away this month. Can I please not take a test tomorrow in honor of him?" One more: "Number 2 pencils around the world are vowing for a moment of silence. The inventor of the Scantron has died."
Sokolski, who also served as a reserve on the Santa Ana, California, police force, left behind his wife, Joanne, his children, and several grandchildren.