Sanford Greenberg

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Sanford Greenberg
Sanford David Greenberg

(1940-12-13) December 13, 1940 (age 81)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
EducationColumbia University (BA, MBA)
Harvard University (MA, PhD)
University of Oxford
OccupationChairman of the Board of Governors of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Wilmer Eye Institute
Spouse(s)Susan Roseno (m. 1962)

Sanford David Greenberg (born December 13, 1940) is an American inventor, author and philanthropist most well known for his efforts toward the goal of ending blindness.[1][2][3]

Early life[]

Greenberg was born in Buffalo, New York as the first of three children to Albert and Sarah Greenberg. His father Albert was a tailor who died of a heart attack in 1946. Greenberg attended Bennett High School, then entered Columbia University in 1958 on a full scholarship where he roomed with Art Garfunkel and Jerry Speyer.[4]

As Greenberg recounts in his memoir, misdiagnosed glaucoma caused his eyesight to fail during the first semester of his junior year in college, and then in January 1961 his vision failed completely.[5] The next month, a surgeon blinded Greenberg to save his eyes. With Art Garfunkel’s encouragement and help, Greenberg returned to Columbia in September 1961, made up the semester he had lost, and graduated with his class as its president and Phi Beta Kappa.[6][7][8]

In 1965, Greenberg received a master's degree and a PhD in government from Harvard University, where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and attended Harvard Law School. He spent 1964–1965 at University of Oxford as one of 24 Marshall Scholars named that year, and then received an MBA from Columbia Business School in 1966, while also serving as an Assistant Professor in its Department of Public Law and Government.[9][10]


Greenberg launched his first company, International Communications Associates, in the field of the technology of information processing. In 1966, Greenberg developed and got patents on an electronic device for compressed speech, which speeds up the reproduction of words from recordings without distorting any sound. In 1966 Greenberg was named one of the ten “Outstanding Young Men” of America by the United States Junior Chamber.[11] That spring, Greenberg was also one of seventeen young Americans selected to be White House Fellows in the Lyndon Johnson administration. While serving as a Fellow, Greenberg formed a close friendship with David Rockefeller, who had helped found the Program and became Greenberg’s mentor.[12]

In 1968, with $2 million raised from Wall Street financial institutions, Greenberg launched EDP (Electronic Data Processing), a systems-analysis company headquartered in Washington, DC. Since the White House was transitioning to the Richard Nixon administration at that time, Greenberg was able to include multiple high-ranking figures from the Johnson years in his new enterprise. Among them: Dr. James L. Goddard, Orville Freeman, Bill Moyers and W. Willard Wirtz. A highlight for EDP came in July 1969 when the company helped develop the on-board computer system for Apollo 11’s lunar excursion module. In October 1969, The Washington Post reported that EDP was worth $80 million.[13]

During these years, Greenberg was still perfecting the speech-compression machine he had been working on for almost a decade. The final design, patented in 1969, was one of the earliest methods for time-scale modification of speech.[14] Greenberg licensed the device to Sony, General Electric, Matsushita, and other manufacturers of audio equipment.[15] As a member of the board of governors of Ford’s Theatre, Greenberg played a role in the renovation and 1968 reopening of the site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. The following year Harper & Row published Greenberg’s analysis of Executive Branch decision-making, The Presidential Advisory System, co-edited with Thomas E. Cronin.[16][17][18][19][20]

In May 1974, the Young Presidents' Organization named Greenberg its first Man of the Year while he was serving on the board of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and as a director of the Capital Centre (Landover, Maryland), and as a partner of the Washington Capitals. Greenberg added a second sports venue to his real-estate interests in 1976 when he purchased the Richfield Coliseum, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 1983, Greenberg founded T.E.I. Industries.[21][22][23]

As a past director of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and a longstanding member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Greenberg was a founding director of the “American Agenda: A Report to the Forty-First President of the United States,” George H. W. Bush, chaired by Presidents Carter and Ford.[24] In 1994, Bill Clinton appointed Greenberg to the National Science Board, and in 1996, he became chairman of the federal Rural Healthcare Corporation created by Congress.[25][26]

In 2012, he announced the Greenberg Prize, a three-million-dollar prize to go to the scientists who contributed the most toward the cause of ending blindness.[27] This gained wide recognition in 2014 when it was granted a featured session on the agenda of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In 2020, the Greenberg Prize was awarded to 13 scientists and researchers.[28][29][30][31][32]

In 2016, Greenberg was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[33][34] In 2020, Greenberg released his memoir Hello Darkness, My Old Friend published by Post Hill Press, distributed by Simon & Schuster.[35] Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg contributed a warm foreword to the memoir.[36][37] Hello Darkness, My Old Friend also includes an introduction from Art Garfunkel and a “Final Word” from novelist Margaret Atwood.[38] The audiobook version of the book is also read by Art Garfunkel.

Personal life[]

Greenberg married Susan Roseno in August 1962, in Buffalo, NY. Art Garfunkel is godfather to their three children.

Greenberg has been notable for his refusal to avail himself of the most common aids for the blind such as a companion dog, a cane, or the use of Braille.[39] Greenberg also plays basketball. He has written that although he cannot see, he can feel people moving in waves around him and orient himself toward the basket. For more than 50 years, Greenberg has also been collecting art that he cannot see, including pieces by Frank Stella, Picasso, and Rembrandt.[2]


  1. ^ Morgan, Mike (November 8, 2017). "Mind's Eye". Baltimore Magazine.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Old Friends". Columbia Magazine.
  5. ^ "Investing Legend Sanford Greenberg Looks Back on a Life of Blindness".
  6. ^ "Art Garfunkel and Sanford Greenberg discuss their special bond".
  7. ^ Nolasco, Stephanie (July 16, 2020). "Art Garfunkel's pal says singer helped him overcome despair after he became blind: 'It lifted me out of the grave'". Fox News.
  8. ^ "Inside Art Garfunkel's Bond with Blind College Roommate Who Says His Care Was 'End of Hopelessness'".
  9. ^ "This Man Thinks He's the Luckiest in the World—Even Though He Went Blind in College". June 28, 2018.
  10. ^ "The Man Who Put a Bounty on Blindness". Magazine. August 15, 2016.
  11. ^ Koeniges, Thomas R. (March 12, 1966). "Blind White House worker (Dr. Sanford Greenberg)".
  12. ^ News, Erik Brady Special to The. "Erik Brady: Sandy Greenberg's quest for sight found solace and hope in Darkness, his old friend". The Buffalo News.
  13. ^ "Authors Sanford D. Greenberg Archive | Post Hill Press".
  14. ^ Simon, Madeleine (May 8, 2020). "I turned to Jonas Salk for advice in the 1970s. His words could help us conquer the coronavirus". TheHill.
  15. ^ Jones, Stacy V. (January 19, 1974). "Device Allows Intelligible High‐Speed Tape Replay (Published 1974)". The New York Times.
  16. ^ Cronin, Thomas E.; Greenberg, Sanford D. (1969). The Presidential Advisory System. ISBN 0060414251.
  17. ^ Cronin, Thomas E.; Greenberg, Sanford D. (March 12, 1969). The Presidential advisory system. Harper & Row – via National Library of Australia (new catalog).
  18. ^ Cronin, Thomas E.; Greenberg, Sanford D. (March 12, 1969). The Presidential advisory system. Harper & Row – via Hathi Trust.
  19. ^ "Mr. Sanford D. Greenberg".
  20. ^
  21. ^ "The Richfield Coliseum, a magnificent structure sitting on a..." UPI.
  22. ^ "Players Give the Barons' Owner Ultimatum and Tuesday Deadline (Published 1977)". The New York Times. February 19, 1977.
  23. ^ "Conscious Talk - Radio that Makes a Difference -Radio that Makes a Difference - Guest Information for Sanford Greenberg".
  24. ^ American Agenda: Report to the Forty-First President of the United States of America. Book-of-the-Month Club. January 1990.
  25. ^ "Blindness - Charlie Rose" – via
  26. ^ "National Science Board: Meetings".
  27. ^ "Art Garfunkel's Beloved Blind College Roommate Awards $3 Million to Scientists to Cure Blindness".
  28. ^ "13 doctors and researchers win the Sanford and Sue Greenberg Prize to End Blindness". Science. December 3, 2020.
  29. ^ "Simon John Awarded Sanford and Susan Greenberg Visionary Prize to End Blindness". Columbia University Irving Medical Center. December 17, 2020.
  30. ^ "James Fujimoto wins the Visionary Prize from the Greenberg Prize to End Blindness". MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  31. ^ "Vision researchers honored by End Blindness 2020". Penn Today.
  32. ^ "$2 Million Gift in Gold Bullion to Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Medicine Creates Prize for Ending Blindness by 2020 - 10/18/2012".
  33. ^ "3 Members of the Johns Hopkins University Community Elected to American Academy of Arts And Sciences - 04/20/2016".
  34. ^ "Sanford D. Greenberg". American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
  35. ^ Greenberg, Sanford D. (June 30, 2020). Hello Darkness, My Old Friend. ISBN 9781642934977 – via
  36. ^ Greenberg, Sanford D. (November 3, 2020). "Opinion | An Election Day Message From R.B.G.'s Neighbor". The New York Times.
  37. ^ "Hello Darkness, My Old Friend | Columbia Alumni Association".
  38. ^ Greenberg, Sanford D. (30 June 2020). Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man's Blindness into an Extraordinary Vision for Life. ISBN 978-1642934977.
  39. ^ Polcaro, Rafael (July 19, 2020). "Art Garfunkel's blind friend who inspired "Sound Of Silence" tells his story". Rock And Roll Garage.
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