Adobe Systems and IBM were among the companies whose staff were given America's top science and technology awards in Washington last night.
US president Barack Obama gave medals to IBM CEO Sam Palmisano for the IBM Blue Gene supercomputer, while Adobe's John Warnock and Charles Geschke won for their work on desktop publishing, which now includes video and the web.
Craig Venter, who led the mission to unravel the human genome, took a medal for his work in spreading understanding of genomics, as did Francis Collins for his work on genomics, including the Human Genome Project.
Obama noted that war produced many scientific and technological advances. "Much of World War II was fought far from the battlefield, by Alan Turing in Bletchley Park, and Oppenheimer in Los Alamos, and by countless others who developed radar and aircraft and antibiotics," he said.
But weapons development also led to improvements in understanding nature and man, he said, referring to how the V-2 rockets led to the missions of Mercury and Gemini and Apollo, and the Hubble space telescope.