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Inventor Creates Device That Allows Gravestones to Give Biographies

Aired October 10, 2000 - 1:45 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Technology, every day in every aspect of our lives, and now it's going to be following us to the grave, apparently.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: And beyond.

A district attorney in western Pennsylvania has come up with a way for folks to tell their life stories, literally, from the grave.

Here's Cyndy McGrath of our affiliate WPGH.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CYNDY MCGRATH, WPGH REPORTER (on camera): So history is a pretty important part of your life?

GLENN TOOTHMAN, INVENTOR: Yes, I'd say it is.

MCGRATH (voice-over): Glenn Toothman's day job keeps him busy inside a 100-year-old home in Waynesburg.

But, during his off-hours, you might find him outside walking the grounds of the local cemetery.

TOOTHMAN: I thought they were places of the long-dead and gone, that was of no interest or consequence to me whatsoever.

MCGRATH: That changed for Toothman nearly 18 months ago.

TOOTHMAN: My father is in his 80th year and he said, when he visited his father's grave in Bridgeport, West Virginia, that it was depressing to him because all he could see was the date of birth and the date of death and that little dash in between.

And he said, now that he's getting in the twilight of his life, he recognizes that no one knows anything, really, about what you do based on -- you leave a dash behind.

MCGRATH (on camera): Right after that conversation with his father, Toothman had a dream that he was walking through the cemetery with his computer laptop. He was able to learn more about his family; and that's the idea for Lasting Impressions. (voice-over): Toothman devised a silicon chip encased in stainless steel that can be embedded in a persons's tombstone. With a special wand attached to a personal computer, visitors can learn more about the dash, all those years a person spends on earth: a picture of the dearly departed with a detailed biography attached.

TOOTHMAN: You, all of a sudden, see who they were, read about who they were and now they're a person to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATERS: A bit more information about all this Lasting Impressions package: It costs about $300; Mr. Toothman has more than 80 clients, we're told, and an international patent is pending.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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