The Machine Translation Diamond

I attended MT Summit VI, held in San Diego in Fall 1997. The organizers had decided that it was the 50th anniversary of Machine Translation, since it was the 50th anniversary of Warren Weaver's suggestion that computers could be used to translate human languages.

In order to celebrate, they held a 50th Anniversary Reception at the conference, complete with champagne. I went up to the counter just to get a glass of champagne, and discovered that you also got the glass, and a number on the bottom for a raffle. (The glass is very nice.) I don't normally enter raffles, but I wanted the champagne, so I bought it.

It turned out that the raffle was for a diamond, since a 50th anniversary is a "diamond anniversary". So I'm standing around talking with several people when they do the drawing, and John White announces "Number 38!" Hmm: I'm number 38! I won the diamond; the MT Diamond! (Applause all around.)
Various jokes ensued.

About one year later, I was ready to get engaged. I bought a nice box for it, and presented the diamond to my girlfriend, Colleen. She accepted. And, it turned out that she had an antique engagement ring from her grandmother, from which the diamond had been removed to go into a modern setting. When she tried it out, it fit perfectly! Just like Cinderella, sort of. We are now living happily ever after.

I believe Muriel Vasconcellos organized the purchase of the MT Diamond. Thanks, Muriel!