TIME Magazine-Samuel Oak Picture

TIME presents its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, from artists and leaders to pioneers, titans and icons

Samuel Oak
Pokemon Researcher, 71

As the driving force behind the research into Pokemon and human relationships, Dr. Samuel Oak's story has elements of what we think of as the typical American story - of passion, innovation, and, ultimately, fearlessness. Throughout his career, Dr. Oak found numerous famous mythological artifacts, documented a wide variety of undiscovered species, and blah blah blah.

Born July 1, 1899 in Princeton, New Jersey, Oak's life was indelibly influenced when he accompanied his parents, Gary Oak and Anna Oak on a world lecture tour about the effects of evolving technology on Pokemon. Throughout these travels, Oak encountered many important figures in history who would shape his outlook on life. After the return to Princeton, Anna became ill and died. Gary and Samuel relocated to Utah in 1912 but without Anna, the pairs relationship became increasingly strained. As Gary withdrew into his studies, Samuel found himself wandering to various locations as his father lectured once again.

By 1918, Pokeball technology had been developed and World War I had began. While on spring break that year, Samuel quit high school, and spent the next 3 years fighting for the Allies in World War I. Afterwards, Samuel served as a consultant for the Silph Corporation as it attempted to establish rights for Pokemon and restrictions on Pokeball technology, and attended the University of Chicago, earning an undergraduate degree in computer science. However, Samuel's the things that Samuel had seen during World War I led Samuel to continue his education in the rapidly growing field of Pokemon research. Once a graduate, Samuel secured a teaching position in London.

In 1936, the United States government contracted Samuel to locate the legendary Pokemon Articuno, which led to Samuel's capture and interrogation by Soviet agents. However, Oak was eventually rescued from Soviet territory six months later by a CIA extraction team. After his return to the United States, Samuel spent a great deal of time and effort compiling the Pokedex projects files into an electronic system that would be able to analyze unknown species and compile data entered from portable remote devices; in time this machine, taking the name Pokedex, would become a League-mandated item and would serve as one of Professor Oak's greatest legacies.

Following the end of World War II and the creation of the Pokemon League, Samuel competed in the first annual Indigo Grand Prix. In the final round, Samuel defeated future Indigo Elite Four member Agatha (an old friend of his) and became the first Indigo Champion. However, Samuel's passion continued to be research, and thus he retired from competitive training in order to found Oak Research Lab in the Princeton area suburbs. During this time period, Oak would encounter the equally accomplished Dr. Rowan, who would eventually serve as a mentor and peer to the younger intellectual. In time, the Oak Research Lab would come to be considered one of the finest research institutions in the world, and Professor Oak became known as the leading authority on Pokemon and human relationships (due in no small part to his revolutionary theory "Fundamental Harmonics and Quantum Resonance between Humans and Pokemon").

Not surprisingly, given his past adventures and Trainer prowess, Professor Oak became something of an icon to many younger Trainers and researchers. Indeed, Oak cultivated his newfound celebrity in an effort to influence others to contribute to the body of Pokemon research, and to educate others about Pokemon. Professor Oak currently lives in the Princeton area with his grandson Gary and his granddaughter Daisy; Oak continues to research Pokemon at his laboratory, but he also co-anchors the DJ Mary show,
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