Almost everyone is carrying around a digital camera in some form or another. I have one in my phone as well as a nice Cannon that I take with me on vacations, family outings or to concerts. Today’s mega-pixel digital cameras have become smaller and far more powerful than my first one – a 1 pixel HP with comparatively poor visual quality.
The digital camera functions because of a charge-coupled device or CCD. The CCD is a device for the movement of electrical charge and converts this into a digital value. When integrated with an image sensor, it produces technology for digital imaging. This is used in professional, medical, and scientific applications where high-quality image data is required. At home we use it for our smartphones, camcorders, scanners and fax machines.
The CCD was invented in 1969 at AT&T Bell Labs by Willard S. Boyle and his partner George E. Smith. The two were brainstorming during lunch about ways to develop a new memory device for computers and came up with the CCD sensor during that time.
Besides being the father of the digital camera, Boyle can claim many other inventions and patents. In 1962 he invented the first operating ruby laser and later was named on the first patent for a semiconductor injection laser which is used in many electronic devices. In 1964 he worked with NASA helping choose lunar landing sites for the Apollo program.
In 2009 Boyle won the Nobel Prize in physics for the invention CCD. The Nobel Prize committee stated that “Digital photography has become an irreplaceable tool in many fields of research.” The tool is so commonplace now that we do not think twice about capturing images effortlessly and seeing the results immediately…even taking pictures of our family during embarrassing moments. So thank Mr. Boyle the next time you go through the ” naked” TSA scanner at the airport.