Friday, September 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Digital Pioneer

Nobel Prize for invention at the heart of digital cameras,

Digital Pioneer

In 1969 George Smith - along with Willard Boyle - invented the "charge-coupled device" to convert an optical image to an electric signal (six years later, Steven Sasson, an engineer at Kodak would use their CCD to build the world’s first digital camera)



Almost exactly forty years later to the day, a handful of newspaper and television photographers would be pointing our digital cameras at one of the winners of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics. That's Smith, with his sailboat at his home on Barnegat Bay hours after the announcement, talking with Newark Star Ledger staff photographer Noah K. Murray,  right, and freelancer Christopher Barth.

Working at the famed Bell Laboratories in New Jersey in 1969, Smith and Boyle were brainstorming to come up with a new kind of semiconductor memory. Their charge-coupled device consisted of a few small capacitors that can store electric charge when struck by light. Today these pockets of charge are better known by another name: pixels.

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

Reach Tom at tgralish@phillynews.com.

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
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