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.