Steven Sasson

Steven Sasson

Steven J. Sasson (born 1950) is an electrical engineer and the inventor of the digital camera.

His invention began in 1975 with a very broad assignment from his supervisor at Eastman Kodak Company, Gareth A. Lloyd: Could a camera be built using solid state electronics, solid state imagers, an electronic sensor known as a charge coupled device (CCD) that gathers optical information.

Texas Instruments Inc. had designed an electronic camera in 1972 that was filmless but not digital, using instead analog electronics. After a literature search on digital imaging came up virtually empty, Sasson drew on whatever was available: an analog-to-digital converter adapted from Motorola Inc. components, a Kodak movie-camera lens and the tiny CCD chips introduced by Fairchild Semiconductor in 1973.

He set about constructing the digital circuitry from scratch, using oscilloscope measurements as a guide. There were no images to look at until the entire prototype — an 8-pound (3.6-kilogram), toaster-size contraption — was assembled. In December 1975, Sasson and his chief technician persuaded a lab assistant to pose for them. The black-and-white image, captured at a resolution of .01 megapixels (10,000 pixels), took 23 seconds to record onto a digital cassette tape and another 23 seconds to read off a playback unit onto a television. Then it popped up on the screen.

"You could see the silhouette of her hair," Sasson said. But her face was a blur of static. "She was less than happy with the photograph and left, saying 'You need work,"' he said. But Sasson already knew the solution: reversing a set of wires, the assistant's face was restored.

In 1978, Sasson and Lloyd were issued United States Patent 4,131,919 for their digital camera.

Sasson now works to protect the intellectual capital of his employer, Eastman Kodak Company.


*US patent|4131919 Patent - Electronic Still Camera

External links

* [ History of digital camera]
* [ Digital camera turns 30 - sort of]
* [ Kodak engineer's revolutionary idea]
* [ Kodak milks silver film, ignores its own digital camera]
* [ Purple Medical Blog:People said digital photography would never happen]

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