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Russell Kirsch helped create square pixels, now he wants to kill them off

Vlad Savov
06.30.10
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Did you know that we're only 53 years removed from the very first digital image? I know, with everyone on your street having a good 2GB of Facebook-uploaded, privacy-be-damned photos, it all seems so pedestrian, so typical. But back in the monochromatic 1950s, when Marlon Brando and Elvis were still young whippersnappers and the UK was busy crowning a new Queen, Russell Kirsch became the first man to create a digital picture, by scanning in a photo of his baby son. Now, half a century wiser, Russell is back to apologize for introducing that cursed square pixel into our lives, and to try to remedy all the jagged little edges we've been seeing on our screens ever since.

According to old Rus, squares were just the logical solution at the time, but now that we can splash bits and bytes around with reckless abandon, he's come up with a new algorithm to smooth images beyond what's possible with simple squares. His new idea inserts 6 x 6 masks where there once was just one pixel, with adaptive calculations making for a more realistic representation of the underlying optical data. The sample above shows what improvements this new technique can deliver, with Russell's son doing the posing once more -- you'll find his decidedly younger visage in the 176 x 176 proto-pic after the break.


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