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Willard Boyle, man who revolutionized digital imaging, dies at 86

Amar Toor, @amartoo
May 19, 2011
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We have some sad news to share with you today: Willard Boyle, the man who created the imaging technology behind everything from digital cameras to barcode scanners, has died at the age of 86. In 2009, Boyle shared a Nobel Prize in physics for inventing the CCD, which allowed people to capture images in digital format for the first time. It all began way back in 1969, when Boyle and his future co-Laureate, George E. Smith, started laying the groundwork for the CCD while working at Bell Laboratories. Building off of Einstein's photoelectric effect, the two eventually came up with a way to locate and quantify the electrons that are knocked out of orbit every time light strikes silicon. Boyle and Smith used this technology to create their own digital camera in 1970, as well as a TV camera in 1975. Prior to his groundbreaking invention, Boyle spent two years working for NASA's Apollo program and helped develop both the ruby laser and the semiconductor injection laser. The last three decades of Boyle's life were spent in Wallace, Canada, where he grew up and, on May 7th, passed away after battling kidney disease. He's survived by his wife, three children and an indelible legacy.

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