Monday, May 09, 2011

Willard Boyle, CCD Inventor, Dies at 86

CBS: Willard Boyle, a Nobel laureate for CCD invention, died Saturday, May 7 at the age of 86. "They don't tell you until the last minute, and it's the biggest surprise of your life to wake up and somebody says you've won a Nobel Prize," Boyle told CBC News at the time of his win.

In 1953 Boyle joined Bell Labs where he invented the first continuously operating ruby laser with Don Nelson in 1962, and was named on the first patent for a semiconductor injection laser. In 1969, Boyle and George E. Smith invented the CCD, for which they have jointly received the Franklin Institute's Stuart Ballantine Medal in 1973, the 1974 IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award, the 2006 Charles Stark Draper Prize, and the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Boyle was Executive Director of Research for Bell Labs from 1975 until his retirement in 1979. In retirement, he settled in Wallace, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Thanks to RC for sending me the link!

Update: LA Times piblished a big obituary revisiting the whole CCD invention story.


  1. Albert TheuwissenMay 9, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    Sad news to start a new week ... Willard Boyle had an enormous impact on my professional life. I started working on CCDs in 1976 without knowing anything about CCDs, and after 35 years I am still hooked on it. Unfortunately I had never the chance to meet Willard Boyle and apparently it will never happen ...

  2. Willard also changed my life: I got this all-consuming astro-imaging passion thanks to his work!

    In fact while Willard was breathing his last breath, I was processing these two images I took in the day or two preceeding his death. Here's two for Willard both made possible by his awesome invention that created several multi-billion $ industries and can see to the edge of the universe to boot!


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