CCD inventors get recognition — finally

The US National Academy of Engineering has awarded the 2006 Charles Stark Draper Prize, described by the New York Times as “the engineering equivalent of a Nobel award” to two former Bell Laboratories researchers who invented the imaging microchip or Charge Coupled Device — the chip at the heart of digital cameras and camcorders. The device converts light particles, or photons, into packets of electrical charges that are shifted in rows to the edge of the chip for scanning. Willard Boyle, 81, and George Smith, 75, invented the CCD in 1969 in an hour’s brainstorming session in the good old days when Bell Labs was one of the intellectual powerhouses of the world.