Thanks to the concept behind the first scanned image of his newborn son, Russell A. Kirsch laid the foundations for a wide range of scientific developments since the 1950s.

Russell A. Kirsch was born in Manhattan on 20 June 1929 to Jewish immigrants from Russia and Hungary. After his studies at the New York University, Harvard, and MIT, he started working at the National Bureau of Standards where, as the head of a research group, he created the first digital image in 1957. As TechCrunch writes,

“His research was being undertaken from the perspective that computers […] could eventually simulate the human mind and perception.”

His first scanned image was a photograph of his then 3-month-old son, Walden. It was a grey-scale image of 179 by 179 pixels – a word which, created from the words picture and element, would not be used for years to come.

Kirsch’s accomplishment has left a crucial impact on the world of technology. According to a 2010 article by Science News, his work laid the foundations for satellite imaging, CT scans, virtual reality, and social media. Even if Kirsch never worked for NASA, “his invention was crucial in the development of space research technologies, including the Apollo Moon landing project”, says the article on Szeretlek Magyarország.

He was a devoted researcher of digital imaging even after his retirement. In his free time, he led an active life rich in arts and travelling with his wife and family. Russell Kirsch died on 11 August at the age of 91 in his home in Oregon.

Read alsoReminder of the greatest Hungarian inventors and their inventions


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