The Inventor of the Digital Camera and an Ultrasound Pioneer Receive Technical Field Awards

IEEE honors Steven J. Sasson and K. Kirk Shung

27 January 2016

The developer of the first digital camera and a world-renowned leader in biomedical ultrasound technology are being recognized this year with IEEE Technical Field Awards. The annual awards are presented for contributions or leadership in IEEE fields of interest.


People who enjoy posting photos of themselves or their surroundings to social media, or who had their wedding captured by thousands of high-quality digital photos, have Steven J. Sasson, in part, to thank. Sasson invented the first digital camera [above, left] in 1975 while working at Eastman Kodak, an imaging technology company in Rochester, N.Y.

He received this year’s IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award, which was presented on 10 January in Las Vegas at the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics.

That first digital camera, a fast charge-coupled device, weighed 3.6 kilograms and took grainy black-and-white images, which were recorded onto a cassette tape. It took about 23 seconds to process each image.

During the 1980s, Sasson developed the first megapixel digital camera capable of storing images on memory cards. His inventions have revolutionized photography, making it easier and less expensive to capture and share photos.

He is president of Steven J. Sasson Consulting, in Hilton, N.Y.


IEEE Life Fellow K. Kirk Shung’s innovations in biomedical ultrasound technologies have improved patient diagnosis and care. Shung is a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles. His early research at USC, which involved the interaction of ultrasound and blood, set the standard for research activities and the development of diagnostic ultrasound equipment.

Shung is scheduled to receive this year’s IEEE Biomedical Engineering Award on 16 April in Prague at the IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging.

His findings have led to a better understanding of echogenicity (the ability to “bounce” or return signals in ultrasound examinations) in biological tissues. He also is credited with developing the first high-frequency linear array, at 30 megahertz for imaging, an important technological breakthrough.

Shung’s latest research involves applying high-frequency ultrasound beams to trap microparticles and cells and assessing cellular responses to ultrahigh-frequency ultrasound stimulation.

Sasson and Shung are just two of the recipients who are getting this year’s Technical Field Awards. You can also nominate someone for next year’s awards. The annual nomination deadline is 31 January.

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