Willard S. Boyle, Father of Digital Eye, Dies at 86

By Douglas Martin/The New York Times

Willard S. Boyle, who won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics for helping to develop a device that is at the heart of virtually every camcorder, digital camera and telescope in use, died on Saturday in Truro, Nova Scotia. He was 86. (In the photo, Boyle, left, is with George E. Smith in 1974. Their work on the
charge-coupled device won them a Nobel Prize in 2009.)

His friend Stuart Semple said the death was “kidney related.”

Dr. Boyle’s prolific scientific career included inventing the first laser to be used in medicine and helping to choose sites on the moon for NASA’s manned landings.

But nothing eclipsed his invention — in only an hour — of the charge-coupled device, or CCD, with George E. Smith, his colleague at Bell Laboratories.

The device, smaller than a dime, has become ubiquitous. It is the eye behind every picture on the Internet, every digital and video camera, every computer scanner, copier machine and high-definition television.