Russell Kirsch, a computer scientist credited with inventing the pixel and scanning the world's first digital photograph, died Aug. 11 at his home in Portland, Oregon, The Oregonian reported. He was 91.
Pixels, the digital dots used to display photos, video and more on phone and computer screens, weren't an obvious innovation in 1957, when Kirsch created a small, 2-by-2-inch black-and-white digital image of his son, Walden, as an infant. That was among the first images ever scanned into a computer, using a device created by his research team at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institutes of Science and Technology).
This work "laid the foundations for satellite imagery, CT scans, virtual reality and Facebook," said a 2010 Science News article about Kirsch, subsequently republished by Wired. That first square image, that article said, measured a mere 176 pixels on a side - just shy of 31,000 pixels in total. Today, the digital camera on the iPhone 11 can capture roughly 12 million pixels per image.