SEAC and the Start of Image Processing at the National Bureau of Standards

by Russell A. Kirsch


When NBS started the field of computer image processing, those principal engineers and scientists involved in computer image processing could not have anticipated applications worldwide in such diverse areas as satellite imaging, computed tomography, desktop publishing, manufacturing inspection, and atomic physics. One such application, that of the CAT Scanner, resulted in a Nobel Prize for Sir Godfrey Hounsfield and Alan Cormack in 1979, and that of R.Young in the development of the scanning tunneling microscope, in 1972 at NBS (28), in support of another Nobel Prize. The Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997 was awarded to William D. Phillips of NIST (29) who used a computer analysis of video images to determine how a cloud of atoms spreads out as it is being laser cooled.

Thus, we see that the collective imagination of the computer community took up the challenge raised by this new powerful tool and extended it "far beyond our poor powers to add or detract."

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