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* Digital Camera Pioneer Steven Sasson Receives 2011 Davies Medal

Steven Sasson ’72 shared the story of the invention of the digital camera during the Davies Medal lecture Sept. 22.


Digital Camera Pioneer Steven Sasson Receives 2011 Davies Medal

Renowned electrical engineer and digital camera inventor Steven Sasson’ 72 received the prestigious Davies Medal for Engineering Achievement from the School of Engineering during a ceremony on Sept. 22 at the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies. As part of the celebration, Sasson gave a presentation titled “Disruptive Innovation: The Story of the First Digital Camera.”

“We are extremely proud to present Mr. Sasson with the Davies Medal, the highest honor given to an alumnus of the Rensselaer School of Engineering,” said David Rosowsky, dean of the School of Engineering. “His pioneering invention revolutionized the way we capture, store, and share photos and images, and ultimately transformed the industry. Mr. Sasson is a true inspiration to the entire Rensselaer community, and we are thankful to have him among the global family of Rensselaer engineering graduates.”

In his presentation, Sasson drew from personal experience as he shared how the first digital camera prototype — which was eight pounds and about the size of a toaster — was created and demonstrated in 1975 at the Eastman Kodak Company. He also discussed the many subsequent technical innovations in the 1980s stemming from the prototype, as well as early efforts in the 1990s to commercialize digital cameras. An underlying theme of the talk was an exploration of the complex dynamics between people and technology during a time of disruptive innovation within an established corporate environment.

On Oct. 15, 2010, the White House announced that Sasson was one of six individuals who would receive the 2009 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor for technological achievement bestowed by the President of the United States on America’s leading innovators.

In honor of one of the Institute’s most accomplished, active, and loyal alumni, Clarence E. Davies ’14, Rensselaer established the Davies Medal for Engineering Achievement in 1980 to recognize a Rensselaer alumnus with a distinguished career of engineering achievement, public service, and technical and managerial accomplishments. The Davies Medal award is funded by an endowment from Mr. and Mrs. J. Erik Jonsson ’22.

For more information on the Davies Medal, including past winners, visit: To read more about Steve Sasson, go to

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 15, October 7, 2011
©2011 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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