STEVEN J. SASSON ’72, M.S. ’73
Inventor of the digital camera and U.S. Medal of Technology and Innovation recipient
Inventor of the digital camera and related disruptive imaging technologies that have transformed the industry and the world, retired Eastman Kodak Company electrical engineer Steven J. Sasson has revolutionized the way images are captured, stored, and shared. He holds more than 10 key digital imaging patents.
In 2010, Mr. Sasson was awarded the 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 2011 he was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame.
Mr. Sasson joined Kodak in 1973, working in the Kodak Apparatus Division research laboratories, where he led a number of early digital imaging projects. Among these was the design and construction of the first digital still camera and playback system in 1975.
During the 1980s, he served as a group leader for a number of digital imaging projects in the consumer products advanced development area, including the first megapixel digital camera utilizing DCT compression that stored images to flash memory cards.
During the first half of the 1990s, Mr. Sasson served as the chief engineer on the “Colorease” printer project that produced Kodak’s first high-volume page-size thermal printer, which served as the basis of Kodak’s self-service kiosk program. In 1996, he was named development manager of Output Systems for Kodak’s Professional Products organization, which developed and introduced a number of groundbreaking products.
In 2001, Mr. Sasson was named R&D development manager for the Retail Photo Finishing Platform. This organization delivered the Digital Lab System software platform that was used to control the complete workflow on several partner minilabs around the world. In 2004 he moved to Corporate Commercial Affairs, where he served as the project manager for a major intellectual property litigation. He continued to work in the Intellectual Property Transactions group at Kodak until his retirement in 2009.
Mr. Sasson has earned a number of industry awards, including the 2001 Eastman Innovation Award; the 2006 Progress Award, Photographic Society of America; the 2007 Visionary Award, Photographic Manufacturers and Distributors Association; the 2008 Culture Award of the Photographic Society of Germany; and the 2010 George R. Stibitz Computer & Communications Pioneer Award.
He was inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Alumni Hall of Fame in 2011. In 2011, he received the Davies Medal for Engineering Achievement from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
He received a B.S. and an M.S. in electrical engineering from Rensselaer.
Commencement Remarks by Steven J. Sasson
Thank you for this great honor.
Although it seems like it’s only been 15 minutes, four decades have past since I was sitting where you graduates are now.
My experience at RPI prepared me well for the challenges I found at the Eastman Kodak company where my initial work in the area of solid state imaging and digital technology allowed me to participate in the technical revolution that has transformed photography.
I remember teachers like Dr Sohrab Gandhi and Dr Robert Resnick both of whom challenged and inspired me to do things that I thought were beyond my reach.
As I moved to industry it was the background I gained here at RPI that enabled me to have the confidence to explore new ways of capturing images.
I think you can guess what the reaction to the concept of a camera that didn’t use film was like in Kodak back in 1976. There were lots of challenges to sure. Those challenges have been the focus of our industry’s 36-year effort that has brought the promise of digital photography to its present state.
I am lucky to have been part of this adventure and my Alma mater’s recognition here today is very special to me. So again, thank you very much.
Finally, to the graduates, let me urge you to always remain curious and to be persistent in the quest for your dreams. Enjoy your special day today and don’t forget to take lots of pictures!
2012 President’s Commencement Colloquy