By Jim Kofron
A pioneer of the technology of digital photography has died. Dick Merrill, co-inventor of the Foveon X3 chip, passed away on Friday morning. A tribute thread is in the Sigma Forum at dpreview.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dick a couple years ago—we talked science and photography over dinner. He was a truly delightful individual: smart, funny, a dedicated photographer, and completely devoted to his wife Seng (and vice versa). Carver Mead, a scientist of some note, described Dick as the most creative engineer he ever met. All of us who have had the pleasure of knowing Dick (even briefly) mourn his passing, and our thoughts are with Seng and their families. My impressions of Dick were that he was not interested in seeking the spotlight; his passion for the engineering, science, and photography is what drove his work. I'll think of him often as I use my Sigma cameras with "Foveon Inside."
As a historical tribute as well as a glimpse into his photographic talent, you can see his gallery on Pbase. This particular set of photos was taken with the first successful X3 prototype chip—a 4k x 4k x 3 layer. I believe some of the full size images are still up there. I never asked about the frame rate, but I suspect it wasn't 8 fps. Those interested in the birth of Foveon can grab a copy of The Silicon Eye by George Gilder. It's an easy read, so don't expect it to be technically satisfying if you have a Ph.D. in physics.
Rest in peace, Dick. You'll be missed....
Jim Kofron, Ph.D., a longtime TOP reader, is Senior Group Leader at Abbott Laboratories at Abbott Park, Illinois.