Photo of Michael F. Tompsett

Michael F. Tompsett

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Physics

For pioneering work in materials and electronic technologies including the design and development of the first charge-coupled device (CCD) imagers.

Michael Tompsett on his first camera invention

For Michael F. Tompsett, image is everything. Tompsett, founder and executive director of TheraManager, LLC, is best known for developing the charge-coupled device, or CCD, a type of image sensor used in digital cameras, among other advances in imaging.

Tompsett who is British born, studied physics—at the undergraduate and graduate levels—at Cambridge University. After receiving his Ph.D., he worked as a researcher at English Electric Valve Company, before moving to the United States to join AT&T Bell Laboratories, where he created the first CCD and led their future development.

His team went on to develop CCD linear and television imagers, as well as the first all-solid state color camera. They also helped create and revolutionize the technologies that led to night-vision, thermal imaging and the video analog-to-digital converters used in today’s cameras and mobile phones.

These technologies have had vast applications, ranging from the cameras we use everyday to military and firefighting operations to medicine, and have grown into a multi-billion dollar industry.

By Sydni Dunn