Russell A. Kirsch invented the square pixel. The history is that in the late 1940s, Kirsch led a research team that created America’s first internally programmable computer, the SEAC. By 1957 he and his team had invented a scanner which, using the computing power of SEAC, converted photographs to digital images. This breakthrough created the basis for satellite imaging, CAT scans, barcodes and desktop publishing. Kirsch is now retired and resides in Portland, Oregon. These days he claims that inventing square pixels was a bad idea and has a written a program that creates smoother, variably shaped pixels.
I think this story is really sweet. The first scanned digital image made on a computer in 1957 showed Kirsch’s baby son. Due to the importance of this first digital photograph, Life credited it as one of the 100 Photographs that Changed the World in 2003. Without Kirsch, this 8-bit-themed site wouldn’t be possible, in so many ways.