Stephen A. Benton—A Holography Pioneer

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BOVE: In the case of holographic television, we can trace back the research to work that was done in the late professor Steve Benton's group here at the MIT media laboratory in the late 1980s, when computers were fast enough that it was possible to create a synthetic hologram.

BENTON: Right here, that's a two dimensional image. But if you move or the hologram moves, then you see a sequence of right to left views.

BOVE: So instead of creating an optical hologram of a real object, they could take a computer graphics model of an object and compute a hologram from it. The problem was they couldn't look at it, because they had to send the very, very large amount of information resulting from the synthetic hologram to a high resolution film recorder. And it was slow and it was inconvenient and Steve and his students wanted to be able to look at the results of computing synthetic holograms in real time.

So they built the world's first holographic video display, called Mark One. And it used a very large, powerful, and power hungry parallel computer. It produced very small images. It wasn't particularly practical, but it was strangely compelling because nobody had ever seen holographic video before.

And indeed, shortly after building the system, they were able to change it from making holograms in just one color to holograms in full color.