In Memoriam: Stephen Benton
Stephen Benton, OSA Fellow and active member, died Sunday, November 9, 2003, following a long battle with cancer. He was 61.
As a prominent figure at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dr. Benton held the title of E. Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Media Arts and Sciences and served as the head and founder of the Spatial Imaging Group in the Media Laboratory, as well as the director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS). He also was the organizer of MIT’s program in media arts and sciences, later acting as its graduate officer.
Dr. Benton is best known as the inventor of the white-light "rainbow" hologram, most often seen on credit cards and magazine covers. He also is renowned in the field for the work he and his group did to create the world's first real-time interactive holographic video system.
A prolific author, Dr. Benton holds multiple patents in optical physics, photography, and holography. While an MIT undergraduate, Benton worked with Harold "Doc" Edgerton in the famous "Strobe Lab," and received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1963. He continued his studies at Harvard University, receiving a Ph.D. in applied physics in 1968, and remained at Harvard until 1973, as its first assistant professor of applied optics.
He was associated with laboratories of the late Edwin Land at Polaroid Corporation, beginning in his undergraduate days, and returned there to establish an imaging physics laboratory, where he did much of the early work on white-light viewable holograms, and explored other applications of lasers to photography.
Among his many achievements, Dr. Benton was active in a number of professional societies. In 1999, he held the position of vice president for the Society for Imaging Science and Technology, and from 1990 – 1993, he served as a member of the board of directors for the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE). He played a vital role as a member of OSA’s board from 1978 – 1981, having been president of the New England section of OSA from 1976 – 1977. Dr Benton was a fellow of OSA, SPIE and the Society for Imaging Science and Technology. He also was a member of the Board of trustees for the Museum of Holography in New York and was the chairman for the U.S. National Committee for the International Commission for Optics from 1980-1984.
Dr. Benton is survived by his wife, Jeannie, son, Jamie and daughter, Julia.