AI Chat Engines Express Their Opinions on CMOS Image Sensor Origins

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We asked four AI chat engines a simple question, "Who invented CMOS Image Sensors?" There seems to have been a lot of variety in the training sets.

Microsoft Copilot (Bing) based on GPT-4:

The inventor of the CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) active pixel sensor camera-on-a-chip is Eric Fossum. He invented this technology while working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1993. The CMOS image sensor technology is now used in more than 6 billion cameras produced each year, including nearly every smartphone.


The invention of CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) image sensors is attributed to several individuals and organizations. However, the basic concept of CMOS technology was first proposed by Chih-Tang Sah and Frank Wanlass in the late 1960s. They were researchers working at Fairchild Semiconductor, a company that played a crucial role in the development of several semiconductor technologies.

Since then, numerous engineers, scientists, and companies have contributed to the advancements and commercialization of CMOS image sensors. Sony is one major company known for its contributions to image sensor technology, as they introduced the first commercial CMOS image sensors in the 1990s. Other notable companies involved in image sensor development include Canon, Samsung, Panasonic, and OmniVision Technologies. It is important to note that the development of CMOS image sensors is a result of collective efforts from several individuals and organizations over the years.

Anthropic Claude: 

The invention of the CMOS image sensor can be attributed to a few key pioneers:

- Eric Fossum - While working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the early 1990s, Eric Fossum led the team that developed the first functioning CMOS image sensor with intra-pixel conversion. This type of active pixel sensor became the basis for modern CMOS image sensors.

- Nobukazu Teranishi - Working at Olympus in the late 1960s, Teranishi patented some of the earliest concepts for using MOS technology for imaging, laying the groundwork for future CMOS sensors.

- Peter Noble - In the late 1960s, while at Plessey Semiconductors in the UK, Peter Noble patented ideas for using MOS capacitors for image sensing. This helped establish early CMOS imaging concepts.

- Wen H. Ko and Robert C. Gee - In the late 1960s at Fairchild Semiconductor, Ko and Gee developed one of the first MOS imaging chips, building on emerging CMOS technology.

- Steve Sasson - While an engineer at Kodak in the 1970s, Sasson worked on some of the earliest CCD digital camera sensors, which inspired the transition from CCD to CMOS sensors.

So in summary, the foundational invention of CMOS image sensors relied on key contributions from Eric Fossum, Nobukazu Teranishi, Peter Noble, Wen H. Ko, and Robert C. Gee between the 1960s to 1990s, as CMOS fabrication techniques matured. The CMOS sensor revolutionized digital photography.

Google Bard:

The question of "who invented CMOS image sensors" has a slightly nuanced answer because the technology evolved through different stages and improvements by various individuals and teams. Here's a breakdown:

Conceptual foundation:The underlying technology, Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS), was conceived by Frank Wanlass at Fairchild Semiconductor in 1963.

Active Pixel Sensor (APS) invention:While CCDs dominated early image sensors, the CMOS Active Pixel Sensor (APS), a crucial component of modern CMOS image sensors, was developed in the mid-1980s by Olympus in Japan. Tsutomu Nakamura'steam fabricated the first NMOS APS in 1985.

Advancements for commercial viability:Eric Fossum, an American engineer, is often credited with making CMOS image sensors commercially viable. He and his team at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1990s significantly improved the technology by inventing a new pixel design with all necessary functions on a single chip, addressing limitations like power consumption and sensitivity.

Further refinements:Since then, numerous researchers and companies have continued to contribute to the development and improvement of CMOS image sensors. These advancements have led to their widespread adoption in various applications, from digital cameras and smartphones to medical imaging and scientific instruments.

Therefore, attributing the invention solely to one person might not be entirely accurate. However, Eric Fossum's contribution in improving the technology and making it commercially viable deserves considerable recognition.

Chat engines tend to present topics as if they were students who never went to class. Do you think they did any better here?


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