1969, a year to remember or not ? I think that 1969 was a great year, a year to remember, at least for me ! Let me tell you why.
At that time I was 15 years old, living in Belgium and enjoying cycling very much, at least in a passive way by watching cycling sports on TV. What happened on July 20th 1969 ? Of course, Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon. Everybody knows, but basically on the same day, Eddy Merckx – elected to be the Belgian sportsman of the 20th century – won his first (of five) Tour de France. In Belgium the newspapers did not know what to put on the front page : Merckx or Armstrong. Both men were writing history, at least in our tiny small country. One newspaper came with a unique solution : they printed a newspaper with two front pages, back-to-back.
But more happened in 1969 : in the beginning of that year, a new type of airplane made his first flight, the jumbo-jet Boeing 747. Over the last 40 years many improvements were introduced to the 747, but basically what we have today is still the same concept as 4 decades ago. Every time I fly to the USA or to the Far East in a 747, this flying “monster” impresses me again and again : so big, so huge, so heavy, and after 1 minute on the runway it takes off. Amazing that the 747 survived 40 years.
Keeping in mind the name of my company, another major milestone was set in 1969 : Woodstock. People of my age probably remember the very first big, open-air rock-‘n-roll festivals. And Woodstock was one of the biggest ever organized. Very famous was the set by Jimi Hendrix playing the Star Spangled Banner on his guitar with his mouth. But there was a “super” group announced having David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash being the front men. During their show at Woodstock, another “hero” totally unexpected joined them on stage : Neil Young. That is how I got to know his music and more, that is how I got addicted to it.
Merckx, Armstrong, 747, Woodstock, Neil Young, all big names that made a great impression on me. But also in 1969 two young engineers from Philips Research in Eindhoven (Netherlands) were working – already during a couple of years – on a new solid-stated device. They called it a Bucket-Brigade Device (BBD) and they published their first results in the famous year 1969. The two researches, Leo Sangster and Kees Teer, announced their new device being an analog memory. But in their original publication, they also mentioned the potential of the device to act as a solid-state image sensor. Soon after the introduction of the BBD, it was recognized that the BBD had too many disadvantages to become a commercial success, but ultimately it formed the basis for the Charge-Coupled Devices (CCD, published in 1970 by Boyle and Smith of Bell Labs). A few years later, in 1976, I started working on CCDs. At that moment I could not realize that the technical and scientific work published in 1969 almost completely determined my professional career.
Maybe some of the things that happened in 1969 sound like details to you, but some of them are really milestones to me ! 1969 is an important year to remember. Wasn’t it the Summer of ’69 Bryan ?