Basically, in 1969, Smith and Boyle made digital photography possible by inventing the CCD, (charge-coupled device) the electronic eye in every digital camera. This allowed light to be electronically captured, making film obsolete.
The three were awarded the prize for developing “groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication” and “for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit- the CCD sensor,” the Nobel commission explained on its web site.
Smith, 79, worked at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, alongside Boyle.
He is the 29th Nobel laureate in physics with ties to University of Chicago. Last year Yoichiro Nambu, of the Enrico Fermi Institute at U. of C., won the Nobel “for the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics.”