December 1, 2003 by

Stephen A. Benton

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Categories: Education, Scientists

sbenton.jpgStephen A. Benton, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who invented rainbow holograms, died on Nov. 9 from brain cancer. He was 61.
Benton first became interested in optics at 11 when he wore a pair of 3-D glasses to view the Vincent Price movie, “The House of Wax.” He earned an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from MIT, then received his master’s and doctorate degrees from Harvard University.
In 1968, he was working for the Polaroid Corporation when he invented the rainbow hologram, a hologram visible to the naked eye that uses common white light fused on film or glass. Benton’s holograms were eventually embedded into credit cards and driver’s licenses to provide protection against counterfeiting.
The man who described holography as a true “intersection of art, science and technology,” held 14 patents in optical physics and photography. His work has been featured at the Museum of Holography in New York, and used to create three-dimensional CT and MRI images.
For the past 20 years, Benton taught media arts and sciences at MIT. He was also the director of the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies.

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