Sir Godfrey Hounsfield, who developed the first practical Cat-scan machine, has died aged 84. A Nobel Prize Committee described Hounsfield, who worked at EMI's medical research division, as “the central figure in computer-assisted tomography”. His device used X-rays to scan from different angles and a computer to assemble the images into a cross-section.
Hounsfield said developing the machine “involved many frustrations, not least travelling across London by public transport carrying bullock's brains for use with an experimental scanner”.
Hounsfield never attended a university but had begun experimenting with electrical and mechanical devices as a boy growing up on a family farm in Nottinghamshire.
“The period between my 11th and 18th years remains the most vivid in my memory. I constructed electrical recording machines; I investigated the principles of flight, launching myself from the tops of haystacks with a homemade glider; I almost blew myself up using water-filled tar barrels and acetylene to see how high they could be water jet propelled.”
Hounsfield served as a radar instructor in the Second World War after which he earned a diploma from the Faraday House Electrical Engineering College.