Today, Sigma officially launches three new digital cameras, the Sigma SD1 Merill, the DP1 Merill, and the DP2 Merrill. Each of these cameras wears the name “Merrill” in honor and recognition of the passion, drive and vision of Richard “Dick” Merrill, a founding father of the Foveon sensor that is at the heart of Sigma’s Digital cameras.
Prior to being a member of Foveon’s team at its founding with Carver Mead and Dick Lyon among others in 1997, Merrill worked on semiconductor research and design at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center, as well as National Semiconductor. Foveon colleagues talk warmly about Merrill as a prolific inventor, explorer, and problem-solver who owned an oscilloscope at the age of ten. His genius for tackling challenges in design and function is evidenced in the many patents awarded Merrill, and it is here, fueled by Merrill’s passion and brilliance, where so much of the story of Foveon and Sigma Digital Imaging truly unfolds.
Foveon’s first full-color digital imaging system, introduced in 1999, involved three image sensors aligned to the three exit planes for red, blue, and green light from a prism. This first device was capable of producing high-quality color images that recorded all primary colors at each pixel, but the prism manufacturing and assembly process was very complex. Guided by that singular focus–the creation of images in one shot that are comprised of three complete color image planes–was to be Foveon’s driving force throughout its evolution.