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The Development of Technology and Its Influence on Nuclear Medicine

by Tess Hughes

Evolution of man cartoon


      In 1970, to solve this problem of expense and subsequent unavailability, the American Department of Defence's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) developed a system called ARPAnet, between the Universities of California in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, the University of Utah, and SRI International. A researcher could sit at one computer and access data from another. Networking was born25.


      By 1971 Intel had invented the microprocessor. 2300 transistors could be found on this first chip. Unlike the integrated circuit, it had memory and combined many components together on a single chip. These were the 'Fourth Generation Computers'39. Computers were becoming more and more affordable.

      The first minicomputer kit, the Altair 8800, was produced in 1975. It retailed for $397(US) and the owner had to assemble and write BASIC software for it, after machine coding it by manually flipping switches on the front casing. It had a 256 Byte memory - which could hold roughly one paragraph.40

Bill Gates - click to enlarge
Figure 14
Bill Gates40

      Two young hackers named William Gates and Paul Allen offered their programming abilities to the company and then went on to form Microsoft with their earnings.40

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      John Keyes of Michigan, and Ronald Jaszczak of Searle, first developed rotating camera heads for dedicated SPECT systems in 1976.22 This was crucial for the development of tomography.

Ronald Jaszczak - click to enlarge
Figure 15
Ronald J.Jaszczak, Ph.D.23
Compton scatter diagram Figure 1630
Compton Scatter

      In 1977 the effects of Compton scatter on photon detection and analysis was recognised by Everett, Fleming, Todd and Nightengale. Its application to SPECT contributed to achieving the high-resolution pictures obtained today.13

      In 1979, whole body SPECT was being performed by Jaszczak using weighted back projection and attenuation correction. Fourier transform, phase analysis, curve deconvolution, weighted filtered back projection and filtering were all realised tools.24

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