Hounsfield is best remembered as the inventor of X-ray computer-assisted tomography. CAT scans provided much more powerful imaging than did traditional X-radiography, and revolutionised the practice of diagnostic radiology.
Hounsfield was born near Newark, Notts. He acquired considerable engineering knowledge during his youth but did not attend university. He served at Cranwell Radar School during the Second World War. Hounsfield joined EMI in 1951 where he worked on radar and guided weapons, and later on computers. He began to work on computer assisted imaging in the late 1960s and presented his proposals for imaging of the human body to the Department of Health in 1968. The Department supported a project to develop a head scanner, and clinical trials of the machinery began in 1972. The Department of Health ordered three machines, which were located in London, Glasgow and Manchester. The scanners were later developed to scan any part of the body. EMI later had difficulties in the commercial development of the CT scanners, and this part of the business was eventually sold off to G.E.C.. Hounsfield's involvement in CT scanning diminished in the late 1970s, although he did work on nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. Hounsfield retired in 1984. He was appointed FRS in 1975 and received the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1979 (jointly with Allan Cormack). He was knighted in 1981. He was an honorary research professor in the department of diagnostic radiology of the University of Manchester