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A recursive filter approach is introduced to simplify real-time implementation of an adaptive contrast enhancement scheme for imaging sensors. With this scheme, even scenes possessing large global dynamic ranges (>40 dB) can be accommodated by the limited dynamic range (20 dB) of a display without losing the local contrast essential for image interpretation. This paper describes the recursive filter implementation of the local area contrast enhancement scheme using charge-coupled devices and the resultant real-time hardware capable of processing standard 525 and 875 line TV compatible video (from vidicons, videotape recorders, etc). Several examples from video imagery are included to demonstrate its effectiveness.