Happy World Photography Day!!
The transition from analog to digital photography was certainly a paradigm shift. Started in the middle of last century, this evolution surpassed more than 180 years of analog era within few decades.
Yes, digital photography cannot claim a history – not more than 60 years.
If you are going to trace its beginning, you may certainly reach in cold war period- where US and USSR were in competition for the supremacy over outer space. The tremendous advancement in technology during these years reflected in imaging sector also. It plowed the field for setting up the early development of digitization in imaging.
Let’s go through important milestones of the evolution of digital photography.
“Mosaic Guidance for Interplanetary Travel” – This was a paper published by Eugene F. Lally, an American aerospace engineer while working at JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory). It was the first research paper of its kind, prophesying the use of mosaic photo sensor to capture digital images.
Bell Laboratories has a long history of innovations that changed the face of technology. It was on 1969, Willard Boyle and George Smith of Bell developed a new device called CCD (Charge Coupled Device). This invention is considered to be a milestone in digital imaging history. An image sensor was the core of this device. It could convert light into electric signals. Many of today’s cameras are still using CCD image sensors.
It was the turn of Willis Adcock, an employee in Texas Instruments. He designed a film-less camera and acquired a patent for it. But there is no official record whether such a model was ever built.
The first commercial CCD Image sensor produced in this year by Fairchild Imaging. It was a 10,000 pixel sensor. In the very next year, by using this sensor on an 8-inch telescope, James R. Janesick, a CCD evangelist, produced the first astronomical CCD image.
Finally, a true digital camera prototype! Thanks to Steven Sasson, a Kodak engineer who patented such a one using Fairchild CCD image sensor and a Kodak movie camera. Till then, main use of Fairchild CCD sensor was in astronomical imaging.
A little more surprising about this “real” camera – It had the size of a toaster and a weight around 8 pounds. It produced 0.01 megapixel black and white photos into a tape. To capture the first photograph, it took almost 23 seconds!
Konica, which is now known as Konica Minolta developed a compact camera, C35 AF in 1977. Released with a nickname of Jasupin, it is considered to be world’s first production autofocus camera. It was programmed with 3 shutter speeds – 1/60s, 1/125s and 1/250s.
Started in 1950, Photokina photography show is one of the largest trade fares of imaging industry. In 1978, Photokina had something special to introduce; an SLR camera with fully operational auto focus. Its developer was Leica, which is still a prominent camera brand now.
But, this auto focus technology failed to gain enough followers in the show. Leica had no other options other than selling the patent they acquitted for it. It was Minolta, who got that patent from Leica.
In August 1981, Sony Corporation announced the first electronic still video camera- Mavica (Magnetic Video Camera). It was the first camera which used floppy disks as the main recording media.
Well, a question should be answered now. Is this the first digital video camera? No, certainly not. Even though it used CCD sensors, it produced analog video signals in NTFS format. But we can say it as the pioneer of all the digital video cameras of all the time.
The first digital camera aimed for consumers released in this year. Fujifilm, one of the most recognized names in digital imaging field was behind this. That camera, DS-1P, stored images on a 16MB internal memory card.
This year has more stories to tell. The first JPEG and MPEG standards were set in this year, which became universal formats for image and video compression.
Adobe Photoshop – The one we should not miss while walking through the history of digital photography have its roots dated to 1990. But, Adobe Photoshop 1.0 was only available for Macintosh computers upon its release.
However, Photoshop wasn’t the first image editing program for Mac; it was Digital Darkroom released in 1988.
CompactFlash (CF) cards can claim an important space in digital photography timeline. The first CF card was released in 1994 by Kodak. It was off capacity 1MB. Later in this year, SanDisk released 24MB version of this card.
If you are one who really follow digital photography evolution, you cannot simply pass over the year “1999” where the first DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex Camera) was released by Nikon. It was Nikon D1 that had an APS-C image sensor producing 2.74-megapixel images.
This camera will be remembered in digital imaging history as the one that superseded Kodak’s supremacy over the field.
This was the year, digital photography outstretched new dimensions with the introduction of camera-enabled cell phones like Nokia 7650 and Sanyo SPC-5300.
What about watching a nice video commercial of Nokia 7650?
Only professional photographers could think about DSLR cameras for a fairly long period. Reason was simple – cost & size. Digital Rebel (EOS 300D), Canon’s prestigious model is largely responsible for changing this situation. It was the first DSLR model sold under $1000 at a starting price of $899.
Nikon D90, the first DSLR to record videos released in this year. It allowed to shoot videos in 3 ranges- 320 x 216, 640 x 424 or 1,280 x 720 pixels in AVI format.
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