The History of Digital Photography
One of the greatest inventions of our time is digital photography. The world of digital photography has come a long way since the 1950’s. It has become a way for humans to communicate and express themselves. Digital photography lets us do this immediately and with limitless possibilities. This instant technology allows us to share photos with anyone at all in the world, thus enriching our lives.
The history of digital photography began in 1957. Russell Kirsch created a rotating drum that allowed images to be scanned. He scanned a 5 by 5 centimeter picture of his son into a computer which was considered the first digital image. In 2003, Life magazine selected this picture as one of the “100 photos that changed the world”.
The 1960’s marked significant developments to digital photography. In 1961, Eugene Lally tried to use a mosaic photo sensor to create digital photos or images. Nothing came of this idea until twenty years later when Sony produced a camera based on his idea. The next advancement was 1966 when NASA began to gather data on the moon by mapping its surface. The analog signals were converted to digital, and by the end of the decade NASA was able to enhance the quality of images sent to their computers from the moon, a process known as digital photography editing. In 1969, George Smith and Willard Boyle made history by developing the CCD (Charge-Coupled Device). The CCD image sensor is a solid state device that converts light into electric signals. It captured black and white optical information and had a resolution of 100 x 100 pixels. CCD image sensors are still widely used today and are now in the megapixels (“History of Digital Photography”).
The 70’s brought further advancement. In 1972, a Texas Instrument employee, Willis Adcock patented the first film-less electronic camera. Unfortunately, the technology was not available to make it a practical concept. By 1975 Eastman Kodak created the world’s first digital camera. It was created by Steve Sasson and used CCD image sensor technology. This camera was the size of a toaster and weighed over 8 pounds. The black and white digital image was stored on a cassette tape and viewed on a special screen. The camera required 23 seconds to record an image to tape and another 23 seconds for the image to be read from the tape to a playback unit for display on a TV screen. That same year Bryce Bayer invented the Bayer Color Filter Array that allowed a single CCD or CMOS image sensor to capture color images. Without this filter taking a color image would require three individual sensors to be attached to a color beam splitter which would be large and expensive. Bayer Color Filter Arrays are still used in almost every digital camera (“History of Digital Photography”).
The 1980’s had several key growths for digital photography. 1981 is the year when Sony produced the first consumer camera that did not require film and was developed from Eugene Lally’s mosaic idea twenty years earlier. The camera, called Mavica (Magnetic Video Camera), had a resolution of 720,000 pixels and was able to store up to fifty images on a single 2 inch video floppy disk. After capturing images to a floppy disk the images would be displayed on a TV. The next advancement to digital photography was in 1986. Kodak scientists released the first sensor that could identify megapixels. This 1.4 megapixel sensor was small enough to fit in a handheld camera. It gave cameras the resolution to produce a 5x7 print. Canon also began manufacturing and distributing digital cameras. Canon introduced the RC-701, a still video camera that had four interchangeable lenses and cost $3,000. By 1988 the first JPEG and MPEG standards were set. JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) and MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) are a group of experts that maintain and develop the standards for digital