of the Digital Camera
Digital camera technology is directly
related to and evolved from the same technology that recorded television
images. In 1951, the first video tape recorder
(VTR) captured live images from television cameras by converting the information
into electrical impulses (digital) and saving the information onto magnetic
tape. Bing Crosby laboratories (the research team funded by Crosby and
headed by engineer John Mullin)
created the first early VTR and by 1956, VTR technology was perfected (the
VR1000 invented by Charles P. Ginsburg and the Ampex Corporation) and in
common use by the television industry. Both television/video cameras and
digital cameras use a CCD
(Charged Coupled Device) to sense light color and intensity.
During the 1960s, NASA converted
from using analog to digital signals with their space probes to map the
surface of the moon (sending digital images back to earth). Computer technology
was also advancing at this time and NASA used computers to enhance the
images that the space probes were sending.
Digital imaging also had another
government use at the time that being spy satellites.
Government use of digital technology helped advance the science of digital
imaging, however, the private sector also made significant contributions.
Texas Instruments patented a film-less electronic camera in 1972, the first
to do so. In August, 1981, Sony released the Sony Mavica electronic still
camera, the camera which was the first commercial electronic camera. Images
were recorded onto a mini disc and then put into a video reader that was
connected to a television monitor or color printer. However, the early
Mavica cannot be considered a true digital camera even though it started
the digital camera revolution. It was a video camera that took video freeze-frames.
Since the mid-1970s, Kodak has invented
several solid-state image sensors that "converted light to digital pictures"
for professional and home consumer use. In 1986, Kodak scientists invented
the world's first megapixel sensor, capable of recording 1.4 million pixels
that could produce a 5x7-inch digital photo-quality print. In 1987, Kodak
released seven products for recording, storing, manipulating, transmitting
and printing electronic still video images. In 1990, Kodak developed the
Photo CD system and proposed "the first worldwide standard for defining
color in the digital environment of computers and computer peripherals."
In 1991, Kodak released the first professional digital camera system (DCS),
aimed at photojournalists. It was a Nikon F-3 camera equipped by Kodak
with a 1.3 megapixel sensor.
The first digital cameras for the
consumer-level market that worked with a home computer via a serial cable
were the Apple
QuickTake 100 camera (February 17 , 1994), the Kodak
DC40 camera (March 28, 1995), the Casio QV-11 (with LCD monitor, late
1995), and Sony's Cyber-Shot Digital Still Camera (1996).
However, Kodak entered into an aggressive
co-marketing campaign to promote the DC40 and to help introduce the idea
of digital photography to the public. Kinko's and Microsoft both collaborated
with Kodak to create digital image-making software workstations and kiosks
which allowed customers to produce Photo CD Discs and photographs, and
add digital images to documents. IBM collaborated with Kodak in making
an internet-based network image exchange. Hewlett-Packard was the first
company to make color inkjet printers that complemented the new digital
The marketing worked and today digital
cameras are everywhere.
Cameras: How They Work & History
- Digital Camera Resources
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