A Brief History of Digital Cameras and Photography

A Brief History of Digital Cameras and Photography

As the photographic educator Ralph Hattersley once said, “We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.” Photography is not just a practice—it’s an art form, one that everyone can learn, understand, enjoy, and appreciate. Interestingly enough, what was once a highly-technical practice has become a process anyone can master with a good eye and the right pieces of equipment.

The ability to capture still images has come a long way since its humble beginnings. We’ve compiled a look into the switch from film photography to digital image capturing to curb your curiosity. Here is a brief history of digital cameras and photography.

The Beginnings: The Space Race

To begin our look into a brief history of digital cameras and photography, we must begin with one of the main reasons whythe idea of digital imaging even came to be. Mainly, that has to do with the great space race of the 1950s-60s. At this point, individuals could solely capture still images through the film photography process. Yet, rocket scientists and space programs desired to put cameras onboard ships and satellites—and you couldn’t find any film developers in outer space.

So a new system was necessary to record photographs and beam them back to Earth—for immediate results—via a digital signal. While these rudimentary musings didn’t entirely blast off, the idea helped to form the basis of digital camera development and creation advancement in the 1970s.

The Invention and Advancement of the Digital Camera

In 1975, Easton Kodak engineer Steven Sasson invented the initial prototype digital camera. This groundbreaking piece of technology weighed almost nine pounds and was as large as a standard printer. The camera used CCD chips as image sensors, allowing the user to take digital images in under 30 seconds.

Yet, the concept of handheld digital cameras for the consumer market didn’t take off until the 1980s, when Sony invented a digital camera with CCD chips capable of storing quality images on a floppy disk. This prompted further industry breakthroughs and brand developments for years to come.

The Present and Future: The Workings of Digital Imagery

Any electronic device on the market contains an array of inner components and modern mechanisms. The varying types of digital cameras available are no exception. You can find single-sided or layered PCBs in many present-day cameras, alongside the main piece of technological equipment: light sensors. Some cameras still use CCD chips, while others use upgraded CMOS sensors. The biggest digital revolution of all has been the invention of the camera phone.

The smartphone age changed history and human life for the better, offering many individuals the opportunity to snap and save digital photos instantaneously. The world can only expect greater innovations and progressions to come that will one day make today’s camera phones appear as ancient relics.

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