Long before DSLRs, Micro 4/3rds, Photoshop, or HDR…Steve Sasson invented the digital camera.
In 1975, as a newly hired electrical engineer employed by Eastman Kodak, Steve and a few fellow engineeers, successfully built a working prototype of a digital imaging device that used a CCD (ChargedCoupled Device) to capture a still image.
The device shown in the photo is “the world’s first known operational electronic CCD still image digital camera”. I might add, that it was portable as well. It weighed 13 pounds.
“It was a camera that didn’t use any film to capture still images a camera that would capture images using a CCD imager and digitize the captured scene and store the digital info on a standard cassette. It took 23 seconds to record the digitized image to the cassette. The image was viewed by removing the cassette from the camera and placing it in a custom playback device. This playback device incorporated a cassette reader and a specially built frame store. This custom frame store received the data from the tape, interpolated the 100 captured lines to 400 lines, and generated a standard NTSC video signal, which was then sent to a television set.” – Kodak
US Patent – Digital Camera
At it’s peak, Kodak had one of the most innovative research laboratories in the world. It’s digital patents are in almost every electronic device out there. What most people do not know, is that hundreds if not thousands of amazing digital imaging technologies originated from Kodak digital imaging patents which were produced by hundreds of Kodak researchers, engineers, designers and employees. I personally produced at least thirteen original digital concepts that went to patent.
Ironically, the invention of the digital camera may have been the undoing of what once was a great company, with uncompromising products, produced by great people. As a former Kodak employee and one of their digital inventors, I find this to be truly unfortunate.
Whether you shoot with a DSLR, a point-and-shoot digital, or the camera built into your smart phone, you might now appreciate that they are all the direct descendants of the device shown above.
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