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The Timeline of Cameras

Apr 17
The Timeline of Cameras

History and timeline of Camera

  • It all started back in time of camera obscura - a device that used lens or pinhole to project images upside down on viewing surfaces by ancient Greeks and Chinese.
  • In year 1544, this camera was used by Reiners Gemma Frisius, a mathematician for observing a solar eclipse followed by Giovanni Batista della Porta who recommended this as a drawing aid fourteen years later in 1558.
  • But there was a time when they did not have a method to preserve the images produced by the cameras. All one could do to preserve these picture s was tracing them with hand. This transition from room sized camera to a portable camera was envisaged in 1685 by Johann Zahn.
  • The first camera was invented by Alexander Wolcott. His camera design was patented on 8 may, 1840. With the invention of Alexander Wolcott it was possible to click candid pictures that did not fade away with time.
  • However, the earliest photographs were not taken with Alexander Wolcott's invention. It was Joseph Nicéphore Niépce who used a sliding wooden box to take photographs.
  • The ‘Kodak’ camera was developed by George Eastman and went on sale in 1888, pioneering the use of photographic film. It was simple box camera with a single shutter speed and fixed focus lens.
  • Around the year 1913, a German optical engineer named Oskar Barnack made a prototype compact camera that used 35 mm film. Named ‘Lecia’, it was put into production in 1925 after further developments.
  • Reflex cameras became popular in the 1920s and 1930s.
  • Single lens reflex cameras (SLR) use a mirror and prism system to allow photographers to accurately see the image that will be captured. This system uses one optical light path whereas previous cameras had two, one through the lens to the film and the other to the viewfinder.
  • Polaroid cameras hit the market in 1948, allowing photographers to produce images instantly. A special chemical process was used to used to produce prints from the negatives in under a minute.
  • The popularity of instant cameras took off in 1965 with the introduction of the Polaroid Model 20 Swinger, one of the top selling cameras of all time.
  • Despite the technology being around in 1949, disposable cameras didn't really catch on until the 1990s when Kodak models became popular. They are cheap alternatives designed to be used once, perfect for one off events such as birthdays and vacations.
  • The first successful imaging technology using a digital sensor was made in 1969 by Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith. In 2009, they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their contributions which paved the way for digital photography.


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