The History of the Camera

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If you look around at home or at school, you might see several different kinds of cameras. There could be a cell phone camera lying on a desk, or a webcam attached to a computer. Your parents might have a digital camera. If you’ve ever used a digital camera, you already know that it’s quite easy to take a picture of something. Simply point at it and click the button, right? Actually, in older times, people had very different types of cameras and sometimes the process would take almost an entire day to shoot and image and print it! Let’s find out how cameras have changed through the years


1814 – The first photo image was created with a camera obscura, a huge box-like contraption. It was made by Joseph Niépce, a man from France. To obtain this single image, he had to leave the device’s shutter open for a period of eight hours! Sadly, the image faded away later.

1837 – Another Frenchman, Louis Daguerre, created an early type of fixed image with a chemical process called the Daguerreotype process. The machine that he used was a Daguerreotype camera. Since it was “fixed”, the image stayed as it was instead of fading. Unlike Niépce’s eight-hour exposure, Daguerre’s photograph only needed thirty minutes.

1841 – William Henry Talbot used a slightly modified camera and processing method to create a calotype. With this, he created negative images that could be used to make several positive copies.

1851 – Frederick Scott Archer created a new process called the collodian process. Now instead of having to wait for huge amounts of time while the image was exposed, photographers enjoyed the luxury of exposures that lasted only a couple of seconds!

1859 – An English photographer named Thomas Sutton developed and patented the panoramic camera. It could record images spanning 120 degrees

1871 – Richard Leach Maddox invented a process of dry gelatin emulsion so that negatives could henceforth wait to be developed.

1881 – George Eastman and Henry Strong founded the Eastman Dry Plate Company. It might not sound very familiar, but it later went on to be known as the Eastman Kodak Company!

1888 – Eastman launched a Kodak camera that uses a roll of paper film instead of flat sheets.

1900 – The Brownie was launched as a cheaper camera that is more affordable for common people.

1913 – Oskar Barnack created a proto-type of the first 35mm film camera. It took him several years to finish developing it and he finally introduced it in 1924 as the Leica-I.

1927 – General Electric, the electricity company, created flash light bulbs. Photographers used them to help brighten up areas that were too dark to photograph in.

1948 – A brand new camera was introduced when Edwin Land showed off the Land Camera, which was the very first instant camera that was available to the public.

1960 – A contractor of the U.S. government created a camera that could survive and function at very deep water depths. This was extremely useful for the navy.

1973 – Polaroid cameras advanced with their newer version. It could shoot, develop color film, and print it with just a single click of a button!

1978 – Another camera manufacturer, Konica, created a camera that automatically focuses so that people could point their camera and shoot very easily. This became known as “point and shoot”.

1984 – Canon Inc. made waves when they launched a camera that functioned electronically. This important development was about to make huge changes to the entire photography industry for the next few decades.

1988 – Fuji unveiled what is considered to be the first real type of digital camera. It operated on batteries and had a 16MB memory card.

1990 – Dycam introduced the Dycam Model 1. It was the first digital camera to be made available to the public.

1995 – The Ricoh RDC-1 was the first camera that could shoot images and also film video.

1999 – Nikon’s D1was the world’s first DSLR camera made by one of the major camera manufacturing companies. DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex; in other words, it was a digital version of a manually operated camera. This helped photographers to have far more control over what they shot. The D1 operated at 2.74 megapixels.

2012 – In the past decade, camera companies have made incredible developments. Today, DSLR cameras are much more affordable. There are also many smaller point-and-shoot digital cameras for people who simply want to shoot quick snapshots without worrying about high prices and technical details. Today it is very common to find cameras with additional features like automatic red-eye removal, in-camera effects, and features to upload or transfer images to other devices or users. Apart from still cameras, we also have cell phones, smart phones, and computers with built-in cameras

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