Photographic technology has come a long way over the years. Throughout time, inventors have surged forward with new ideas and ways to create images that are more clear and more easily developed. Today, cameras are quick, compact, and can instantly create stunningly vivid images. Check out this timeline of inventions throughout the history of the camera to learn about its impressive evolution.
Original Concept of the Camera Obscura
Camera Obscura was an interesting start to photography that dates back to ancient times. The concept consisted of a darkened room with a tiny pinpoint to funnel exterior light. The image outside the chamber was reflected through the tiny hole onto a light-colored screen or wall. (Britannica)
As the concept evolved over time, boxes were built to replace the chamber. These created the same projection effect at a much smaller scale. Early artists used the technology to paint or trace the reflected images onto paper or other materials. Though primitive compared to today’s standards, this marked the very first camera and resulting “photographs”. (My Modern Met)
The Pinhole Camera pushed the idea of the Camera Obscura a step further. First, the advent of light-sensitive surfaces used to capture images occurred. Then, Sir David Brewster created some of the earliest photographs, creating photos by combining these reactive imaging surfaces with a compact version of the Camera Obscura—later named the Pinhole Camera. (Alternative Photography)
Development of the Photographic Camera
The photographic camera was the combined efforts and thoughts of many inventors over time. However, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce is credited with bringing the concept to life in 1816. Using silver chloride technology, he developed the very first photographic image on paper. (MasterClass) Over the years, the photographic camera continued to evolve as additional inventors put their spin on the concept.
The Invention of Daguerreotypes
Following Niépce, a French printmaker took photography to a new level in 1839. Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre developed a way to create images on metal surfaces. He used a combination of mercury, iodine, and salt water to print unique images onto copper plates coated with silver. The results were photos with stunning detail that made incredible works of art called daguerreotypes. (Met Museum)
Kodak’s Burst Into the Mainstream
Finally, in 1888, George Eastman provided mass consumer access to photography. The original Eastman Kodak camera was the first to use flexible film. It allowed users to easily and conveniently capture 100 images per pre-loaded roll. Then, the camera could be taken to the factory for photo development and to be loaded with a new film roll. (American History)
The Advent of 35mm Film
One of the most popular inventions in photographic history was the 35mm film. In 1925, the first camera to use 35mm film was released to the public. The Leica was invented by Oscar Barnack and quickly became the gold standard of photo technology. (National Museum of American History)
When Was the Polaroid Camera Invented?
In 1948, the next photographic evolution burst onto the scene. The Polaroid camera was an instant photography gamechanger that allowed users to snap photos and develop them within minutes. Its inventor Edwin H. Land was credited with eliminating the need for dark rooms and commercial developers. The Polaroid Instant Camera would become a pop culture phenomenon that still lives on today. (Slash Gear)
Invention of the Digital Camera
Fast forward to 1975 and the first digital camera was born. Steven Sasson developed a technology that printed onto a digital imaging cassette tape using electronic sensors. However, the camera was large, cumbersome, and photos could only be viewed on a special screen. This innovation served as the foundation to propel digital photography technology forward. (CNET)
Over the years, the simplicity and size of digital photography became a focus of digital camera manufacturers. Point-and-shoot digital cameras started to emerge as an ideal option for novice photographers. They were popular choices for their convenient size, affordable cost, and ease of use. Their accessibility and the fact that even a beginner could take digital photos encouraged brands like Sony and Nikon to release countless models to the masses.
Analog Photo Storage and Organization
Over the years, as photography has evolved, your stash of photos likely has too. You probably have boxes of loose photo prints or countless photo albums of precious memories and your life’s greatest moments. Digitizing your old print photos is a great way to protect and organize them for lifelong preservation. Plus, with iMemories cloud-based storage technology you can share your analog photos on any device to be enjoyed by family and friends near and far.