Kodak’s first portable digital camera had a 0.01 MP sensor and stored photos on tape
It’s ironic that Kodak invented the product that would kill the company. He decided to forget about it, because he was way ahead of his time.
The story of Kodak it is so important and enormous in the world of photography that it is tragic. She maintained her success for almost a century, but was doomed to oblivion for the device she herself invented: portable digital camera.
Kodak was founded in 1892 by George Eastman and Henry A. Strong. Eastman wholesale invented the photo reel, forever banning the use of expensive and delicate crystals to store photographs, which were in use until this time.
Thanks to Kodak, affordable cameras, light, which used reels (photographic film) to record the images and then develop them on paper.
Throughout the 20th century Kodak dominated the photographic market with the sale of cameras, film and photo development stores and labs.
There were thousands of them around the world, making a business as successful as Samsung or Apple can be today in the mobile world.
But in 1975, a spatiotemporal anomaly occurred in Kodak’s near-perfect universe. One of its engineers, Steven Sasson, invented the very first portable digital camera, which didn’t need any spools or development. You can see it in the opening news photo.
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It was portable, but you couldn’t hold it for long, because weighed 3.6 kilos. It used the same technique that we still use today on mobiles, with a CCD sensor that converts the captured light into pixels.
Of course, it was a black and white sensor of only 100 x 100 pixels, that is to say, 0.01 MP.
The most curious of all is that the digital photos were recorded on an analog medium: a cassette. Since this device recorded data at low speed, the digital photo has been temporarily stored in RAM memory.
The capture time for each photo was… 23 seconds.
Kodak had the future of photography before him, and she had invented it. Corn… decided to ditch digital technology and stick to the reels. The reason his bosses gave Steven Sasson was, “Who’s going to want to take pictures that they can’t see on paper?”
Today it seems like an absurd excuse to us, but in 1975 it made a lot of sense. At that time, personal computers did not even exist, no hard drives, no portable screens. And much less, cell phones.
There was no way to view these photos stored on tape in an easy way, except with very expensive equipment on a television, or using a digital printer, which had not yet been invented.
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But it’s easy to assume that Kodak was scared too. Although he decided to make digital cameras and they were successful, his business was not in the sale of cameras, but in the sale of reels and in the development of photos. And that business would be lost with digital cameras, as it happened.
This decision may have delayed the advent of digital cameras by a decade. But when they came out on cell phones, with the Sharp -SH04 in 2000, Kodak’s fate was doomed.
Just 12 years later, in 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy. No one has revealed any more photos. Today he is still active, but focused on other activities, such as the pharmacy or the sale of the biggest puzzle in the world.
Sadly, we’ll never know what would have happened if, 46 years ago, Kodak had gone ahead with the development of this first digital camera.