History of Digital Photography - Who Invented the First Digital Camera?

Digital photography is photography that uses digital cameras to capture images. Digital cameras don’t have film like standard cameras but use photosensitive sensors which convert intensity of the light into electric impulses that are then store them in digital memory devices as RGB color space or as raw data.

Picture Of Digital Camera Olympus

In 1968, Edward Stupp, Pieter Cath and Zsolt Szilagyi, which worked at Philips Labs in New York, invented "All Solid State Radiation Imager" that received and stored an optical image on a matrix composed of an array of photodiodes. It was a predecessor of CCD (charge-coupled device) which was invented in 1969 by Bell Labs by Willard Boyle and George E. Smith at AT&T. Fairchild Semiconductor took the CCD and improved it in 1973. Steven Sasson, an engineer at Eastman Kodak built the first recorded digital camera in 1975 using the CCD from Fairchild Semiconductor. It was a working prototype of a camera, not a commercial variant. It had 4kg, it could capture image of 100 x 100 pixels and needed 23 seconds to make an image and record it on tape.

First electronic cameras were analog electronic cameras and were a step toward true digital cameras. Analog cameras recorded images as continuous signals, as videotape machines did, not as discrete (digital) levels. First one appeared in 1981 and was called Sony Mavica. It recorded 25 to 50 images on video floppy disks. Images had quality of the television of that time but the camera didn’t enter commercial production. First commercial analog electronic camera was Canon RC-701 which appeared in 1984. These cameras were very expensive and had a lower quality of images comparing to the standard film. They also needed equipment for capturing and printing of images which also didn’t help analog cameras to reach wider public. They were mostly used by newspapers and military.

The first digital camera (as we know it today) was Fuji DS-1P made in 1988. I used JPEG and MPEG standards to be compress images and video to storage but (as all early variants) was not commercially successful. First one that was sold commercially in Japan was DS-X by Fuji from December, 1989. First commercially sold camera on American Ground was Dycam Model 1 from 1990 but was a commercial failure because it could not make color images and was too pricey. Kodak started selling his Kodak DCS-100 which had 1.3 megapixels and a price of $13,000. Technology advanced and others also started making their cameras. CCD was replaced in time with CMOS which lowered the cost of cameras and allowed them to be placed on mobile telephones.

Digital cameras are more modern than film cameras. They have their advantages but they also have their bad sides.

Digital Cameras Advantages and Disadvantages

Picture Of Lens Camera

Advantages are:

  • Images made with digital camera can be reviewed at the spot and saved for later or deleted if they are not satisfactory. This saves storage space and allows for making of more images of higher quality.
  • Digital cameras can store more images than film cameras.
  • Film cameras need new film whenever an old one is spent while memory cards can last as long as digital camera that uses it.
  • Images made with digital camera can be used at the moment they are made while images made with film camera have to be developed.
  • It is much easier to manipulate digital images than standard film photography.

Bad sides of digital cameras:

  • If a too high ISO is used, noise may appear as multicolored speckles in digital images. This noise can be fixed with editing software but that can lower quality of an image.
  • Patterns can appear on digital images as a result of aliasing.