Timeline of Photography - Important Milestones in Photography Development

You can say that an invention of photography started some 2500 years ago because it uses knowledge that people gathered then.

  • Between 5th and 4th century BC - Chinese philosopher Mo Di and Greek mathematicians Aristotle and Euclid noticed an effect of a pinhole camera and described it in their works.
  • 6th century - Anthemius of Tralle, mathematician from Byzantine Empire, used a camera obscura, a precursor of camera, in his experiments.
  • 10th century - Ibn al-Haytham studied the camera obscura and pinhole camera and wrote the Book of Optics.
  • 13th century - Albertus Magnus discovered silver nitrate which will be used in photography.
  • 16th century - Georg Fabricius discovered silver chloride which will also be used in photography.
Picture Of Old Cameras Photography
  • 1566 - Daniele Barbaro described a diaphragm which will be used as a part of a camera.
  • 1725 - Johann Heinrich Schulze used stencils to cover jars with solution of chalk and silver nitrate. When those jars were exposed to sunlight sun would darken uncovered parts while those covered would stay white.
  • 1800 - Thomas Wedgwood made the first photographs by using leather coated with silver salts which are light-sensitive. His photographs showed only shadows and didn’t last long on light.
  • Between 1816 and 1827 - Nicéphore Niépce experiments with photography and makes negative photographs; photographs with coatings of Bitumen of Judea on metal and glass; makes the first fixed, permanent photograph; and the earliest surviving photograph from nature.
  • 1839 - Louis Daguerre invents a process (called after him daguerreotype), which uses silver-plated sheets of copper and makes detailed permanent photographs that are highly detailed.
  • 1839 - John Herschel invented a solution for fixing of all silver-based photographic processes.
  • 1887 - Introduced and celluloid film base which acts as a support medium for the photosensitive emulsion (instead of glass and metal of earlier variants).
  • 1888 - The Kodak starts selling so-called “n°1 box camera” - the first easy-to-use camera.
  • 1889 - The first commercially available transparent celluloid roll film is introduced to the world.
  • 1898 - Kodak starts selling the Folding Pocket Kodak - a small foldable camera.
  • 1900 - Kodak sells “Brownie” - inexpensive cardboard box camera. It had initial price of $1.
  • 1907 - The first commercially successful color photography plate was introduced by Lumière brothers in France. It was called Autochrome plate.
  • 1923 - Harold Edgerton invents the xenon flash lamp used for strobe photography when natural illumination is not enough.
  • 1942 - Kodacolor is introduced. It was the first color film that made negatives for making chromogenic color prints on paper. Today, most films and papers used for color photography are chromogenic.
  • 1948 - Edwin H. Land invents the first Polaroid instant camera.
  • 1949 - The Contax S camera is introduced. It was the first 35 mm SLR camera with a pentaprism eye-level viewfinder which showed in viewfinder an exact image being photographed.
  • 1957 - First digital camera invented by Russell Kirsch at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards.
  • 1959 - AGFA introduced the first fully automatic camera.
  • 1963 - Kodak introduces Instamatic camera, easy to use camera that started era of i low-cost photography.
  • 1973 - Fairchild Semiconductor makes the first “large” image forming CCD chip for digital cameras. It was large for its time but it had only 100 x 100 pixels (10k pixels).
  • 1986 - Kodak makes the world's first megapixel sensor.
  • 1997 - First cell phones with integrated cameras start appearing but are not publicly available.
  • 2000 - First publicly available cell phone appears - J-SH04 by J-Phone.
  • 2006 - Dalsa makes a 111 megapixel CCD sensor. It is a sensor of the highest resolution at that time.
  • 2011 - Lytro started selling the first pocket-sized camera that can refocus images after they are taken.