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At the beginning of photography, images were made on plates (first metal then glass). In time, films made from synthetic materials became cheaper and easier to use and slowly replaced plates. Read more about history of photographic film.
Photography, as we use it today, is a sophisticated technology but its invention began in 5th century BC when people noticed that when light of the sun eclipse passes between the leaves of a tree, it makes an image of an eclipsed sun on the ground.
First digital cameras appeared in 1970 and were heavy and unpractical. They improved in time and are now used by everybody, from amateurs on their mobile phones to professionals who make living using them. Read more about history and benefits of digital photography.
Daguerreotype was the first successful and commercial type of photography. Although relatively a complex method, it spread throughout the world and remained popular until simpler methods appeared and replaced it.