Who Invented the Digital Camera?

Do You Have Any Idea Who Invented the Digital Camera?

Invention of the digital camera was a great leap in the world of photography. The digital camera works by converting images into electronic impulses, which are stored on light sensitive sensors. In 1975, Steven Sasson made use of all the developments in the field of photography and electronics that were available to him, to finally come up with the world's first digital camera.
Digital cameras have revolutionized the way we click and share photographs. Besides being very easy to carry around, they do not require films to be loaded to store pictures. Instead, these devices use memory cards that allow to take a many pictures than the film in a traditional camera. These pictures can be viewed immediately after they are taken, and those not required can be deleted. These cameras also work as reasonably good digital video recorders, which serve the purpose of a few hours of recording well enough. With so many advantages, it is no wonder that such devices have almost replaced traditional film cameras in most parts of the world. The history behind digital cameras is pretty interesting. The evolution of the digital camera was not an easy process, and there was much debate on questions like 'who invented the digital camera' and 'when was the first digital camera made'.

History

Eugene Lally of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech presented the design of the first digital camera in 1961. In 1972, Willis Addock, an engineer with Texas Instruments, designed and applied for a patent for a camera that would not require a film to record the image. Though not digital, the camera would work using analog technology. Finally in December 1975, Steven Sasson gave the world its first digital camera.

Steven J. Sasson was born on July 4, 1950, in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, New York. Sasson displayed a keen interest in electronics right from a young age. As a child, he would collect electronic components from radios and televisions, and would design and build transmitters, radio receivers, and stereo amplifiers. His interest in electronics led him to the Brooklyn Technical High School in New York, where he enrolled and specialized in science and technology. He then went on to study Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York, and obtained both a bachelor's as well as a master's degree from the same institute.

Steven Sasson was an electrical engineer working with Eastman Kodak, when the company took up a project of building a camera from solid state imagers, solid state electronics, and electronic sensors known as charge coupled devices (CCDs). Responding to the assignment given to the team of engineers at the company, Steven Sasson came up with the world's first digital camera, which was made from parts of other cameras. When Sasson started with his project, there was virtually no literature available of digital imaging. He started working on circuitry right from scratch, and depended on oscilloscope measurements for guidance.

The first model was far from the sleek and stylish devices that we are used to nowadays. His invention was an 8 pound device, which was as big as a toaster of those times. It had a resolution of 0.01 megapixels, and produced black and white pictures. The camera took 23 seconds to write an image on a digital cassette tape, and another 23 seconds to read it back from the cassette to view on a television screen. Sasson made this brilliant invention using whatever photographic and electronic equipment were available at that time. He used the photographic lens from a Kodak Movie-camera, CCD chips introduced by Fairchild Semiconductor in 1973, and an analog to digital converter adapted from electronic components manufactured by Motorola Inc.

The United States Patent 4,131,919 was issued to Sasson and Gareth Lloyd in the year of 1978, for their prototype of this device. Sasson was also inducted in the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame. Although he still works with the Eastman Kodak, he is no longer a part of the engineering team. At present, he is involved with managing and protecting the intellectual property of the company.

Steven Sasson's camera was more of a technical exercise than an invention for commercial use. Little did he realize that within 25 years of his invention, his prototype would become an indispensable device for almost every family in US. Be it Sony or Canon, every big name in the world of electronics and photography has its own such digital camera in the market.
Advertisement