The Birth Of Digital Imaging


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Early versions of digital cameras.

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  • This is one of the poorest retrospects on digital imaging I have ever read. It's full of errors and shows some very sloppy research. That's exactly what happens when you copy stuff off the internet without cross referencing or even verifying it!
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The Birth Of Digital Imaging

  1. The birth of digital imaging
  2. Christian Sandström holds a PhD from ChalmersUniversity of Technology, Sweden. He writes and speaks about disruptive innovation and technological change.
  3. We tend to think of the digital imaging revolution assomething thathappened in the early 2000s.
  4. It is true that the displacement of filmprimarily happened from 2000 and on…3025201510 5 0 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Number of film and digital cameras sold in the United States.
  5. But digital cameras had been around for a long time before the actual revolution.
  6. Let’s go back in time and take a look at how the technology evolved and how it was followed by journalists and companies.
  7. The key component in a digital camera is the image sensor. Dr. Willard Boyle and Dr. George Smith at Bell Labs created the first solid-state image sensor in 1969.
  8. Sony among other companies understood the potential in this new technology and started to experiment with it.
  9. But it was Texas Instruments that patented the filmless electronic camera in 1972.
  10. Fairchild Imaging was the first company to successfully launch a commercial image sensor in 1973. It was a black- and-white sensor which had 0,1 Megapixels.
  11. The Fairchild sensor was used whenKodak came up with the first prototypeof a camera that used an image sensor in 1975.
  12. The man behind the camera was an engineer at Kodak named StevenSasson (rumours say that he still works for the company).
  13. It took 23 seconds for the camera to record an image onto a digital cassette tape.
  14. The Associated Press made the following comment about the camera: “An 8-pound, toaster-size contraption, which captured a black-and-white image on a digital cassette tape at a resolution of .01 megapixel."
  15. Quite an interesting comment about atechnology that 25 years later would turnthe entire camera industry upside down.
  16. Throughout the 1970s, Fairchild and RCA among others further developed image sensors, primarily for usage related to astronomy.
  17. Digital imaging was superior to photographic plates when it came to gazing at distant planets and galaxies.
  18. Another early application of digital imaging was the transmission ofimages from space vehicles back home to earth (read more here).
  19. In 1979, Emory Kristof was thefirst to use an electronic camera while photographing life at the bottom of the ocean.
  20. Electronic cameras were alsoused when Kristof took photos of Titanic at the bottom of the sea.
  21. All these events have in common that they created quite some media attention.Therefore, digital imaging became a bit of a hype in these years…
  22. "What does this developmentmean? That the working newspaperphotographer in the not-too-distance future could be using anelectronic camera."// Edward Dooks photographer, 1979
  23. "It sounds like it (the digital camera) couldgive us more speed, more time to do theselection and cropping of photographs andless time just doing the technical productionof it.“// Ralph Langer, Dallas Morning News 1984
  24. "Electronic photography is going to replacethe silver image. We are going to have to havean understanding of how to edit pictures, howpictures are stored electronically and how toedit them electronically." // Charles Scott, Photojournalism educator
  25. "When the electronic camera, and all that goes with it, is finally in our hands -- and it will be -- it will not be because we have sought it out, but because we are no longer left with a choice.“Ed Breen, News Photographer in 1982
  26. While the technology received a lot ofmedia coverage, it was still far away from the mass markets.
  27. Too complicated, poor image quality and too high price.
  28. Further developments were made. The photo press continued to give plenty of attention to the emerging technology.
  29. In 1991, Associated Press published an article with the headline:“Electronics Takes a Big Step Closer to Replacing Film.”
  30. ”The quality of high-end digital studio cameras is good enough to replace film for most catalog and magazine needs.” MacWEEK 94-05-13
  31. 6 million pixel resolution is good enough for most applications. The perception of colour is more important than the perception of sharpness. Kodak, 1996
  32. In an article titled “Cameras go digital: Prices for filmless cameras are falling fast” from 1996 states:“One day in the not-too-distant future your point-and-shoot camera may go the way of the home movie camera and record turntable”.
  33. In the 1990s, digital imaging prospered in the area of studio photography.
  34. Kodak made huge efforts to producesmaller, cheaper and better products…
  35. Digital backs were attached to medium formatcameras (this one’s a Hasselbladwith a Kodak digital back)
  36. All these applications existed before the great imaging revolution.
  37. When looking back at the media coverage and the discussions about digital imaging it is striking how much attention the technology received in relation to how small the markets were.
  38. This observation suggests that the camera industry was by no means surprised by the shift to digital imaging once it happened.
  39. Some firms may haveunderestimated the pace at which the technology wentfrom strange niche markets into a mass market.
  40. But most of them succeeded in anticipating the threat at an early point. Responding in the right way, at the right time, turned out to be more difficult.
  41. SourcesMcGarvey, Jim, The DCS Story, 2004.
  42. Image attributions
  43. Find out