Who Invented the Digital Camera

Digital cameras have revolutionized the way we click and share photographs. Besides being very easy to carry around, they do not require film to be loaded, to store pictures. Instead, digital cameras use memory cards that allow to take a lot more 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, that serve the purpose of a few hours of recording well enough. With so many advantages, it is no wonder that digital cameras have almost replaced traditional film cameras in most parts of the world. 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 of the Digital Camera

The seeds of the digital camera was sown by Eugene Lally of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech, when he 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 1975, Steven Sasson of the Eastman Kodak Company, gave the world its first digital camera.

Who Invented the Digital Camera?

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, that 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 Digital Camera

Sasson's efforts paid off. In December 1975, he made the first digital camera. It was far from the sleek, stylish digital camera that we are so used to nowadays. His invention was an 8 pound device, that 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.

Steven Sasson: Inventor of the 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.

The United States Patent 4,131,919 was issued to Sasson and Gareth Lloyd in the year of 1978, for their prototype of the first digital camera invented. 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 digital camera 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 digital camera in the market, making this crude, bulky invention of Sasson the most important invention in the realm of photography.