History of Photography

You can’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you have been.  This interactive photography timeline was submitted by Parker Hansen and shows the evolution of the camera from 500 B.C. to present day.  Hope you guys enjoy it, here’s a little blurb from Parker… (scroll down to see interactive timeline)

Timeline: A History of Photography

Long before the invention of our modern camera, a group of philosophers and scientists laid the groundwork for this amazing device. As early as 500 B.C. Chinese and Greek philosophers were aware of the basic principles of optics. Over 2,000 years later, Sir Isaac Newton observed that light entering a prism exited in a rainbow of colors and by this he surmised that white light is composed of colors. Early in the 18th century, Johann Heinrich Schulze discovered that exposing silver nitrate to light would cause it to darken. It wasn’t until 1826, however, that Joseph Niepce put all the pieces together to take the first picture. Eleven years later, Louis Daguerre invented the daguerreotype which was permanent, did not fade, and required less than thirty minutes of exposure to light.

Although George Eastman, of Kodak fame, is most readily associated with the earliest cameras, it was Alexander Wolcott who was awarded the first American patent for the camera in 1840. Forty-eight years later, Eastman patented his Kodak roll-film camera which was made possible by his invention of flexible, paper-based photographic film 4 years prior.

Several further developments in film set the stage for Kodak’s future success. William Henry Talbot developed the negative-positive process in 1841, allowing multiple copies of a photograph to be made. Ten years later, Frederick Scott Archer reduced the exposure time required to 2 to 3 seconds with the development of the Collodion process. In 1871, Richard Leach Maddox invented the gelatin dry plate silver bromide process enabling photographers to develop their negatives at a later time. Reverend Hannibal Goodwin patented celluloid film in 1898. The dawn of the 20th century brought the Brownie camera, the first camera to be mass marketed. Following this, Kodak made several advancements in film technology: the Kodachrome in 1935, color negatives in 1941, high speed film in 1954 and, in 1990, following the advent of digital photography, the photo CD.

Of course Kodak wasn’t the only player. General Electric invented the modern flash bulb in 1927. Five years later the light meter came into being. In 1948 Polaroid hit the market and soon became synonymous with instant photography adding color in 1963 and a one-step process in 1973, with the introduction of the SX-70. Digital photography, which began in 1981 as an ASI science project at University of Calgary, soon dominated the market and Kodak discontinued instant film in 2008.

Since then the digital camera, first marketed to the public in 1988, has increased in popularity. In 1999, the DSLR, which allows for the use of a variety of lenses, was released by Nikon. More recently, changes in format, increased lens speeds, and new methods of storage, have enabled even amateur photographers to create works of art.

A Detailed History of Photography

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