The Evolution of Photography

I haven’t written anything on this blog for a while, but I’m giving myself a good kick up the backside to get things going again with a brief excursion into the history of photography.

The first point I’ll make is that many of the products we use today – computers, mobile phones, cars – are very, very old, and we take them for granted. The product that we take for granted today was developed by a team of people just as long ago as the photographs you’re viewing here, and many of the team were in their 80’s and 90’s when the first cameras came off the production line in the early 1900s.

Back then, there was no concept of digital photography; the only form of electronic imaging that existed was the image displayed on the face of a photo-electrochemical cell, commonly known as an ‘instant photo’.

There are many reasons why this was the first form of electronic imaging.

Firstly, as it was a purely chemical form of imaging, there were no electronic components to consider; the display was just a solid piece of plastic with a chemical coating that could be erased and rewritten at will, providing a relatively inexpensive form of display.

Secondly, because there were no electronic components involved, there was also no need to use batteries, and the absence of these meant that the device could be made small and light.

Thirdly, because there were no electronic components involved, it was also possible to make the display of the device very sensitive – so sensitive that it was possible to make photographs directly onto the face of the cell.

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, there was no concept of digital photography when the first cameras were made.

Whilst a conventional photographic camera is a device which is used to record images on to film or to record images directly onto a photographic plate – the latter being the only way of making a permanent record in the early days – it has to be said that a camera in the conventional sense is a fairly recent invention.

The first photographic cameras were large, unwieldy and expensive; by the time of the advent of the SLR camera in the 1960s, the photographic camera market was firmly established, and there was no longer any need to make large, unwieldy and expensive cameras – the smaller, less expensive cameras could be made to record just as many images as the larger cameras, and in a much less cumbersome format. If you’ve more details visit here

So, it was not the lack of need to make large, unwieldy and expensive cameras that caused the creation of the first digital cameras in the 1980s, it was the fact that the ‘instant photo’ display was already known; it was already possible to make small, light and highly sensitive displays, and there was no requirement to change the way in which the displays worked.

The device was small, light, could take several images in rapid succession, and could also be connected to a computer system for display, cataloguing and backup.


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