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Timeline of the Invention of Photography


Johann H. Schulze, a German physicist, mixes chalk, nitric acid, and silver in a flask;he notices darkening on side of flask exposed to sunlight. This accident created the first photo-sensitive compound.

1780s Carl Scheele, a Swedish chemist, shows that the changes in the color of the silver salts could be made permanent through the use of chemicals  
1826 A French inventor, Nicéphore Niépce, produces a permanent image by coating a metal plate with a light-sensitive chemical and exposing the plate to light for about eight hours. The photograph was taken of a pigeon house and barn as seen from his window in the summer of 1826 and was made using a camera obscura and a sheet of pewter coated with bitumen of Judea, an asphalt that when exposed to light, hardened permanently. The photograph was captured during an eight hour exposure, and took so much time that the sun passed overhead, illuminating both sides of the courtyard.

The first permanent photograph, a landscape by Nicéphore Niépce
1830s Louis Daguerre, a French inventor, develops the first practical method of photography by placing a sheet of silver-coated copper treated with crystals of iodine inside a camera and exposing it to an image for 5 to 40 minutes. Vapors from heated mercury developed the image and sodium thiosulfate made the image permanent. Daguerre is awarded a state pension by the French government in exchange for publication of methods and the rights by other French citizens to use the Daguerreotype process.

A dauuerreotype: L’Atelier de l'artiste. 1837, by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre
1839 A British inventor, William H. Fox Talbot, an English classical archaeologist, made paper sensitive to light by bathing it in a solution of salt and silver nitrate. The silver turned dark when exposed to light and created a negative, which could be used to print positives on other sheets of light sensitive paper. Talbot was the inventor of the negative/positive photographic process, the precursor to most photographic processes of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Detail from the Footman by Talbot, 1840
1840s Josef M. Petzval, a Hungarian mathematician, develops lenses for portrait and landscape photographs, which produce sharper images and admit more light, thus reducing exposure time.  
1851 The British photographer Frederick S. Archer develops a photographic process using a glass plate coated with a mixture of silver salts and an emulsion made of collodion. Because the collodion had to remain moist during exposure and developing, photographers had to process the pictures immediately. Wet plate collodion photography was much cheaper than daguerreotypes, the negative/positive process permitted unlimited reproductions, and the process was published but not patented.  
1861 The first color photograph, an additive projected image of a tartan ribbon, is shown by James Clerk-Maxwell. Clerk-Maxwell demonstrates a color photography system involving three black and white photographs, each taken through a red, green, or blue filter. The photos were turned into lantern slides and projected in registration with the same color filters. This is the "color separation" method.

Tartan Ribbbon by Clerk-Maxwell, 1861
1871 Richard L. Maddox, a British physician, invents the "dry-plate" process, using an emulsion of gelatin, so that photographers did not have to process the pictures immediately. By the late 1870s, exposure time had been reduced to 1/25th of a second. Gelatin emulsion made it possible to produce prints that were larger than the original negatives, allowing manufacturers to reduce the size of cameras.  
1878 Eadweard Muybridge makes a high-speed photographic demonstration of a moving horse, airborne during a trot, using a trip-wire system and settles the "do a horse's four hooves ever leave the ground at once" bet among rich San Franciscans.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
1880 George Eastman, age 24, sets up Eastman Dry Plate Company in Rochester, New York.

Dry Plate Box
Courtesy of Eastman Kodak
1880 The first half-tone photograph appears in a daily newspaper, the New York Graphic.  
1888 George Eastman introduces and mass markets the lightweight, inexpensive Kodak camera, using film wound on rollers. It is the first easy-to-use camera. This camera contains a 20-foot roll of paper, enough for 100 2.5-inch diameter circular pictures.  
1891 Thomas Edison patents the "kinetoscopic camera" which is used for motion pictures.

Eastman and Edison
Courtesy of Eastman Kodak
1902 Arthur Korn devises practical phototelegraphy technology (reduction of photographic images to signals that can be transmitted by wire to other locations); Wire-Photos are in wide use in Europe by 1910, and transmitted intercontinentally by 1922.  
1916 Kodak markets a lightweight folding camera.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
1923 Doc Harold Edgerton invents the xenon flash lamp and strobe photography.  
1925 The Leica introduced the 35mm format to still photography.  
1932 The first full-color Technicolor movie, Flowers and Trees, is made by Disney.  
1934 The 135 film cartridge was introduced, making 35mm easy to use.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
1936 Development of Kodachrome, the first color multi-layered color film  
1948 Edwin H. Land introduces the first Polaroid instant image camera.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
1952 The 3-D film craze begins.  

First digital image produced on a computer by Russell Kirsch at U.S. National Bureau of Standards (now known as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST).

Credit NIST
1968 Photograph of the Earth from the moon was transmitted back from space during the live television transmission from the Apollo 8 spacecraft on the third day of its journey toward the moon.

Credit NASA
1975 The first digital still camera was a prototype (US patent 4,131,919) developed by Eastman Kodak engineer Steven Sasson. It was made up of some Motorola parts with a Kodak movie-camera lens and some newly invented Fairchild CCD electronic sensors.The resulting camera was the size of a large toaster and weighed nearly 4kg. Black-and-white images were captured on a digital cassette tape, and viewing them required Sasson and his colleagues to develop a special screen.
1978 Konica introduces first point-and-shoot, autofocus camera.  
1986 Kodak scientists invented the world's first megapixel sensor, capable of recording 1.4 million pixels that could produce a 5x7-inch digital photo-quality print.  
1991 Kodak markets the Kodak DCS-100, a professional SLR camera that was based in part on film bodies, often Nikons. It used a 1.3 megapixel sensor and was priced at $13,000.  
1992 Kodak announces Photo CD as a digital image storage medium.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
2000 Camera phone introduced in Japan by Sharp/J-Phone

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
2004 Kodak ceases production of film cameras  
2006 Polaroid announces it is discontinuing the production of all instant film products, citing the rise of digital imaging technology  

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