A simple box camera that contains a pre-loaded roll of film might seem like a simple piece of technology, but it also revolutionized how people could take pictures. Instead of needing hundreds of dollars of equipment, the average vacationer could simply purchase a fixed focus lens camera. Some say that Fujifilm invented the disposable camera in 1986 and others say that this invention was part of Kodak’s product line, but a company named Photo-Pac actually invented the film disposable camera in 1949. It took 8 pictures and users would send the camera in for processing. It sold for $1.29.
You have to go back to 1889 to find the first truly disposable camera. Called the “Ready Fotographer,” both of these cameras were essentially too far ahead of their time in order to be commercially successful. Here are some additional inventions in the world of photography to consider as well.
1. Silver Nitrate
One of the core discoveries in the world of photography is that silver nitrate will darken when it is exposed to light. This was first discovered in 1727 by a man named Johann Heinrich Schulze. Through his experiments, he realized that the effects of silver nitrate, silver chloride, and other silver salts could be used to capture images. He didn’t find any way to preserve these images during his lifetime, but this work would become the foundation of modern photography.
2. Digital Photography
Most cameras today don’t contain any film. They contain memory cards that store files which are generated through images that are captured. Although digital cameras became popular in the general public in the mid-1990s, an engineer named Steven Sasson at Eastman Kodak invented the first digital camera in 1975. They were used for military purposes immediately and then news and medical applications took advantage of this technology. Today most phones even have a digital camera installed in them.
3. The First Patent
Alexander Wolcott was awarded the first patent for a camera by the United States in 1840. The document states that his invention contains improvements on cameras, however, so it isn’t the very first camera that was being used. His invention used concave reflectors and plates so that the light could be obtained more efficiently than in the classic pinhole design. Wolcott’s camera is also notable for the fact that the image could be focused manually.
4. Underwater Photography
One of the biggest obstacles that photographers have always faced is to create images underwater. Early cameras were not watertight enough to take images and protect the film. Even early cameras that could go underwater couldn’t go down to any reasonable depth. In 1960, EG&G created an underwater camera that could operate at extreme depths under a defense contract with the US Navy. This invention would allow for a brand new field of discovery to take place.
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