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Photography Timeline

The following table has been produced to give some idea of the timeline of the development of Photography. There has been no one major invention or inventor of Photography but more of a gradual development process, where earlier processes were then adapted and perfected by individuals and businesses to get to later versions.

Date Development
600BC Pinhole cameras /camera Obscura principle developed, explained by Chinese philosopher Mo Ti and Greek mathematicians Aristotle and Euclid.
330BC First reference to the optic laws that made pinhole cameras possible, was observed and noted by Aristotle.
1000 Alhazen (Ibn Al-Haytham), a great authority on optics in the Middle Ages who lived around 1000AD, invented the first pinhole camera, (a form of Camera Obscura) and was able to explain why the images were upside down.
1200's Albertus Magnus discovered silver nitrate.
1500's Georges Fabricius discovered silver chloride.
1658 Daniel Barbaro described a diaphragm.
1600's Late 1600 Isaac Newton discovers that white light is made up of different colours.
1604 Johannes Kepler was the first person to coin the phrase Camera Obscura.
1609 Johannes Kepler suggested the use of a lens to improve the image projected by a Camera Obscura.
1694 Wilhelm Homberg described how light darkened some chemicals (photochemical effect).
1724 Johann Heinrich Schultz discovered in 1724 that a silver and chalk mixture darkens when exposed to light.
1700's The novel Giphantie, by French author Tiphaigne de la Roche,  described what can be interpreted as photography.
1794 Robert Barker - First Panorama opens, the forerunner of the movie house.
1800 Abound 1800 Thomas Wedgewood produced images on paper, but with no method of fixing they lasted only seconds when exposed to light.
1814 Joseph Niepce creates photographic image with camera obscura but the image required eight hours of light exposure and later faded.
1822 Nicéphore Niépce takes the first fixed, permanent photograph, of an engraving of Pope Pius VII, using a non-lens contact-printing "heliographic process" commonly called sun prints, but it was destroyed later, the earliest surviving example is from 1825.
1826 Nicéphore Niépce takes the first fixed, permanent photograph from nature, a landscape that required an eight hour exposure.
1829 Partnership between Nicéphore Niépce and Louis Daguerre to develop the ideas of Niépce further.
1835 William Fox Talbot creates his own photography process.
1837 Louis Daguerre's first daguerreotype - the first image that was fixed and did not fade and needed under thirty minutes of light exposure.
1839 Louis Daguerre patents the daguerreotype. French Government bought the patent and put it into Public Domain.
1839 Word "Photography" first used by Sir John Herschel - derives from the Greek words phōs or phōtós meaning light, and gráphein, meaning to write.
1839 John Herschel demonstrates hyposulfite of soda (also known as hypo, or sodium thiosulfate) as a fixer, and makes the first glass negative.
1839 William Fox Talbot invented the positive/negative process widely used in most later film photography. He refers to this as photogenic drawing.  This was patented stifling many other developments. The process is called Calotype meaning in Greek "beautiful picture".
1840 First American patent issued in photography to Alexander Wolcott for his camera.
1841 Janez Puhar invented a process for making photographs on glass in 1841. Tt was recognized on June 17, 1852
1847 Niépce St Victor published his invention of a process for making glass plates with an albumen emulsion.
1847 Count Sergei Lvovich Levitsky designed a bellows camera which significantly improved the process of focusing.
1840's In the mid 40's Langenheim brothers of Philadelphia and John Whipple of Boston also invented workable negative-on-glass processes.
1849 Levitsky would first propose the idea to artificially light subjects in a studio setting using electric lighting along with daylight.
1851 Introduction of the collodion process by Frederick Scott Archer.  This was the process used by Lewis Carroll the author.   Images required only two or three seconds of light exposure. The process involved wet plates that had to be developed in a mobile darkroom before they dried out.
1852 W. Rollman first illustrated the principle of the anaglyph (3D) using blue and red lines on a black field with red and blue glasses to perceive the effect.
1854 André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri credited with the introduction of the carte de visite (French "visiting card"). Disdéri introduced a camera with multiple lenses, which could reproduce eight individually exposed images on a single negative. After printing on albumen paper, the images were cut apart and glued to calling card-sized mounts.
1856 Tintypes, patented by Hamilton Smith. A thin sheet of iron was used to provide a base for light sensitive material, yielding a positive image.
1858 Joseph D'Almeida began projecting three dimensional magic lantern slide shows using red and green filters with the audience wearing red and green goggles.
1859 Panoramic camera patented - the Sutton.
1861 The first colour photograph, an additive projected image of a tartan ribbon, is shown by James Clerk Maxwell. Three pictures were taken, each through a primary colour filter, and projecting the three using corresponding filters, so that they overlapped, colour pictures could be re-created.
1862 Louis Ducos du Hauron and Charles Cros, two French inventors (working independently), each produce several patentable methods for producing images (by either additive or subtractive methods).
1861 Oliver Wendell Holmes invents stereoscope viewer (3D).
1868 Louis Ducos du Hauron patents a method of subtractive colour photography.
1871 The gelatin emulsion is invented by Richard Maddox. - Producing the first dry plates. Gelatin dry plate silver bromide process, negatives no longer had to be developed immediately, and faster shutter speeds allowed handheld photography for the first time.
1876 F. Hurter & V. C. Driffield begin systematic evaluation of sensitivity characteristics of photographic emulsions – science of sensitometry.
1878 Eadweard Muybridge made a high-speed photographic demonstration of a moving horse, airborne during a trot, using a trip-wire system.

English inventor and manufacturer, Frederick Wratten founded one of the first photographic supply businesses, Wratten and Wainwright who manufactured and sold collodion glass plates and gelatin dry plates. Wratten invented the "noodling process" of silver-bromide gelatin emulsions before washing, in the same year.

1880's Hans Jakob Schmid invented the Photochrome process, starting with B&W negatives, hand coloured and colour separated to make printing stones. Produced some of the first colour photos in volume, many available today. The Detroit Photographic Company reportedly produced as many as seven million Photochrome prints in some years, and ten to thirty thousand different views were offered. The last Photochrome printer operated up until 1970.
1880 Eastman Dry Plate Company founded.
1884 George Eastman, of Rochester, New York, developed dry gel on paper, or film, to replace the photographic plate so that a photographer no longer needed to carry boxes of plates around - this was based on the process by Fox Talbot.
1887 Celluloid film base introduced.

Blitzlichtpulver or flashlight powder was invented in Germany in 1887 by Adolf Miethe and Johannes Gaedicke. Lycopodium powder (the waxy spores from club moss) was used in early flash powder.

1888 Kodak Number1 box camera is mass marketed. The first easy-to-use camera, wooden, light-tight box with a simple lens and shutter that was factory-filled with film. The photographer pushed a button to produce a negative. Once the film was used up, the photographer mailed the camera, with the film still in it, to the Kodak factory where the film was removed from the camera, processed, and printed. The camera was then reloaded with film and returned.  For $22.00, a camera with enough film for 100 shots could be purchased. After use, it was sent back to the company, which then processed the film. The ad slogan read, "You press the button, we do the rest."  A year later it was  changed to a celluloid base, so that photographers could do their own processing.
1887 Gabriel Lippmann invents a "method of reproducing colours photographically based on the phenomenon of interference".
1891 Thomas Edison patents the "kinetoscopic camera" (moving pictures).
1891 Louis Ducas du Hauron first printed anaglyphs (3D). This process consisted of printing the two negatives which form a stereoscopic photograph on to the same paper, one in blue (or green), one in red.
1895 Auguste and Louis Lumière – invented the cinématographe.
1898 Kodak introduced their Folding Pocket Kodak.
1900 Kodak introduced their first Brownie. (Maybe 1901).
1901 Kodak introduced the 120 film.
1902 Arthur Korn devises practical phototelegraphy technology (reduction of photographic images to signals that can be transmitted by wire to other locations). Wire-Photos were in wide use in Europe by 1910, and transmitted inter-continentally by 1922.
1905 Oskar Barnack Development Manager for Leica, had the idea of reducing the format of film negatives and then enlarging the photographs after they had been exposed. Later he would, in 1925, produce the first 35mm camera, using movie film.
1905 Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, developed a colour process that involved three separate monochrome exposures ('separation negatives') of a still scene through red, green, and blue filters. These required a special machine to display, but the results are impressive even by modern standards. In 1909 he got the backing of Tsae Nicholas II to travel, teach photography and resulted in over 10,000 colour photos being taken of Russia before the Russian revolution. Over 2,500 of his photos survive.

Wratten with the assistance of Dr C.E. Kenneth Mees (E.C.K Mees) invented and produced the first panchromatic plates in England. Wratten is best known for the photographic filters that he invented and are still named after him - Wratten Filters. Eastman Kodak purchased his company in 1912.

1907 The Autochrome Lumière is the first practical colour photography process marketed.
1908 Kinemacolor, a two-colour process that was the first commercial "natural colour" system for movies, is introduced.
1909 Kodak introduces a 35mm "safety" motion picture film on an acetate base as an alternative to the highly flammable nitrate base. The motion picture industry discontinues its use after 1911 due to technical imperfections.
1912 Vest Pocket Kodak using 127 film.
1912 Kodak introduces the 22mm amateur motion picture format, a "safety" stock on acetate base.
1913 Kodak makes 35mm panchromatic motion picture film available on a bulk special order basis.
1913 Prototype 35mm camera produced by Oskar Barnack, at Leitz, test marketed in 1923/4 not marketed to the public until 1925.
1914 Kodak introduced the Autographic film system.
1914 The World, the Flesh and the Devil, the first dramatic feature film in colour (Kinemacolor), is released.
1920s Yasujiro Niwa invented a device for photo-telegraphic transmission through cable and later via radio.
1922 Kodak makes 35mm panchromatic motion picture film available as a regular stock.
1922 Kodak introduces 16mm reversal film, on cellulose acetate (safety) base.
1923 Doc Harold Edgerton invents the Xenon flash lamp and strobe photography.
1925 Leica introduced the 35mm format to still photography.
1926 Kodak introduces its 35mm Motion Picture Duplicating Film for duplicate negatives. Previously, motion picture studios used a second camera alongside the primary camera to create a duplicate negative.
1927 General Electric invents the flash bulb called Sashalite.
1930 The first commercially available photoflash bulb was patented by German, Johannes Ostermeier. These flashbulbs were named the Vacublitz.
1932 The first full colour movie, the cartoon Flowers and Trees, is made in Technicolor by Disney.
1932 First 8mm amateur motion picture film, cameras, and projectors are introduced by Kodak.
1932 First light meter with photoelectric cell introduced.
1934 The 135 film cartridge was introduced, making 35mm easy to use.
1935 Becky Sharp, the first feature film made in full colour (Technicolor), is released.
1936 Introduction by IHAGEE of the Ihagee Kine Exakta 1, the first 35mm Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera.
1936 Development of Kodachrome multi-layered reversal colour film.
1937 Agfacolor-Neu reversal colour film.
1938 Fully automatic Super Kodak Six-20. The first camera to connect a light meter to the settings.
1939 Agfacolor negative-positive colour material, the first modern colour "print" film.
1939 The View-Master stereo viewer (3D) is introduced.
1942 Kodacolor, Kodak's first Colour "print" film.
1942 Chester Carlson receives patent for electric photography (xerography).
1947 Dennis Gabor invents holography.
1947 Edgerton develops the Rapatronic camera for the U.S. government. (Ultra high speed)
1948 The Hasselblad camera introduced.
1948 Edwin H. Land introduces the first Polaroid instant image camera.
1948 The Contax S camera was introduced, the first 35mm SLR camera with pentaprism for eye-level viewing.
1952 The 3D film craze begins.
1954 Leica M Introduced.
1954 Eastman Kodak introduces high speed Tri-X film.
1957 The first image scanned into a digital computer.
1957 First Asahi Pentax SLR introduced.
1957 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).
1959 Nikon F introduced.
1959 AGFA introduces the first fully automatic camera, the Optima.
1960 EG&G develops extreme depth underwater camera for U.S. Navy.
1962 First SLR to have TTL (through the lens metering) is Topcon RE Super.
1963 Kodak introduces the Instamatic.
1963 Polaroid introduces instant colour film.
1964 First Pentax Spotmatic SLR introduced.
1968 Photograph of the Earth from the moon.
1973 Fairchild Semiconductor releases the first large image forming CCD chip; 100 rows and 100 columns.
1973 Polaroid introduces one-step instant photography with the SX-70 camera.
1975 Bryce Bayer of Kodak develops the Bayer filter mosaic pattern for CCD colour image sensors.
1975 The first recorded attempt at building a digital (analogue) camera. Steven Sasson, an engineer at Eastman Kodak used the then new solid-state CCD image sensor chips developed by Fairchild Semiconductor in 1973. The camera weighed 8 pounds (3.6 kg), recorded black and white images to a cassette tape, had a resolution of 0.01 megapixels (10,000 pixels), and took 23 seconds to capture its first image in December 1975. The prototype camera was a technical exercise, not intended for production.
1978 Konica introduces first point-and-shoot, autofocus camera.

 Sony demonstrates first consumer camcorder.

1985 Pixar introduces digital imaging processor.
1986 Kodak scientists invent the world's first megapixel sensor.
1986 Disposable cameras introduced - now have recyclable parts.
1986 Canon RC-701 first marketed Analog electronic camera. First analog camera marketed to consumers Canon RC-250 Xapshot in 1988. First demonstrated 1984.
1988 The first true digital camera that recorded images as a computerized file was likely the Fuji DS-1P of 1988, which recorded to a 16MB internal memory card that used a battery to keep the data in memory. This camera was never marketed or shipped to anyone.
1990 The first commercially available digital camera was the 1990 Dycam Model 1, it also sold as the Logitech Fotoman. It used a CCD image sensor, stored pictures digitally, and connected directly to a computer for download.
1991 Kodak brought to market the Kodak DCS-100, the beginning of a long line of professional Kodak DCS SLR cameras that were based in part on film bodies, often Nikons. It used a 1.3 megapixel sensor and was priced at $13,000.
1999 Introduction of the Nikon D1, a 2.74 megapixel camera that was the first digital SLR developed entirely by a major manufacturer, and at a cost of under $6,000, at introduction, was affordable by professional photographers and high end consumers. This camera also used Nikon F-mount lenses, which meant film photographers could use many of the same lenses they already owned.
2005 AgfaPhoto files for bankruptcy. Production of Agfa brand consumer films ends.
2008 Polaroid announces it is discontinuing the production of all instant film products, citing the rise of digital imaging technology.
2009 Kodak announces the discontinuance of Kodachrome film.
2010 3D Televisions become available


By: Keith Park  Section: Photography Section Key:
Page Ref: Photography_time_line Topic: Photography    Last Updated: 08/2010

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