antique digital

Sending photo silhouettes digitally by wire in the Victorian era

Toronto. Anyone born this century likely thinks digital is normal – smartphones , television, streaming (voice, music and videos), photography, etc. Over a century ago, some technologies like telegraph or radio were digital – messages send at a distance over wires or the air using a binary code.

Photography, radio, records, telephone, etc embraced analogue technologies to create images, voice, and music. With personal computers we entered a digital world once again. Television switched to digital over the air or by fibre optics. Cameras moved to sensors and digital technology as did smartphones (no land line needed). Streaming replaced CD’s (just as the digital CD replaced the analogue record). Movies went digital both over the air and streaming via fibre.

An interesting article titled “Digital pictures in the Victorian age“appeared back on April 24th, 2020 ┬áin the series “The first digital photos, from Victorian technology to the internet” via the internet site for the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, UK.

We as photographers think of the early digital camera made by Kodak in the 1970s as the beginning of digital technology, but seldom think of telegraphy etc back in the Victorian era as digital. After you read the above article, you may have to change your mind!

Thanks once again to my good friend and fellow PHSC member, George Dunbar, for sharing this unusual bit of photographic history with me.


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