Who invented the first digital camera?

9a079d26-4163-11e5-9d05-e21db24024da_20150811-lens-sasson-slide-QS7V-superJumbo--363x363Toronto. Russ Forfar, a frequent contributor to this site dropped me a note today about the first digital camera ever invented.

In mid August, James Estrin in Australia’s Business Review Weekly wrote a column titled “In 1975, this Kodak employee invented the digital camera. His bosses made him hide it“.

In 1973, engineer Steve Sasson joined Kodak. Two years later Sasson who was given the task of seeing if the CCD had any practical use, put together a heavy and awkward device that would take a 100 x 100 pixel image on a CCD and record the digital version to an audio tape.

To see the image, Sasson had to make another device that accepted the tape with the image “file” as digital 1s and 0s and convert it to be displayed on a TV screen.

Sasson saw the potential of digital imaging, but sadly his superiors did not – they only saw the potential impact on the sale of film. By the time the full impact of digital imaging was recognized, it was too late for Kodak to transform from a chemical process company to a digital company.

I first heard this amazing story from the retired Kodak scientist Gordon Brown when mr Brown talked at our September, 2007 meeting. He called his talk “BC and AD –  Photography Before Computers and After Digital” and gave a good recent history of photography including the astonishing gadget a young Kodak engineer devised in 1975.


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