A Brief Timeline of the Technology of Photography


Photography is the process of recording pictures by means of capturing light on a light-sensitive medium, such as film or an electronic sensor.  The word "photography" comes from the French photographie which is based on the Greek words meaning "light" and "stylus" or "paintbrush" together meaning "drawing with light."

The camera or Camera Obscura (Camera, Latin for “room” and Obscura, Latin for “dark”) is the image-forming device, and photographic film or a silicon electronic image sensor is the sensing medium.  The respective recording medium can be the film itself, or a digital electronic or magnetic memory.

In ancient times, Camera Obscuras were used to form images on walls in darkened rooms through a pinhole in the opposite wall or doorway.


In the 16th Century, the Camera Obscura was improved by utilizing a simple lens.

1666  Isaac Newton demonstrated that light is the source of color.  He used a prism to split sunlight into its constituent colors and another to recombine them to make white light.

1725  Johann Schulze discovered the darkening of silver salts by the action of light.

1758  John Dolland was a British telescope maker who patented the discovery of the achromatic lens, this improved the camera obscura image.

1801  Thomas Young suggested that the retina at the back of the eye contains three types of color sensitive receptors, one sensitive to blue light, one to green and one to red.  The brain interprets various combinations of these colors to form any other color in the visible spectrum.

1802  Thomas Wedgwood produced silhouettes of opaque objects by contact printing them on silver nitrate coated paper; however, the images were unfixed and faded in daylight.

1825  J. Nicephore Niepce produced the first permanent image (Heliograph or Heliogravure) using a camera obscura and white bitumen.  It required 8 hours to expose.

1829  Louis J. M. Daguerre started a partnership with Niepce.

1834  Fox Talbot experimented using silver chloride coated paper to yield "negatives" of silhouettes.

1835  Fox Talbot, using his small "mousetrap" cameras, photographed the inside of his library window at Lacock Abbey, creating the first negative.

1837  Daguerre, following experiments on his own he evolved a workable process (Daguerreotype).  A silver iodide coated copper plate was exposed and developed with mercury to give a single direct positive.  He removed the remaining silver iodide with a warm solution of cooking salt, they took 30 minutes to develop.

1839  Daguerre's Daguerreotype process was released for general use in return for state pensions given to himself and Isidore Niepce. 

1839  Fox Talbot hurriedly prepared and presented papers at the Royal Institution and the Royal Society.  Unlike the Daguerre process the image is recorded as a "negative" and had to be printed via a similar process to produce the final "positive".  Many positive prints can be made from a single negative.

1839  Sir John Herschel suggests fixing Talbot's images in sodium thiosulphate and coined the terms "photography", "negative" and "positive".

1840  Fox Talbot, following suggestions, improved his process of using silver iodide and developing in gallic acid.  The use of paper negatives meant that the images were not as detailed as Daguerreotypes.

1841  Fox Talbot patented "calotype" (later "Talbotype") a negative / positive process with a 5 minute exposure time.

1841  Joseph Max Petzval first mathematically calculated and developed a relatively fast f/3.6 photographic lens that effectively reduced Daguerreotype exposures to 1 minute.

1844  Fox Talbot publishes "Pencil of Nature" the first book with photographic illustrations, with glued in calotypes.

1847  Niepce De St. Victor discovers the use of albumen to bind silver salts on glass base.  Albumen process requires a 10 minute exposure. Talbot patents the process in England.

1850  Blanquart-Evrard proposes use of albumen for printing paper.  Albumen paper was never patented and was popularly used for 40 years.

1851  Scott Archer proposes "Collodion" process.  Collodion (a solution of nitrocellulose in a mixture of ethyl alcohol and ethyl ether) forms a binder for silver iodide on glass.  Exposure and processing is performed immediately after coating the plate.  Scott Archer did not patent the process and died in poverty.  Two versions of this process were "Ambrotype" and "Tintype".  Exposure was about 10 seconds.  The Collodion process greatly expanded photography and brought everyone into contact with its results.

1861  James Clerk Maxwell demonstrated the formation of colors by combining three light sources of red, green and blue.  All other colors, including white, are a mixture of these primary colors.  The colors combine by an additive process.

1868  Louis Ducos du Hauron published a book suggesting how a range of color photographic methods might work, but they could not yet be put into practice.

1871  Dr. Richard Leach Maddox, writing in the ‘British Journal Of Photography’ suggested gelatin, derived from a protein found in animal bones, as a collodion substitute.  Gelatin "Emulsions" and "Dry Plates" were marketed by various manufacturing companies from 1878, and gelatin is still used today.  Exposure times of 1/25th second could be achieved.

1887  Hannibal Goodwin, a New York clergyman filed a patent for roll film with a flexible plastic base.

1888  George Eastman produced the first simplified camera system for the general public, the Kodak Number 1, and the first mass Developing and Processing service.

1889  George Eastman produced the first transparent roll film (nitrocellulose).

1889  Thomas Edison slit the 2 3/4 inch Kodak roll film down the middle making it 1 3/8 inch (35mm) and put transport perforations down each side - to become the international standard for motion picture film.

1890  Hurter & Driffield devised the first independent system to give emulsions speed numbers.  This essentially led to the current ISO numbers used today.

1890's  The first halftone photographic reproductions appeared in daily papers, although it took another ten years before the process was fully adopted.  Halftones were created by using a camera containing a ruled glass screen with a grid pattern to break up the image into tiny dots of different sizes.

1898   Kodak introduced their Folding Pocket Kodak.

1900   Kodak introduced their first Brownie.

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 intercontinentally by 1922.

1904  Dr. H. Vogel's research led to panchromatic film using sensitizing dyes. This type of film is sensitive to all visible colors.

1904  Augusta and Louis Lumiere patented "Autochrome" the first additive color screen film material.

1912  Siegrist and Fischer, two German chemists invented the action of color coupling, so dyes required for color film processing could be created by combining appropriate developer oxidation products with color former chemicals.  However the process was not reliable enough to start film production.

1923  Doc Harold Edgerton invents the xenon flash lamp and strobe photography.

1924  Oscar Barnack, an employer of E. Leitz designed a camera for use with a microscope using motion picture film, which became the first precision 35mm camera.  It was called the Leica derived from Leitz camera.  The capabilities of the Leica made a new form of photojournalism possible.

1936  Development of Kodachrome multi-layered reversal color film.

1936  Agfa, a German company, was the first to sell a film, Agfacolor, with the color formers in the film. Towards the end of the second World War their closely guarded secrets were "liberated".

1936   Introduction by IHAGEE of the Ihagee Kine Exakta 1, the first 35mm Single Lens reflex camera.

1940s  Large factory size laboratories took over film processing from individual chemists.  However chemists still continued to sell films.

1942   Kodacolor, Kodak's first color print film.

1947  Magnum, arguably the most famous photographic agency in the world, was founded in 1947 by Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour and Robert Capa.  The agency developed a style of photojournalism that was largely based upon the capability of the Leica 35 mm camera. Magnum is still an exclusive club of illustrious photographers with membership limited to thirty six.

1947  Dr. Edwin Land Invented an "instant" picture process, first called Polaroid Land.  The special camera sandwiched the exposed negative with a receiving positive paper and spread the processing chemicals between the two, after processing these were peeled apart.

1957  The first image scanned into a digital computer.

1961  Eugene F. Lally of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory published the first description of how to produce still photos in a digital domain using a mosaic photosensor.

1963  Dr. Edwin Land's Polaroid Corporation's research team invented the first instant color picture material.

1973  Fairchild Semiconductor releases the first large image forming CCD chip; 100 rows and 100 columns.

1975 - Bryce Bayer of Kodak develops the Bayer filter mosaic pattern for CCD color image sensors.

1976  Canon AE-1 the first 35mm camera with built in microprocessor is introduced

1980s  A system called DX coding was introduced for 35mm films. The cassettes have an auto-sensing code printed on them which enable certain cameras to automatically set the film speed, this information can also be used by processing laboratories.

1984  Canon demonstrated the first digital still camera.

1985  Minolta introduces 7000 auto-focus 35mm SLR camera.

1986  Kodak scientists invent the world's first megapixel sensor.

1990  Microsoft Windows 3.1 is released

1990  Adobe Photoshop 1.0 image manipulation program is introduced for Apple Macintosh computers

1993  Adobe Photoshop is made available for MS-Windows computers.

1996  Advanced Photo System (APS) is introduced.  APS uses a cassette which holds 24 mm wide film on a base which has a magnetic data strip as well as fine grained emulsion.  When the film is being developed automatic handling mechanisms locate the correct frames and determines the required print format from the data strip.  After processing the film is rewound into the cassette and a digitally mastered index print of all the frames is created as a reference for reordering.

1998  The first consumer megapixel cameras were introduced.

2000  Canon introduced the EOS D30, the first digital SLR for the consumer market with a CMOS image sensor.

2002  Contax introduced the NDigital, the first SLR digital camera with a CCD image sensor the same size as a 35 mm frame.

2005  AgfaPhoto files for bankruptcy.  Production of Agfa brand consumer films ends.

2006  Dalsa produces 111 megapixel CCD image sensor, developed for astronomy, the highest resolution at its time.

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.

2009 – FujiFilm launches world's first digital 3D camera with 3D printing capabilities.

2010 - Canon developing a 120 magapixel sensor.

2012 - Nokia announced a Smartphone with a 41 megapixel sensor.

2015 - Canon unveils 250-megapixel prototype DSLR camera sensor.

2015 - Canon's multi-purpose ME20F-SH camera reaches in excess of 4,500,000 ISO.



The basic elements of the photographic camera: a light-tight box, lens, recording medium, and devices for exposure control and focusing, have remained fundamentally the same with all subsequent models, even into the present.



Additional History pages:

- Highlights of the Twin City Camera Club

- Honor Roll of Presidents

- You are Here





**DISCLAIMER:   A Brief Timeline of the Technology of Photography is being provided only as interesting information for our members.  The Twin City Camera Club and it's Webmaster, can not guarantee the validity of the information as it was found through many sources and for the most part has not been verified.





Home | About TCCC | Announcements | Calendar | Classifieds | CompetitionContact Us | Directions & Map | Get Involved | History | Links | Members Only | Newsletter "ViewFinder" | Photography Galleries | Shadows and Highlights | Site Map | SWMCCC News | Tips and Techniques | Webmaster's Corner | What We Do | What's New | Who's Who |


All photos and content are copyright protected.  Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. 
Please feel free to enjoy all of the content and photos on our site, but please realize all of it is copyrighted...



Copyright Notice:  We respect the intellectual property of others, and we ask visitors and users of our website to do the same.  In accordance with the Copyright Act of 1976 and all subsequent amendments to copyright law including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and other applicable law, all articles and photographic images presented on the Twin City Camera Club website are the copyrighted works of the individual authors and/or photographers and protected by US and International copyright laws and cannot be used, copied, edited, downloaded, transferred, altered, reproduced in any way or transmitted in any form in any medium without the express written permission of the individual copyright holder.  The contents of this website are Copyright 2003-2018 Twin City Camera Club.   All Rights Reserved.