Known History of Photography – A Timeline

I wish I knew whence this came, and if anyone can trace it for me I’d be happy to give credit. (Oh, I cleaned it up, too — a lot.) It’s interesting for its global perspective…

5th-4th Centuries B.C.Chinese and Greek philosophers separately describe the basic principles of optics and the camera.

1604 Johannes Kepler is the first person to coin the phrase Camera Obscura and, in 1609, Kepler further suggests the use of a lens to improve the image projected by a Camera Obscura.

1664-1666 Isaac Newton discovers that white light is composed of different colors.

1727 Johann Heinrich Schulze discovers that silver nitrate darkened upon exposure to light.

1814 Joseph Nicéphore Niépce achieves first photographic image with camera obscura – however, the image required eight hours of light exposure and later faded.

1837 Daguerre’s first daguerreotype – the first image that was fixed and did not fade and needed under thirty minutes of exposure.

1840 First American patent is issued in photography to Alexander Wolcott for his camera.

1841 William Henry Talbot patents the Calotype process – the first negative-positive process making possible the first multiple copies.

1843 First advertisement with a photograph is made in Philadelphia.

1851 Frederick Scott Archer invents the Collodion process – images required only two or three seconds of light exposure.

1857 George Eastman pays George Monroe $5 to teach him the photographic process.

1859 Panoramic camera patented – the Sutton.

1861 Oliver Wendell Holmes invents stereoscope viewer.

1861 First chemical means to color photography is explored.

1865 Photographs and photographic negatives are added to protected works under copyright.

1867 “Actien Gesellschaft fur Anilin Fabrikation” or Agfa, a German dye company is established.

1869 Color photography, using the subtractive method, is developed.

1871 Halftone process allows newspaper printing of pictures, pictures published in 1880.

1871 Richard Leach Maddox invents the gelatin dry plate silver bromide process – negatives no longer had to be developed immediately.

1872 the young Emperor and Empress Meiji are photographed – the first time a Japanese Emperor and Empress were photographed. Since viewing the face of the Emperor by his subjects was forbidden, the images were not circulated.

1873 Konishi-ya, forerunner of Konica, is established in Kojimachi, Tokyo. It later moves to Honcho in 1876 and changes its name to Konishi Honten – this is the first commercial film company in the world.

1873 Hermann Vogel discovered that coloured dyes could be incorporated in photographic emulsions.

1875 In the U.S., Carey designs a selenium mosaic to transmit a picture (the fax machine).

1878 English inventor and manufacturer, Frederick Wratten founds one of the first photographic supply businesses, Wratten and Wainwright in 1878 (later purchased by Kodak).

1878 Cathode ray tube is invented by Crookes, an English chemist.

1879 Ilford starts in Essex when Mr Alfred Hugh Harman set up a business in the basement of his house on the corner of Cranbrook Road and Park Avenue. His business expands, and in 1880 moved to Roden St, trading as the Britannia Works Company, later called Ilford Ltd.

1880 Eastman Dry Plate Company founded.

1884 Eastman invents flexible, paper-based photographic film.

1887 Blitzlichtpulver, or flashlight powder, is invented in Germany by Adolf Miethe and Johannes Gaedicke.

1887 Celluloid film is introduced.

1888 Eastman patents the Kodak roll-film camera.

1888 Ferdinand Hurter and Vero Driffield pioneer the science of sensitometry, film speed, and made the first exposure calculator – the Actinograph.

1896 X-ray photography is developed.

1896 the first photographic magazine “Shashin Shinpo” is published by Hakubundo in Japan. Production ceased after 84 editions.

1896 Noted photographer ESAKI Reiji (Japan) succeeds in photographing fireworks at night.

1898 Reverend Hannibal Goodwin patents celluloid photographic film. 

1900 First mass-marketed camera- the Brownie, sells for $1.

1902 Germany’s Zeiss invents the four-element Tessar camera lens.

1903 Japans first portable camera, The Cherry Portable, is made by Konishi Honten (Konica).

1904 A photograph is transmitted by wire in Germany.

1907 Kuribayashi Seisakusho, the forerunner of Petri Camera, is founded.

1908 A young mechanical engineering student from the Tokyo Institute of Technology would return to Japan from Germany where he had spent three years studying optical design and lens manufacturing. His name was Fujii Ryuzo, and he founded the Fujii Lens Seizosho factory. In 1917 the company would become the Nippon Kogaku Kogyo K.K. which was the forerunner of Nikon.

1909 The Agfa Film Company is founded by Dr. Franz Oppenheim.

1913 First 35mm still camera developed, the Leica (LEItz CAmera).

1919 Flip-flop circuit is invented; will help computers to count.

1919 Takachiho Seisaku-sho, the forerunner of Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. (Olympus cameras) in Japan is established as a microscope manufacturer 1919 Asahi Kogaku Goshi Kaisha (forerunner of Asahi Optical Company, Ltd., maker of Pentax cameras) is established in Tokyo by KAJIWARA Kumao as a manufacturer of ophthalmic lenses.

1921 Nippon Kogaku Kogyo K.K. (later Nikon) hires eight German engineers on a five-year contract to design the lenses they hope to make. One of them, Heinrich Acht extends his stay until 1928. It was Acht who produced the first photographic lens to come from the Nikon company–the Acht 5cm f/4.8.

1922 First 3-D movie, requires spectacles with one red and one green lens (anaglyphic photography).

1927 General Electric invents the modern flash bulb.

1928 Baird demonstrates color TV on electro-mechanical system; video is born.

1928 Tashima Kazuo establishes the Nichi-Doku Shashin Shokai company which later becomes known as the Minolta Camera Company. The company produces the first Rokkor lens in 1940.

1928 Baird invents a video disc to record television.

1928 Agfa US and Ansco merge to form Agfa Ansco, which eventually became GAF.

1929 Zworykin demonstrates cathode-ray tube “kinescope” receiver (60 scan lines).

1929 Konishiroku markets Sakura film.

1930 Leopold D. Mannes and Leo Godowsky (“Man and God” as they were known), both professional musicians and avid amateur photographers joined Kodak and later would be instrumental in developing what would be known as the Kodachrome process in 1935 (the intricate processing sequence is timed to synchronise to the final movement of Brahms C Minor Symphony).

1933 in Japan, Yoshida Goro (1900-1993) with his brother-in-law, Saburo Uchida (1899-1982)established the Seiki Kogaku Kenkyusho company, and in three months produced the Kwanon 35mm camera. Later the company became Canon (Kwanon is the Buddhist god of mercy; the camera company name was changed to avoid offending other religions).

1934 Associated Press starts wirephoto service.

1934 the Fuji Photo Film Company was established to produce photosensitized materials and motion picture film for the Japanese market.

1935 Eastman Kodak markets Kodachrome film.

1935 German single lens reflex roll film camera synchronized for flash bulbs.

1936 Kine Exakta released (generally agreed to be the first 35mm SLR).

1936 Hansa Canon, Japan’s first 35mm rangefinder camera with a focal-plane shutter is produced by Seiki Kogaku Kenkyusho (Canon).

1940 Ilford launched the world’s first true ‘MULTIGRADE’ photographic paper, but it wasn’t a success.

1940 Konishiroku (Konica) markets the “Sakura Tennen-shoku Film R35” film, Japan’s first coupler-in-developer color slide film with multi-layer emulsion.

1940 Camera production was restricted for military purposes only, stunting Japanese camera development and production.

1941 Eastman Kodak introduces Kodak’s Kodacolor negative film.

1942 Chester Carlson receives patent for electric photography (xerography).

1943 Chino Hirishi established Sanshin Seisakusho which, in 1973, became Chinon Industries. The company makes lens barrels and mounts for cameras such as Olympus, Ricoh, and Yashica. It would be 11 more years before the company would make its first lenses. the company was killed off by hostile takover by kodak in 1997 when they finally gained a 50.1% share holding. (Laws were enacted in the US but not Japan to prevent Kodak’s habit of buying and killing companies. Agfa and Gaevert merged to prevent a hostile Kodak takeover, as did Ciba and Ilford; others were not so lucky.)

1945 Wolfen factories in Germany continue operations under the name ORWO for ORiginal WOlfen. It still exists after the reunification of Germany.

1945 Hiroshima’s mushroom cloud is photographed by YAMADA Seizo outside the city as well as by a junior high school student named FUKADA Toshio (four successive photos). MATSUSHIGE Yoshito photographs the Hiroshima victims near the epicenter right after the explosion.

1945 army photographer YAMAHATA Yosuke photographs the aftermath in Nagasaki. His photos still receive high acclaim today.

1947 Hungarian engineer in England invents holography.

1947 Ilford announce their second camera, the sophisticated 35mm interchangeable lens rangefinder camera called the “Witness.”

1948 Edwin Land markets the Polaroid camera.

1948 American Photography magazine forsee the massive sales increase in ‘superior’ American cameras to Japan after trade sanctions are dropped. Withing 20 years the majority of American camera manufacturers had ceased to exist.

1948 the first Nikon 35mm camera was released.

1948 The Hasselblad 1600F was introduced.

1949 Contax S – First successful 35mm Single Lens Reflex with eye-level pentaprism viewfinder.

1950 More than 100,000 “Made in Occupied Japan” cameras were made, but priced beyond the reach of most Japanese due to a high taxation. For the masses, there were cheap mini-cameras which used 14mm-width roll film.

1950 David Duncan, during a visit to New York, goes public with the news of how Nikkor lenses were superior to German lenses. Camera columns in the Dec. 10, 1950 edition of The New York Times, and the February and March 1951 issues of Popular Photography, feature stories about Duncan’s use of Nikkor lenses when he covered the Korean War. Nippon Kogaku and Nikkor become then famous outside Japan. This boosted the Japanese camera industry.

1951 Highly flammable cellulose nitrate film base is replaced by acetate film stock (“safety film”).

1951 Computers are sold commercially.

1951 Still camera get built-in flash units.

1951 Bing Crosby laboratories introduces the first video tape recorder (VTR) captured live images from television cameras by converting the information into electrical impulses (digital) and saving the information onto magnetic tape. Digital camera technology is directly related to and evolved from the same technology that recorded television images.

1952 Agfa and Gavaert merge.

1954 Eastman Kodak introduces high speed Tri-X film.

1957 3M (Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing, or “Scotch”) begin film production.

1957 The largest camera in the world is nearly 3 meters high, 3 meters wide and 14 meters long. It uses a 1600mm APO lens and has a bellows extension of 7.5 meters. It tips the scales at 27,000 kg, and was built by Rolls-Royce.

1958 the Minolta SR-2 was the first SLR camera with an automatic diaphragm which maintained maximum aperture for brightest viewing and stopped down only when the picture was taken.

1959 The microchip is invented. Bob Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor sets the stage for the entire computer revolution to begin by printing an entire electronic circuit on a single microchip of silicon using a photographic process.

1959 Zenza Bronica was the first Japanese 6x6cm format camera with interchangeable lenses and film backs.

1959 The Widelux 35mm-format panoramic camera by Panon Camera Co. is introduced with a 140-degree horizontal coverage and 55-degree vertical coverage.

1959 Canon markets its first SLR camera, the Canonflex. Although it was as good or better than the Nikon F, it was not promoted well in the U.S. and became forgotten. Canon’s underestimation of the SLR’s popularity in the ’60s led to its dwindling fortunes in the camera market. This however, spurred them to diversify its product lines (especially office machines). It did not concentrate so much on the small, professional segment of the market like Nikon did until much later.

1959 The Nikon F is introduced – the most significant 35mm SLR of all time because it combined fully auto diaphragm, rapid-return mirror, rapid wind lever, interchangeable viewfinders, interchangeable focusing screens, interchangeable backs, an add-on motor drive, and a full line of lenses from 21-1000mm.

1960 EG&G develops extreme depth underwater camera for U.S. Navy.

1960 Konica F camera has the fastest SLR shutter speed at 1/2000 sec and the world’s first focal plane shutter with metal curtains. It has a built-in selenium photocell exposure meter.

1960 Omega produces about 12,000 4×5 enlargers per year with a workforce of about 75 employees.

1963 Polaroid introduces instant color film.

1963 Ciba-Geigy announces the Cibacolor Silver Dye-Bleach process for printing color negatives and the Cibachrome process – Cibacolor, which was far superior in stability to Kodak’s Ektacolor, was never marketed.

1963 Kodak introduces the 126 film cartridge with easy-loading film cartridge. They bring photography into the hands of many more amateurs, kids and adults alike.

1963 The Topcon RE Super is introduced, the first SLR with a TTL exposure system (a Konica subsiduary, later to become Horseman).

1964 The Pentax SP is introduced, mistakenly assumed to be the first ttl camera.

1965 The first Japanese cameras incorporating electronic shutters are introduced. They include the Yashica Electro Half, Olympus 35 EM, and Olympus 35 LE.

1965 Konica Auto Reflex – first SLR with an auto exposure – Shutter priority AE.

1965 Canon’s Canonet QL 17 compact camera is the world’s first camera with a Quick Loading feature for 35mm film.

1966 Kodak releases the E-4 process for transparency films.

1967 The Asahi Pentax 6×7 medium-format camera is introduced, the first 6x7cm format camera in the world to feature an eye-level pentaprism.

1968 Photograph of the Earth from the moon.

1968 Konica Autoreflex T- first SLR with TTL autoexposure – Shutter priority AE.

1968 The Yashica Lynx 5000 is sold as the first camera to employ ICs (integrated circuits).

1971: Intel builds the microprocessor, “a computer on a chip.”

1972 Kodak 110 Pocket Instamatic is sold.

1972 Sony’s Port-a-Pak, a portable video recorder is released.

1973 Polaroid introduces one-step instant photography with the SX-70 camera.

1975 At the major Japanese camera manufacturers, sales of photographic equipment fall below 50 percent of total sales. Sales from office automation equipment and other electronic devices start accounting for majority sales.

1975 The Olympus OM-2 camera is introduced. Light sensors meter from the the shutter curtain and film plane.

1975 The microcomputer, in kit form, reaches the U.S. home market.

1975 Kodak releases the world’s first digital camera, a clunky-looking device that used casette tapes as the medium to store pictures. Each photo took 23 seconds to snap, producing a 100-line black and white image that could only be displayed on a television set.

1976 Canon AE-1 – a microprocessor is used for the first time in an SLR.

1976 Fuji markets the world’s first ISO 400 color negative film–Fujicolor FII400.

1977 George Eastman and Edwin Land inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

1977 Kodak releases the E-6 process for transparency films.

1977 Konica introduces first autofocus camera the C35 AF.

1979 Canon A-1 – Programmed exposure with the use of computerized software is introduced.

1979 From Holland comes the digital videodisc read by laser.

1979 Konica introduces the FS-1, the first SLR with a built in winder.

1980 Sony demonstrates first consumer camcorder.

1980 Ilford attributed for creating the first chromogenic film. XP1 (Agfa’s Vario-XL XP2 400 was released at the same time, with Kodak’s 400, Professional Portra 400BW and T-Max T400 CN to follow – Konica’s Monochrome VX 400 was re-released after meeting abyssmal market acceptance though its original date of release is obscure, it was prior to 1980).

1981 Sony announces the Mavica, an electronic camera which used a CCD to record images electronically.

1981 Japanese camera production peaks at 7.67 million units.

1981 The laptop computer is introduced.

1982 Kodak Disc – (manufacturing of the camera ends in 1990).

1982 The Polaroid VideoPrinter is introduced and used to display instant color hard copy of such things as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) diagnostic imaging.

1982 the Nikon FM-2 is the first camera with a top shutter speed of 1/4000 sec.

1983 35mm SLR production falls to 5.37 million units, down by more than 30 percent from 1981’s peak production of 7.67 million units. Demand for SLRs continues to fall, while compact cameras become the mainstream market.

1984 Fuji Photo Film markets Fujicolour HR1600 color negative film, the world’s first ISO 1600 film.

1984 Canon demonstrates their first video still camera, later to be called “digital’ cameras.

1984 Canon T80, with a 50mm lens, a 35-70 zoom, and a 75- 200 zoom – the world’s first AF SLR.

1984 Minolta Maxxum 7000 (wrongly claimed to be the first AF SLR 35 mm camera).

1985 Pixar introduces digital imaging processor (editing stills bit by bit).

1985 CD-ROM; can put 270,000 papers of text on a CD record.

1986 Fuji introduces the first single use camera.

1986 Minolta Maxxum 9000, its first professional autofocus camera.

1987 Konishiroku Shashin Kogyo changes its corporate name to Konica.

1987 Konica produces the world’s fastest print film, SRG 3200.

1987 Kodak announces the 1.4Mp CCD for digital cameras.

1988 PhotoMac is the first image program for the Macintosh computer.

1988 Nippon Kogaku changes its corporate name to Nikon.

1989 Graham Nash owns the world’s largest scanner.

1990 Eastman Kodak announces Photo CD as a digital image storage medium.

1990 Adobe’s Photoshop Version 1.0 becomes available for the Macintosh computer.

1993 Adobe’s Photoshop is available for MS-DOS/Windows platforms.

1996 Advanced Photo System (APS) cameras and films are released by the consortium of Canon, Nikon, Minolta, Kodak, and Fuji. APS uses 24mm wide film and includes film, cameras, and photofinishing equipment.

1997 Konica conducts a survey to find out the photography habits of Japanese female high schoolers. By far, the most popular type of camera is single-use cameras (color, B/W, or sepia film). Only 14% use a compact camera, and only 1% an SLR. They also spend about 1/4 their average monthly allowance on photography.

1998 Canon markets the EOS-3 autofocus SLR camera with new technologies that surpass the top of the line EOS-1N.

1999 Gustave Le Gray’s photograph “The Great Wave, Sete (1857)” sells for £567,500, making it the world’s most expensive photograph to date.

1999 The Japan EIDA reports that about 1.45 million digital cameras were sold in Japan in 1999, a 21 percent increase from 1998. Meanwhile, the Japan Camera Industry Association reveals that domestic sales of film-based cameras in fiscal 1999 fell by 4.5 percent to 4.18 million units. In the case of Nikon, digital camera sales account for 30 percent of its total camera sales. It is also spending about half its R&D budget on digital cameras.

1999 Sony introduces the DSC505 – first camera to be able to focus accurately in zero light by projecting a lazer hologram.

2000 Kodak introduces digital color screen previewer for a film based APS.

2000 Helmut Newton’s giant photo book titled Sumo Book goes on sale at major bookstores for $1,500 in the US. The book’s size (50×70 cm) and weight (30 kg) warrants its own dedicated stand.

2000 Casio Computer Co. markets the WQV-1 Wrist Camera, the world’s first digital camera that can be worn like a wristwatch. It weighs 32 grams.

2001 Japanese camera makers sell a total of 13.24 million film-based still cameras in the domestic and overseas markets. This is an 11% decrease from the preceding year. Sales of digital still cameras continue upward at 5.91 million units sold. This includes a 86% increase in domestic sales and a 34% increase in exports.

2001 J-Phone introduces a cell phones having a built-in camera.

2001 Asahi Pentax LX professional SLR manual-focus, mechanical camera is discontinued after being in production since June 1980.

2001 Nikon withdraws the Nikonos underwater camera, in production since 1984.

2003 Konica and Minolta merge.

2004 Kodak ships 1.47 million p&S digital cameras in the United States — 80 percent more than in the first half of 2003 – its market share jumping to 18.3 percent. Sony ships 1.73 million cameras, up 48 percent, its slice of the U.S. market slipped from 21.9 percent to 21.5 percent, Canon moves into third place with a 14.7 percent, Olympus falls back to 11.8 percent. Next is Fuji with 8.7 percent, Hewlett-Packard with 7 percent and Nikon with 5.7 percent.

2004 Kodak shuts its most profitable factory, winner of many trade awards in Melbourne, Australia despite record production increases and record sales of RA4 paper. A new factory costing billions is opened in China.

2004 Leitz introduces a digital/film Leica hybrid.

2004 Samsung announces the 5Mp camera-in-a-mobile phone. Also includes television, MP3 player, portable hard drive and radio – doomsayers predict the end of the cheap SLR manufacturers.


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