Do you remember owning a film based camera? It was far removed from the ubiquitous, easy-to-use digital cameras of today.

Installing a new film was a tricky business, a process that could result in light infiltration or a failure to correctly engage on the sprockets. We were literally in the dark as to the success of our holiday pictures until the film had been chemically processed typically only after we'd returned home. And home-based film processing or photo manipulation solutions required lots of equipment, time and expertise.
Digital technology offered a solution to these problems. During the 1960s, Nasa experimented with digital imaging for its moon missions and space probes. Another early target for digital image technology were government-funded spy satellites.

In both scenarios, raw images captured in binary format were sent back to earth on a real-time basis. Back on terra firma, software adjusted contrast and brightness, and highlighted areas of interest by converting binary codes into colour maps.

Sony Mavica

Texas Instruments patented a filmless camera in 1972. However, it was the Japanese who created the first commercial example of an electronic still camera.
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Launched in 1981, the Sony Mavica was a rather basic affair. The rather low resolution images (570 x 490 pixels) were stored on a mini disc, which had to be loaded into a video reader connected to a television monitor to be viewed. This was not just inconvenient but also expensive. As were 1980s era quality color printers.

The Sony Maviac's limited image resolution was the result of frames captured via a video camera system. What was needed was a true digital image capture mechanism.
Solid-state Sensor
In the 1980s, Eastman Kodak Company electrical engineer Steven Sasson was experimenting with solid-state, charge couple devices. His work led to a digital camera patent award in 1985.

Nevertheless, Sasson's patent prototype device was pretty crude. It weighed eight pounds, yet only had a resolution of 0.01 megapixels. The black and white only images were recorded onto cassette tape - a process that took 23 seconds per image.

With the patent in the bag, Kodak scientists worked to improve the technology, leading to the first megapixel sensor in 1986. With 1.4 million pixel images, consumers could now produce photo-quality 5x7-inch prints. A year later, Kodak launched seven products using this megapixel technology to capture, record, archive, manipulate, transmit and print digital images.

By 1990, the Kodak Photo CD system had become a worldwide colour image standard for digital computers and peripherals. And the Nikon F-3 DCS100 (a standard Nikon F-3 with a Kodak megapixel sensor) became the first professional-level digital camera system (DCS) for photojournalists.
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Companies lined up to partner with Kodak in an effort to boost their own product lines and public visibility.

Microsoft created digital image software for computer workstations and kiosks to complement the Kodak Photo CD discs. IBM helped to develop an internet-based image exchange solution, and the first colour inkjet printer to complement the Kodak camera range was developed through a collaboration with Hewlett-Packard.