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Say Cheese: The History Of Cameras

Cameras: we use them for small intimate moments, momentous occasions, and for every reason in between. Have you ever wondered how this wonderful technology came to be? Let’s dig in and find out more about how the camera has gotten to where it is today.

The Early YearsOld style camera


The first camera-like technology came about in the 1500s. This was called the Camera Obscura, and it was created by Alhazen. It was considered a pinhole camera. A pinhole camera is a simple camera without a lens, but it has a tiny light-proof box with a small hole in one side. Light from the scene passes through the small box and projects an inverted image on the opposite side of the box. If you created a pinhole viewer for the solar eclipse not too long ago, this is similar to that!


The Daguerreotype Camera came about around 1839. This was the process:

  1. The process began by fixing the images onto a sheet of silver-plated copper.
  2. The sheet was then polished and coated in iodine, which creates a surface that is sensitive to light.
  3. The plate was then put into a camera and exposed for a while.
  4. Once the image was painted in light, the plate was bathed in a solution of silver chloride. This process created a long-lasting image!

Around the mid-1800s, scientists were working on ways to take and process pictures that were much more efficient. Fast forward to 1885, and flexible roll film was created by George Eastman. This made it easier for the box camera to be mass-produced.


The specific film most people know today was created by Kodak in 1913 for the early motion picture industry. In the mid-1920s, the German camera maker Leica used this technology to create the first still camera that used the same film. Kodak and other producers began using cellulose-based film rather than a nitrate-based one. This evolved further into what we know years ago, and even still in some current models.

Going Forward

The development of the first digital camera was rooted in 1969. By the mid-80s, many companies were working on their own version of the digital camera. Many of these companies created prototypes for years, but the first digital camera sold in the U.S., the Dycam Model 1, appeared in 1990 and sold for $600. By 2004, digital cameras were outselling film models, and have evolved further ever since. When you think about where cameras started out, it’s amazing to see where we are today.

If you’re looking for older camera models, come stop by our store. We’d be happy to help you find what you’re looking, and we always love to talk to you about anything from back in the day!

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