August 22, 2010 AT 10:20 am

What a digital camera looked like in 1975…

Pt 10300
Kodak: Plugged In @ “We Had No Idea”

In December of 1975, after a year of piecing together a bunch of new technology in a back lab at the Elmgrove Plant in Rochester, we were ready to try it. “It” being a rather odd-looking collection of digital circuits that we desperately tried to convince ourselves was a portable camera. It had a lens that we took from a used parts bin from the Super 8 movie camera production line downstairs from our little lab on the second floor in Bldg 4. On the side of our portable contraption, we shoehorned in a portable digital cassette instrumentation recorder. Add to that 16 nickel cadmium batteries, a highly temperamental new type of CCD imaging area array, an a/d converter implementation stolen from a digital voltmeter application, several dozen digital and analog circuits all wired together on approximately half a dozen circuit boards, and you have our interpretation of what a portable all electronic still camera might look like.

Pictured above, one of the first digital cameras.

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6 Comments

  1. lol, this is actually pretty cool

  2. Is it technically a digital camera if the 0s and 1s are stored on a physical medium like magnetic tape?

    Either way this is pretty cool.

  3. The 0s and 1s are necessarily stored on a physical medium. Whether that’s magnetic tape in a cassette or NAND flash in a memory card matters not.

  4. Sure it is. Modern cameras also store bits on physical media, such as a flash memory card :)

  5. What a delightful little machine! Any idea what the sensor resolution was?

  6. Oh, here we go, more info on the camera:

    http://pluggedin.kodak.com/post/?ID=687843

    Apparently it recorded 100 lines, not sure what the other resolution was, or if it was strictly digital. Pretty impressive for 1975!

    “When would this type of approach be available to the consumer? … we attempted to address the last question by applying Moore’s law to our architecture (15 to 20 years to reach the consumer)”

    Quite a good estimate, 1990-1995 for this to start to be mainstream technology.

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