Last Sunday marked the 35th anniversary of Kodak’s filing its first patent for a digital camera. It was on 20 May 1977 that the company submitted a patent application for an “electronic still camera,” 1.5 years after a group of employees had put together a working prototype at its Elmgrove Plant in Rochester. Research scientist Steve Sasson who, as the project leader, is credited with inventing the device, described the prototype as “a rather odd-looking collection of digital circuits that we desperately tried to convince ourselves was a portable camera.” Consisting of a Super 8 movie camera lens, a “highly temperamental” new area-array CCD imager, an A/D converter, dozens of circuits and circuit boards, with a cassette recorder thrown in for storage, the world’s first digital camera used no less than 16 NiCd batteries and captured images that could only be viewed on a TV set with the help of a dedicated playback device. The patent (US4131919) was granted on 26 December 1978. Sasson was voted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame in 2007 and received an Innovation Award from The Economist in 2009.
Website: Kodak - Plugged In