This year’s Economist Innovation Award in Consumer Products went to Kodak’s Steve Sasson who took advantage of digital sensors to develop the first functioning digital camera in 1975. (See Nobel Prize in Physics.) It’s hard to believe that digital cameras have been around 34 years. In their announcement the Economist states:
Steve Sasson, a Kodak electrical engineer, built the world’s first digital camera in 1975, though it was many years before this type of camera made it to market and became the huge consumer hit that it is today. Texas Instruments designed a filmless analog camera three years earlier, but Sasson was the first to create a filmless digital camera.
Sasson’s original prototype weighed eight pounds, recorded black and white images to a cassette tape, had a resolution of 0.01 megapixel and took 23 seconds to capture its first image. The prototype camera was a technical exercise, not intended for production. In 1978, Sasson was issued a U.S. patent for the digital camera.