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Photography Timeline

The Art of Photography - Timeline of Photography, Film, and Cameras


Woman taking photograph with vintage camera
Tara Moore/ Taxi/ Getty Images
  • 5th-4th Centuries B.C.
    Chinese and Greek philosophers describe the basic principles of optics and the camera.
  • 1664-1666
    Isaac Newton discovers that white light is composed of different colors.
  • 1727
    Johann Heinrich Schulze discovered that silver nitrate darkened upon exposure to light.
  • 1794
    First Panorama opens, the forerunner of the movie house invented by Robert Barker.
  • 1814
    Joseph Niepce achieves first photographic image with camera obscura - however, the image required eight hours of light exposure and later faded.
  • 1837
    Louis Daguerre's first daguerreotype - the first image that was fixed and did not fade and needed under thirty minutes of light exposure.
  • 1840
    First American patent issued in photography to Alexander Wolcott for his camera.
  • 1841
    William Henry Talbot patents the Calotype process - the first negative-positive process making possible the first multiple copies.
  • 1843
    First advertisement with a photograph made in Philadelphia.
  • 1851
    Frederick Scott Archer invented the Collodion process - images required only two or three seconds of light exposure.
  • 1859
    Panoramic camera patented - the Sutton.
  • 1861
    Oliver Wendell Holmes invents stereoscope viewer.
  • 1865
    Photographs and photographic negatives are added to protected works under copyright.
  • 1871
    Richard Leach Maddox invented the gelatin dry plate silver bromide process - negatives no longer had to be developed immediately.
  • 1880
    Eastman Dry Plate Company founded.
  • 1884
    George Eastman invents flexible, paper-based photographic film.
  • 1888
    Eastman patents Kodak roll-film camera.
  • 1898
    Reverend Hannibal Goodwin patents celluloid photographic film.
  • 1900
    First mass-marketed camera—the Brownie.
  • 1913/1914
    First 35mm still camera developed.
  • 1927
    General Electric invents the modern flash bulb.
  • 1932
    First light meter with photoelectric cell introduced.
  • 1935
    Eastman Kodak markets Kodachrome film.
  • 1941
    Eastman Kodak introduces Kodacolor negative film.
  • 1942
    Chester Carlson receives patent for electric photography (xerography).
  • 1948
    Edwin Land markets the Polaroid camera.
  • 1954
    Eastman Kodak introduces high speed Tri-X film.
  • 1960
    EG&G develops extreme depth underwater camera for U.S. Navy.
  • 1963
    Polaroid introduces instant color film.
  • 1968
    Photograph of the Earth from the moon.
  • 1973
    Polaroid introduces one-step instant photography with the SX-70 camera.
  • 1977
    George Eastman and Edwin Land inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
  • 1978
    Konica introduces first point-and-shoot, autofocus camera.
  • 1980
    Sony demonstrates first consumer camcorder.
  • 1984
    Canon demonstrates first digital electronic still camera.
  • 1985
    Pixar introduces digital imaging processor.
  • 1990
    Eastman Kodak announces Photo CD as a digital image storage medium.

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