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Life During the Turn of the Century (1880-1905)

Cowboys of the American West | True Cowboys & the Canadian West | The History of Photography | Turn of the Century Fashion

The History of Photography

The first permanent photograph was made in 1826 by a French inventor, building on a discovery made all the way back in 1724: that a silver and chalk mixture darkens under exposure to light. Louis Daguerre refined this process when he discovered that exposing the silver first to iodine vapor, before exposure to light, and then to mercury fumes after the photograph was taken, could form a latent image; bathing the plate in a salt bath then fixes the image. These ideas led to the famous daguerreotype. The daguerreotype proved popular in responding to the demand for portraiture emerging from the middle classes during the Industrial Revolution, as it was cheaper than an oil painted portrait.

The daguerreotype had its problems, notably the fragility of the resulting picture and that it could not be re-printed. Inventors set about looking for improved processes that would be more practical, leading to the introduction of the collodion process in 1848. Collodion-based wet-glass plate negatives with prints made on albumen paper remained the preferred photographic method for some time, even after the introduction of the even more practical gelatin process in 1871. However, still the complexity of developing held many back from photography, until in July of 1888 Eastman's Kodak camera went on the market with the slogan "You press the button, we do the rest". Now anyone could take a photograph and leave the complex parts of the process to others, and photography became available for the mass-market in 1901 with the introduction of the Kodak Brownie.

A Photographer at work in the 1880's
A Photographer at work in the 1880's.

  • 1826 - Nicéphore Niépce takes the first permanent photograph, a landscape that required an eight hour exposure.
  • 1835 - William Fox Talbot produces early permanent photographs through his own process.
  • 1839 - Louis Daguerre patents the daguerreotype.
  • 1839 - William Fox Talbot invented the positive / negative process widely used in modern photography. He refers to this as photogenic drawing.
  • 1839 - John Herschel demonstrates hyposulfite of soda (also known as hypo, or sodium thiosulfate) as a fixer, and makes the first glass negative.
  • 1851 - Introduction of the collodion process by Frederick Scott Archer.
  • 1854 - André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri credited with introduction of the carte de visite (French "visiting card"). Disdéri introduced a rotating camera which could reproduce eight individually exposed images on a single negative. After printing on albumen paper, the images were cut apart and glued to calling card-sized mounts. These tiny portraits were left by visiting friends, which inspired the name carte de viste.
  • 1861 - The first color photograph, an additive projected image of a tartan ribbon, is shown by James Clerk Maxwell.
  • 1868 - Louis Ducos du Hauron patents a method of subtractive color photography.
  • 1871 - The gelatin emulsion is invented by Richard Maddox.
  • 1876 - F. Hurter & V. C. Driffield begin systematic evaluation of sensitivity characteristics of film - science of sensitometry.
  • 1878 - Eadweard Muybridge made a high-speed photographic demonstration of a moving horse, airborne during a trot, using a trip-wire system.
  • 1887 - Celluloid film base introduced.
  • 1888 - Kodak n°1 box camera is mass marketed; first easy-to-use camera.
  • 1887 - Gabriel Lippmann invents a "method of reproducing colours photographically based on the phenomenon of interference".
  • 1891 - Thomas Edison patents the "kinetoscopic camera" (motion pictures).
  • 1895 - Auguste and Louis Lumière - Invented the cinématographe.
  • 1898 - Kodak introduced their Folding Pocket Kodak.
  • Kodak Brownie Ad
  • 1900 - Kodak introduced their first Brownie.
  • 1901 - Kodak introduced the 120 film.
  • 1902 - Arthur Korn devises practical phototelegraphy technology (reduction of photographic images to signals that can be transmitted by wire to other locations); Wire-Photos in wide use in Europe by 1910, and transmitted intercontinentally by 1922.
  • 1907 - The Autochrome Lumière is the first color photography process marketed.
  • 1912 - Vest Pocket Kodak using 127 film.
  • 1913 - Kinemacolor, the first commercial "natural color" system for movies is invented.
  • 1914 - Kodak introduced the Autographic system.
  • 1923 - Doc Harold Edgerton invents the xenon flash lamp and strobe photography.
  • 1925 - The Leica introduced the 35mm format to still photography.
  • 1932 - The first full-color Technicolor movie, Flowers and Trees, is made by Disney.
  • 1934 - The 135 film cartridge was introduced, making 35mm easy to use.
  • 1936 - Introduction by IHAGEE of the Ihagee Kine Exakta 1, the first 35mm. Single Lens reflex camera.
  • 1936 - Development of Kodachrome multi-layered reversal color film.
  • 1937 - Agfacolor-Neu reversal color film.
  • 1939 - Agfacolor negative-positive color material, the first modern "print" film.
  • 1942 - Kodacolor, Kodak's first "print" film.
  • 1947 - Dennis Gabor invents holography.
  • 1948 - The Hasselblad camera was introduced.
  • 1948 - Edwin H. Land introduces the first Polaroid instant image camera.
  • 1957 - First Asahi Pentax SLR introduced.
  • 1959 - Nikon F introduced.
  • 1959 - AGFA introduces the first fully automatic camera, the Optima.
  • 1961 - Eugene F. Lally of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory published the first description of how to produce still photos in a digital domain using a mosaic photosensor.
  • 1963 - Kodak introduces the Instamatic.
  • 1964 - First Pentax Spotmatic SLR introduced.
  • 1973 - Fairchild Semiconductor releases the first large image forming CCD chip; 100 rows and 100 columns.
  • 1975 - Bryce Bayer of Kodak develops the Bayer filter mosaic pattern for CCD color image sensors.
  • 1986 - Kodak scientists invent the world's first megapixel sensor.
  • 2005 - AgfaPhoto files for bankruptcy. Production of Agfa brand consumer films ends.
  • 2006 - Dalsa produces 111 megapixel CCD sensor, the highest resolution at its time.

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