Kodak’s first advertisement said “You press the button, we do the rest.” this was coined by Kodak’s founder George Eastman in 1892. We all must have heard about the “Kodak Moment” and certainty had too. In our childhood, when we wanted to capture a moment, we use to stretch our arms, get our Kodak camera and with a click moment was captured in the film.
Then whole world came across another “Kodak Moment” when they saw 100+ years old Kodak, which was a household in camera and films filed for bankruptcy. Kodak didn’t realised the change and future of Digital Camera. They lost the race to Sony despite being the inventor of first Digital camera. That particular lesson is termed as another “Kodak Moment”, which is taught at B-Schools. Well this article is more about the Kodak employee, who invented first digital camera rather than Kodak.
24 years old engineer, Steven Sasson, is the man who gave us experience of digital photography by creating the first digital camera in 1975, while working at Eastman Kodak. Steven joined Kodak in 1973 and was provided with an unimportant task of with figuring out whether Charges Coupled Devices (CCD, was developed in 1969 by Willard Boyle and George E. Smith.) had any practical application. Steven not only came up with the first digital camera but also device to display it on.
Steven’s eight pound digital camera was made from a digital cassette recorder, a Super-8 movie camera, and an analog-digital converter, all the components of digital camera were connected via circuit boards. Device was having 0.01 megapixels capability and was able to capture the image in 50 milliseconds. It use to take another 23 seconds to record it on tape in black and white format.
Kodak use to held monopoly position in the photographic-film industry with 85% of market share in US market. Executives at Kodak were unimpressed with Steven’s device and marketing department saw it as a possible threat as Steven’s digital camera could have cannibalised Kodak’s film sales.
Steven was allowed to work on his digital camera but he was strictly instructed not to talk to media or demonstrate his device in public. In 1978, first digital camera was patented. Fourteen years after in 1989 Steven Sasson along with Robert Hills made the first DSLR camera.
The digital camera patent helped Kodak to earn in billions till 2007, when it expired. Kodak was not prepared to compete on the market of digital technology, and five years later in the year 2012 world’s biggest film company filed for bankruptcy.