Cromemco Cyclops (1975)

Yes, there have been some rumors lately about a new, unique 1975/1976 digital camera that preceeds all other digital cameras and it's the latest craze and so on. In fact, it's exxagerated. All of it. Let me elaborate.
In 1974, Dr. Harry Garland had invented/built a solid state TV camera with digital elements/circuits and he was totally proud of it. So he contacted Popular Electronics Magazine to do a piece about it in their paper. Popular Electronics was also very amazed and agreed. So in february of 1975 they published the article about a DIY all solid state TV camera for experiments. However, they did not claim this to be a digital camera! They merely introduced it as a solid state TV camera. The tech savvy therefore could built it with only three circuit boards and a lens for roughly $55. The image sensor was merely a MOS arrray consisting of a 1024-element which produced a coarse 32x32 pixel b/w image. This version of the camera could be hooked up to a tv set, a movie camera, an oscillator and even a computer. After all they claimed that the position and intensity information was stored in digital form!
A year passed and a company called Cromemco picked up this idea.They took the basic model and pimped it up a bit, added a nice case with big and bold "digital camera" letters, added a controlling unit and marketed it as the 'Cyclops' for a lot more than the DIY kit. The camera could now be hooked up to the Altair 8800 computer. It still had the same 1024-element MOS Array, produced the same crude 32x32 image and still had no permanent storage of it's own. All the schematics and manuals are still out there on the internet for you to read, so you can make your own mind up about this camera. To us, it's nothing more then the average solid state TV camera of the 1970's or the early digitizers that came out in the mid 1970's. It is by no definition a digital camera.
The camera kit from Cromemco cost $195 in the DIY version and the controlling unit another $195. The assembled versions cost $299 each.
Image credit goes partially to Ziff Davis company


  • Brand: Cromemco
  • Model: Cyclops (88-ACC-K)
  • First mentioned: 1975
  • Marketed: yes in 1976
  • MSRP: $55- $299 (camera kit only)
  • Imager Type: MOS Array
  • Resolution: 32x32
  • Internal Storage: -
  • External Storage: Altair 8800 e.g.
  • Lens: D-mount TV lenses
  • Shutter: -
  • Aperture Range: F2.8 /f=25mm
  • LCD screen size: -
  • Size: -
  • Weight: -
  • Remarks: -

The Digital Camera Museum
© 2023
Disclaimer & Copyright Notice