HP PhotoSmart (1997)

Around April 1997 Hewlett Packard announced the Photosmart System. A complete PC photography system consisting of a digital camera ($400), photo scanner ($500) and photo printer ($500). This was the first PC photo imaging system for home users and HP's first digital camera, although it was made by Konica. It was simply called Photosmart, the internal model number was C5340A, both model names are commonly in use now. The camera itself was a very bulky device and despite it's dimensions it was lacking an LCD screen. It did not have a lot of features and was a basic and simple point-and-shoot camera for the 'average Joe'. A small status display informed the user about the settings and pictures taken. The device could be connected to a personal computer via serial cable with a mini DIN connector. On the other side there was a big plastic cover that revealed a memory card slor for miniature cards. Yes, this was one of the few and first cameras that actually used Intel's vaporware miniature card for storage. The entire system was pretty inexpensive compared to other digital cameras of that time. Image quality of the camera was decent (VGA resolution) and a full page printout on the Photosmart printer took up to 8 minutes. Because of it's bulkiness and it's rectangular dimensions, it was nicknamed 'The Brick' by press members. The Photosmart is an OEM model of the Konica Q-EZ.

To promote the camera, HP initiated a cross-country tour in the US to showcase the Photosmart technology. For families it was also possible to win a Photosmart system by submitting a question form at one of the booths. There is an error on HP's virtual museum page, there they claim that this model used a "4MB removeable, reusable compact flash card" which is incorrect and only applied to later Photosmart models.

Mr. Roman Kober recently informed me that Olympus also used this memory card in their digital voice recorder D1000. Investigating this it turned out that Olympus also offered an extra PC kit for this device. Great news! I bough the kit and, lo and behold, finally had the world's only Flash Miniature Card adaptor in my hands. I could install the software and drivers on an old laptop but wasn't able to read images so far. Above you can see pictures of the set and adaptor.

Specifications

  • Brand: HP
  • Model: PhotoSmart
  • First mentioned: 1997
  • Marketed: yes
  • MSRP: $400
  • Imager Type: 0.35MP 1/3" CCD
  • Resolution: 640x480
  • Internal Storage: -
  • External Storage: Intel Miniature Flash Card
  • Lens: f=6mm /F2.8
  • Shutter: 1/30s - 1/2,000s
  • Aperture Range: F2.8
  • LCD screen size: -
  • Size: 154 x 86.5 x 68mm
  • Weight: 350 gr.
  • Remarks: -

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