1975 Kodak Prototype (© Kodak Eastman Corp.)

Kodak Prototype (1975)

The story behind this camera is already covered in the 'history' section of this website. So I'll just add a few minor details. One must understand that today the camera itself is regarded as being the first hand-held electronic still camera ever (in layman's terms: "digital camera"). Gaining widespread fame and popularity after Mr. Sasson was awarded the Kodak innovation award in 2001. But back in 1975 and 1976 it was a whole different story. The camera itself was regarded as a "cute" invention. A gadget the Kodak management wasn't quite interested in. Film was Kodak's main business and it ought to stay that way. Also, the camera was in no way ready for mass production and even less suited for the average Joe. It simply was a bulky, highly expensive and sophisticated piece of equipment invented some 15 years ahead of it's time. Mr. Sasson wrote his technical report in 1976 and it was published internal to Kodak in 1977 and that was it for years to come.

Steve Sasson started working on this camera in late 1974. It was completed at the end of 1975. The first pictures were captured and displayed in December of 1975 but they weren't stored. Although the playback system continued to be improved throughout 1976 the camera itself remained unaltered. In 1976 the camera and playback unit were demonstrated to various levels of the Kodak management. The famous "boy and beagle" shot was taken in 1976 for the technical report and is the only image that was stored and "survived". The last picture was taken around late 1976 / early 1977. About the recording process I'd like to quote Mr. Sasson:

"The prototype camera captured an image in 50msec, that is (when) the entire 100 x 100 array was read out and digitized in the 1/20 sec time. the digital information (4 bits/ pixel) was stored in the in-camera digital memory ( made up of twelve 4096 bit DRAM chips). So the image was "captured" in 50msec. The information was then read from this digital memory and stored on the digital cassette for permanent storage. This process took about 23 seconds. So, in summary, the prototype had an exposure time of 50msec but was not ready to take another picture for 23 seconds".

Specifications

  • Brand: Kodak
  • Model: Prototype
  • First mentioned: 1975
  • Marketed: no
  • MSRP: -
  • Imager Type: 0.01MP CCD (Fairchild 201ADC)
  • Resolution: 100x100
  • Internal Storage: 6 KB of DRAM
  • External Storage: Digital Cassette
  • Lens: Kodak Ektar f: 1.2 \ F: 9-21 mm
  • Shutter: -
  • Aperture Range: F1.2
  • LCD screen size: external monitor
  • Size: 8¼" x 6" x 9"
  • Weight: 8½ pounds
  • Remarks: Playback unit was operated by a Motorola Mc6800 microcomputer incorporated into an EXORciser system

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