Photography Timeline

The Art of Photography - Timeline of Photography, Film, and Cameras

Woman taking photograph with vintage camera
Tara Moore/ Taxi/ Getty Images

Several important achievements and milestones dating back to the ancient Greeks have contributed to the development of cameras and photography. ​Here is a brief time timeline of the various breakthroughs with a description of its importance. 

  • 5th-4th Centuries B.C.
    Chinese and Greek philosophers describe the basic principles of optics and the camera.
  • 1664-1666
    Isaac Newton discovers that white light is composed of different colors.
  • 1727
    Johann Heinrich Schulze discovered that silver nitrate darkened upon exposure to light.
  • 1794
    First Panorama opens, the forerunner of the movie house invented by Robert Barker.
  • 1814
    Joseph Niepce achieves first photographic image using an early device for projecting real-life imagery called a camera obscura. However, the image required eight hours of light exposure and later faded.
  • 1837
    Louis Daguerre's first daguerreotype, an image that was fixed and did not fade and needed under thirty minutes of light exposure.
  • 1840
    First American patent issued in photography to Alexander Wolcott for his camera.
  • 1841
    William Henry Talbot patents the Calotype process, the first negative-positive process making possible the first multiple copies.
  • 1843
    First advertisement with a photograph is published in Philadelphia.
  • 1851
    Frederick Scott Archer invented the Collodion process so that images required only two or three seconds of light exposure.
  • 1859
    Panoramic camera, called the Sutton, is patented.
  • 1861
    Oliver Wendell Holmes invents stereoscope viewer.
  • 1865
    Photographs and photographic negatives are added to protected works under copyright law.
  • 1871
    Richard Leach Maddox invented the gelatin dry plate silver bromide process, which means negatives no longer had to be developed immediately.
  • 1880
    Eastman Dry Plate Company is founded.
  • 1884
    George Eastman invents flexible, paper-based photographic film.
  • 1888
    Eastman patents Kodak roll-film camera.
  • 1898
    Reverend Hannibal Goodwin patents celluloid photographic film.
  • 1900
    First mass-marketed camera, called the Brownie, goes on sale.
  • 1913/1914
    First 35mm still camera is developed.
  • 1927
    General Electric invents the modern flash bulb.
  • 1932
    First light meter with photoelectric cell is introduced.
  • 1935
    Eastman Kodak markets Kodachrome film.
  • 1941
    Eastman Kodak introduces Kodacolor negative film.
  • 1942
    Chester Carlson receives a patent for electric photography (xerography).
  • 1948
    Edwin Land launches and markets the Polaroid camera.
  • 1954
    Eastman Kodak introduces high-speed Tri-X film.
  • 1960
    EG&G develops extreme depth underwater camera for U.S. Navy.
  • 1963
    Polaroid introduces instant color film.
  • 1968
    Photograph of the Earth is taken from the moon. The photograph, Earthrise, is considered one of the most influential environmental photographs ever taken.
  • 1973
    Polaroid introduces one-step instant photography with the SX-70 camera.
  • 1977
    Pioneers George Eastman and Edwin Land are inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
  • 1978
    Konica introduces the first point-and-shoot autofocus camera.
  • 1980
    Sony demonstrates first consumer camcorder for capturing moving picture.
  • 1984
    Canon demonstrates first digital electronic still camera.
  • 1985
    Pixar introduces the digital imaging processor.
  • 1990
    Eastman Kodak announces Photo Compact Disc as a digital image storage medium.
  • 1999

                Kyocera Corporation introduces the VP-210 VisualPhone, the world's first mobile phone with                     built-in camera for recording videos and still photos.    

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