“Say ‘cheese’ Sherman and set WABAC to 1839.”
January 9, 1839: First Practical Photography Revealed to the World
A Brief History
On January 9, 1839, the first practical photographic process (Daguerreotype) was revealed by the French Academy of Sciences.
Digging deeper, we find many people had been working on the development of practical photography, but Daguerre, a French chemist, was the first to produce a process that was portable, not the size of an entire room, and that resulted in images of reasonable quality.
One of the great discoveries by Daguerre was the ability to use paper coated with concoctions containing silver and other chemicals instead of the image being produced on a metal plate. That sure makes carrying photos of your dog in your wallet easier!
Milestone inventions are usually thought of as being a goldmine for the inventor, but that is not always the case. In this case, Daguerre and the French government both wanted the world to have access to his invention for free! Daguerre made a deal with the government for an annual pension and all the other inventors had legal access to the Daguerre process to improve on it as they could.
Obviously, those improvements were made, and cameras and film have progressed to the point where we now have digital cameras that do not even need to use film. Most cell phones have a camera built in, and many of those can take moving video. Photography has come a long way from having to expose the metal plate covered in various chemicals for several minutes and cameras bigger than a breadbox to tiny cameras that can be pinned on one’s shirt or disguised as a ballpoint pen.
Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Daguerre, merci beaucoup!
The First Camera