The World’s First Digital Camera by Kodak and Steve Sasson

If you’re a digital photography buff, here’s some required trivia knowledge: what you see above is a photograph of the first digital camera ever built. It was created in December 1975 by an engineer at Eastman Kodak named Steve Sasson, now regarded as the inventor of the digital camera. In a Kodak blog post written in 2007, Sasson explains how it was constructed:

It had a lens that we took from a used parts bin from the Super 8 movie camera production line downstairs from our little lab on the second floor in Bldg 4. On the side of our portable contraption, we shoehorned in a portable digital cassette instrumentation recorder. Add to that 16 nickel cadmium batteries, a highly temperamental new type of CCD imaging area array, an a/d converter implementation stolen from a digital voltmeter application, several dozen digital and analog circuits all wired together on approximately half a dozen circuit boards, and you have our interpretation of what a portable all electronic still camera might look like.

Here are some specs: The 8 pound camera recorded 0.01 megapixel black and white photos to a cassette tape. The first photograph took 23 seconds to create.

To play back images, data was read from the tape and then displayed on a television set:

We’re sure come a long way since then, eh?

Image credits: Photograph by Eastman Kodak

  • Wiz Rares

    Still, 23 seconds is nothing to the days it took for the first analog photos to be created :)

  • Xxx

    My first camera was less than a megapixel; I became interested in photography during the digital age. And only later did I shoot film.

  • David Mathias

    Very interesting. The part that surprises me is that they had an off the shelf sensor they could plug in. The first thing I thought when I saw the year 1975 was, what did they do for a sensor? Quite an amazing achievement.

  • Henningw

    The sensor was not from Kodak. It was from Fairchild semiconductor, and they sent it to Kodak with minimal information. Steve et al had to figure out how to hook it up to do anything.

  • Monsterfred

    The picture looks like a bad scan of a print…

  • Pingback: First Digital Photograph Ever Made()

  • Robert J

    I only use Film cameras! I believe that it’s way superior to digital (Sharpness isn’t always a factor, tonality/color/contrast is)! I use 35mm Canon AE-1, A-1, and Mamiya RB67, C330 medium format film cameras! OK, I’ll never switch to digital! I also have about 150 un-used rolls of film stored in the freezer! Nothing compares to true Black and White. Color Slide film also is extremely nice! It’s too bad that Kodachrome® is done!
    I’m glad to have experienced that while it was here!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Well everything else will stay forever!!!!!!!!
    Film Photography is Awesome! (me being a 27 year old guy—–NOT SPAM POOP)
    Robert Jackson Photography®

  • Rafahur

    Which proves you know nothing about what you are talking about.

  • Mankylaid

    OOOOOh I love film ittss sooo much betterrrr. Not when you can take very high quality digital images on something smaller than a pack of fags

  • Pingback: The Thankyou Economy | Tommy McCubbin()

  • Pingback: Steven Sasson Talks About Inventing the First Digital Camera()

  • Ace

    Like to mix and match on the film and digital stuff. I love shooting with film, but when I shoot film it is mostly black and white. I don’t get into the color stuff much, I know I am lame. 

  • Pingback: Kodak to Kill Off Its Camera Business()

  • vox nulla

    This, of course, wasn’t a truly digital camera. A CCD is an analogue sensor which for storage on a digital medium has to be digitized. So this basically was a CCD camera with a frame digitizer. Not unlike the first Sony Mavica.
    The first true digital camera’s that could actually store data on a file system came in the late 80’s.

  • Patrick

    yes exactly electronic camera would be a better term as true digital s cam much later

  • MrKnowItAll

    Actually, there’s no such thing as a “100% digital” camera. All current design “Digital” cameras still have analog sensors. In CMOS designs, the ADC function is usually integrated ito the Photodiode array, but the photosensors themselves are 100% analog. With CCDs the sensor is still an almost completely analog device. It’s true that in modern cameras, there is no analog processing, everything is done in the digital domain after the ADC stage, but the image sensor is still an analog device, with all its inherent drawbacks.

  • Devonlowery


  • Lolmgcee

    Are you retarded? What do you think a CMOS/CCD sensor does on a modern camera?  stick to sucking dick for wooden nickels, and not posting on the internet. 

  • Dayo

    Am amaze with the first camera

  • arkansas sky

    can you imagine waiting 23 seconds between frames

  • SamInTexas

    Shooting film avoids digital storage problems. I shoot both and really dislike the time, money and effort required to ensure proper digital backups.

  • 3fnork

    Yes, no problem.
    In 1975, everobody had lots of time…

  • 3fnork

    Rays of light is analog. So the sensor have to start with analog signals.

  • HowsTheHope

    Thanks for the interesting background.

  • Brian Westley

    If you look really close, photons are essentially digital.

  • Stewart Doyle

    Or an analogue wave, it depends what you look with.

  • MI Photographer

    What about the space explorers that were launched in the 70’s? Specifically, the first Mars Viking that launched in 1975? Weren’t those images beamed back to earth considered digital? I realize its the same year, but I would think the camera would have to have been developed and tested well before launch, and I am guessing before December 1975.

  • gochugogi

    I still do! Gives me time to compose more carefully.

  • *KC* Glaser

    I remember this space and satellite cameras produce a TV (analog) Output signal, this was also recorded on a tape and they send this with FM technologie to earth.
    If someone know it better, please let us know the true ;)

  • *KC* Glaser

    Oh – this is time enough for films like Wallice & Gromit (Stop and Go)

  • fjdkasfj

    camera suck balls

  • Lilly-Rosalina Nersona

    How much did it cost?

  • Will Giddo

    This is very interesting my girlfriend ellie always wanted to know about this

  • Lovin my lab

    did steve sasson work for Kodak??

  • Hiro cruz

    You see, here’s the little problem with film photography. With film, you have to use a different roll for each thing. The time it takes to process film is ridiculous. my guess is, film photography will die within the next 20 years

  • stinkslinger


  • Stephen

    The Viking landers (launched in 1975) could produce images of 512 x 9150 pixels. But they did that by scanning the scene with moving mirrors onto 12 photo diodes. But I would still call that a digital camera (and quite a good one). In the 1960’s, some of the moon orbit ers used film that was chemically processed on board, scanned and sent back to earth. The first 2D CCD array (100 x 100 pixels) was developed by Fairchild in 1974, and used by Kodak in 1975 (above). The KH-11 KENNAN spy satellite (launched Dec 1976) was the first satellite to use a CCD array (800 x 800 pixels). The Voyager space probes (launched 1977) had digital cameras with 1024 x 1024 vidicon arrays.

  • Bruins7784

    Let’s see the image you produce building your own digital camera :P

  • JohnnyD

    Memories… Kodachrome, Pan-X, Plus-X, Tri-X. If you could live with ASA64, then I opted for PAN-X for super fine-grain B&W on Ilford paper (deeper black than Kodak).

    I still have my Olympus OM-1 and Canon AE-1 in fine shape, but have gone all digital. My Beseler 23C enlarger gathers dust.
    Robert, thanks for the trip down memory lane.