Six Years Ago, Apple Made a Crowd Gasp With Pinch to Zoom and Swiping


If you want a taste of how fast technology progresses in the world of digital photography, just look at the consumer camera industry through the lens of a company that continues to make a big splash: Apple.

When Steve Jobs unveiled the original iPhone on January 9, 2007 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, cameras on phones were horrible and viewing those shoddy pictures was a pain. Then, almost overnight, the smartphone photography revolution — and the slow demise of the compact camera — began.

It’s crazy to think that just six years ago things like pinch to zoom, turning a device to view photos in the correct orientation, and swiping to browse pictures were unheard-of features. Check out this short clip of Jobs’ making the capacity crowd gasp by demonstrating these features that we now take for granted:

Now step back 10 more years to December 20, 1996. On that date, Steve Jobs made a surprise appearance at the company’s meeting room after a decade of exile. Apple employee Tim Holmes was one of the people in attendance and shot a number of photographs of the event. His camera of choice? The Apple QuickTake.


That’s right, Holmes was using the camera that Apple launched in 1994 — a camera that TIME calls “the first consumer digital camera” and one of the “100 greatest and most influential gadgets from 1923 to the present.”

Here are the photos Holmes snapped:






The photographs emerged this past week after Holmes decided to upload them to his Flickr account. He notes that, “The QuickTake camera, as all early digital camera, did a poor job or reproducing color.”

See those purple jackets and sweaters being worn in the photos above? Those were actually black…

Apple discontinued the QuickTake in 1997, and reentered the consumer photography game ten years later with the iPhone introduction seen above. Luckily for millions of users around the world, the iPhone’s camera does a much better job at capturing black as black.

(via Reddit and Business Insider)

Image credits: iPhone introduction still and video by Apple, Apple QuickTake 200 Digital Camera by donjd2, Apple “town hall” photos by Tim Holmes

  • Richard

    The QuickTake was fine for what it was, I had one and a Canon Zap shot before it and Koala MacVision before it. No doubt we’ve come a long way although frankly, each of those early devices was wonderful in its time.

  • CrackerJacker

    The iPhone does a terrible job with tactile 3D and smell reproduction and we will all be laughing at that in a decade or so! :)

  • Mick Orlosky

    Apple imaging has purple fringe in its DNA, I guess.

  • WyoDan

    IIRC, the Apple QuickTake was a rebadged Kodak model. I could be wrong, but that’s my recollection. One company has done a good bit better than the other though…

  • Leonardo Abreu

    Damn! Looks like it was yesterday…

  • Gregory Peel

    If the jackets are black and register as purple then why are the shadows and hair black?

  • Mak Wa

    Apple weren’t the first to come out with phones with good cameras, just like a lot of their tech, others did it first, Apple just hyped it up to make it seem like they were the first to do it.

    Sony/Ericsson with their K Series of Cybershot phones were release way before the iPhone. The K800 (released in February 2006) had a 3.14 MP camera and a Xenon flash, the K750 (released in 2005) came with a 2 MP camera and LED flash. However the original iPhone released in 2007 only came with a 2 MP camera and NO Flash at all.

  • Rob

    They forgot to put an IR filter on the sensor. I did that once. Found the problem the same way, my black shirt was purple. Went and grabbed an IR block filter, shirt was black and the color saturation magically fixed itself as well.
    Astonishing, though, that it made it out the door like that.

  • Ivan

    What I can see here is not the same thing as purple fringing. This is probably due to a weak or missing sensor filter: fabric reflects back a lot in IR and UV spectrum, while (as Gregory pointed out) hair looks black because it does not.
    Speaking of UV, apparently IR cutoff filters can solve this problem but lots of fabrics use synthetic dyes that are pretty intense in UV spectrum as well, so what they call “IR cutoff filters” may in fact be “visible spectrum band” filters, cutting both ends at IR and UV. (BTW Leica was dealing with that issue not long ago, just
    Google images with “Leica M8 IR problem” – similar effect as with QuichTake, higher resolution and less noise though!)

  • cas_e

    You must be so much fun at parties.

  • imaginarynumber

    Agreed, my (pre-iphone) HTC Athena had a better camera (and front camera), a flash and a 5″ touch screen to view the images….

  • imaginarynumber

    Ahh… January 9, 2007
    The day that marketing and hype surpassed journalistic truth and integrity.
    Jobs told the world that they had invented the touch screen smart phone, that they had invented multi-touch and gestures. That they had harnessed magic.
    The press wet their seats. As MAC loving, edgy, free thinkers they could now shove it to the “man”… unfortunately they were (and remain) too blinkered and myopic to see who the “man” really was.
    With their constant rehashing of apple marketing BS they have created a monster that is even more crushing and corrupting that Microsoft ever were.

  • imaginarynumber


    In a decade YOU WILL LOVE BIG BROTHER. You will not question his existence. All other pre-existing technology will be assigned to room 101. There was only Steve Jobs, no one else will have existed.
    Steve is Watching you…

  • imaginarynumber

    Kodak made the QuickTime 100 and 150 for Apple

  • Jakub

    I have to strongly disagree that in January 2007 the pictures on phone cameras were horrible. What about Sony Ericsson’s Cyber shots? From 2005 I think, they performed very well in terms of photography. I had SE k750i and even though it was just 2mpixels, the images were quite sharp and the colors were good.

  • lidocaineus

    Well first of all, it’s Mac for Macintosh, not MAC – thats media access control. If you’re going to disparage a company, at least get the products right. Secondly, Apple never claimed to have invented multi-touch. They in fact specifically point to their purchase of Fingerworks for their multi-touch technology, all of which has still yet to be implemented – I know, I had their keyboards, and they did crazy multi-touch gestures that go way beyond what we have today. And lastly, Apple knows how to market. Since they’re so successful at it, they have a huge market cap, but think of it this way – if their products didn’t work the way people wanted them to, they’d lose all that money straight away as some sort of all-flash-no-substance company. They, however, are the exact opposite – they back up their marketing with actual, substantial products that do what they advertise. This (and excellent customer service) is why Apple is so successful.

    Your irrational hatred of the company is clear in that your entire post is a rambling diatribe. You know the United States, the country Apple is based in? It’s based on capitalism. And the benefit of capitalism (at least theoretically) is that if someone makes a product that people find is better and at a competitive price, they can knock the incumbent out of the ballpark. I’m not a giant fan of all Apple’s practices and products, but I have a choice to not buy their products. In other words, don’t blame Apple on being successful – they’re simply producing products people want. Go buy what YOU want.

  • imaginarynumber

    I am fully aware that apple did not invent multi-touch. I am also aware that JazzMutant had already released multi-touch capacitive screened devices long before Apple implemented the technology in the iPhone. Additionally Jeff Hann had publically demonstrated

  • lidocaineus

    Oh please. It’s illegal to lie when advertising a product (ever heard of false advertisement?) and when Apple said that in court, they could’ve been easily contradicted. And they were. And who cares if they patented it? If someone else had patented it previously, they could’ve contested it.

    You’re just rambling in all sorts of directions at this point and have completely gone off track. If you don’t like Apple, more power to you, but please, communicate coherently.

  • imaginarynumber

    “You’re just rambling in all sorts of directions at this point and have completely gone off track”

    In what way?

    My opening premise was that Apple distort the truth and that the press give them an easy ride.

    I cited examples of apple being dishonest. Further examples of their lack of probity, which have resulted in prosecutions, include the misspelling of 4G devices in Australia and AppleCare in Italy.

    Rather than address my points directly you offer a “defence” of capitalism and the patent system.

    Throwing insults at people hardly constitutes coherent communication…

  • lidocaineus

    The discussion of capitalism is appropriate because someone can make a better product than Apple and sell it.

    The rest is incoherent, so… good luck to you.

  • imaginarynumber

    History is littered with examples of firms producing superior products yet not achieving market superiority. Marketing alone is no longer sufficient if you don’t have the support of the press and media.

  • Philip Han

    That’s the kind of Bro I hang out with. PhotoBro.

  • lidocaineus


    Also your downvoting is hilarious.