Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Which Company Invented The Digital Camera?

This is NOT a trick question but which company invented the digital camera?

a) Nikon                 c) Sony                 e) Fujifilm           

b) Canon                d) Polaroid            f) Kodak

Big surprise here as the answer is f) Kodak. Actually, Kodak is the only company mentioned here that had a core focus and deep DNA in all technologies related to imaging and color science so they did early on have a leg up on all of their competitors with patents and research in the fields of color reproduction and with film manufacturing and processing. The big 3 Digital Camera companies of today. Canon, Nikon and Sony all embraced digital camera technology and applied their engineering and marketing prowess to beating Kodak in creating more advanced and easier to use digital cameras in a very big way. Kodak at one time like Polaroid was viewed as one of the most innovative product development companies and was often placed in the category of a IBM, Xerox, 3M, and Polaroid when it came to obtaining key patents that allowed them to produce consumer and business products that were so far ahead of every other company's technology offerings.

I think it's fair to say that Kodak missed the boat with digital cameras the same way Xerox lost out to Adobe when it came to PostScript.


  1. Great post Wes.

    Reminds me of a related shift from Nikon to Canon as the ‘Pro’ brand of SLR/DSLR.

    I became VERY serious about photography when Canon introduced the AE-1 35mm camera in 1976. Wow – the first camera with a computer! Heck, it REQUIRED a battery to operate! I owned EVERY A-Series then graduated to New F1’s – at one time owning more Canon bodies, lenses, flashes, and special products like bellows, micro lenses, speed finders, focusing screens, 250 frame backs, and motor drives than I can count.

    Yet my photog pals NEVER regarded the F1/F1n/New F1 and ‘L’ lenses as professional gear. It wasn’t Nikon!

    Canon not only overcame the ‘snob’ factor, they completely reversed the mindthink on who offers the finest professional DSLR’s.

    I have to believe it was Canon’s understanding of merging microprocessors and automation with photography early on.

    Heck, I even owned Canon’s FD 35-70mmm AF, the world’s first autofocus interchangeable zoom lens. Talk about bad reviews…the traditionalists not only thought automation for exposure was unprofessional, they were unrelenting in telling each other that no serious photographer would EVER let the camera focus for them!

    Never say never!


  2. Steve
    Thanks for the insightful comments and observations. I wince every time I hear that a large US technology (HP, IBM, Cisco, Xerox et al.) company scales back or cuts their R&D budget. One of the big exceptions is Apple and it is clearly evident that their R&D investments have paid off handsomely. Playing it safe or holding back on innovation has reduced Polaroid to nothing but a licensing entity. With Kodak no longer an A-Team member, that leaves 3M, Motorola, DuPont, and a handful of other US companies that continues to invest heavily in R&D, issue patents and create new innovative products for consumers. Apple re-invented itself and rose from the ashes (Most of the credit goes to Steve Jobs RIP and all of the hard-working employees at Apple) but there is no reason why other US high tech and technology driven companies can learn from Apple's huge comeback and their phenomenal track record of delivering hit after hit product and service offerings.