When it comes to the history of digital photography, one name that stands out is Steven J. Sasson. Born on July 4, 1950, Sasson is an American electrical engineer who is credited with inventing the self-contained (portable) digital camera. His groundbreaking work at Kodak in the 1970s paved the way for the digital cameras we use today. In this article, we will delve into the story behind the original Hewlett-Packard Photosmart Camera, which was a result of Sasson's innovation.
Early Life and Education
Steven J. Sasson was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Ragnhild Tomine and John Vincent Sasson. He attended and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School. Sasson further pursued his passion for electrical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he obtained his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in 1972 and 1973, respectively.
The First Self-Contained Digital Camera
In 1975, while working at Kodak, Steven Sasson developed a portable, battery-operated, self-contained digital camera. This invention was a major leap forward in photography, as it eliminated the need for film and introduced the concept of capturing and storing images digitally. The first digital camera weighed 8 pounds (6 kg) and used a Fairchild CCD image sensor with a resolution of only 100 × 100 pixels (0.01 megapixels).
Unlike modern digital cameras, Sasson's prototype recorded the images onto a cassette tape, with each image taking approximately 23 seconds to process. The camera could only capture black-and-white images, but it represented a significant technological breakthrough. Sasson envisioned a future where cameras would have no mechanical moving parts, although his prototype did include some moving parts, such as the tape drive.
In 1977, Kodak filed a patent application for some features of Sasson's prototype camera. The patent, titled electronic still camera, listed Sasson and Gareth Llyod as co-inventors. It described a method that allowed the CCD to be quickly read into a temporary buffer of random-access memory and then written to storage at a lower speed. This arrangement is still used in modern digital cameras.
Life and Career
After his groundbreaking work on digital cameras, Steven Sasson continued his career at Kodak until his retirement in 200Following his retirement, Sasson began working as a consultant in intellectual property protection. In 2018, he joined the University of South Florida Institute for Advanced Discovery & Innovation as a member and courtesy professor.
Sasson's contributions to the field of digital photography have been widely recognized. In 2009, he was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by U.S. President Barack Obama. This prestigious honor is bestowed upon scientists, engineers, and inventors who have made significant contributions to their respective fields.
In 2012, The Royal Photographic Society awarded Sasson its Progress Medal and Honorary Fellowship for his important advances in the scientific and technological development of photography. He was also inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2011 and elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 201
The original Hewlett-Packard Photosmart Camera, developed by Steven J. Sasson, revolutionized the world of photography. His groundbreaking invention paved the way for the digital cameras we use today, eliminating the need for film and introducing the concept of capturing and storing images digitally. Sasson's contributions to the field have been recognized with numerous prestigious awards and honors, solidifying his place in the history of photography.