It’s hard to remember a time before camera phones were ubiquitous. Now, snapping tens, if not hundreds, of photos a day is totally commonplace. Every achievement— and for some people, every meal— is marked with a photo or series of photos. They sit, often never to be returned to, in our phones and our laptops and in our clouds. But it wasn’t always the case. In fact, 20 years ago the cameraphone was embryonic.
In 1997: The Birth of the Camera Phone from Conscious Minds, they go back and look at the early stages of the camera phone. “On June 11th, 1997, Philippe Kahn created the first camera phone solution to share pictures instantly on public networks,” the video explains. “The impetus for this invention was the birth of Kahn’s daughter, when he jerry-rigged a mobile phone with a digital camera and sent photos in real time. In 2016 Time Magazine included Kahn’s first camera phone photo in their list of the 100 most influential photos of all time.”
But seeing how it actually happened is incredible— and much more haphazard than you would imagine. We think of these developments as taking place in some high-tech environment or lab, not on a side table in a delivery room. But sometimes, genius comes just where you least expect it. Back in 1997, the video recreates Kahn rushing his wife to the hospital and tinkering away while she’s in labor. With the help of a soldering iron, he manages to link the camera to the laptop— and the rest is history. You can watch the whole thing here:
And he’s right, from that moment on there was a total shift in society— in the way people behave, interact, and, most importantly, share. In 1997 the camera phone was born and, from that moment on, we haven’t looked back.