In fact, at the time, I doubt Steve Sasson thought that the innovation that led to U.S. Patent 4,131,919 would be the beginning of the evolution of Eastman Kodak Company to the digital age. It is difficult to imagine the evolution from the first prototype, pictured at the left, to the powerful digital cameras available today.
Steve was recently inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame for his contribution as an electrical engineer who invented the digital camera. Other founder/inventors inducted with Steve include
- Paul Allen, who with Bill Gates, founded Microsoft
- Amar Bose, founder and chairman of Bose Corp.
- The German team of Karlheinz Brandenberg, Dieter Seitzer and Heinz Gerhauser, who developed the MP3 format.
Although I suspect that innovations of this magnitude often take the creators by surprise, as Steve explains in "Plugged In" [Edit Note: Link updated. Kodak moved A Thousand Nerds to "Plugged In"]:
Perhaps "no idea", but vision and imagination. Congratulations!
"We were looking at it as a distant possibility. Maybe a line from the technical report written at the time sums it up best:
"The camera described in this report represents a first attempt demonstrating a photographic system which may, with improvements in technology, substantially impact the way pictures will be taken in the future."
But in reality, we had no idea ..."
This is a picture I took at an internal reception honoring Steve's induction to the CES Hall of Fame: