Happy 20th birthday Apple QuickTake 100, the first consumer digital camera


posted Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 3:56 PM EDT


When you think of Apple, your mind probably conjures images of svelte laptops, perhaps funky, white desktop computers, iPods, and now recently, iPhones and iPads. Apple is known for helping launch or popularize some major categories of consumer electronics: the personal computer with the Mac, MP3 players with the iPod and tablet computers with the iPad. However, there's one area of consumer electronics you might not realize Apple had a significant hand in popularizing: the digital camera.

Put on sale 20 years ago this past Friday, the Apple QuickTake 100 digital camera first sold for $749 and captured 640 x 480 images (and stored only eight of them). You could cram 16 images if you shot them at 320 x 240 resolution. While the camera is indeed adorned with that distinctive rainbow Apple logo, Apple in fact didn't design the device at all. For that, look no further than Kodak themselves, the inventors of the digital camera.

This Mashable article takes you though the history of the discovery and development of the CCD chip, the heart of the first true digital cameras. While Kodak pioneered the creation of the digital camera, the reason Apple gets its name on this gadget was Kodak's concern that a self-branded digital camera would hurt their film business.

Prior to the introduction of the QuickTake 100 in 1994, other digital cameras were emerging on the market. Sony tried earlier with the analog "electronic still camera," the Pro Mavica. Major camera manufacturers like Canon and Nikon also attempted electronic cameras, though they remained squarely in the professional market, with very high pricetags. Even Kodak's own DCS 100 in 1991 -- the first commercial digital camera -- rang up for around $10,000 to $20,000.

The breakthrough for the Apple QuickTake 100 is that it managed to be simple enough to use and affordable enough for many people -- just what was needed to kick-start the consumer digital camera market.

Like computers, digital cameras began life as unruly, large, complicated and often crude machines that progressed into smaller and smaller, cheaper and cheaper devices that now fit comfortably in your hand and produce gigantic high-resolution images (and lots of them). Though nowadays, we're seeing new trends with digital photography. Will smartphones continue in popularity over traditional consumer cameras? Will Google Glass-type devices become the norm for our digital image needs? Or will something else come along? Who knows what the next 20 years in digital cameras will hold.

(via MashableAll images sourced from Flickr and used under a Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 license. Apple QuickTake images (1,2) image courtesy of Jaqian.)