Milestone-Proposal:Kodak Digital Camera

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Docket #:2017-03

This Proposal has been approved, and is now a Milestone

To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has the IEEE Section(s) in which the plaque(s) will be located agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:


Title of the proposed milestone:

First Hand-Held Solid-State Still Camera, 1975

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

A self-contained portable digital camera was invented at an Eastman Kodak Company laboratory. It used movie camera optics, a charge-coupled device as an electronic light sensor, a temporary buffer of random-access memory, and image storage on a digital cassette. Subsequent commercial digital cameras using flash memory storage revolutionized how images are captured, processed, and shared, creating opportunities in commerce, education, and global communications.

200-250 word abstract describing the significance of the technical achievement being proposed, the person(s) involved, historical context, humanitarian and social impact, as well as any possible controversies the advocate might need to review.

IEEE technical societies and technical councils within whose fields of interest the Milestone proposal resides.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

Rochester Section of Region 1.

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: Rochester Section
Senior Officer Name: Eric Brown

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: Rochester Section
Senior Officer Name: William Y. Fowlkes

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: Rochester Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Eric Brown

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: William Fowlkes
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Proposer name: Mark Schrader
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Proposer name: Ram Dhurjaty
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates in decimal form of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

Kodak Center at 200 W Ridge Rd, Rochester, NY 14615, 43.198318,-77.630898

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. This is the main lobby of the Kodak Center a major entry point into the Eastman Business Park, Rochester NY. The lobby has been set up into sort of a mini-museum celebrating many of Kodak's technology achievements.

Are the original buildings extant?

While the original research lab building where the work was done, still exists it has been sold and is no publically accessable. The Kodak Center is less than a mile away, the Kodak center provides a better venue for then placque.

Details of the plaque mounting:

There are some good walls in the lobby, directly off the street, for placing plaques.

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

The lobby is open to the public, and is manned by a guard station.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

Eastman Kodak Company

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)? If personal names are included in citation, include justification here. (see section 6 of Milestone Guidelines)

Digital camera are device for making digital recordings of images. Back in 1975 when Steve Sasson invented the digital camera there was no internet, and all pictures were taken using film camera and film had to be developed and in some cases printed to be able to see the pictures. Generally, you took the pictures today and didn't see the results for several days.

Today you can buy just about any kind of digital camera you like. Cameras are available in cell phones, handhelds, toys, pens, tablets, glasses, and lots of other gadgets. Almost anyone can afford a digital camera and millions own at least one model and can take pictures for instant review, sharing on social media, archiving, and printing. The uses are so much more varied than images were before the digital camera that it is virtually incalculable.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

Unlike film cameras, digital cameras do not have any mechanical parts (shutters) or chemical agents (film) and rarely have a viewfinder, which is typically replaced by a liquid crystal display (LCD). At the core of a digital camera is a semiconductor device, such as a charge-coupled device (CCD) or a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS), which measures light intensity and color (using different filters) transmitted through the camera’s lenses. None of these existed much before 1972. The charge-coupled device was invented in 1969, based upon a MOS architecture. This was the key enabling technology and it was around early CCD devices that Sasson and his group were able to produce the first hand-held digital camera. To store the image, he decided to use what was at that time a relatively new process — digitalization — turning the electronic pulses into numbers. But that solution led to another challenge — storing it on RAM memory, then getting it onto digital magnetic tape.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

Probably the earliest proposal for the use of digital image capture was written by Eugene F. Lally of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory who proposed in 1961 using a photosensor to capture telescopic digital images of the planets and stars. He declined funding in 1973 to actually build such a system citing other priorities. The Cromemco Cyclops was an all-digital camera introduced as a commercial product in 1975. Its design was published as a hobbyist construction project in the February 1975 issue of Popular Electronics magazine, and it used a 32×32 Metal Oxide Semiconductor sensor. The Cyclops was primarily a tethered motion video device, the title for our milestone clarifies that we are claiming a portable still image camera. " First Hand-Held Portable All-Electronic Solid-State Still Camera, 1975" Steven Sasson, an engineer at Eastman Kodak, invented and built a self-contained electronic camera that used the Fairchild MV-101 a 100 x 100 pixel charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensor in 1975. Specifically, the device was the first hand-held camera to include camera optics, a charge-coupled device electronic light sensor, a temporary buffer of random-access memory, and image storage on a digital cassette. Sasson and co-inventor Gareth Lloyd were granted the first patent "US4131919 Electronic still camera" with a filing date of 20-May-1977.

Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.

Patent: US4131919 Electronic still camera


The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Volume 18, Issue 1, March 2009, Pages 46-55

The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Disruptive technology: How Kodak missed the digital photography revolution, Henry C.LucasJr. and Jie MeinGoh,

Yoo, Youngjin, Kalle Lyytinen, Veeresh Thummadi, and Aaron Weiss, "Unbounded innovation with digitalization: A case of digital camera," In Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, pp. 1-41. 2010.

Text from Unbounded Innovation with Digitalization: A Case of Digital Camera: Introduction On November 2009, Willard Boyle and George E. Smith received Nobel Prize in Physics for their invention of charge-coupled device (CCD), a key component of digital cameras. When they invented CCD in 1969 at AT&T Bell Labs, little did they know that their invention would affect the lives of billions of people around the world three decades later. Conceived merely as a technical exercise, the original digital camera was first built by Steven Sasson at Eastman Kodak in December 1975. It weighed 8 pounds with its toaster-size body, and took 23 seconds to capture an image of 0.01 megapixels on a cassette tape. It required a separate TV to see the image, which took another 23 seconds to retrieve. 30 years later, however, digital camera has become ubiquitous.

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.

Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).

Please recommend reviewers by emailing their names and email addresses to Please include the docket number and brief title of your proposal in the subject line of all emails.