35-millimeter Photography

35mm film remained the standard for photography for decades until digital photography. The film is important because it enabled the miniaturization of cameras.


The Houston brothers invented roll film and sold the rights to George Eastman. Eventually, Thomas Edison purchased 70mm roll film from Eastman to make movies. Subsequently, Edison employee William Dickson sliced it in half, creating 35mm roll film.

Cameras at the time typically used 70mm or larger film. Consequently, they were large, lumbering things, not easy to carry around.

In 1913, the “American Tourist Multiple” became the first 35mm still camera available for purchase. However, it cost $175, just under an average year’s wages. Needless to say, it never caught on.

In 1913, Oskar Barnack, a Leica employee, began to develop a mass-produced 35mm camera. WWI interfered with the development and commercialization effort. However, Leica introduced the wildly popular company Leica I in 1925. Markedly, The small size was a dramatic departure from prior cameras.

35mm Cassette Fim

In 1934, Kodak released preloaded 35mm cassettes that dropped into a camera. Prior to that innovation, photographers had to load film into their cameras in darkrooms.

In 1936, the inexpensive Argus A 35mm camera was introduced. Combined with Kodak’s easy loading film, 35mm photography exploded in popularity. Subsequently, that same year, the Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera was introduced, allowing photographers to see the exact image the film would record.

By the 1960s, SLR cameras with interchangeable lenses dominated the market. In the 1980s, Kodak release single-use cameras pre-loaded with film. Users took pictures and brought the entire camera, not just the film for developing. Kodak had invented and patented the digital camera a half-decade before, in 1975, but ignored the invention.

Digital Dominates

In 1997, Kodak sold over a billion rolls of film. Twelve years later, on June 22, 2009, announced the cessation of Kodachrome film after 74 years of production. The company declared bankruptcy in January 2012. Digital photography now dominates imaging. However, in 2019, the company still produces a limited line of traditional films for professional photographers.

Cathode-ray Tube (CRT)

Cathode ray tubes are a vacuum tube with an electron gun at the back. The gun shoots electrons through the vacuum onto a screen which creates images. Thick screens that predate flat-screen televisions and computer monitors are cathode ray technology.


German scientists Julius Plücker and Johan Hittorf discovered cathode-ray tubes. Hittorf noticed a negative electrode, called a cathode, cast shadows on the glowing wall of a tube. In 1980, Arthur Schuster showed magnetic fields could control the rays. By 1897, J.J. Thomson measured the mass of cathode rays showing they were smaller than atoms. Electrons is the name eventually settled on for them.

Ferdinand Braun found that coating the inside of the front of the tube with phosphorous made it glow brighter. Finally, Americans Harry Weinhart and John Johnson of Western Electric created the first commercial CRT in 1922.

Eventually, countless CRT sub-types were invented. There were military uses but the most obvious use was television. Vladimir Zworykin of RCA created a better tube that he claimed is the first television. The entry television goes into more detail about that.

CRT’s Evolve

There were countless improvements to CRT’s. Over the decades they increased steadily in size and shrunk slightly in thickness. Color tubes included three beams aimed at three layers of phosphorous. When combined they created a color image.

CRT televisions worked but they were mechanical devices, even when driven by a digital display like a computer monitor. Due to imperfections in the manufacturing process, small magnets were glued to the outside of a tube to adjusted the beam.

Even the slimmest CRT’s were still heavy and used a lot of electricity. Over time, flat-screen technologies including plasma, LED backlights, and OLED’s replaced CRT’s.

“If you absolutely must have the most authentic, optimal experience and don’t mind having a giant, heavy fucking brick of a television, then yes.”

Anonymous internet commentator on using CRT’s to play old game consoles.

Visual Web Browser

Tim Berners-Lee original world wide web was entirely text-based, mainly used to link textual papers to one another.


Marc Andreesen, then a student at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, extended Andreesen’s HTML. Andreesen extended the original HTML, adding components describing not only the contents of a page but also how it should be laid out.

Andreesen created a web-browser that is graphical, which assembled the text into what looked like a document on-screen. He named his visual web browser Mosaic.

Mosaic quickly gained in popularity, creating a surge of interest in the web. Eventually, Andreesen left school for Silicon Valley to commercialize the product, renaming it Netscape.


However, Andreesen failed to receive intellectual property releases from his school. They worked out an arrangement for Netscape but also licensed the technology freely, including and most importantly to Microsoft.

Thereafter, Microsoft bundled a free web browser (Netscape initially sold their browser) into the then-dominant Windows operating system. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer quickly became the leading web browsing software in an era known as the “browser wars.”

Netscape eventually folded, unable to compete with Microsoft’s free browser and failing to find a different workable strategy.

Years later, Netscape released their software as open-source. Eventually, the non-profit Mozilla Foundation adopted it and the browser lives on as Firefox.

Besides fueling the early internet, Netscape also fueled internet investing mania. The company went public on Aug. 9, 1995, about a year after it was founded. At that time, young companies did not offer shares and companies without profits never sold shares. Defying both conventions, Netscape offered shares at $28 and closed the day at $58.25, touching $74.75 at one point. Dot-com mania ensued. Andreesen went on to become a successful entrepreneur and investor in other areas.

Today, the most popular browsers, Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari, are both open-source projects. As of 2019, Microsoft announced plans to eventually shutter the last proprietary closed-source web browser.

One important note: Engelbert’s “Mother of all Demos” demonstrated combined text and graphics, with hyperlinks, in 1968.

Streaming Video

Early streaming video was more science experiment than entertainment. Video over the internet wouldn’t become common for almost 20 more years after the first stream.


However, computer companies, thinking about the early Internet, were interested in using it for television. These early transmissions required expensive and complicated computers and extremely expensive Internet connections to receive the video.

Severe Tire Damage, a group of aspiring musicians from Xerox PARC, is the first video ever streamed over the internet. They served as the “surprise opening act” for The Rolling Stones, who broadcast a 20-minute concert over a system called “Multicast Backbone” or “M-Bone” in July 1993.

“In the Friday broadcast, the image filled only a fraction of the screen, about 1 1/2 by 1 1/2 inches, and the picture quality was poor. Though videos move at 24 frames a second, these images moved at only 1 to 10 frames a second, resulting in what looked like a high-speed slide show.”

Rolling Stones Live on Internet: Both a Big Deal and a Little Deal. The New York Times. Nov. 22, 1994.

The New York Times noted they couldn’t find anybody in Manhattan who had enough bandwidth to watch the show and ended up in Jersey City, at the office which organized the broadcast.

In 1995, Microsoft was ramping up an entire on-demand video service to compete with cable television. However, after an epiphany by Bill Gates that the internet would supersede on-demand video, the entire division pivoted.

Eventually, RealNetworks became the first to broadcast a baseball game over the Internet in 1995.

Because streaming was seen as “on-demand TV” there were many proprietary streaming video solutions, none of which were widely adopted.

Oops, They Did It Again

Staying true to their mission of inventing great things then botching commercialization, streaming video inventor Xerox PARC made no money.

In many ways, the surprise performance of Severe Tire Damage, which uses the URL std.org, was an indicator of the direction of internet video. As of 2019, the Rolling Stones have 1.6 million subscribers on YouTube. YouTube also features a live Severe Tire Damage concert, with 413 views.

The Internet’s First & Arguably Worst Band
News report about the broadcast
(sans Severe Tire Damage)


In 1909, Nicola Tesla described what eventually would be a smartphone. They’ve existed in various forms for many years.


IBM invented a phone called the Angler in 1992 with PDA like functions. Subsequently, they released a commercial version in 1994.

The term “smartphone” first appears in 1995 describing AT&T’s PhoneWriter Communicator.

Eventually, more phones appeared in the US using Palm OS, Newton OS, Symbian, and Windows CE. Common functions included email, texting, calendar operations, really slow web browsing, and voice calls. Overall, they were slow and clunky.

HP and Nokia released a hybrid phone/PDA in 1996. It opened like a clamshell and contained a screen and keyboard.

In 1999, the Japanese firm NTT DoCoMo released the iMode, the first smartphone to gain mass adoption. Equally important, DoCoMo invented their own HTML-lite page description language, being the first to recognize the importance of high-quality content for smartphones.

Progress continued leading to the Handspring Treo that fully integrated a Palm Pilot and phone, in 2002.

In the early aughts, various phones typically had small physical keyboards, mimicking the then-popular Blackberry email/phone combination.

Subsequently, in 2007, Apple released the first iPhone. Initially, there were no apps nor app store: the iPhone did a small number of things and did them well. It was a web browser, email reader, texting device and phone. Sales were strong but not spectacular.

Hackers digitally broke into the iPhone enabling the installation of third-party apps. These became popular. Apple resisted at first but eventually created a process to install third-party apps without hacking and the iPhone app store opened in July 2008.

Android phones, based on an open-source operating system Google purchased, were released in October 2008.

Since then smartphones have become ubiquitous, dominated by Android (Google OS) and Apple. IBM and AT&T, developers of the earliest smartphones, do not produce smartphones.

Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED)

Organic Light-Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) emit light with virtually no electricity. Lamps, televisions, mobile phone, and computer monitors are common applications. Additionally, OLEDs are bright, high-contrast, and extremely thin.

OLED screens are faster, brighter, and use far less energy than LED-based displays. As the technology develops, they will eventually cost less than LED displays.

OLED’s are literally and figuratively flexible: they bend. Consequently, this ability enables all sorts of interesting lamps. Curved OLED televisions already exist and bendable mobile phones are in development.

Eventually, inkjet printers will produce OLED’s, dramatically lowering costs.

In 1987, Ching Tang and Steven Van Slyke of Kodak invented OLED’s. Subsequently, as usual, Kodak failed to meaningfully commercialize the technology beyond patent licensing.

Image result for flexible oled screen
Flexible OLED Display
Image result for oled lamps
OLED Lamps
Related image
OLED Video Wall


The camcorder combined a camera and videotape player into one handheld unit. It made moviemaking exponentially easier and less expensive, opening the field to countless new auteurs.


The first video making system offered for the home was by Ampex. Advertised in the 1963 Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog it cost $30,000 ($247,201 adjusted to 2018) and included a large television camera, TV monitor, and 100-pound Ampex VR-1500 video recorder. The price included a visit from an Ampex engineer who would set the system up.

In 1982 or 1983, depending on the sources, Sony or JVC released the first portable video recorder with a VCR built-in, a camcorder. Before then, video equipment would require a separate VCR making the equipment difficult or impossible to operate without two people and far less portable. There is no obvious record related to the actual innovator of the camcorder. Furthermore, citations are credited to companies, not to individuals working in a company which is usually the case.

We seldom quote on InnoWiki because we’re looking for overviews and patterns, not in-depth bios. However, Mark Shapiro’s epic blog post on the history of camcorders is entertaining and educational.

Mark sums it up:

“According to the Consumer Electronics Association, in 1982, both JVC and Sony announced the “CAMera/recorder”, or camcorder, combinations. On June 1, 1982, JVC’s camcorder used its new mini-VHS format, VHS-C. In Japan five months later, Sony announced its Betamovie Beta camcorder, which was promoted with the slogan “Inside This Camera Is A VCR.” The first Betamovie camcorder hit stores in May 1983. It was a record only machine without an electronic viewfinder.

“In February 1984, photo giant Kodak introduced a new camcorder format, 8mm, in its first 8mm camcorder, the KodaVision 2000. In 1985, Sony introduced the first chip-based camcorders. Called Video 8, it was also Sony’s first 8mm camcorder. The same year, JVC introduced VHS-C, a compact version of VHS cassettes. The next year, 1989, JVC introduced S-VHS. Still analog video, it provided it separated the video signal into two distinct channels. This provided better color and higher resolution, about 400 lines compared to VHS at 220 lines. This higher resolution enables users to actually edit and copy their videos without worrying that their second and third generation tapes would be fuzzy. About the same time, Sony also joined the s-video movement and introduced their first Hi8 camcorder, the venerable CCD-V99 camcorder.

“In 1992, Sharp became the first company to build in a color LCD screen to replace the conventional viewfinder. In fact, their LCD screen was basically the entire camera with the lens assembly hanging off of it. No longer did users have to squint through a tiny eyepiece. This has become a standard feature of almost every consumer camcorder. Finally, today’s digital video technology first arrived in late 1995. Panasonic and Sony brought out the first Digital Video camcorders, soon followed by Sharp and JVC.”

Mark Shapiro

24-Hour News

Broadcast news was a staid affair, a half-hour visual summary showing events of the day. American networks NBC, ABC, and CBS each had a newscast and each aired at the same time.

Ted Turner inherited an outdoor advertising company. To build more advertising outlets he purchased a third-rate television station running old TV series and movies. In 1976, US regulators allowed him to transmit his channel via satellite to cable companies eager for cheap content. Eventually, he purchased the rights to WTBS and named his station the Turner Broadcasting System.

As the American public transitioned to cable, WTBS was a common channel and Turner’s reach — the number of people watching he could sell ads to — rapidly expanded. His net-worth also increased.

In 1977, media executive Reese Schonfeld contacted Turner about creating a 24-hour news network. Initially, Turner said no but later reconsidered. Turner’s Cable News Network, CNN, was launched with Turner announcing “We won’t be signing off until the world ends.”

Broadcaster Ted Turner created the 24-hour news channel that would continually update, rather than the short news broadcasts that preceded CNN. The “24-hour news cycle” became a business success and also changed the US political landscape.           

Roone Arledge and I had negotiated a new contract at ABC News, the country was in double-digit inflation, our children were about this high, and here I was thinking about going to work for a network that didn’t exist.

Bernard Shaw, CNN

The rehearsals were a nightmare…people would call for things that weren’t ready, the tapes weren’t there, the scripts were not completed.

Ted Kavanau, CNN

They started giving me a valium in my orange juice in the morning. But I didn’t know anything about it. After a week she stopped, because it wasn’t making any difference.

Reese Schonfeld, CNN

Cell phones were still a few years away. There was no Internet, but people could look at CNN and see history unfold before their eyes.

A cartoon in the New Yorker magazine from that time showed a dead bird, its feet in the air and a CNN cameraman capturing the event. “A sparrow falls,” said the caption, “and CNN goes live.”

Reese Schonfeld, CNN

Today, due to CNN and the internet, always-on news is the norm, not the exception.

Interpress & PostScript

Interpress and PostScript enabled display technology, initially printers and eventually screens, to display output exactly as it would look between media. Printouts and screens, no matter the size, would look exactly the same. The technology is another from Xerox PARC.


Warnock left Evans & Sutherland, a computer graphics company founded by Ivan Sutherland, to join Xerox PARC. His was a page description language for laser printers. There was a prior page description language, “Press,” but it was inadequate.

At Xerox PARC, Warnock created Interpress to describe printed material.

Xerox executives repeatedly refused to meaningfully commit to commercializing the technology. Eventually, in 1982, Warnock and his boss Chuck Geschke, quit. They formed a new company, Adobe, to create a programming language for page descriptions, PostScript. They wrote the entire language from scratch.

Before PostScript, every printer had a proprietary means of communication. This made programming output especially difficult.

Jobs Adopts PostScript

Steve Jobs liked PostScript and invested $2.5 million for Adobe to finish the technology. He adopted it for use in Apple’s personal laser printer, the LaserWriter.

PostScript eventually caught on for printers and spawned a similar general-purpose page description language for screens. That technology is branded the Portable Document Format, or PDF, and remains widely in use today.

Eventually, Jobs used a modified version of PDF at Next Computer, the company he founded after Apple fired him. When Apple rehired him, Jobs incorporated screen PDF into the Macintosh. To this day, pieces and parts of PDF exist in both the Macintosh and iOS operating systems.

To gain wide adoption, Adobe eventually open-sourced PDF.

Today, Adobe does no substantive ongoing work on PostScript but remains a large company thanks to other innovations it fostered, especially software for graphic artists. Warnock eventually retired a multibillionaire but Xerox made no money from his work.

Inkjet Printer

Inkjet printing produces affordable, high-quality printouts using low-cost personal desktop printers.


Ichiro Endo, of Canon, was the first to realize the idea that ink could be heated to form a small bubble, then deposited on a page to form a pixel, inkjet printing. John Vaught, a college dropout working at Hewlett-Packard, was working on similar technology. Dave Donald, who holds a bachelor and master’s degree from MIT, was Vaught’s teammate though he credits Vaught with the breakthrough.

Officially, this is a simultaneous Canon/HP innovation. On the record, both invented the same thing at the same time. Realistically, prolonged litigation and negotiation led to a cross-licensing agreement. Arguably, Canon’s printer was not commercially viable whereas HP’s was.


“You think of things that are totally unrelated… Innovators don’t go home and see it at that moment in time. It is something that has happened way back in time. As near as I can recall the percolator (inspiration) it wasn’t (rising) bubbles. If you think about it, if you left the top off, it went poof, poof, poof, and blew gobs of coffee all over the place.”

J. Vaught, describing how he envisaged the inkjet mechanism that shoots ink

“Vaught carried the ball in selling the innovation. After the innovator sees it, the innovator says to heck with it, the management doesn’t care, and walks away as I did. Or he says I don’t care I’m gonna’ push these guys anyway, and they can’t do anything cause I’m at the bottom of the totem pole, and they can’t push me any lower. And then (Vaught) gained the help of a guy named Larry LaBarre, who was known on a first name basis by the top people in the corporation, Hewlett and Packard and also Barney Oliver, the three men who really determined what went on. They knew John’s enthusiasm as conveyed by Larry LaBarre. That sense of mutual trust then got transmitted to the very top of the corporation, completely around the guys who managed the project.”

David Donald, HP