Google is our friend!
Google finds everything!
Google is the repository of humankind’s knowledge!
So when I want to find something, normally photography related, I use Google. What could I want to know this time… let’s see.
Hey Google, what was the first photograph?
Google takes about a second and Google got the answer:
This is of course the original plate the photo was taken on, preserved at the Harry Ransom Center if the University of Texas, Austin. A better known version is this one:
Cool, thanks Google!
This is a view from 1826 out of Nicéphore Nièpce’s upstairs window… nothing world shattering as a subject but it’s really TWO firsts! The first photograph ever taken and the first bulb exposure! It lasted for 8 hours.
What could I want to know next? Well, it’s obvious:
Hey Google, what was the first digital photograph?
Hmmm, Google is scratching his head…. comes up with this:
‘Taken by Russell Kirsch in 1957, but… there’s a big BUT here!
No, Google, I say, this is not a proper photograph! It’s a scan of a film photograph so I don’t count that one. I want the first one out of a digital camera.
Google proposes this one:
No again, Google, this is the first digital camera, built by Kodak’s Steve Sasson in 1975! But what did he do with it? Hey, there are no strap lugs!
In fact, Kodak would have done better to fire that guy or to lock him up as he finally brought about the fall of the mighty firm.
But please Google, I asked you to show me the first picture that came out of this monstrosity!
Google looks a bit lost here for once, shrugs and throws out this one:
Yyyyyyesssss, but this is ONE OF THE FIRSTS with no date attached and no information that it was made with Sasson’s contraption. I wanted Nièpce’s digital equivalent! Is that so hard to find? I guess it is! Didn’t they even think to preserve it….???
Well, I must come to the conclusion that the first ever digital photograph, a ground breaking thing, does not exist any more. If ever you know otherwise please correct me.
Anyways, this exemplifies the fickle reality of digital files in our lives. We take more photos than EVER before in human history, we store them in our phones, on hard drives or online in various Facegrams and Instabooks and never look at them again, normally.
Is it the number of photographs that daunts us and prevents us from going through them from time to time? Might well be. Or is it the lack of empathy we have with digital files?
They get deleted, lost, thrown out with old computers. They linger online until some cloud service folds up and flies away…. they are not real!
They are convenient, that’s all!
Film is definitely not convenient, but unless your house burns down and your negatives are destroyed, they are there to stay. You can always make a new print of your negatives, you can enlarge them nearly as you like (try that with early 2 Megapixel camera outputs or the compressed stuff from Facebook!).
And when your house does burn down…. well, you scanned and backed up the negatives, didn’t you? 😉
Thanks for reading!