"In December of 1975, after a year of piecing together a bunch of new technology in a back lab at the Elmgrove Plant in Rochester, we were ready to try it. 'It' being a rather odd-looking collection of digital circuits that we desperately tried to convince ourselves was a portable camera. It had a lens that we took from a used parts bin from the Super 8 movie camera production line downstairs from our little lab on the second floor in Bldg 4. On the side of our portable contraption, we shoehorned in a portable digital cassette instrumentation recorder. Add to that 16 nickel cadmium batteries, a highly temperamental new type of CCD imaging area array, an a/d converter implementation stolen from a digital voltmeter application, several dozen digital and analog circuits all wired together on approximately half a dozen circuit boards, and you have our interpretation of what a portable all electronic still camera might look like.
It was a camera that didn't use any film to capture still images - a camera that would capture images using a CCD imager and digitize the captured scene and store the digital info on a standard cassette. It took 23 seconds to record the digitized image to the cassette. The image was viewed by removing the cassette from the camera and placing it in a custom playback device. This playback device incorporated a cassette reader and a specially built frame store. This custom frame store received the data from the tape, interpolated the 100 captured lines to 400 lines, and generated a standard NTSC video signal, which was then sent to a television set.
There you have it. No film required to capture and no printing required to view your snapshots. That's what we demonstrated to many internal Kodak audiences throughout 1976. In what has got to be one of the most insensitive choices of demonstration titles ever, we called it 'Film-less Photography'. Talk about warming up your audience!"
(Steve Sasson, 16 October 2007)
Fig.1 Vintage 1975 portable all electronic still camera
Fig.2 The playback device and TV
Fig.3 Side-by-side comparison – Hardcopy vs. Film-less Photography