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INNOVATIONS


1990
  • AP introduces PhotoStream, the digital image-delivery system it first announced in 1987. The system's platform is the proprietary Leaf Picture Desk (LPD), developed in tandem with Leaf Systems and offered free of charge to AP member newspapers. Ultimately, newspapers would mothball the LPDs in favor of Mac-based picture-handling system and Internet servers. But PhotoStream and Leaf Picture Desk pushed newspaper photography into the digital age.
  • Canon EOS-RT features a fixed pellicle mirror that allows users to continue viewing the scene through the lens even at the moment of exposure.
  • Mac Holbert and Graham Nash retool an Iris 3047 printer, originally used for proofs, to accept thicker paper and other media.
  • Kodak introduces the XL-7700 thermal dye-sublimation printer. It was built like a battleship, nearly as noisy as a jet engine, and took about nine minutes to process a print. But it produced prints that looked liked conventional photo prints.
  • The dust finally settles on Polaroid's patent infringement claim against Kodak. A court rules that Kodak illegally appropriated Polaroid's instant picture technology. Kodak was enjoined from infringing Polaroid's instant photography patents, and had to pay $909 million - one of the largest patent infringement awards ever.
  • Adobe releases Photoshop 1.0, a color image manipulation program that supported new 24-bit display cards. It has remained the standard against which all other image manipulation programs are compared.

  • Curtis v. General Dynamics. In 1987, Wyse Advertising copied a photo by Mel Curtis that appeared in Communications Arts, used it to make a comp, then hired a second photographer to shoot a national ad for General Dynamics following Curtis's photo as a model. Curtis sued. A U.S. District Court judge rules that the use of Curtis's photo was willful infringement and orders General Dynamics to pay Curtis $60,108 in damages and about $80,000 in legal fees.
  • Photojournalists begin trials with Kodak's prototype professional digital camera - a Nikon F-3 modified with a 1.3-megabyte sensor (1280 x 1024 pixels). The camera, formally introduced in 1991 as the Kodak DCS, was as bulky as a boat anchor and no match for the quality of film, but a promising start nevertheless.
  • At CERN: Tim Berners-Lee (with R. Cailliau) invents the World Wide Web on his NeXT machine, rooting the idea in Ted Nelson's pioneering hypertext concept. Not content with the profundity of his invention, Berners-Lee also develops a "Web browser" on his NeXT machine. With Berners-Lee's browser, users can not only view Web pages, you can also design and edit them. Fortunately for high-priced designers everywhere, the "designing" part of the browser does not make it out of Berners-Lee's lab.
  • Kodak introduces its Photo CD, and positioned it as a "digital shoebox" for storing consumer images. But consumers never warmed up to viewing their snapshots on their TV sets. And Kodak kept Photo CD's innovative file format proprietary, so it was supplanted by other open formats such as JPEG.


1991
  • SLAC, the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in California, becomes the first Web server in the U.S.
  • America Online begins offering Internet access in addition to its proprietary content and newsgroup features.
  • Pentagon restrictions on press access during the Gulf War prompts widespread use of broadcast video frame-grabbing by newspapers. Lousy video pictures, it turns out, are better than no pictures at all. Remember the smart bomb targets, courtesy of the Pentagon?
  • Hasselblad's 205TCC advances TTL metering capability in the medium-format arena with a sophisticated zone-metering system. It's a critical success, but photographers are daunted by its high cost.
  • Aldus introduces PhotoStyler, an image manipulation program for the PC platform that briefly gave Adobe Photoshop "a run for its money."
  • Kodak opens its Center for Creative Imaging (CCI) in Camden, Maine. It has a short, three-year run, but it introduces hundreds of imaging professionals to the wonders of digital imaging.
  • Kodak begins shipping its Digital Camera System, the first to capture images in digital (rather than video) format. AP was quick to test the camera at Super Bowl XXVI in early 1992 to demonstrate the capabilities of digital capture and transmission to its members.
  • Apple announces QuickTime, a new protocol for real-time multimedia production. It would take years of improvements in computer hardware before movie editing on the desktop would be possible, but desktop multimedia started here.


1992
  • CERN releases a Web browser as freeware.
  • There are now 50 Web servers in the world.
  • Kodak introduces its DCS200 digital camera, comprising a Nikon 8008 with a Kodak digital back.
  • USA Today and AP cover U.S. political conventions for the first time with digital cameras.
  • Canon EOS-5 brings eye-controlled focusing to 35mm SLRs. The system uses an infrared beam to detect where in the viewfinder the user is looking, then selects the nearest autofocus sensor.
  • Nikonos RS, the world's first underwater 35mm SLR, dives in at the deep end: no special housing is needed, even at depths of up to 100 meters.
  • Leaf Systems unveils the DCB digital camera back, which captured images with a single pop and set the standards for professional image capture for years to come.
  • 3M strikes a deal with Allstock, The Stock Market, FPG and Tony Stone Worldwide to publish and distribute digital stock photo catalogues on CD. For agencies, the new technology means they can distribute more images at a lower cost than paper catalogues allow.


1993
  • Nikon introduces Coolscan, the first portable 35mm film scanner.
  • Live Picture announces the Functional Interpolation Transformation System (FITS), which made it possible to zoom in quickly on a small section of a digital image - right down to individual pixels - in order to manipulate it.
  • On-demand digital color printing begins when Indigo and Xeikon introduce systems based on Xerography that make it possible to produce short runs of printed materials economically.
  • Fuji Pictrography 3000 dye transfer printers produce high-quality digital prints with the look, feel and permanence of traditional photo prints. Interestingly enough, the dyes used are derived from Kodak's short-lived Ektaflex product of the late Seventies and were obtained by Fuji as part of a patent swap.
  • Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina, young programmers working for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, invent a point-and-click graphical browser for the Web, designed to run on UNIX machines. It is called Mosaic. Andreessen and his co-workers later release free versions of Mosaic for Macintosh and Windows PCs.
  • There are two million Internet hosts and 600 Web sites.
  • Newspapers and magazines begin launching online editions on America Online, CompuServe and Prodigy, before shifting gradually toward the Internet and the World Wide Web. The Raleigh News & Observer (called NandO online) sends a photographer with a direct connection to the Internet to cover college basketball.


1994
  • Marc Andreessen moves to California and hooks up with Jim Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics Inc. The two form a company that will eventually become Netscape.

  • Mamiya 7, worlds first 6x7 rangefinder camera, with interchangeable lenses.

  • Two graduate students form Yahoo, a directory whose purpose is to keep track of the Web sites springing up everywhere. The site is organized somewhat like a library's card catalogue system. Other directories of lesser quality soon appear in imitation.

  • President Clinton signs an amendment to the 1776 Copyright Act, implementing the "Uruguay Round General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade" (GATT). The most important change from this amendment is that it allows for the automatic restoration of the copyright in certain foreign works that fell into the public domain in the United States, as long as those works are still protected by the law of their source country.

  • While other 35mm SLR manufacturers are concentrating on autofocus systems, Olympus introduces the OM-3Ti, a manual camera that sets new standards for TTL metering with its highlight/shadow spot metering.

  • Paterson FX39 developer, formulated by British photographic expert Geoffrey Crawley, resurrects the shadow and highlight detail that many users believed had been lost in T-grain and other modern film emulsions.

  • Apple introduces the QuickTake 100, the first digital camera for consumers (that is to say, priced under $1,000) to produce images of reasonable quality (480 x 640 pixels).

  • Start-up Netscape Communication Corp. releases Netscape Navigator, a graphical browser interface that capitalizes on HTML. Before Netscape, the Internet was for computer "geeks." Navigator opened it up to the masses.

  • Dicomed/Better Light introduce a 4 x 5 digital scanning camera back, which captures images up to 6000 x 7520 pixels.

  • Epson introduces the Stylus 720 inkjet color printer. At roughly $500, Epson Stylus makes it possible to produce color images at home that looked like photographs. Color printers have since become a consumer commodity.


1995
  • Agfa launches Scala 200, the first practical black-and-white transparency film.
  • Yahoo and other large sites begin running ad banners. Smaller sites soon follow suit.
  • Sonny Bono Term Extension Act Copyright law is amended, extending protection of creative works from the life of the author plus 50 years to the life of the author plus 70 years. The extension came at the urging of some (including Disney, which was facing the expiration of its lucrative copyright on Mickey Mouse) who thought life plus 50 years wasn't enough.

  • The stock industry's mom-and-pop days are numbered. Oil fortune heir Mark Getty and investment banker Jonathan Klein form Getty Investment Holdings and buy into the stock photo business with the acquisition of Tony Stone Worldwide. They quickly go public and seek to dominate the stock business through acquisition and automation.

  • Pushed into public consciousness and acceptance by the "coolness" of Netscape's Navigator graphical browser, the Web mushrooms. There are now 6.5 million hosts and 100,000 Web sites.

  • Apple QTVR (QuickTime Virtual Reality) makes the creation of 360-degree panoramas possible. With the Internet and other digital media at their disposal, viewers can now wander around "inside" photographic images.
  • Fuji's GA645 becomes the first medium-format autofocus camera to hit the market.

  • Kodak offers Ektamax-RA, a panchromatic monochrome paper that can be used to make black-and-white prints from color negatives using ordinary color-print chemistry.
  • Hensel announces the Porty 1200, the first battery-powered generator flash system that works as part of an existing line of generator heads - including Hensel's ringflash.


1996
  • Netscape introduces JavaScript, a "simple" programming language that enables Web pages to become far more interactive.

  • Microsoft creates Internet Explorer. The browser wars begin. To compensate for its perceived (initial) inferiority to Netscape Navigator, Microsoft begins giving away Internet Explorer. Netscape has no choice but to follow suit, thus eroding its cash base and beginning a slow, painful decline.

  • Hakon Lie and others in the WWW Consortium invent Cascading Style Sheets, a technology that will allow designers to create more attractive, more readable and more "portable" Web sites. Neither Netscape nor Microsoft initially support this technology.

  • There are 12.8 million hosts and half a million Web sites.

  • The Nikon F5 arrives, featuring the first color-sensitive metering chip for a better automatic-exposure success rate than ever before. It also features faster film advance (eight frames per second), and Nikon simultaneously launches AF-S lenses, which are improved autofocus telephoto lenses that exploit the F-5's full potential.

  • Advanced Photo System (APS) is heralded as the answer to declining interest in consumer photography. Its attractions? Smaller cameras, drop-in film loading, user-selectable image formats and image captioning capability. Consumers obviously like it, as film sales head upward. Minolta's Vectis-S1 is the first APS SLR, but it is Canon's IXUS compact that is widely acclaimed as a design classic.

  • Broncolor Grafit-A flash generator packs offer control over not only output brightness but also color temperature and flash duration.


  • Film flexibility is the order of the year, with Kodak and Fuji both adding variable-speed emulsions to their ranges. Ektachrome E200 and Fujichrome RMS 100/1000 can both be used up to EI 1000 with very good results.

  • Omniview PhotoBubbles put viewers inside a spherical image by stitching together "back-to-back" images taken with a fisheye lens.




1997
  • Amazon.com begins selling books over the Web. Marketers everywhere wake up to the promise of "e-commerce."
  • Canon addresses the problem of camera shake by fitting its 75-300mm zoom (and eventually, other lenses) with an internal image stabilization system.


1998
  • There are over 300 million pages on the Web, with 1.5 million new ones daily. Internet traffic doubles every 100 days.
  • With much money at stake, the incompatibilities between Netscape's and Microsoft's browsers becomes intolerable. Glenn Davis, George Olsen and others form The Web Standards Project to try to pressure Netscape and Microsoft into supporting the same key standards, so the Web can develop rationally instead of fracturing.
  • Netscape goes "Open Source," unveiling the secrets of its code in the hopes that thousands of programmers around the world will join together to create a newer, better version of the Netscape browser. The project is named Mozilla.
  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act. President Clinton signs into law the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), an amendment to the 1976 Copyright Act that helps curb Internet copyright infringement. The DMCA allows a photographer, who becomes aware that his or her work is being displayed or sold over the Web without his consent, to contact the ISP and demand that the images be removed until a resolution is met. Additionally, the DMCA allows for an infringement action to be brought against an ISP if copyright management information (e.g. watermarks) is removed from a work without the copyright holder's permission.
  • Pentax is first to produce an autofocus medium-format SLR, the 645N.
  • Hasselblad, in association with Fuji, devises the X-Pan 35mm panoramic camera. Thanks to dual forward and backward winding mechanisms, the camera is able to take both conventional 35mm pictures and genuine panoramics with exactly the same film gap between every frame on the roll regardless of format.
  • Dynax 9 reaffirms Minolta's professional camera manufacturer status with the fastest film rewind (4.5s for a 135-36 roll), 100 percent viewfinder coverage, rapid predictive AF, 5.5fps film advance, 1/12000th of a second maximum shutter speed and 1/300th of a second flash synchronization.
  • Not to be outdone, Nikon announces the F100/N100, and Canon launches the EOS-3.
  • After a few dark years on the endangered species list, Apple revitalizes itself with iBook and the iMac - a line of easy-to-use and powerful machines with a funky new design.




1999
  • America Online, long despised by Internet connoisseurs as an inferior service for frightened "newbies," buys Netscape.
  • Netscape announces that its upcoming 5.0 browser, being built by the Mozilla group, will fully support the five key standards demanded by The Web Standards Project.
  • Microsoft announces that its upcoming 5.0 browser for the Mac will fully support two key Web standards and offer "90 percent support" for others.
  • It is the year of the e-commerce company, or "e-tailer."
  • The Department of Justice finds that Microsoft has unfairly used its power as a monopoly to destroy all competitors.
  • The U.S. Copyright Office increased certain fees effective July 1, 1999. These include the fees for basic registration, and renewal registration.
  • Tasini v. New York Times Corp. In another recent landmark decision, the Second Circuit ruled in Tasini v. New York Times that digital republications of printed works were not mere revisions, but were instead "new anthologies" or new collective works that require an author's permission. With digital media expanding so rapidly, the ruling was a major economic victory for authors, at least in theory. And while the case dealt directly with authors and publishers, it is also relevant to the photography industry in that photographs are also often republished digitally via the Internet, databases and CD-ROM.
  • New Bill Includes More Copyright Incentives. This amendment to the 1976 Copyright Act imposes stiffer penalties for both willful and nonwillful copyright infringement provided that the work infringed upon is registered promptly. The maximum penalty for willful infringement, for instance, was increased from $100,000 to $250,000. In order to fall within the new act's protection, the photographer must have registered the said work before the infringement occurred or within three months of its first publication.
  • Kelly v. Arriba Soft Corp. A California federal court rules that an Internet company that uses a so-called Web crawler to search the Web for images then displays them without permission in response to keyword searches is protected by the fair use doctrine of copyright law. The court took into account the general importance of search engines and the low resolution of the thumbnail images displayed. The court also stated that the defendant's process of crawling the Internet and searching for images could help victims of copyright infringement track down perpetrators. But many industry groups have spoken out about the ruling, stating that the fair use doctrine was incorrectly applied.
  • Classic camera designs are back in fashion. Konica shows a new rangefinder body to compete with the venerable Leica M6, and Voigtlander returns to the 35mm camera market with its Bessa-L body and two wide-angle lenses. More Bessa lenses follow, and a Voigtlander rangefinder body arrives the next year.
  • Ilford 3200 Delta (announced in 1998) appears on the market - taking the record for the highest true speed in a black-and-white film.

  • Netscape announces its upcoming Navigator 6.0 (bypassing 5.0, which never materialized). There are over a billion pages on the Web.

 



2000
  • What's next? An autofocus rangefinder? Shutter speeds of 1/20000th of a second? 24 fps motor drives? A camera that requires no human intervention, anyone?






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