When Was The First Camera Phone Invented?

When it comes to answering this question, people often find a number of different answers, some giving credit to major electronics companies and some giving credit to a single, creative individual who wanted to record a personal milestone in his life.

Both of these stories contain some truth, so a combination of the two might provide the most accurate answer.

According to some records, in 1994 the camera company now widely known as Olympus manufactured a camera/cell phone product. While the process was slow compared to camera phones developed a few years later, the Olympus product did provide for moving images along both analog lines and digital lines.

Olympus introduced an upgrade of this phone/camera about a year later, at the same time that Sharp, another major electronics company, made some provision for image recording on a hand-held communications device.

first-camera-phone-inventedRecent history also shows that a man named Kahn rigged up a device that had separate parts, so his efforts couldn’t be called a true camera phone. However, he did invent an item that actually linked a cell phone to a camera/recording piece. Legend has it that Kahn wanted to record the birth of his child. Apparently there is some truth to this story.

Some observers of the electronics trade give credit to the company Kyocera for actually developing a true camera phone at about the turn of the new century, with Sharp following suit in 2000.

When considered as a single device that is capable of reliable voice communication (the phone) and is also capable of recording and transmitting images reliably, many people would give credit to the Kahn invention. Others stop short of this and point to Sharp as the true “inventor” of the camera phone.

One of the factors these people use in giving Sharp credit is the fact that this company’s product was available commercially. That makes it, in essence, the first camera phone in a single unit that the man on the street could purchase and use. In about three years (approximately 2003) there were millions of users of the Sharp camera phone.

The earliest efforts at recording images on a phone-based unit produced some low-quality photos. These first items were often one of a kind and probably couldn’t have been purchased from the inventor anyway. But with the development of camera phones by Kyocera and Sharp, the prices began to be reasonable for a certain segment of society.

Now, quality camera phones are a regular part of everyday life for many. Prices may range from $100 to $600, depending on what type of phone features are included and how good the picture-taking capability is.

In the last couple of years, camera phones have become quite small, without sacrificing the quality of voice communications or the quality of photos recorded and transmitted. This was certainly not the case with the first hybrid set up by Kahn. While Sharp, Kyocera and other companies began with smaller products, the miniaturization of electronics has brought camera phones from an inventor’s idea to a common tool in a matter of a few years.

Category: Inventions, Technology

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