History and Evolution of Digital Imaging

History and Evolution of Digital Imaging

Digital imaging is a composite field involving photography and computing in the development of high quality image production and storage. Advancements in computing led to the transformation of photography in a bid to eliminate the challenges of the old cameras that applied films. Digital imaging introduced a new aspect to the application of photography with regard to production of images that correspond to various analytical works. The elimination of operation mishaps associated with film cameras defines the appropriateness of the technology that has become an important application in a number of fields.

Digital imaging can be traced back from the inception of the image capturing form video recording and for television images in 1951 when the first Vide Tape Recorder (VTR) was discovered. The fundamental change from earlier images was in the storage of the images captured, which saw the introduction of magnetic devices such as tapes (Galer and Horvat, 2005). In 1956, John Mullins of Crosby laboratories perfected the VTR technology in digital imaging. Further enhancements included the use of Charge Coupled Device (CCD) to advance sensing features for image formation such as colors. Russell Kirsch became the fist photographer to produce a digital image by use of his computer by use of a scanned image of his son. However, cameras still used films at that time and digital images were produced through scanned images from film products. This happened in 1969 when the Bell Labs incorporated the CCD technology to improve sensory elements of cameras under the leadership of George Smith and Willard Boyle. Camera world was accelerating towards incorporation into the computer for the exceptional accuracy and storage requirements. Solid state digital cameras producing video images were introduced in 1970 by the same researchers and were later used to produce sharp television images in 1975.

Sony Corporation made the first complete digital imaging contribution in 1981 by producing the famous Mavica (Magnetic Video Camera) which was characterized by the magnetic storage of images in still video storage device in form of a floppy disc. The floppy disc used was a two-inch device that had capacity to store up to 50 digital images. Five years later, Kodak was on board by contributing a camera sensor that could enable manipulation of the image after recording to increase their pixel quality. Successive inventions in the years 1990 and 1991 saw Kodak develop the Photo CD and the Nikon F-3 with astounding sensor capacity. Image manipulation was further enabled by inventions such as Apple Quick Take 100 Camera, Kodak DC40, Casio QV-11 and Cyber Shot Digital Still Camera in the mid 1990s by the easy linkage with which the images could be adjusted on the computer. Later, Kinko’s and Microsoft contribution was later going to advance the success attained that far, which prompted entry of competition from IBM and Hewlett Packard for high definition camera quality products (Galer and Horvat, 2005)..

Major Milestones Inside Health Care

The most important aspect of photography that digital imaging brought to the analytical world is the capacity to enhance image features through various computer manipulations of an image to deliver useful results in different disciplines. Among the most important fields where such application has been made is in healthcare. Medical imaging techniques such as magneto/electroecephalography have been developed to assist in diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions such as head injuries and conditions and electrocardiography for heart conditions. Other medical applications that apply imaging techniques include radiography, magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear medicine, breast thermography, elastography, optoacoustic imaging, ophthalmology, tomography and ultrasound imaging among others.

Major Milestones Outside Health Care

There are several other applications of digital imaging techniques used outside the field of heath care due to its vast adjustability. Industrial imaging techniques perhaps have the widest spectrum of applications based on the variable nature of the needs of image uses. Among the most widely applicable digital imaging techniques and uses in the industrial sector is the digital imaging x-ray that is used in scene monitor device, mechanical platform and x-ray protective device in various image analysis applications. Computer vision applications have enabled the computer to process images for a wide variety of processes used in industrial automations. Several disciplines such as engineering and optics are bought together in the formulation of the appropriate industrial application. Control and instrumentation needs inside industries such as robotics require some vision which uses digital image technology. Other disciplines and fields have adopted the digital imaging techniques to resolve various needs which include crime scene, portrait photography, fashion photography, documentary photography, printing technology, lighting refining, display systems and sensors.


Galer, M. & Horvat, L. (2005) Digital imaging: essential skills. Burlington, MA: Elsevier

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