A lot of minds have been inspired by space telescopes such as the Hubble and cameras by Apollo. This is because of the impressive views of space provided by these devices. Though the telescopes have helped NASA and the world at large to get pictures of Mars and other galaxy bodies, more so, the technology used in these devices has inspired the creation of some of the most popular phone cameras we have on the market today.
The Real Genesis
Kodak is known to be the first company to ever build a digital camera in 1975. What most people do not know is that the concept of a digital camera was first drawn in the 1960s in Pasadena, California, by an engineer from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA. Eugene Lally had been researching ways to use mosaic photo-sensors to make light signals appear in digital forms for a long time. The signals could be used in capturing still images.
It took NASA’s engineers decades to find ways of coming up with small, lightweight photo sensors that had the tolerance needed for the unpleasant environmental conditions in space. In 1965, Frederic Billingsley published the word, pixel, meaning, picture elements which are photo-detectors in an image sensor. This was the first time that the name was announced.
Eric Fossum led a team of NASA researchers in the 1990s, on the research of ways to improve different types of image sensors known as CMOS (Complementary Metal-oxide Semiconductor). The sensors would miniaturise cameras on interplanetary spacecraft, yet still, maintain the high quality in images.
CMOS sensors were produced in the same process as microcomputers. Still, their cost of production was way lower than the image sensors used today. These were the devices that inspired the creation of smaller and more cost-effective cameras for mobile phones.