Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Camera - A Brief Early History of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV)'s Primary Component (BCE-1800s)*

Advancements in camera technology include the invention of the CCTV.
Closed-circuit television or CCTV has been around for decades. Early users of this technology include law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom (UK), as well as in the United States (US). However, the link between CCTV and crime control has its roots in the history of camera technology in various formats, particularly photography, motion pictures (broadcast television and film), and multimedia.

The camera – A short chronicle and early commercialization

Video surveillance evolved from a series of developments. During the BCE (Before Common Era) and early CE (Common Era) periods, the Chinese (Mozi and Shen Kuo), the Arabs (Abu Yusuf Ya’qub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi and Abu Ali Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haitham [a.k.a. Alhazen]), and the Greeks (Aristotle and Euclid) documented optic-related experiments. These accounts involve a theory of vision and descriptions of the camera obscura (dark room).

Advancements were further noted from 1500s to 1800s. These include Daniello Barbaro’s camera lens in 1568, Johanns Sturm’s reflex mirror in 1676, Johann Zahn’s portable design in 1685, and Johann Heinrich Schultz’s darkened silver nitrate in 1724.

Moreover, Jons Berzeliuz discovered selenium and its photoelectricity in 1817, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce’s made the first permanent picture in 1822, and Hercules Florence’s conducted a “photographie” process in 1832. William Henry Fox Talbot, Louis Daguerre, John Herschel, and Janex Puhar, among others also worked on improving the camera from 1839 to1841.

The 1840s saw photography—via the use of cameras—as a business venture. It was also during this period until the mid-1850s when photography’s potential role in containing criminals was discovered.

In the 1860s, Thomas Sutton created a single-lens reflex camera (SLR). During the 1870s-1880s, George Eastman introduced Kodak cameras to the market and John Corbutt invented photographic film. Around this time as well, George Carey laid the possibility of a television system using an electricity-run selenium camera and Thomas Edison earned the patent for the kineograph, his motion picture camera. 

The rise of the hidden camera

Around mid-1880s, the camera as a covert technology advanced. Publications on photography like The Photographic News, The Photographic Journal, and The Amateur Photographer published stories about how the camera was used to document historical events.

Government spies used hidden cameras to take images of an enemy's military forts in times of war. Journalists also used these devices to record the struggle for civil rights. Likewise, law enforcers and prison officials observed inmates with these tools. The cameras appeared like boxes, books, hats, rifles, coats, dolls, and other objects. By the 1890s, a prototype of CCTV was manufactured to monitor the construction of a sewerage system in Newton, Massachussetts. 

*Information on this post is based on various online sources.

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