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Today's 7 and 8MP (megapixel) ultra-compacts – some almost as small as a credit card – are a far cry from the first invented digital camera.
Back in 1975, newly hired Eastman Kodak engineer, Steven Sasson, was tasked with making use of a new kind of imager: the CCD (charge coupled device). Sasson's answer was as big as a toaster and built from scavenged components, but would eventually change the world.
The camera's .01MP black and white images weren't much to look at, but someone at Eastman Kodak saw the potential, because Kodak has, over the years, been granted more than 1,000 patents related to digital imaging.
In spite of the invention, it wasn't Kodak that marketed the first filmless camera to consumers. Instead, it was Sony, whose TV-technology-based Mavica was introduced in 1981. It was nearly another 20 years before Eastman Kodak entered the consumer digital camera market.