An excerpt from our Films & Events publication
The object above is the Eastman Kodak Company Tactical Camera. Designed in 1989, this was donated to us by Exelis Inc. in Rochester, NY.
This piece is most notable for being the earliest extant digital single-lens reflex camera. Eastman Kodak produced its first megapixel imaging sensor in the mid–1980s.
James McGarvey, a company engineer, designed and built the imaging firmware and storage system for the M1 sensor, which was installed in a Canon F1 film camera, making it the world’s first digital single-lens reflex camera. Known as the Electro-Optic (E-O) Camera, it was built for the U.S. government in 1988 for covert use. The Tactical Camera evolved from the E-O project the next year and was a more robust system used to demonstrate the company’s digital technology to potential industrial customers.
Our Technology Curator Todd Gustavson on the acquisition, “The Tactical Camera may well be the most important object acquired during my 24 years at Eastman House. There is nothing like it in the collection. Not only is it is the oldest digital camera in the collection, but more importantly, it is one of only two ever made, and it is from these models that all digital cameras were derived.”
For more information, visit McGarvey’s website.
Lisa Kribs-LaPierre is the former Manager of Online Engagement at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.