Friday Fact – Don’t Stick to Old, Build New

Did you know, the first ever the Digital camera was invented 44 years ago?

A 24 year old engineer, invented the process that allows us to take pictures from our phones, share those images around the world in seconds. The young engineer was hired 2 years before the invention of the digital camera. He was assigned a seemingly unimportant task — to see whether there was any practical use for a charged coupled device (C.C.D.), which was invented a few years earlier.

He quickly ordered a couple of C.C.D. and set out to evaluate the device, which consisted of a sensor that took an incoming two dimensional light pattern and converted it into an electrical signal. He wanted to capture an image with it, but the C.C.D. couldn’t hold it. Hence to store the images, he used the process of digitalization. Turning the electronic pulses into numbers. But that too created a problem of storing it into RAM and then getting it onto digital magnetic tape.

The camera itself was a historic accomplishment but he needed to invent a system for playback that would take information from the cassette tape and turn it into the digital image which can be seen on your television. It was not a regular camera of that era. It was a digital revolution in the era of photography. The camera and the playback system both were the beginning of the digital photography era. But at Kodak, the digital revolution did not come easily.

After inventing this, he called out for a conference involving executives from the marketing, technical and business departments and then to their heads and to their bosses. He demonstrated the process. It took 50 milliseconds to capture the image but 23 seconds to record it to the tape. After 30 seconds the image would be on the screen in black & white format. Although the quality was not that good but the camera was able to compete the consumer market against 110 film and 135 film cameras.

But the answer from the team was that no one would wish to see a digital image on the television set because they had been using print copies since 100 years and no one ever complained about it. Print copies were very inexpensive, so why would anyone want to look at their picture on a television set? Kodak had a virtual monopoly on the United States photography market and made money on every step of the photographic process this was the main reason they were resistant to accept the invention. If it was a kids birthday party it would always be Kodak Instamatic, Kodak film and Kodak flash cubes. People would even get them processed either at the corner drugstore or mail the film to Kodak and get back prints made with Kodak chemistry on Kodak paper.

When the engineer was asked that when digital photography could compete, he used Moore’s Law, which is used to predict how fast digital technology advances. And he said that he would need two million pixels to compete against 110 negative color film. Hence, he estimated 15 to 20 years. Kodak offered its first consumer camera 18 years later. The first digital camera of the era was patented in 1978 with the name the electronic still camera. But he was not allowed to publicly talk about it or show his prototype to anyone outside Kodak.

In 1989, he and his colleague created the first modern digital single-lens reflex (S.L.R.) camera. But the marketing department did not show enough interest thinking it would steal the company’s film sales. Finally, in 2007 the Kodak began promoting and selling the Digital camera as well the film. And the more digital camera they were selling, the more they were losing on the films. Even then they were not ready to accept the change and embrace it with the change of generation. Even then they wanted to have their films to work more than the digital camera. At the end today we all know the scenario in the world of photography. It is transformed to digital.

Hence, it is necessary to adapt and embrace change as per the need of the time. You cannot stick to the old. If you do, you lose the race. Team Faber infinite has been helping all its client with Organisational Transformation where we help them accept and embrace the change as per the need of the market. Organizations around you have started evolving, have you?

Written & Compiled by Faber Priyal & Faber Mayuri

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