Consumer Products award
Steve Sasson, a Kodak electrical engineer, built the world’s first digital camera in 1975, though it was many years before this type of camera made it to market and became the huge consumer hit that it is today. Texas Instruments designed a filmless analog camera three years earlier, but Sasson was the first to create a filmless digital camera.
Sasson’s original prototype weighed eight pounds, recorded black and white images to a cassette tape, had a resolution of 0.01 megapixel and took 23 seconds to capture its first image. The prototype camera was a technical exercise, not intended for production. In 1978, Sasson was issued a U.S. patent for the digital camera.
Since the mid-1970s, Kodak has invented several solid-state image sensors that convert light to digital pictures for professional and home consumer use. In 1986, Kodak scientists invented the world's first megapixel sensor, capable of recording 1.4 million pixels that could produce a 5x7-inch digital photo-quality print.
The first digital cameras for the consumer market that worked with a home computer via a serial cable were the Apple QuickTake 100 camera (February 17, 1994), the Kodak DC40 camera (March 28, 1995), the Casio QV-11 (with LCD monitor, late 1995), and Sony's Cyber-Shot Digital Still Camera (1996).
There are hundreds of different patents on digital cameras. Indeed, Kodak and Sony got into one of the most widely fought battles over the issue when Kodak sued Sony in 2004 over 10 digital camera-related patents issued between 1987 and 2003 to Kodak. The two companies reached a settlement in January of 2007, giving both companies access to the others’ digital camera-related patents.
Kodak lost its number one position in the US digital camera market share in 2006. It’s now No. 3 in the US with a 13% market share, trailing Canon at 21 percent and Sony at 16 percent. Digital camera sales in 2007 grew 24 percent to 131 million units, according to researcher IDC. The value of digital camera sales in 2007 was $6.6 billion, according to the NPD Group.
Sasson joined Eastman Kodak Co. in 1973 as an electrical engineer. In 2004, he moved to the Corporate Commercial Affairs organization within Kodak, where he served as the project manager for major intellectual property litigation. He presently works in the Intellectual Property Transactions group at Kodak. In 2007, Sasson was inducted into the Consumer Electronics Association’s CE Hall of Fame. In 2008, he was awarded Germany's highest honor for imaging, the Cultural Award, from the German Photographic Society (DGPh) at a ceremony in Cologne.