Who invented the First Video Camera? (Invention Timeline Explained)

These days, there are so many impressive modern gadgets that it’s easy to take most of them for granted. For example, not too many people give thought to the invention and history of the very first video camera. Yet, the concept of film and videos is so ingrained into modern society that it’s hard to imagine a time without it.

That said, films haven’t been around very long. It isn’t even 150 years old! Here’s a quick look into the invention of the video camera and its evolution over the years.

Who invented the first video camera?

Louis LePrince invented the very first video camera. The oldest surviving video recording was taken with this camera, and there’s quite the history behind it.

The first video camera’s key contributors (and evolution)

  • Louis LePrince
    Credited for inventing the first video camera

    Louis LePrince’s relationship with the first video camera was a tumultuous one. Unfortunately, he disappeared before he could patent his device, and the next person on the list is the culprit.

  • Thomas Edison
    Took the credit for the first video and movie camera

    Thomas Edison was a well-known fraud and businessman who liked to play the innovative inventor. From Tesla to LePrince, Edison always found a way to cheat and steal his way into the history books.

  • Kennedy Dickson
    Inventor of the first movie camera

    Kennedy Dickson worked for Thomas Edison, and so his boss took the credit for the camera. You can’t really expect much else from Thomas Edison.

  • John Logie Baird
    Inventor of the modern video camera

    John Logie Baird invented the first modern video camera, which was used for electronic motion picture acquisition. 

When was the first video camera invented?

The very first video camera was invented in 1888, alongside the very first video or film, lasting approximately two seconds.

A brief history of the first video camera

To talk about the modern video camera as we know it, it’s crucial to first talk about the creation of the movie camera. After all, they both take the concept of moving pictures, and the only difference is where the moving pictures go. The invention of the first video camera is fascinating, as we have the advantage of insight. At the time, the people thought Thomas Edison to be behind the first movie camera and everything it entailed. Fortunately, Thomas Edison was posthumously ousted for the fraud he was, and we can see the distinction going to Louis LePrince.

Unfortunately, before he had the chance to patent his creation, which he used to film the very first video, Louis LePrince disappeared. There was some evidence to support that Thomas Edison had Louis LePrince killed.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the last time we would hear of Edison. Kennedy Dickson would invent the first movie camera, and since Edison was his boss, he took all the credit. It seemed like Edison would stoop as low as he possibly could to corner the film market.

In the early 1900s, John Logie Baird invented the first modern video camera. It’s strange to call something from the early 1900s modern, but it was modern in the sense that it acted more like a video camera than a movie camera. However, it wouldn’t be until the 1970s that the video camera would hit its stride alongside the release of the home video system.

The video camera timeline

  1. 1888
    The creation of the first video camera and the first film recorded

    Louis LePrince would make history when he created the first video camera to catch the first video. Unfortunately, Thomas Edison had a habit of making things worse for everyone else by taking the credit.

  2. 1892
    The first movie camera

    Edison and his team would build a movie studio that made full use of the first movie camera — a device he took full credit for despite being built by one of his staff.

  3. Early 1900s
    John Logie Baird invented the modern video camera

    It’s kind of strange to think that the modern video camera as we know it was invented in the early 1900s. However, the video camera experienced a meteoric rise due to how many people wanted to see where it would go.

  4. 1970s
    Development of the home video system

    The video camera didn’t quite catch on to the masses until the introduction of the home video system in the 70s.

Where was the video camera invented?

The first video camera was made in France. Louis LePrince would never make it to America to have it patented as he planned.

The importance of the video camera

  • An amazing and stunning realization

    It must’ve come as quite a shock for the people of the late 1800s to experience something as amazing as a film. Moving pictures seemed like the realm of fantasy, but people like Louis LePrince (not Thomas Edison) made it a reality.

  • Breaking open the film industry

    The creation of the video camera broke open the film industry and drove all sorts of innovators to blaze a trail. The amazing thing is that the film industry is less than 150 years old, yet it feels like they’ve accomplished so much.

  • A look into the deep past

    The very first film was about two seconds long, filmed in 1888. You can look up the video on the Internet and find it easily. It’s amazing how something like that can exist from a time long, long gone.

  • Only the beginning

    The film industry is still relatively young as far as inventions and industries go. Many other industries go thousands of years into the past, which means there’s so much more to find out with videos and movies. New experiences are waiting to be discovered.

The video camera by the numbers

  • 35The Kinetoscope and Kinetograph, early movie cameras, used 35mm celluloid film, which is still used today as far as movies go.
  • 40The film in the old Kinetoscope traveled at about 40 frames per second.
  • 1980The 1980s saw the rise of saving movie data in a digital format, allowing the digital era of videos to begin.
  • 2003The year 2003 saw the release of the very first 4k camera. Since then, the video camera has evolved tremendously, allowing for even more impressive feats. It’s gotten to the point where smartphones have built-in video cameras that would’ve been mind-blowing for people as late as the early 2010s.

Five facts about the video camera

  • The first digital cameras

    It’s only natural that humankind would think to use a mind-blowing invention for military and security purposes. The first digital cameras of the 80s were used primarily for reconnaissance.

  • Smaller and smaller

    There was a time when high-quality cameras were quite huge and unwieldy. People have a habit of building smaller and more compact things, which can be said about video cameras. At this point, everyone has a top-quality video camera installed in their phone, something that can easily fit in the palm of their hand.

  • Broader and broader horizons

    The film industry is relatively young as far as modern inventions go. It’s the reason why there’s still so much potential for videos and films to evolve. Perhaps it might take strides into the realm of virtual and augmented reality.

  • Prophetic writing

    Most people likely already know about George Orwell’s 1984, a book about video surveillance taken to a frightening level. The thing about that book is that it was written in 1943, long before the existence of video surveillance.

  • The Aeroscope

    The Aeroscope, released in 1909, was the first hand-held film camera to be released. It allowed the cameraman to hold the camera while simultaneously adjusting its focus.

FAQ about the video camera

  • What’s so special about the video camera?

    The uniqueness of the video camera, and the film industry as a whole, is how quickly the technology has progressed over the years. People saw so much potential in films and videos, from military reconnaissance to the creation of movies, that its evolution was expedited. The tech hasn’t stopped growing, which means you’re likely to see quite a few more mind-blowing innovations within the coming years.

  • What was the first music video?

    The very first music video was created in 1894. It was a song titled, “The Little Lost Child” set to a slide show. It was known at the time as an illustrated song. Were you expecting the first music video to be so old? People were incredibly innovative back then!

  • What was the very first movie ever recorded?

    Called the Roundhay Garden Scene, Louis LePrince recorded it to showcase the capabilities of his innovative device. While it might be known as the first movie ever recorded, it was also only 2.11 seconds long. It’s pretty short, but it’s long enough to provide a sneak peek at what things were like in 1888.

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