The word photography derives from the Greek words 'fos' - meaning light and 'grafo' - to write. The word was popularized by Sir John Herschel in 1839.
Modern photography began in the 1820s with the first permanent photographs.
Photography is the result of combining several technical discoveries. Long before the first photographs were made, Chinese philosopher Mo Ti and Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Euclid described a pinhole camera in the 5th and 4th centuries B.C.E, Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) (965–1040) studied the camera obscura and pinhole camera, Albertus Magnus (1193/1206-1280) discovered silver nitrate, and Georges Fabricius (1516-1571) discovered silver chloride.
Daniel Barbaro described a diaphragm in 1568. Wilhelm Homberg described how light darkened some chemicals (photochemical effect) in 1694.
For years images have been projected onto surfaces.
According to the Hockney–Falco thesis as argued by artist David Hockney, some artists used the camera obscura and camera lucida to trace scenes as early as the 16th century. However, this theory is heavily disputed by today's contemporary realist artists who are able to create high levels of realism without optical aids.
These early cameras did not record an image, but only projected images from an opening in the wall of a darkened room onto a surface, turning the room into a large pinhole camera. The phrase camera obscura literally means dark chamber. While this early prototype of today's modern camera may have had modest usage in its time, it was an important step in the evolution of the invention.
A camera obscura box used for drawing images
"Boulevard du Temple", taken by Louis Daguerre in late 1838 or early 1839, was the first-ever photograph of a person. It is an image of a busy street, but because exposure time was over ten minutes, the city traffic was moving too much to appear. The exception is a man in the bottom left corner, who stood still getting his boots polished long enough to show up in the picture.
Development of chemical photography
The unhardened material may then be washed away and the metal plate polished, rendering a negative image which then may be coated with ink and impressed upon paper, producing a print.
In 1833 Niépce died of a stroke, leaving his notes to Daguerre. While he had no scientific background, Daguerre made two pivotal contributions to the process. He discovered that exposing the silver first to iodine vapour before exposure to light, and then to mercury fumes after the photograph was taken, could form a latent image. Bathing the plate in a salt bath then fixes the image.
On January 7, 1839 Daguerre announced that he had invented a process using silver on a copper plate called the daguerreotype. The French government bought the patent and immediately made it public domain.
After reading about Daguerre's invention, Fox Talbot worked on perfecting his own process; in 1839 he acquired a key improvement, an effective fixer, from John Herschel, the astronomer, who had previously showed that hyposulfite of soda (also known as hypo, or now sodium thiosulfate) would dissolve silver salts. Later that year, Herschel made the first glass negative.
Unlike a daguerreotype, a calotype negative could be used to reproduce positive prints, like most chemical films do today. Talbot patented this process, which greatly limited its adoption. He spent the rest of his life in lawsuits defending the patent until he gave up on photography.
Later George Eastman refined Talbot's process, which is the basic technology used by chemical film cameras today. Hippolyte Bayard had also developed a method of photography but delayed announcing it, and so was not recognized as its inventor.
Robert Cornelius, self-portrait, Oct. or Nov. 1839, approximate quarter plate daguerreotype. The back reads, "The first light picture ever taken." This self-portrait is the first photographic portrait image of a human ever produced.
Mid 19th century "Brady stand" photo model's armrest table, meant to keep portrait models more still during long exposure times (studio equipment nicknamed after the famed US photographer, Mathew Brady).
In 1839, John Herschel made the first glass negative, but his process was difficult to reproduce.
In 1847, Niépce St. Victor published his invention of a process for making glass plates with an albumene mulsion; the Langenheim brothers of Philadelphia and John Whipple of Boston also invented workable negative-on-glass processes in the mid 1840s.
Berkeley discovered that with his own addition of sulfite, to absorb the sulfur dioxide given off by the chemical dithionite in the developer, that dithionite was not required in the developing process. In 1881 he published his discovery.
Berkeley's formula contained pyrogallol, sulfite and citric acid. Ammonia was added just before use to make the formula alkaline. The new formula was sold by the Platinotype Company in London as Sulpho-Pyrogallol Developer.
Nineteenth-century experimentation with photographic processes frequently became proprietary.
The German-born, New Orleans photographer Theodore Lilienthal successfully sought legal redress in an 1881 infringement case involving his "Lambert Process" in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
The daguerreotype proved popular in responding to the demand for portraiture emerging from the middle classes during the Industrial Revolution. This demand, that could not be met in volume and in cost by oil painting, added to the push for the development of photography.
In 1847, Count Sergei Lvovich Levitsky designed a bellows camera which significantly improved the process of focusing. This adaptation influenced the design of cameras for decades and is still found in use today in some professional cameras.
While in Paris, Levitsky would become the first to introduce interchangeable decorative backgrounds in his photos, as well as the retouching of negatives to reduce or eliminate technical deficiencies.
Levitsky was also the first photographer to portray a photo of a person in different poses and even in different clothes (for example, the subject plays the piano and listens to himself).
By 1849, images captured by Levitsky on a mission to the Caucasus, were exhibited by the famous Parisian optician Chevalier at the Paris Exposition of the Second Republic as an advertisement of their lenses. These photos would receive the Exposition's gold medal; the first time a prize of its kind had ever been awarded to a photograph.
That same year in 1849 in his St. Petersburg, Russia studio Levitsky would first propose the idea to artificially light subjects in a studio setting using electric lighting along with daylight.
He would say of its use, "as far as I know this application of electric light has never been tried; it is something new, which will be accepted by photographers because of its simplicity and practicality".
In 1851, at an exhibition in Paris, Levitsky would win the first ever gold medal awarded for a portrait photograph.
In America, by 1851 a broadside by daguerreotypist Augustus Washington were advertising prices ranging from 50 cents to $10. However, daguerreotypes were fragile and difficult to copy. Photographers encouraged chemists to refine the process of making many copies cheaply, which eventually led them back to Talbot's process.
Ultimately, the modern photographic process came about from a series of refinements and improvements in the first 20 years.
In 1884 George Eastman, of Rochester, New York, developed dry gel on paper, or film, to replace the photographic plate so that a photographer no longer needed to carry boxes of plates and toxic chemicals around.
In July 1888 Eastman's Kodak camera went on the market with the slogan "You press the button, we do the rest". Now anyone could take a photograph and leave the complex parts of the process to others, and photography became available for the mass-market in 1901 with the introduction of the Kodak Brownie.
In the twentieth century, photography developed rapidly as a commercial service. End-user supplies of photographic equipment accounted for only about 20 percent of industry revenue.
The first digitally scanned photograph was produced in 1957. The digital scanning process was invented by Russell Kirsch, a computer pioneer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He developed the system capable of feeding a camera's images into a computer.
His first fed image was that of his son, Walden Kirsch. The photo was set at 176x176 pixels. 
Although color photography was explored throughout the 19th century, initial experiments in color resulted in projected temporary images, rather than permanent color images. Moreover until the 1870s the emulsions available were not sensitive to red or green light.
Several patentable methods for producing images (by either additive or subtractive methods, see below) were devised from 1862 on by two French inventors (working independently), Louis Ducos du Hauron and Charles Cros. Practical methods to sensitize silver halide film to green and then orange light were discovered in 1873 and 1884 by Hermann W. Vogel, but full sensitivity to red light was not achieved until the early years of the 20th century.
The first fully practical color plate, Autochrome, did not reach the market until 1907.
It was based on a screen-plate method, the screen (of filters) being made using dyed dots of potato starch. The screen lets filtered red, green or blue light through each grain to a photographic emulsion in contact with it. The plate is then developed to a negative, and reversed to a positive, which when viewed through the screen restores colors approximating the original.
Other systems of color photography included that used by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, which involved three separate monochrome exposures ('separation negatives') of a still scene through red, green, and blue filters.
These required a special machine to display, but the results are impressive even by modern standards. His collection of glass plates was purchased from his heirs by the Library of Congress in 1948, and is now available in digital images.
Development of digital photography
The charge-coupled device (CCD) was invented in 1969 by Willard Boyle and George E. Smith at AT&T Bell Labs. The lab was working on the Picturephone and on the development of semiconductor bubble memory. Merging these two initiatives, Boyle and Smith conceived of the design of what they termed 'Charge "Bubble" Devices'. The essence of the design was the ability to transfer charge along the surface of a semiconductor.
- 1973 - Fairchild Semiconductor releases the first large image forming CCD chip; 100 rows and 100 columns.
- 1975 - Bryce Bayer of Kodak develops the Bayer filter mosaic pattern for CCD color image sensors
- 1986 - Kodak scientists develop the world's first megapixel sensor.
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- ^ http://listverse.com/2009/01/13/top-10-incredible-early-firsts-in-photography/
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- The Photo History Timeline Collection
- A history of photography from its beginnings till the 1920s, by Dr. Robert Leggat
- History of photography, by J. Monge-Najera, University of Costa Rica
- The First Photograph at The University of Texas at Austin
The universal history of photography lists four Hungarian artists, without whom not a single work of photographic history could be complete. Works by André Kertész [Kertész Andor] (1894–1985), Moholy–Nagy László (1895–1946), Brassaï [Halász Gyula] (1899–1984) and Robert Capa [Friedmann Endre Ernő] (1912–1954) provide guarantees for every exhibition space. Their pictures are benchmarking icons of photography between the two World Wars.