Who invented the camera, and when?

Daguerreotype photography was invented by the French photographic pioneer Louis Daguerre (1789-1851) and was made public in 1839. In the Daguerreotype process a picture made on a silver surface sensitized with iodine was developed by exposure to mercury vapour. Daguerre granted the right to make and sell daguerreotype cameras to a relative of his, Alphonse Giroux of Paris. Photography thus became available to the general public in 1839 and this was the first commercially available camera, which produced the first distinctive photographic positives. It took pictures 8.5 x 6.5 inches (21.6cm x 16.5cm), a size which became known as whole-plate when later cameras were built to take photographs a fraction of the size. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
The original Daguerrotype camera, from 1839 (Image credit: Science & Society Picture Library / Getty Images)

The invention of the camera is usually attributed to Frenchman Louis Daguerre - who was first to announce his invention in 1839, and gave his name to the first popular form of photograph – the Daguerreotype.

The invention of the Daguerreotype was officially announced by François Arago, secretary of the French Academy of Sciences on January 07 1839. Full details were revealed on 18 August that year. The news caused great public excitement.

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David Clark

David Clark is a photography journalist and author, and was features writer on Amateur Photographer for nine years. He has met and interviewed many of the world's most iconic photographers and is the author of Photography in 100 Words: Exploring the Art of Photography with Fifty of its Greatest Masters.

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