Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Apple Quicktake 200 Digital Camera - 12 Years Too Early?

Not our best-looking effort, is it?

Apple made news recently by bolting a fairly low-quality video camera onto the iPod Nano.  Equipping the sleek Nano with a video camera is a fine idea, until you start watching the result. I wasn't expecting HD res, but VGA? I hasten to add that bunch of cliche-to-be animated overlay FX aren't a replacement for image quality. Given Apple's prior experience with digital imaging beyond webcams and iPhones, I was expecting something a bit better. All the way back in 1994 Apple launched the QuickTake line of digital cameras, one of the first consumer digital cameras ever. The market for conventional photography was 12 billion dollars that year, and Apple set out to stake their claim in the developing world of digital pictures.

This is before everything had a lower-case Here we see the QuickTake 200, the second flavor of Apple branded cameras. It resembles a typical 35mm film packin' point & shoot (It was designed & manufactured by camera giant Fuji). I guess you kids will snicker and call it "garganto-huge-ormous", but it's fairly typical of the time. It's got an LCD on the back, runs on four AA batteries, and all this power yields (now here's where you can start laughing again) a still image of 640 x 480 Mac-flavored pixels. This came in at the impressive price of $600 back around 1997.

Today that's a laughable resolution. It's too small to yield a quality print-out, but for inclusion in an electronic document (how about a Hypercard Stack, old-timers?) or used in video applications (the camera has a handy composite video output) it would have been a huge leap forward in the role of day-to-day photography. There are plenty of tasks where you might need a picture for only a short time, and it's wasteful to process and print a snap you're only going to throw away. Of course this would also have been the fastest way to get a real-world image into the computer realm for digital manipulation.

My family memories are a little blurry too...I found some photos on the camera's slim 2 meg Smartmedia card (which my computer couldn't access), and then I also took a few pics myself. While not great, I've seen far worse from a contemporary multi-megapixel camera phone. You had also better bring along some sunshine in your pocket since there's no flash or accessory shoe.

This line of Apple cameras ended with this model in 1997, being one of the first products Steve Jobs abolished when he returned to Apple. The QuickTake camera is another occasion when Apple was a bit early with an invention. Perhaps the mid 90's was still too soon for consumers to embrace the start of a paradigm shift in imaging technology. I don't imagine discarding Quicktake had any lingering effects (except to become desirable collectibles), especially given Apple's record with consumer products over the past decade. Even new consumer products that shoot video at... ahem... 640 x 480.  Let's refer to that mode instead as "Quicktake heritage resolution".

Apple's Quicktake 100 camera
The floppy drive that changed the world
Apple's brief moment of clarity


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