Adetailed timeline of developments in photography technology can be found in the Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th Edition. Here I discuss a few of the more spectacular advances. It is difficult to pinpoint the beginning of “electronic photography.” Photographs were “scanned” and transmitted over wire in the 19th century, and there were digitized images (Bartlane System) and radiophotograph fax machines in the 1920s. Xerography appeared in 1938, and Russell Kirsch scanned a photograph of his baby son into a computer in 1957. (Life honored Kirsch’s image in 2003 as one of the “100 photographs that changed the world.”)

The most important advance for digital photography, ...

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