The First 1 Megapixel Digital Camera

The First 1 Megapixel Digital Camera


Kodak's Microelectronics Technology Division (MTD) had announced the first megapixel CCD in 1986.

1987 - First Megapixel Digital Camera. Videk, a Kodak venture company, began selling the Megaplus, the world's first megapixel camera using Kodak's 1.4 million pixels CCD.

Kodak had developed the world's first megapixel CCD imager, the M1. A US Government customer contracted with the Federal Systems Division (FSD) to incorporate the M1 into a standard 35 mm camera body to create the first megapixel portable digital camera, truly the prototype of the digital camera system (DCS) product line.

The Kodak Tactical Camera was a follow-up of the 1987 Kodak Electro-Optic Camera. It was designed for the purpose of demonstrating the potential of digital photography.

            The camera was intended for unobtrusive use where a film camera would not attract attention. To conceal the unusual nature of this device, the CCD was mounted in a small addition to the back of a standard 35mm camera body and stuffed most of the system in a box that could be carried in a normal camera bag over the shoulder. The ribbon cable connecting the two was thin enough to run inside the bag's strap.

It was designed for covert use, with the black box in a camera bag and the ribbon cable to the camera body concealed inside the neck strap. Images were downloaded from the internal hard drive by docking the black box on an Exabyte tape archive unit. ( The first digital camera dock! ) The Canon F1 film camera body had no electronic interface, so the shutter release was detected by monitoring the battery current. The imager package was mounted to a TE cooler to reduce noise, but cooling was limited to prevent fogging the cover glass and was not very effective. Only one unit was built. The black box electronics were wire wrapped.


· Stock Canon F1 body with motor drive

· Monochrome KAF-1400 (M1) imager (1320 x 1035, 6.8 8m) with thermoelectric cooler

· 10bit A/D Logarithmic amplifier

· 10-Mbyte buffer for 6-image burst; buffer image count display

· Internal 100-Mbyte SCSI hard drive holds 60 images; disk image count display

· Docking archive unit with 2000-MByte Exabyte 8 mm SCSI tape drive and battery charger

· Raw image files in Unix TAR format; Time/Date stamp

· Intervalometer; log histogram. Pixel value readout.

· Image delete. Image recover; disk erase; disk format

· Alphanumeric LCD with menus, status, and error messages

· Three-color LED disk, buffer, battery status indicators on camera back

· Intel 80C196 uController, PL/M

· Internal lead acid camcorder battery

This is the only known image taken with the Kodak


Images were stored on DRAM, twelve at high resolution or 48 at 640 x 480 pixels. The Tactical Camera was designed by Kodak's James McGarvey, lead engineer in Kodak's Federal Systems Division.

Kodak technician Tom McCarthy did construction work and Mark Prescott engineered the SCSI interface firmware for recording on an Exabyte drive. Ken Cupery was the project manager. Jim McGarvey was the lead engineer. MTD engineer Bill Toohey designed the CCD analog circuitry, and technician Tom McCarthy assembled the whole system.

kodak 1mpx

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