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Digital Imaging History

Here begins a series of historical documents that have be retrieved from the site. Sometimes it is useful to see from where we have come.

Ten Years and Counting


It has now been 10 years since I started Image Integration in 1994 and became the Digital Imaging Guide.  As I reflect on those years I am reminded of meeting a web developer, who described herself as being an early web advocate. I said but “you are so young.” and she said, “Well, so is the Web.” Well, the digital imaging with which we are concerned started about the time of the Web, too; so I guess we are all early digital imaging advocates. Digital Imaging has also developed hand in hand with the Web’s development.  Both have spread out becoming pervasive through our lives, and unfortunately, leaving much detritus in their wake. 

When I started way back in the dark ages of digital imaging, 1994, many thought I was consulting on their personal appearance, an image consultant. Alternatively, those, who were aware of “digital” imaging, knew it, as document imaging for which there was quite an industry already established.  I spent so much of my time explaining digital imaging that many people would have to ask, but what do you do. This is not a good business plan.  The problem was no one was sure how best to use this great technology and we still are not.

Digital imaging is here. It obviously provides us with unheard of access to images of our cultural, historical and educational objects.  It also provides an incredible ability to document history as it occurs to the smallest and most mundane detail, in both war and peace.  It is contributing to the revolution of the publishing business. At times it feels like we have just won the jack pot on some game show and had a full house of furniture delivered but no place to put it.  Where do you start?

With the inundation of digital images, we all have to learn how to be librarians, while librarians have to learn to accept good enough work until the influx becomes manageable.  Eventually it will start to settle out, but for now, we just need to stay on the wave. This requires a learning curve almost as steep as the wave itself.  Ten years ago databases came without “front end” as the creators called it. In other words you needed to hire a programmer to help you input and out put data.  Now we have DAMs that we have to run, because now everyone is an information manager.  We certainly do not want to be left in the wake of the wave.

Those of us in the imaging field are used to our surrogates evolving from lantern slides to 35 mm film slides now to digital files, but not necessarily this speed of transition.  While lantern slides turning up in antique and collectible stores is one thing, but slide projectors being a canceled product?    Only ten years ago, I was starting out with the cutting edge - Kodak’s imagepaks on PhotoCDs.  Today, my Apple computer cannot render those images. That file format has been deemed obsolete.  While some people using technology may be caught off guard with digital obsolescence, we are constantly aware of it and tracking the debris behind us, to make sure it is not ourselves.

Yes, it has been quite a ride, these past ten years, fraught with the unknown and without a clear destination, but what a ride!  Where do you think we will be in another ten years?


If you want to see where else we have been check out these other historically significant articles written prior to 2010:
How to evaluate a DAM
What are those DAM Systems
Forecast in 200 on web collaboration
Jpeg 2000
Our Audience in 2004
Think Positive