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November 06, 2006

The Kodak Camera: the first "consumer electronic' device?

In my talk Stop Designing Products, I cite the 1888 release of the Kodak Camera as possibly the start of what we now call consumer electronics. I say this knowing that the camera was wholly mechanical -- no electricity, so no electronics. But it had the characteristics we associate with such devices -- complexity that could be exposed or hidden; support of leisure (as opposed to work) activities; priced for home/individual use (though quite expensive to begin with); portable.

Typically, consumer electronics are believed to have begun with the radio. And while that might be technically correct, I think there's value to be drawn from mechanical predecessors.

The only other devices I can think of that might be similarly considered predecessors are the typewriter and the calculator. But the calculator was not really a home device (as far as I can tell), and the first truly popular typewriter wasn't really all that portable.

What are your thoughts? Apologies that comments aren't available on my site -- I never brought them back after being bombed with interminable comment spam. If you've got thoughts on this, please email me at peterme AT peterme DOT com.

Posted by peterme at November 6, 2006 07:42 AM

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