In 1981 Sony released the first commercial Electronic Still Camera, the Sony Mavica

I remember seeing the Sony Mavica on TV shows in the early 1980s and being fascinated by the prospect of a camera that did not use film. Sadly since we didn’t even own a working regular camera when the Mavica came out, I doubt we would have been able to handle its hefty price tag. I always thought that since it worked like a modern digital camera that it was the first one, but the original Mavica wasn’t digital at all. It wasn’t until 1997 that Mavica finally would go digital.

Instead the camera produced an analog video signal at 570 x 490 pixels that would be stored on their Mavipak 2.0″ diskettes (they could hold 50 still images each). You could then view your pictures on a television set. I guess it is “just” a still video camera, which might not sound too impressive nowadays, but in 1981 it sounded like Jetsons-like technolgy.

If you are interested in what the Mavica looked like and how it functioned, here is a diagram I found in a magazine from its launch year.


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