ancient times: Camera obscuras used to form images on walls in darkened rooms; image formation via a pinhole
16th century: Brightness and clarity of camera obscuras improved by enlarging the hole inserting a telescope lens
17th century: Camera obscuras in frequent use by artists and made portable in the form of sedan chairs
1727: Professor J. Schulze mixes chalk, nitric acid, and silver in a flask; notices darkening on side of flask exposed to sunlight. Accidental creation of the first photo-sensitive compound.
1800: Thomas Wedgwood makes "sun pictures" by placing opaque objects on leather treated with silver nitrate; resulting images deteriorated rapidly, however, if displayed under light stronger than from candles.
1816: Nicéphore Niépce combines the camera obscura with photosensitive paper
1826: Niépce creates a permanent image
1834: Henry Fox Talbot creates permanent (negative) images using paper soaked in silver chloride and fixed with a salt solution. Talbot created positive images by contact printing onto another sheet of paper.
1837: Louis Daguerre creates images on silver-plated copper, coated with silver iodide and "developed" with warmed mercury; Daguerre is awarded a state pension by the French government in exchange for publication of methods and the rights by other French citizens to use the Daguerreotype process.
1841: Talbot patents his process under the name "calotype".
1851: Frederick Scott Archer, a sculptor in London, improves photographic resolution by spreading a mixture of collodion (nitrated cotton dissolved in ether and alcoohol) and chemicals on sheets of glass. Wet plate collodion photography was much cheaper than daguerreotypes, the negative/positive process permitted unlimited reproductions, and the process was published but not patented.
1855: Roger Fenton make photo, Valley of the Shadow of Death, with road full of cannonballs,
1855-57: Direct positive images on glass (ambrotypes) and metal (tintypes or ferrotypes) popular in the US.
1861: Scottish physicist James Clerk-Maxwell demonstrates a color photography system involving three black and white photographs, each taken through a red, green, or blue filter. The photos were turned into lantern slides and projected in registration with the same color filters. This is the "color separation" method.
1861-65: Mathew Brady and staff (mostly staff) covers the American Civil War, exposing 7000 negatives
1871: Richard Leach Maddox, an English doctor, proposes the use of an emulsion of gelatin and silver bromide on a glass plate, the "dry plate" process.
1877: Eadweard Muybridge, born in England as Edward Muggridge, settles "do a horse's four hooves ever leave the ground at once" bet among rich San Franciscans by time-sequenced photography of Leland Stanford's horse.
1880: KODAK;George Eastman, age 24, sets up Eastman Dry Plate Company in Rochester, New York. First half-tone photograph appears in a daily newspaper, the New York Graphic.
1888: First Kodak camera, containing a 20-foot roll of paper, enough for 100 2.5-inch diameter circular pictures.
1889: Improved Kodak camera with roll of film instead of paper
1890: Jacob Riis publishes How the Other Half Lives, images of tenement life in New York City
1900: Kodak Brownie box roll-film camera introduced.
1902: Alfred Stieglitz organizes "Photo Secessionist" show in New York City
1906: Availability of panchromatic black and white film and therefore high quality color separation color photography. J.P. Morgan finances Edward Curtis to document the traditional culture of the North American Indian.
1909: Lewis Hine hired by US National Child Labor Committee to photograph children working mills.
1931: Development of strobe photography by Harold ("Doc") Edgerton at MIT
1932: Inception of Technicolor for movies, where three black and white negatives were made in the same camera under different filters.
1932: Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Willard Van Dyke, Edward Weston, et al, form Group f/64 dedicated to "straight photographic thought and production".
1934: Fuji Photo Film founded. By 1938, Fuji is making cameras and in addition to film.
1935: Farm Security Administration hires Roy Stryker to run a historical section. Stryker would hire Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, et al. to photograph rural hardships over the next six years.
1936: LIFE: A weekly news magazine launched by Henry Luce is introduced, with a strong emphasis on photojournalism.
1936: Development of Kodachrome, the first color multi-layered color film; development of Exakta, pioneering 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) camera
World War II:
Development of multi-layer color negative films
Margaret Bourke-White, Robert Capa, Carl Mydans, and W. Eugene Smith cover the war for LIFE magazine
1945: Joe Rosenthal photographs ‘Raising the Flag’ on Iwo Jima for Associated Press.
1947: MAGNUM: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and David Seymour start the photographer-owned Magnum picture agency
1948: Hasselblad in Sweden offers its first medium-format SLR for commercial sale; Pentax in Japan introduces the automatic diaphragm; Polaroid sells instant black and white film
1955: Edward Steichen curates Family of Man exhibit New York Museum of Modern Art
1959: Nikon F introduced.
1960: Garry Winogrand begins photographing women on the streets of New York City.
1963: First color instant film developed by Polaroid; Instamatic released by Kodak; first purpose-built underwater introduced, the Nikonos.
1968: Eddie Adams makes photo of police chief General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing a Vietcong prisoner, Nguyễn Văn Lém, on a Saigon street, for the Associated Press.
1972: 110-format cameras introduced by Kodak with a 13x17mm frame
1973: C-41 color negative process introduced, replacing C-22
1985: Minolta markets the world's first autofocus SLR system (called "Maxxum" )
1987: The popular Canon EOS system introduced, with new all-electronic lens mount
1990: Adobe Photoshop released.
1991: Kodak DCS-100, first digital SLR, a modified Nikon F3
1992: Kodak introduces PhotoCD
1999: Nikon D1 SLR, 2.74 megapixel for $6000, first ground-up DSLR design by a leading manufacturer.
2000: Camera phone introduced in Japan by Sharp/J-Phone
2001: Polaroid goes bankrupt
2003: Four-Thirds standard for compact digital SLRs introduced with the Olympus E-1; Canon Digital Rebel introduced for less than $1000
2004: Kodak ceases production of film cameras
2005: Canon EOS 5D, first consumer-priced full-frame digital SLR, with a 24x36mm