The visual mood of the blog these days, especially the black and white images in Tim Navis’ new portfolio made me recall a post I saw on WIRED a few months ago.
Between 1966 and ’67, five Lunar Orbiters snapped pictures onto 70mm film from about 30 miles above the moon. The satellites were sent mainly to scout potential landing sites for manned moon missions. Each satellite would point its dual lens Kodak camera at a target, snap a picture, then develop the photograph. High- and low-resolution photos were then scanned into strips called framelets using something akin to an old fax machine reader.
View the complete set of photos and read the interesting story behind how the images were restored by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project here.
Posted By: Owen Perry
I’ve had these images laying around for ages and stumbled across them again tonight. This is a prototype digital camera Kodak produced way back in 1975. The “toaster-sized” system relied on a cassette tape for recording data. The digitized images took 23 seconds to record to tape which then had to be played back using a specialized system (shown in the second photo — note the name of the Motorola computer, “EXORciser”). This is one of those times where I’m tempted to say “look how far we’ve come in such a short time!”. But damn, 1975? I wasn’t even born. I never would have guessed they had this sort of tech back then.
I’m really not sure I’d be doing the things I do now if I was coming up back in those days. Either computers have made me lazy, or I’m just inherently lazy, but I honestly can’t imagine dealing with 23-second-per-image write times and cassette tapes.
Check out this piece about the process of creating the prototype by one of the original team members, Steve Sasson: “Plugged In – We Had No Idea“
The always excellent Watsonian — who also brought you the Super 8 packaging — have posted these beautiful examples of vintage Kodak film packaging. Every time I see something like this the first thing that pops into my head is “Why doesn’t more commercial packaging look like this anymore?”. I then tell myself “If more commercial packaging looked like this you wouldn’t find it as interesting.” I think that point could be argued but you can’t argue that strictly from a design standpoint, these are just plain better than this crap.
I guess the next question though is whether some kid in 30 years will think the more recent example is better, but I seriously doubt it. I really feel like more attention was paid to the quality of design before the age of computers, I guess the practitioners were just more skilled given the level of training required. Now it’s “have Photoshop will travel”, which obviously cuts both ways. What do you think?
Via The Watsonian (who is apparently a cat)
The Watsonian posted some very nice Super 8 packaging. That XL55 type is amazing.