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How the camera phone was created

In 2007, 41 percent of American households owned a camera phone. When and how was this device invented?

It was invented ten years ago by a Silicon Valley inventor named Philippe Khan. In 1997, Mr. Khan was sitting alone in a maternity ward waiting for his wife to deliver a baby. “We were going to have a baby,” he said, “and I wanted to share the pictures with family and friends, and there was no easy way to do it.”

As Kahn sat waiting, he wrote a simple program on his laptop computer and “sent an assistant to a RadioShack store to get a soldering iron, capacitors, and other supplies to wire his digital camera to his cell phone. When (daughter) Sophie was born, he sent her photo over a cellular connection to acquaintances around the globe.”

That’s it. Necessity was the mother of invention. Kahn, who also founded Borland software, has personally created one of the industry’s most important gadgets to share family news with his friends.

The fact that many people carry cell phones equipped with video-recording capabilities means that videos or photographs will be available to record many more scenes than what was previously possible. In effect, there will be “news reporters” at the scene of nearly any event - at Saddam Hussein’s hanging, for example, or outside a hall at Virginia Tech University where a mass murder was in progress.

The camera phone is an integral part of today’s communication revolution.

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