Sony Mavica (1981)

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In 1981, Sony startled the photographic world by creating a filmless, electronic camera for stills called the Mavica (from magnetic video camera). While exhibited only in prototype form, this camera pioneered an entire "still video" market segment, later to include the Canon RC-701 among others. It had an SLR design and was shown with 3 interchangeable lenses: 25mm f/2, a 50mm f/1.4 and a 16-64mm f/1.4 zoom[1].

The Mavica used a new "Mavipak" miniature floppy disk in a plastic case measuring about 2" square, able to store up to 50 images. This format was subsequently adopted as the video floppy standard and used in cameras from other companies. (Sony developed the 3.5" computer floppy disk in the same year.)

Thirty years later, electronic cameras had become universal, but the Mavica was not a "digital" camera. While its imaging sensor had a resolution of roughly 0.28 megapixels[2], the images were saved in the form of analog scan lines, in the same manner as a television image.

Notes

  1. "Flashback Friday: Sony MAVICA Digital Camera (1981)" (archived) from The Sony Blog
  2. "Akio Morita And 1981′s Sony Mavica Electronic Camera" in Sony's company blog SonyInsider.com

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