Gadgets

The comments on this 2001 article about the world’s first camera phone are gold

Posted by
Gary Ogden
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The internet is awash with the nostalgic harping of people excited to see the return of Nokia’s beloved 3310. It’s a classic model, with updated features, including a camera, which was originally absent. This got us thinking about early camera phones, or more specifically, the very first one. It seems to be that the general consensus is that it was the Sharp J-SH04. Here it is in all its shiny glory:

It was capable of taking photos with a 110,000-pixel resolution (0.11-megapixels), so nothing too fantastic, but still exciting at the time.

Anyway, searching for info on this technological trailblazer led us to stumble upon when the BBC reported on it in an article way back in 2001. The piece itself is pretty straightforward, but it’s the comments below that really shine. The idea of a camera phone was still pretty sci-fi back in the stone-age of 2001, and these comments display a wistful, always hilarious prediction of what was to come.

Here are our favourites, separated into manageable categories:

CURIOUS

If it were cheap enough for teenagers, I could see it being a great way of shopping for clothes on a wide scale. No longer would girls have to go in groups, they could each scout out the good outfits, send pictures, and compare prices. It would be inclusive - even if one of the gang is too ill, or busy their opinion can be sought.

Infinite uses for the teenager, not entirely sure what the rest of us would do with one though. 
Lizz, UK

I would like to use it when I am very angry, like when I have taken a day off work and a tradesman does not appear. I would also use it to express joy, like when I am especially pleased by a present. As an amateur artist it would also help to show what I am currently working on, to enquirers. 
John Cornish, Australia

CREEPY

A picture-shooting cellphone certainly is a curious invention. It could be handy for delicate investigation or infiltration. If you disguise it a bit better, who would know to look for a camera on a phone? 
Johanna, Finland

I would use the camera during business meetings to take sneaky pictures of competitors notes for analysis later. 
Levi Buckley, UK

REALLY CREEPY

Great for spying. The camera could be held against a keyhole, and the images immediately sent to any interested parties. 
Rob Holman, London, England

PEOPLE THAT NEED TO CHILL OUT

The next logical step, but I think the quality is too inferior to be of much practical use. If someone is going to do it, then at least they could do it properly with a 4 megapixel zoom camera, 1Gb RAM, Global Positioning and fast data transfer via infra-red or wireless or cable to computer/ftp/e-mail account, video transmission to TV preview, and in addition to being a phone, PDA, web browser, internet radio and mp3 player/recorder. We will soon end up with lots of obsolete also-rans when one holy grail of a device will eventually be able to do it all. On the other hand, if it gives people a lot of fun and they can afford it, then each to their own. 
Andy Haveland-Robinson, Hungary

PEOPLE WHO CORRECTLY GUESSED THE REAL REASON FOR PUTTING CAMERAS ON PHONES

Take pictures of friendly dogs I see when I walk around. 
John, US

I would use the camera phone to take pictures of my best friend, my dog Benson. 
Miles Brown, England

I can't wait. There's so much I'm looking forward to photographing ... grumpy commuters, clouds, sleeping dogs, minor vehicle collisions in car parks, geese, steam, have-a-go-heroes, ... and then presumably I'll be able to email the pictures to all my friends.
Glenn Broadway, UK

“Oh man, you gotta see Glenn’s pictures! His photos of geese, and in particular, steam, are breathtaking.” Read them all here, and lament the loss of simpler times.

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Gary Ogden

Shortlist writer and "the least woke person in the office", Gary Ogden, likes horror movies, Cheestrings, tapping his leg under the desk, "having a drink", PDAs, not having eczema anymore, hiding from responsibility, screaming into the mirror whenever he is alone, and assorted other things. Mainly the eczema thing though. @garyblogden

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