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The Cameraphone

Intro | Digital Feudalism | Virtual Reality | Start-Up | The Cameraphone | Tech Tunes

SELFIE MADE MAN: Santa Cruz-based inventor Philippe Kahn took and sent the first-ever cellphone photo back in 1997.

This summer, Santa Cruz inventor Philippe Kahn had good reason to reflect back 18 years to the first time anyone shot a picture and sent it out to the world via cellphone.

His daughter Sophie is starting college at NYU, and while he was dropping her off, he says, it hit him how much had happened since she was born. She had been the subject of the first camera phone photo, which he snapped on June 11, 1997.

Khan had his bright idea while sitting at Santa Cruz's Sutter Maternity and Surgery Center, waiting for his wife, Sonia Lee, to give birth. He wanted to send the first photo of his newborn girl to all his friends and family—and he wanted to do so without leaving his wife's side.

"The vision was 'point, shoot and share instantly,'" the 63-year-old Kahn says. After a couple of trips to Radio Shack for soldering wire, he linked his Casio QV-10 point-and-shoot camera to his Motorola Startac phone, wrote some code, and voila! "That vision gave birth to citizen journalism, telemedicine in practical ways, and more generally letting Ms. and Mr. Everyone take and share more pictures than ever before."

A world-class sailor, Kahn has crossed the Pacific 10 times and started the Pegasus Racing team. Those crossings inspired him to create his Fullpower app as a way to monitor sleep during grueling trips. The app tracks micro-movements in sleeping individuals to calculate how fitful sleep their sleep has been.

Philippe Kahn in Conversation with John Markoff

Fri, 1:15pm

California Theatre