Ever since we figured out how to take an image and develop it, we've been preserving family memories. Early photos were very formal and served as a visual record for families to save. As technology advanced, pictures became cheaper and easier to produce, so the images evolved into more than the standard once-a-year family photo.
Video cameras then came along to further document family memories in greater, moving-picture detail, and with the advent of digital technology, people are able to capture anything in the moment directly onto their cell phone or pocket-sized camera. These advances have made preserving memories an everyday occurrence, so family histories can be shared for generations to come.
The first no-film camera was patented by Texas Instruments in 1972, with Kodak hot on their trail a few years later in 1975. The megapixel sensor came along in 1986, but the first the first true digital camera to hit the consumer market wasn't available until 1994. Since then, cameras have become smaller, faster, better quality and film has pretty much -- sadly -- become a thing of the past.
Many cell phones today contain cameras that are far better than the original digital camera offerings just a decade ago. The ease of use and portability, especially in the case of camera phones, has made preserving family memories quicker and more convenient than ever before. In just a few seconds, a memory can be captured and shared on the Internet for your entire family to enjoy. And like all technology, these things will only get smaller, faster and less expensive.
When video cameras first came out, they were large, heavy and didn't produce a very good image. But they were light years ahead of real movie cameras as far as ease of use, price and availability for the average consumer. These days, high-definition digital video cameras are not only readily available, but they're the norm. In fact, if you have a smart phone in your pocket right now, there's a good chance that it has a tiny hi-def video camera tucked into it. They've also become more affordable over the years making it easier for families to pick one up and quickly start shooting all of those special life moments, from weddings and proms to births and first steps.
Digital photos are convenient, abundant and pretty cheap to print if you have an inkjet printer at home. Unfortunately, the quality of these prints still isn't quite on par with the pros. But there is a great newer invention that displays photos in a higher resolution, and it's called a digital picture frame. They're essentially small storage and playback devices, just like you have on your computer, but packed into a traditional-looking picture frame. Simply load up all of your favorite digital family memories, select a rate of playback and put it on the end table for all to enjoy. Most frames run on a couple of AA batteries and have choices for the transition settings between photos.
If you're like many families, you probably have boxes and drawers full of photo albums, prints, negatives and maybe even slides depending on how old school you are. Beside those boxes you might have several dozen VHS tapes or even some 16mm or 8mm film canisters. If you have the time and the inclination, you can convert these memories into digital versions, or better yet, you can pay someone else to do it. A scanner is a good thing to have in your home office, so you can take care of the photos yourself. Unless you have both the know-how and the equipment, you'll probably have to pay someone to convert your VHS and old film reels. And video in the mini-DV and 8mm format are easily digitized with the right home computer and software.
Digital technology giveth and it taketh away. Photo files can be easily erased with the push of a button and a computer hard drive can crash, taking down all of the stored information with it. And while it's often possible, hard drive restoration is expensive. Thanks to the Internet and some enterprising tech startups, cloud storage has become a great way to preserve your most precious memories. Simply put, cloud storage in its most basic form is storing something online. Everything from photo storage and share sites, to your Facebook and e-mail accounts can serve as a repository for your video and photos. There are also cloud storage services that charge a monthly fee, typically for unlimited storage. You can dump every bit of digital information you want with easy access -- all you need is an Internet connection.
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- "1994." Digicamhistory.com. Feb. 18, 2012. http://www.digicamhistory.com/1994.html
- "Convert your Film to DVD." Stashspace.com. Feb. 18, 2012. http://www.stashspace.com/film-transfer/film-to-dvd-transfer.stm
- "How Cloud Storage Works." Howstuffworks.com. Feb. 18, 2012. https://computer.howstuffworks.com/cloud-computing/cloud-storage.htm
- "Personal Archiving: Preserving Your Digital Memories" Digitalpreservation.gov. Feb. 18, 2012. http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/personalarchiving/
- "Transfer Home VHS Movies to DVD!" Stashspace.com. Feb. 18, 2012. http://www.stashspace.com/video-transfer/convert-vhs-dvd-transfer.stm