Invention of the Camera:

330 BC Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)mentioned the images of a solar eclipse formed on the ground by sunlight passing through little gaps in   tree foliage, and his comments indicate that he had some grasp of the principles involved.
In view of Aristotle's obvious recognition of the principles, the first camera could have been constructed by some unknown Greek. More likely, though, it came more than a thousand years later.

1267  Roger Bacon discussed the camera obscura knowledgeably about and is presumed to have learned about it from the writings of tenth century Arab scholars.

1490  Leonardo da Vinci describes a camera obscura in some detail. In its earliest form, the camera obscura was what the name implies—a dark chamber or room .

1558  The camera obscura was described fully by Giovanni Battista della Porta. In the first edition of his Magiae Naturalis, he specified that a conical hole be installed in the shutter of a darkened room and that the image be shown on a white screen. He said that the image   would appear upside down and reversed from left to right, and that   the image size would be proportional to the distance from the hole to the viewing screen—all of which are equally valid observations   for the cameras we use today. Porta recommended that the  camera obscura image be used as a guide for drawing and then went on to invent a method for producing an erect image using   lenses and curved mirrors.

1550  The application of lenses to the camera obscura after 1550 was a  significant step. The image could then be made both sharper and more brilliant because a lens can admit much more light than a simple hole and can also focus the light rays to finer points.  Camera's began to be refined in design and construction as more and more people became interested in them By about 1575, the first movable cameras appeared . They were, at first, wooden huts or tents that completely enclosed the viewer and viewing screen. Later, more elaborate models, such as sedan chairs, were constructed.
From that point on, the evolution was rapid. Smaller models were designed, which permitted the operator to view or trace the image from outside the main enclosure. Finally, completely portable cameras appeared.

1676  A reflex camera, one in which the image is reflected up onto a t  opmounted viewing screen by an inclined mirror behind the lens, was built in 1676; a balland socket mount (like some modern tripod heads) appeared in 1680; and a telephoto lens was installed in a camera obscura in 1685. The camera was ready, but for what?

Timeline of photochemical discoveries
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© Werner Hammerstingl 1998