In order to appreciate one of Apple’s most successful products, the iPhone, you have to respect one of the company’s biggest failures. The QuickTake digital camera was not a threat to the camera market the way today’s iPhone is.
The sensor was 0.3 megapixels. Shaped like a set of binoculars, the QuickTake 100 could only hold eight pictures, most of which were fuzzy, washed out and with funky colors that convinced photographers of the time that film photography was not in danger.
But as the retro-computer YouTube channel, LGR, points out, the QuickTake does not deserve to be bashed as a failure. It should be lauded as a pioneer of digital photography.
The LGR reviewer found a little-used QuickTake 100 at a thrift store and treated nearly 200,000 viewers thus far to an unboxing episode, performance review and demonstration of how to transfer pictures from the camera to a Power Macintosh 7300.
Though Apple added functions and improved the image quality in two later models, the QuickTake was considered obscure and expensive (more than $700, which actually made it the most affordable consumer digital camera at the time). It debuted in 1994 and was put to rest three years later by Steve Jobs when he returned to Apple and scrapped several gadgets in order to streamline its product line.
While many reviewers at the time praised the QuickTake, online pundits who watch Apple routinely include it on the list of the tech giant’s biggest flops.
Consider how far digital photography has come, especially with smartphones. As the quality of the camera improved, camera sales, especially point-and-shoot models, have plummeted. The iPhone, in particular, is regarded by many to be the world’s most popular, or at least widely used, camera. The latest models have 12 megapixels and software that ensures accurate colors, quality captures in low light and emulates lighting that is usually achieved in a studio.
“I don’t exactly agree with all of the hyperbole online retroactively branding it an unmitigated disaster,” the reviewer said. “I know pointing out Apple failures gets clicks. Sure it was expensive and low on features. That’s what you get when you are an early entry into a new product category.
“No one knew where it was going and photographers were debating whether or not digital could ever replace film. It was an important step to getting to that point.”