The first aerial photograph was taken in 1858 by Frenchman Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, also known by his alias Nadar, from a tethered gas balloon suspended over Paris. While the images captured on this flight have since been lost to time, there are plenty of surviving examples of aerial photographs shot during the latter half of the 19th century. In addition to balloons, kites and rudimentary rockets were used to send cameras skyward. Even Alfred Nobel was drawn to the practice, with one of his last patent applications being for a method for rocket photography. It’s hard to grasp how challenging this was at the time. We need only load up Google Earth to see our house from space, or buy a hobbyist drone to capture our own aerial panoramas. Long before satellites and quadcopters, though, Dr. Julius Neubronner started strapping cameras to pigeons.
Julius Neubronner was an apothecary, which to his time was the equivalent of a pharmacist today. It was a family business, and homing pigeons were counted amongst its employees. Just as his father had done before him, Neubronner used pigeons to send and receive medicines and messages. As the story goes, sometime around 1903 Neubronner sent one of his pigeons out on assignment only for it not to return. The bird wasn’t taken ill and preyed upon, however, eventually turning up a month later in suspiciously good condition.
Neubronner grew curious about the movement and habits of his pigeons when they were away from home, and being an avid photographer, he saw how his hobby might be useful in answering some of his questions. Inspired in part by the Ticka Watch Camera and the quality of test photos he took on a speeding train and a sled ride, he began devising his own miniature camera that could be attached to pigeons via a harness. What he ended up with was a light wooden camera and pneumatic timer that engaged the shutter at set intervals. He filed the first patent for his invention in 1907 with the German patent office and its counterparts in France, Austria and the UK. The German bureau initially refused to grant it, believing what he described to be impossible. A camera was far too heavy for a bird to carry. This changed the following year when Neubronner provided the patent office with photographic proof from his flying friends.
Adafruit has had paid day off for voting for our team for years, if you need help getting that going for your organization, let us know – we can share how and why we did this as well as the good results. Here are some resources for voting by mail, voting in person, and some NY resources for our NY based teams as well. If there are additional resources to add, please let us know – adafruit.com/vote
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.