The Patented Pigeon Camera

Sunday, March 12, 2017
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In the 19th Century, and early 20th Century, homing carrier pigeons were common. They were primarily used to deliver messages, however they they had other uses. In 1903 Dr Julius Neubronner, an apothecary in Germany, used them to deliver medicines to a sanatorium in a nearby city.

He eventually began to experiment with mounting small cameras on the pigeons with shutters on timers that could take pictures while the birds were in flight. He submitted a patent for his first Pigeon Camera in 1907. At first it was rejected. The patent office thought it impossible for the pigeons to carry the weight of the camera, but it was finally approved when he provided pictures they had taken.

His technique became popular when he exhibited his pigeon cameras at the 1909 International Photographic and the International Aviation exhibitions. He would send his pigeons aloft, develop the pictures when they returned and sell them as postcards.

Photography from aircraft soon eclipsed the popularity of Dr Neubronner's pigeon cameras. I wonder what he would think of today's drone mounted cameras?

Sources:  Pigeon photography, Now that's a bird’s eye view.


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