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A quick look back at the Apple QuickTake 100 digital camera, revealed 30 years ago this week

apple quick take 100

Apple launched its Vision Pro mixed reality headset earlier this month. So far, the reviews have been mixed. In Mark Gurman's latest PowerOn newsletter for Bloomberg, he notes that while some people who have bought the $3,499 product love it, others have already returned it to their Apple Store for various reasons.

It's a reminder that not all of Apple's product launches are home runs. That was certainly true of the company's first venture into stand-alone digital cameras. This nearly forgotten Apple device, the QuickTake 100, was first announced by the company 30 years ago this week, on February 17, 1994, as part of the MacWorld trade show in Japan.

apple quick take 100

Apple started working on a digital camera, with the code name Venus, in 1992. The company decided to partner with the leading camera company at that time, Kodak, for the project. Kodak ended up creating the CCD sensor for the QuickTake 100, and Apple partnered with the Japan-based camera maker Chinon to actually build the product.

The QuickTake 100's design didn't really look like a normal film camera. Indeed, it looked more like a projector. The one-pound camera's sensor was just 0.3 MPs, and it could take and store up to 8 24-bit color 640 × 480 resolution images, or 32 320 × 240 resolution images. It did include a built-in flash, but there were no focus or zoom features.

The Apple QuickTake 100 was marketed by the company as the first digital camera for consumers, even though that wasn't really true (the Fuji DS-X was sold in Japan in 1989, and the Dycam Model 1/ Logitech FotoMan launched in the US in 1990). It launched a version that worked with Mac computers in May 1994 for US $749 (about $1,575 in 2024 dollars). A version for Windows PCs launched late in 1994.

Apple later released the QuickTake 150 in April 1995. It had the same hardware as the 100 model, but the new version incorporated better compression technology, allowing the camera to take 32 standard-quality images, or 16 best-quality images, both at 640 × 480 resolution.

apple quick take 200

On February 17, 1997, three years to the day that it announced the QuickTake 100 Apple announced the QuickTake 200 digital camera. This camera, which was manufactured by Fujifilm, went on sale in March 1997 for $600.

The QuickTake 200 had a design that looked much more like a standard film camera compared to the 100 and 150 models. It could take still images at 640 × 480 resolution, and in addition to its 2 MB onboard storage, Apple sold a custom 4 MB card that could increase its storage. It also had an LCD screen in the back where you could view the images you had just shot, and there were now ways you could adjust the camera's focus and aperture.

By the time the QuickTake 200 had launched, two forces came into play that basically doomed the camera line. One was that well-established film camera makers were coming out with digital cameras of their own, and consumers gravitated to those devices. The other big force was the return of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs as CEO in 1997. He gave the order to shut down Apple's non-computing businesses, and that included the QuickTake line.

Today, many people don't even know about the existence of the Apple QuickTake cameras. However, it is considered by others to be a major milestone in consumer digital photography. Even Time magazine put the Apple QuickTake 100 on its list of the 100 best gadgets ever back in 2010. By that time, Apple had launched its iPhone lineup where it has put a ton of emphasis on its digital camera software and hardware. The iPhone's camera certainly owe a debt to the QuickTake products, even though ultimately they were not embraced by the public.

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