David Trinko: Cameras so tiny they’re obsolete

Gather round, children, as I tell you a story about a very small but bewildering time in our history.

No, we’re not going to talk about parachute pants or our fascination with neon colors during my younger years. No, we’re going to talk about when we kept making things smaller and smaller, to the point you couldn’t really use them.

It was the early 2010s, and companies kept saying, “I can make that half the size.” And they kept doing that until we ended up with ridiculous-looking items better suited for a Barbie doll than a human being.

Would you believe there was a day when a camera could fit in the palm of your hand? I mean just the palm, and not overlapping any of your fingers. It had buttons so small, my average-sized fingers could press two of them with ease, even though no one would ever want to hit both the power and the shutter-release buttons at the same time.

You look skeptical as I weave this tale. Perhaps I actually mean a mobile phone? Maybe I’m talking about a web camera? You’ve seen what older generation called cameras, with their interchangeable lenses and solid frames that require two hands to hold it steady.

Oh no, I mean actual tiny cameras, where the SD card takes up nearly half of its physical structure — and I have proof they once existed.

I’ve been clearing through some old clutter in the newsroom recently. That quest led me to a cardboard box full of old photography equipment and a trip down technological memory lane.

I found a treasure trove of those tiny cameras that fit into the palm of your hand. I can actually show you one of these tiny takers of pictures.

It was a strange moment in time, when we wanted to have all kinds of technology with us all the time. We miniaturized cameras that took a decent photo, as long as you never used the digital zoom. We kept making audio recorders smaller and smaller too. We even made tiny little microphones. We kept buying tinier and tinier video cameras too, including some that fit nicely in one hand with your fingers wrapped around the top.

Why wouldn’t we just use our mobile phones, you youngsters might ask. The short answer is, at that time, we were smarter than we were before then, but we weren’t as smart as we are now. We were convinced the quality in a mobile phone wouldn’t be as good. We hadn’t yet figured out how to store things “in the cloud.” Back then, we were still studying maps to decide which phone carrier might deliver a decent enough signal that you could answer calls in the places where you actually went.

We relied on other forms of technology to get us through, until modern cell phones made all that technology obsolete. Now I have a pile of these “point-and-shoot” cameras sitting in my office, still operational. I wonder what modern use they have, as I’ve been taking pictures and videos with my phone for at least a decade now.

At least these mementos from the early 2010s don’t take up much space.


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David Trinko is editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.