1977 Electronic photography

In 1976, Sam Kendes, 47 years old, and his son Kenneth, 24 years old, were in New York City, on Broadway….they came across a crowd of people queuing to have their computer portrait made for £3…

In 1977, after a concerted effort culminating at Christmas 1976, Sam and Ken Kendes created the CASI Computer Portrait System: a still video camera took a picture that could be viewed on a television screen and then “coded” into a frame of typographical characters. It was the only way of printing from a computer at that point in time. They offered their Computer Portrait System for family celebrations and events and were immediately highly successful. Afterwards, CASI was to specialise in the production of T-shirts and other objects decorated with photographs…

This was the technique adopted for the Computer Christmas Portrait or “electronic photography” offered to clients by a London supermarket at Christmas 1977.

This document represented an important landmark in pre-computer experimentation….its only “digital” aspect was its rendering, since the filming and filing of the pictures were still analogue.


Musée suisse de l’appareil photographique, collection Ganz.