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Tradewinds July 2014 Web

July 2014

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By: Erica Smith, Receptionist, Museum of the Albemarle Have you ever wondered who invented 3D imaging? Or when it was invented? When we think of 3D imaging we see that as a very modern, very late 20th or 21st century advancement. Nothing as modern and new as 3D imaging could have been invented before then, right? Wrong. The first ever three-dimensional (3D) imaging device was invented in 1838 by Sir Charles Wheatstone, and was called a stereoscope. This means that 3D imaging has been around for over one hundred and seventy-five years. By looking through the stereoscope the pictures, or slides, appear to be three dimensional, the same way 3D glasses work today. Pictures are mounted on slides to be viewed by the stereoscope. To create a slide, first two cameras have to be set up slightly apart, so that they work like our eyes. Next they have to photograph the same image, at the same time. Then the photographs are developed and mounted onto a slide, side-by-side. When the images are viewed through the stereoscope, using a combination of lenses and prisms, the two views become one, which appears to be three dimensional. Over the years a number of modifications have been made to the stereoscope. For example here at the Museum of the Albemarle, we have currently on display in the Our Story exhibit a stereoscope that dates to 1903. This stereoscope looks considerably different than the one invented by Sir Wheatstone. The model at the Museum is a Holmes Model, invented by Oliver Wendell Holmes. So, the next time you are wondering about modern technology, stop and think just how modern it is, because all modern technology might be older than you think.