The history of Nikon’s first digital camera (QV-1000C)

NikonWeb has another excellent article on the history of the first Nikon digital camera (the QV-1000C) with many interesting stories, including this one from Kenji Toyoda (the planning manager in charge of the QV-1000C):

"It was in 1988. Just before my visit to Photokina, I talked with a chief editor of a Japanese photographic magazine, a friend of mine, and made a secret plan that I would take pictures of Photokina exhibition with the QV-1000C and immediately transmit them to Japan to put them on his magazine with my brief report.

But when I arrived at Cologne, I was told we are prohibited from transmitting any pictures with QV-1010T because we had not got the certification of German regulation for communication equipments.

It was so valuable a chance to show the advantages of an electronic camera, that we could hardly give it up. So, I told the engineers who accompanied me "OK, let's go on as planned. I will take all the responsibility".

After looking around the exhibition and taking pictures with QV-1000C, two engineers came to my hotel room and began the secret work. The room telephone set was almost thoroughly disassembled to connect the line from the transmitter. They called Nikon factory in Ohi, Tokyo and tried to send the pictures while talking with the engineers there. But it could not easily done because of the telephone line condition between Germany and Japan and took almost whole night until we finally succeeded."

Check also some previous articles from NikonWeb about a mysterious Nikon underwater digital camera used by the Navy SEALs and how Nikon turned down Photoshop.

Update: here is a sample photo taken with the Nikon QV-1000C.

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  • Maybe the Q new series is coming? Nikon make great cameras since “always” =D

    • That video is like watching Iron Chef for photography. Simply hilarious. Especially like the memory card.

  • The invisible man

    1988, I switched from Pentax to Nikon and from a French girlfriend to a Spanish one….

    • BRO

      Yes, the D800 is coming soon trust me. QXXXX

      • BRO, you have given me some good info in the past, what do you about the D700 replacement?

      • CanonUser

        YES!!! drooling….

      • BRO, are you sure? how soon. so i’ll have time to cancel the preowned d700 i ordered. please advise. if it’s in a month, i can surely wait

      • More info pls BRO!!! 😀

        • D700guy

          I relative terms, the last ice age was a short while ago, and the next will be soon again too.

      • broxibear

        Remember a while back Claudius Schulze said on his blog he’d pre-orderd a D800 in February ? This is his last post about it (about a month ago, after the earthquake)…
        “There are very little information I can share but that the D800 will hit stores in Sept, will include FullHD video and will have a drastically raised megapixel-count”
        He said his source was a Nikon rep and I’ve no reason not to believe him, the only thing I query is wether it’ll be in stores in Sept…an announcement yes, that’s what I was expecting but actually in stores to buy I doubt.

        • Ronan


        • Broxibear, the last time I talked to (emailed) Claudius Schulze, he was on his way to Africa.

          • broxibear

            Hi Peter,
            Looking at his website and his clients Claudius seems a reasonable enough guy, I’ve no reason to question what he said.
            I think the word “pre-ordered” threw a few people, it sounds as if he’s got a close enough relationship with a particular Nikon rep that he’s top of an unofficial waiting list for the D800.
            People have been waiting so long for the D800, and have built up so much expectation, I think your servers might crash with the amount of posters who’ll be complaining about it when it is finally announced.

            • broxibear

              P.S. he didn’t take a pre release D800 with him for testing did he lol ???

    • longzoom

      Did it pay? No-no you got me wrong – I mean Pentax to Nikon?

    • ZoetMB

      I don’t want your Pentax, but since you seem to have no use for your French girlfriend, could I have her?

    • RR

      Wise desitions my friend, Nikon is amazing and Spanish girls are flawless! I will drink on that tonight, cheers!

  • Mike Hawk

    Where’s the D4? Does this mean they are releasing the D800 soon?


  • i was still shooting minolta maxxum 9000 back in 1988

    • The invisible man

      it was an expensive camera at that time.

    • dave

      I was still shooting Minolta SRTs back in 1988.

      • Colby

        my mom was using a minolta SRT back then 😛

  • TyKroh

    wow…this made me laugh. I love when he opens the back of the camera – I was expecting a screen and he pulled out a floppy disk.

  • Phil

    lol that video’s straight out of a David Copperfield magic show 😀

  • Mac Rockwell

    For few seconds I thought its D800…. Where is my D800?

  • Afvpalomino


  • mandrake

    Seeing a floppy disk makes me wonder if people will be laughing at my D3s in 20 years…

    • preston

      We are only laughing at this because it was so impractical (the typical stage when a new technology is introduced). They new these negative features would be worked out soon with technological improvements, so it was worth it for them – 1 step back before 2 steps forward. In contrast, the D3s will surely look outdated in 20 years but it is far from impractical, so I wouldn’t say people will be laughing at it.

      • What, you actually had to physically remove a “memory card” from your d3S to transfer them to your computer? In 20 years, doesn’t seem inconceivable that such manual labor will be pretty much forgotten.

      • Jimmy Lamont

        Precisely. People still use their old Leicas because it’s a precision piece of equipment, and the D3s will still make beautiful pictures regardless, at least relative to the time period. The only other ways to go are higher resolution, 3d, etc., at least in 20 years’ time. Compare that to wet-plate colloids, and I’m sure people laughed at that once sheet film came out.

        I’m more interested in the integration of 3CCD technology.

  • Mock Kenwell

    Sony Mavica, eat your heart out!

  • I was searching for Nikon jackets because of the vest that the (weird) guy’s wearing in the video and I came across one that said ‘Nikon Field Recon Team’. Does anyone know what it’s about? I can’t find anything on it.

  • What did it have, 1 MP?

  • What did it shoot? 1 MP, or 640×480?

    • Mo

      380,000 pixels

  • Entertaining trivia. When are we gonna get some real news?
    OK. Not you fault. We’re all victim of the same suspense…

  • AnoNemo

    …and since … Nikon stuck at the same level and no communication port is built into their digital cameras. I guess a bluetooth or some other wireless thing would do the trick. I think the Nikon engineers gave up on the communication and integration of digital cameras back in Germany in 1988. 🙂

  • KameraOla

    How could i be the first digital camera!? It’s not even close to digital!

    • Ronan


      You ARE joking right?

      • The invisible man

        Well I’m not sure it was digital, it could be analogic just like the first camecorders.
        Can anyone confirm if it was digital or not ?

    • Jake


      • Scurvy hesh

        Because it records to an analog format?

        • Artur Kozłowski

          those discs were not analogue, just second generation floppies, like on the first Macs… The camera was digital, trust me. A format does not matter, even magnetic tape was used for recording digital data at some point.

          • Artur Kozłowski

            sorry, I meant medium, not format

            • Where’s my…

              It doesn’t look like medium format.

          • Maybe I improperly phrased that, sorry. I was asking if thats how the data was stored. Did it record like the old video cameras? Like a wave of magnetic patterns as opposed to bytes of data. I figured if you could record digital and analogue to a magnetic tape then a floppy could be used int he same fashion? Maybe I’m wrong lol. Its been a long time since I’ve used a floppy.

            • Artur Kozłowski

              nah, the floppy still recorded 1’s and 0’s

            • Eric Pepin

              if you read the nikon article…. linked by the author… he states multiple times that the camera was technically not digital, and that it stored no digital files of any sort. Wether he is correct or not I dont know but its on the official Nikon website.

  • Mo

    Looks amazing ! +looks like a great viewfinder.

    • Artur Kozłowski

      I love the lens design. Functional, elegant, no-nonsense. Wish they did ’em like that still.

  • broxibear

    Very limited and vague Q&A of Financial Results for the Year Ended March 31, 2011 were released today. There wasn’t much detail about anything to be honest, the only reference to the earthquake was what was previously said…
    “Q: What has been the impact after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami?
    A: The manufacturing facilities which halted as a result of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami have gradually resumed normal operation before the end of March, and at present, production capacity has recovered to what it was before the earthquake. However, the parts procurement supply chain has been disrupted and we are still unsure how long it will be before we see a complete recovery. Forecasts for this period are based on the assumption that the supply chain will be restored some time following autumn.”

    • ZoetMB

      Released today? It was released May 12th and already discussed.

      • broxibear

        Hi ZoetMB,
        The Q&A was only released today…the financial results were released on the 12th.

    • Nokin Rokkin

      Following autumn seems pretty optimistic. I guess they have to say that so the investors don’t pull away.

  • slightly fuzzy

    Did you check out the glass? QV Nikkor 10-40mm f/1.4 and QV Nikkor 11-120mm f/2..why can’t we have THOSE lenses???

    • … what len’s are you going to pop those on? lol, this was a 2/3rd inch sensor…

      what would be funny is if nikon’s mirrorless system was a kickback to this system, and was 2/3rd sized and compatible with these lens’.

  • Rob

    While everyone is asking about when the D800 will be here, don’t you think there will have to be a D4 first? Or, if the D800 is next, I would think it’s just a D700 with a movie mode.

    • john

      If Nikon is going to make a D700 with a movie mode. They will never call it D800. Nikon don’t like to do some small change to the body and give a new number
      This is why the D3s is name as D3s not D4, D300s is name as D300s not D400.

      And Nikon like to put any good advancement out quick, and doesn’t hold back on tech too much. So there is no chance the they will do something like adding a D700 with a movie mode this time.

  • Jabs

    Off Topic:
    Anyone looked at the newly announced Sigma SD1 and the outrageous price of $9700.00 US dollars – “3” X 15 megapixel resolution APS-C Foveon sensor?
    I wonder how the image quality looks?
    More expensive than the D3X and now we all have to wait for the DX0 results!

  • rhlpetrus

    Looks awfully nice and modern even today, thanks for posting it.

  • the good old days when E-6 and C-41 were kings

  • Victor

    Well! I dont want to comment about the post, all I want is to live a message to NIKON

    Where is the. D800 NIKON?
    Where is the D 400?
    Why is taking to long for an action Nikon?

    I need a new camera already but unfortunately the d300 has a worse sensor than the D7000…
    I hate the focus of the D7000 but I know the d300 focus is great…
    I also know that if I buy a d300 now I will lose money sonner than later so I dont want to do this…the same thing happens with a d700 now.

    Please Nikon open the game! Tell us the truth!
    I m screaming for a d400 or d800!
    Hurry up! Time is money!


  • dan

    Video’s been removed.

    • oh well… I removed it from the post, out of my control

  • That’s Awesome, it looks like a toy camera. : )

  • It came with a 10-40mm f1.4!? Well, I would like a newer version of that lens…

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