Caitlin Stanway-Williams

From binary baby to “Friends selfie”: A (brief) history of the digital image

We see thousands of images online every day. We take a trip back over the history of the digital image to see how we got to this point.

On October 15th 2019, Jennifer Anniston broke the internetmaking history as the fastest Instagram user to reach 1 million users when she posted a selfie accompanied by the cast of Friends. It’s since had 16 million ‘likes’ and been viewed billions of times.

This particularly nostalgic shot didn’t just prove how much people love Friends – we probably don’t need to tell you that people love Friends – it also proved definitively just how powerful the digital image is in our society.


View this post on Instagram


And now we’re Instagram FRIENDS too. HI INSTAGRAM 👋🏻

A post shared by Jennifer Aniston (@jenniferaniston) on

Images have always been a huge part of how we communicate with each other, with research showing that 93% of all human communication is visual and suggesting that we process images 60,000 times faster than we do words. It’s no wonder that imagery was used by early humans to communicate far before the written word was developed.

93% of all human communication is visual


But we’ve never been exposed to more images than we are today. 

150 years ago, people’s only exposure to images was through a select few analogue photographs and art pieces. 

“Today we take more photos every minute than were taken in the entire 19th century”

Then the introduction of digital images changed everything

Today we take more photos every minute than were taken in the entire 19th century. And because we’re exposed to more and more photos every day, we’re also becoming more picky with what we want to see – and getting pretty good at filtering out the images that don’t engage us (after all, how many do you scroll past without dropping that all-important ‘like’). 


Let’s take a brief pause from the onslaught, and look back at the history of the digital image to understand how we got here. 

1957: It’s binary, baby

While the first camera was invented in 1816 (and announced to the public in 1839), the first digital image did not appear until 1957. Russell Kirsch, a scientist at the National Bureau of Standards, created the first digital image by crafting a crude scanning device to turn a photograph of his three month old son into binary code – making him the subject of the first ever digital photo. 


1975: Kodak takes first place 

Though analogue cameras had been around for decades, the development of digital photography began in earnest in the 1960s driven by a need for images that could be replicated and stored digitally, as well as a faster turnover than analogue cameras could offer. 

“The process of capturing the first digital image took 23 seconds”

The first handheld digital camera was built in 1975 by Steven Sasson, an engineer at Eastman Kodak. The camera weighed 8 pounds and worked by recording black and white images to a cassette tape, with a resolution of 0.01 megapixels. The process of capturing images took 23 seconds.

The first photograph taken through a digital camera was taken in December 1975 by a lab technician named Joy. 

Ironically, Steven didn’t save a copy.

However, what was a passion project for Steven Sasson wasn’t picked up by Kodak who didn’t see the mass appeal of digital photography, deciding it would take too much development to be useful, and would effectively destroy the film industry. Kodak dropped the project.


Steven Sasson’s digital camera, 1975

1990s: The democratisation of the digital camera

Despite the digital camera’s invention, it took years of development before they became widely available to the general population after Kodak’s decision not to invest in the tech.

“The widespread availability of the digital camera was a cultural phenomenon, completely democratising and revolutionising the art of photography forever”

This change took place in the 1990s, with the first digital camera to hit the market, the 1990 Dycam Model 1, marketed as the “Logitech Fotoman”. 

For the first time in history, people could take photos without needing to use chemicals and dark rooms to develop the photography, allowing a much, much wider range of people to experiment with photography. The widespread availability of the digital camera was a cultural phenomenon, completely democratising and revolutionising the art of photography forever. 


The 1990 Dycam Model 1, marketed as the “Logitech Fotoman”.

1992: Enter the JPEG

The 90s also saw the birth of a familiar name: The JPEG

Development of the JPEG began in the 1970s with the discovery of a compression technique named discrete cosine transform (DCT). DCT later became the basis for the JPEG image standard, introduced by the Joint Photographic Experts Group in 1992.

Today, several billions of digital images are stored as JPEGs every single day.


2000: The camera phone enters the picture

Even with wider availability of cameras in the 90s, we still had a long way to go. And arguably the biggest step along the way was the advent of camera phones. 

The first phones with built-in cameras were released in 2000 by Sharp and Samsung. The phones made digital photography even more accessible, leading to an explosion in digital images. 


The first camera phone

2010s: Image, meet internet 

But it was only with the internet, and in particular the rise of social media, that the digital image found its true home

“Over the last couple of decades, digital imagery has become increasingly important for effective communication”

With the boom of channels such as Facebook and Instagram, the number of digital images being taken had a place to be stored en masse – and their numbers multiplied. The rise of the internet and social media also changed the way the business world used images, with marketing teams using digital images in new and innovative ways. 

Over the last couple of decades, digital imagery has become increasingly important for effective communication. With digital imagery now a democratised force, the saying “an image speaks a thousand words” has never been more accurate. And images, like the “Friends selfie”, speak to so many every single day. 


The future of the digital image: AI, VR and deepfakes

As we move into the new decade and technology revolutionises the way we interact with the world, our relationship with digital imagery will also evolve.

Technologies like virtual reality have the potential to make the way we experience digital imagery more interactive, adding – quite literally – new dimensions. 

“AI practices such as computer vision are changing the way artists and businesses alike approach image creation and analysis”

Meanwhile, other technologies will have quite a different impact. In the last few years, we’ve witnessed the increasing use of “deepfake” technology, where digital images and video are doctored so convincingly that it’s impossible to tell whether what you’re seeing is real or not. This could completely change our relationship with digital imagery as we’re forced to question the legitimacy of the image.

Inevitably, one of the biggest trends right now is artificial intelligence (AI). AI practices such as computer vision are changing the way artists and businesses alike approach image creation and analysis

This new era will turn the way we view creativity and beauty on its head, and potentially change our relationship with the digital image for good


Filter by Category:

Beyond the buzzwords: disruptive voices from the marketing i...

A collection of Datasine interviews with marketing thought leaders discussing the disruptive forces in the industry today, including AI, data, social media and more.

Jergan Callebaut

The AI tool marketers are using to increase Facebook campaig...

A new breed of marketing tools is here that leverages machine learning and psychology to pick high-converting creatives for your Facebook ads.


Use AI to identify high-converting marketing images

Cutting-edge AI (artificial intelligence) research into how computers see marketing images is changing the way marketers build more successful campaigns.


In Conversation with… Bernardo Nunes, Head of Science at G...

Growth Tribe’s Bernardo Nunes joins the conversation to talk artificial intelligence in marketing: how companies can leverage AI and cultivate tech talent.


In Conversation with… Harry Hugo, Co-Founder of The Goat A...

Serial Entrepreneur and Co-Founder of The Goat Agency, Harry Hugo, joins the conversation to talk social media, influencer marketing and founding Goat.


In Conversation with… Mohamed El Hannaoui, Growth Marketer

Experienced Growth Marketer Mohamed El Hannaoui joins the conversation to talk growth marketing in startups and how AI is going to change marketing


What makes us click? Increase ad performance with content da...

Datasine’s CEO Igor Volzhanin outlines his MAD//Fest presentation, explaining why using content data and AI leads to a steep increase in ad performance.


Speaker spotlight: Emily Miller, Head of Marketing at Ollie ...

Datasine talks marketing, AI and personalisation with Emily Miller, Head of Marketing at Ollie Quinn, ahead of her fireside chat at #SuperchargeMarketing.


Your images matter: five reasons why

Got your attention with the picture above? Great! I’m sure you’ll love the rest of this article. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you that we live in the age of visual culture. Ten percent of all photos ever taken by humankind took place in the last 12 months.


Forms of personalisation in today’s digital world

Personalisation means connecting with your audience on a deeper level. Our Head of Psychology, Jergan Callebaut, looks at its many forms.


Speaker spotlight: Mitch Platt, UK Country Manager at Growth...

Datasine discusses growth marketing, personalisation and AI adoption with Mitch Platt, UK Country Manager at Grow Tribe, ahead of his presentation at #SuperchargeMarketing.


Speaker spotlight: Mack Grenfell, Biddable Lead at Babylon H...

Datasine talks to Mack Grenfell, Biddable Lead at Babylon Health about falling into the industry, and how AI is helping marketers optimise spend.


Semantic content analysis will disrupt marketing – for the...

Discover the benefits semantic content analysis brings, and how to utilise data, psychology and AI to predict the highest-converting content for your brand.


What’s the most important part of Facebook Ads? The creati...

The data boom has driven focus on areas such as targeting, brand and reach for Facebook Ads, yet the creative remains the most impactful factor in successful Facebook Ads


Facebook Ads A/B test guide

Facebook Ads A/B testing is crucial to understanding what marketing content works best. Datasine’s PPC Manager outlines how Facebook Ads A/B tests work in this simple guide.


Running a data-driven marketing team

Data-driven marketing is a key focus for marketing teams today. I spoke with Alessio Pieroni, Head of Marketing at Mindvalley about how to practice it successfully.


In Conversation with… Meagan Healey, Head of Content &...

Head of Content & Product Marketing at Attest, Meagan Healey, joins the conversation to talk data-driven marketing and why aligning sales and marketing is a game changer.


Growth hacking Facebook ads

Growth hacking Facebook ads sends engagement skyrocketing and there are many ways to optimise paid ads to drive brand awareness and sales.


Nine Mailchimp integrations for personalisation

Check out our top nine Mailchimp integration picks for empowering marketers to increase campaign metrics and improve customer experiences.


AI-powered marketing personalisation startup, DataSine, secu...

London-based startup DataSine, which combines psychology and AI to help companies personalise their communications, has raised £4m in Series A.


3 reasons to attend #SuperchargeMarketing

Datasine’s #SuperchargeMarketing comes to London on October 29. Here’s why the event will be unmissable for all forward-thinking marketers.


Five of the best tools for Facebook Ads in 2020

Datasine looks at the five of the best – and most affordable – tools on the market for creating and optimising Facebook Ads.


Best martech startups in the UK

Datasine has been featured on Tech World's list of the best MarTech startups in the UK racing to transform the future of digital marketing.


Tackling data-driven disruption as a Creative

Data-driven disruption is sweeping through creative industries. We sit down with Wayne Deakin, Executive Creative Director at Huge EMEA to talk about facing it head on.


Speaker spotlight: Karla Rivershaw, Head of Marketing of Tur...

Datasine discusses the tools that make marketing work, and finding the right balance when personalising communications with Karla Rivershaw, Head of Marketing at Turtl.


The “integrators”: Why fusing creativity and data drives...

A McKinsey report has concluded that marketers who use creativity and data together achieve a much higher performance for their brand


Adtech vs martech: what’s the difference?

Adtech and martech are terms that are regularly conflated. Let’s put aside misconceptions to define adtech and martech – and their differences.


3 simple tips for building better Facebook Ads

Datasine’s Performance Marketing Manager gives 3 simple steps for building better Facebook Ads, including optimising creatives and using AI


Datasine Insider: our Product Manager, Alex Lillo

Datasine sits down with Alex Lillo, our product manager, to talk all about the work he does at the company and the world of UX and product design.


You’ve overlooked creative data. But we’re pioneering a ...

Creative data has been overlooked by marketers. But at Datasine we’ve found a way to drive performance with this powerful data: Content Atomisation – supercharged by AI.


IWD: 20 marketing leaders in 2020 [1/2]

For International Women’s Day 2020, 20 female marketing leaders weigh in on the advice they’d give their younger selves [1/2]


Speaker spotlight: Emma Wynne, Head of Growth Marketing at P...

Datasine talks about personalising marketing communications and marketing tools with Emma Wynne, Head of Growth Marketing at Pasta Evangelists.


Which Tokyo 2020 art poster does our AI say is the most enga...

Datasine Connect, Datasine’s AI platform, analysed the 12 official art posters for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games to discover which was the most engaging for the UK population


The three must-ask questions before a rebrand

Datasine’s Marketing Director, Cornel Lazar, shares the questions each brand must ask before rebranding, and Datasine’s journey to change its look and feel.


Three Mailchimp newsletter growth hacks

Email is one of the most effective marketing channels and Mailchimp has long been a favourite amongst marketers and growth hackers. Learn how to up your Mailchimp newsletter game with our growth hacks. 


Can AI optimise the creative process?

While artificial intelligence (AI) has had little impact on the creative sector so far, AI has huge potential to optimise ad creatives


The speakers tackling AI, psychology and the changing pace o...

This November, Datasine are hosting our first Marketing 20:20 brunch. We look at some of the event’s exciting speakers taking the stage.


Marketing 20:20: meet the Speakers

Datasine sits down with the two guest speakers of Marketing 20:20, Becky Simms, Founder and CEO of Reflect Digital and Social Media Expert Kieran S Lawler

James Gin

What are content preferences and how do we use them?

‘Content preferences’ is used to mean different things in marketing. Let’s break down how we define and use content preferences.


Can alignment save your startup?

Without alignment at your startup, productivity is an inevitable struggle. Datasine’s CEO, Igor Volzhanin, shares why our culture and values drive alignment every day.


What is a rebrand? (And what is it not?)

I sat down with our Marketing Director to discuss what a rebrand is, what goes into a rebrand and how Datasine approached the project.


MAD//Fest Day One: the recap

We look back on our first day at MAD//Fest with presentations from Burger King, Virgin Trains and our own CEO Igor Volzhanin.


How to grow your brand using paid social

Brand Manager and Founder of, Magda Urbaniak, shares her best practices for brands paid and organic social efforts


Tinkoff case study

Datasine worked with Tinkoff, the largest digital bank in the world, to improve their email personalisation, achieving 59% uplift in conversions.


Which images make the most successful Facebook ads?

Images are the cornerstone of successful Facebook ads. We look at how to find the best images to create more effective Facebook ads.


The life of a Creative Director – in the age of data and A...

Data and AI are becoming more vital to the role of the Creative Director. Datasine sits down with Alex Colley, Creative Director of ikon, to find out more about the impact tech is having.


Removing barriers for women in tech in 2019

While important steps towards diversification are being made in many arenas, there’s still a lot to be done to embrace women in tech.


IWD: 20 marketing leaders in 2020 [2/2]

For International Women’s Day 2020, 20 female marketing leaders weigh in on the advice they’d give their younger selves [2/2]


Mirroring at scale

How mirroring can help you level up the impact of your one-to-many communications, offering personalised content and customer experience.


A fine vintage: 10 MAD//Fest London highlights

From sausage rolls and whoppers to next-level naans, expect to hear from the biggest and best brands at MAD//Fest London next month. Here’s 10 highlights to tickle your tastebuds.


Datasine Insider: our Business Intern, Amber Shand

Datasine sits down with Amber Shand, our Business Intern, to talk about her internship in business development at Datasine, what she’s getting up to and what she’s learned.


Delivering truly personalised email marketing experiences

Datasine sits down with Lemlist CEO Guillaume Moubeche to talk about delivering personalised email marketing experiences and building relationships.


Datasine joins IAB UK

Datasine has joined the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB UK) to collaborate with like-minded brands building the future of digital advertising.


How AI is set to transform email marketing

Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly used in email marketing, learn how machine learning enhances personalised email campaigns.


Hello bank! case study

Datasine worked with Belgium digital bank Hello bank! to improve their omni-channel personalisation using Datasine Connect, achieving 80% uplift in customer engagement.


We thought we didn’t need to define our culture. Here’s ...


Datasine on a journey to become channel partners with Google

Datasine has joined Google’s EMEA Marketing Innovation Programme with the aim to become channel partners with Google and bring Connect to the Google Display Network.


A quick guide to remarketing with Facebook dynamic ads

Facebook dynamic ads, or Facebook product ads, let you remarket to your audience. Find out how to use them in this simple guide to DPA ads.


Five things we learned at Supercharge Marketing

Datasine looks back at the five things we learned at Supercharge Marketing, from data-driven marketing to investing in learning new skills.


What is segmentation in marketing?

Segmentation in marketing allows marketers to place customers into groups for targeting. We take a look at the types of market segmentation.


What is mirroring and how does it work in marketing?

The concept of mirroring has always been native to sales, but can it be applied to digital communications? Mirroring works in marketing too, here is why. 


Datasine and Mapp announce technology partnership

Datasine has partnered with digital marketing platform Mapp to bring AI and psychology-based personalisation to their clients.


DataSine Announces €1 Million in Seed Funding

Datasine is pleased to announce it has raised €1m in funding from investors including C. Entrepreneurs, Sistema_VC and Force Over Mass at the close of the company’s seed round.


What does your audience want to see from your branding?

Datasine sits down with Flavilla Fongang, Creative Brand Strategist and Founder 3 Colours Rule to talk branding, neuromarketing and the future of the industry


Seven AI tools for brilliant Facebook Ad campaigns

Disruptive AI tools are changing the way marketers run Facebook Ads. Learn about the top-7 go-to tools when it comes to creating effective social media campaigns.


International Charity case study

Datasine worked with an international charity to increase their digital donations, achieving 77% uplift in conversions.

Derayo Adetosoye

We’re at Advertising Week Europe!

Datasine will be at this year’s Advertising Week, with CEO Igor Volzhanin presenting “What really makes us click?”


The evolution of a startup team


A look at key martech drivers in 2019: customer-centricity, ...

What does the future hold for martech in 2019 when customers are increasingly sensitive to data usage and turn away from walled ecosystems?


10 startups solving key issues for media companies and magaz...

The last few years have witnessed a renaissance in media-focused startups. Here are ten new-ish companies that have all made great strides in their attempt to simplify the world of media.


7 tech-savvy startups fuelling small business success

From a company that simplifies digital marketing through to an AI bot that makes meeting scheduling a cinch, this article explores some of the leading startup pioneers that are driving forward the success of many other startups.


10 questions with… Jergan Callebaut, Head of Psychology, D...

MAD//Fest interviewed Datasine's Lead Strategist and Head of Psychology, Jergan Callebaut, ahead of his presentation at MAD//Fest London.


Seven AI-powered tools to help startups grow

Could start-up businesses use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies to give themselves a better chance of achieving their growth ambitions?


AiThority Interview with Igor Volzhanin, CEO at Datasine

"The implementation of AI can remove the necessity for humans to spend time performing simple and administrative tasks, enabling them to focus their attention elsewhere." - Igor Volzhanin


AI-powered marketing needs interpretability – and collabor...

Artificial intelligence (AI) should be taking marketing by storm, but its lack of interpretability for most marketers is holding back innovation and adoption.


Datasine CEO on the value of machine learning and AI in mark...

Everyone’s talking about artificial intelligence and how it can be used for commercial gain in the marketing world. One London firm on the cutting edge of the AI zeitgeist is marketing technology startup Datasine.


MarTech Interview with Igor Volzhanin, CEO at Datasine

“Businesses are struggling to understand the human behind the volume of data they hold on customers and leverage it to offer a meaningful exchange.”


We’ve been shortlisted for the National Tech Awards!

Datasine has been selected for the 2020 National Tech Awards shortlist: Startup Tech Company of the Year


How to use data to inspire customer loyalty in the travel in...

Lack of customer loyalty is a key problem in the travel industry. We take a look at some of the ways data can tackle the issue.


How to use AI to optimise your marketing content

AI can drive marketing success by optimising audience targeting and reach but, more importantly, AI optimise your creative content through Content Atomisation.


How to send the right message at the right time, in travel m...

We speak Joe Stevens, Corporate Digital Marketing Manager at Flight Centre about using data to send the right message to the right person at the right time


Make your marketing pandemic proof

In crisis times, marketing budgets get slashed. Here’s how we can support you to stretch your budget further and drive sales – even in the face of a pandemic.


A/B testing is a lie. Here’s the truth.

A/B testing has long been used to find the perfect ad creative – but its effectivess is greatly exaggerated. Here's the truth of A/B testing, and how to find the best creative without it.


Creativity back on top: Why creative data will dominate this...

Data-driven marketing has swept through the industry, but the data focus has led to a decline in creativity. But you can combine data and creativity by uncovering your campaign’s creative data.


Data-Driven Creativity in 2020

Data has long been viewed as the “enemy” of creativity, yet when they come together they drive performance. Learn how in this whitepaper.