What was the earliest date a home-computer or home-robot could be interfaced with a commercially available tv-camera or digital-camera .

  • Although I'm asking this question for the purpose of computer-vision, answers such as just for image-editing or aesthetic purposes are ok ( see the solid-state-memory point below ).
  • I'm referring to hobby or home computers or robots, not university or factory.
  • I'm referring to commercially available tv-cameras or digital-cameras, not to home-made cameras .
  • The image has to be held in any type of solid-state-memory which is part of the computer or robot, not just a live-stream being displayed on screen.
  • Note - robots were often based on home-computer hardware .

UPDATE - I intended this question to refer to commercially available tv-cameras or digital-cameras, not to home-made cameras .

  • A camera from 1984 for the BBC-micro - computinghistory.org.uk/det/32460/… , this page says its from 1984 - computinghistory.org.uk/cgi/… Nov 18, 2018 at 14:54
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    Please abstain from integrating Answers (or comments) into a question. A question is not meant to be it's own answer.
    – Raffzahn
    Nov 18, 2018 at 15:49
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    @typingcomputers Could you read the tour please, then move your update into an answer (scroll down)? Also, don't ask for upvotes; votes are given on the quality of the question, not based on the user who asked it. The rules are there to make sure that you know how the site works before you start posting comments etc.; they seem to be functioning fine.
    – wizzwizz4
    Nov 18, 2018 at 15:58
  • Not the first, but definitely useful! : bbc.com/news/technology-20439301
    – Solar Mike
    Nov 24, 2018 at 22:31
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    – wizzwizz4
    Jun 9, 2019 at 6:56

3 Answers 3


What was the earliest date a home-computer or home-robot could be interfaced with a tv-camera or digital-camera .

Depends on the definition of 'interfaced', as a case can easily be made for the 1975 Altair Cyclops Camera/TV-Dazzler set, as it combines a TV input with modifiable output.

There were many more before the Cyclops, but it would hard to make a case about the associated computers as home computers(*1). In the following years an incredible number of video input devices for microcomputers were developed(*2,3).

The most notable one may be the Sony HB-701FD MSX computer of 1984, as it is essentially the first consumer grade machine (*4) to include a video digitizer and real-time superimposing by default.

With MSX2 (and later the HBI-V1 module) video capture became a standard OS feature of MSX.

Robots were often based on home-computers.

Not really - not even nearly a historical fact. Sure, there were some robotic devices for home computers, robots themselves were either based on distinct microprocessor systems or microcontrollers.

*1 - Well, a case could be made even against S-100 as being mostly business systems, and the genuine home computer not being invented until the TI99 and Atari 400. Then again, its founding system, the Altair, was definitely targeted to hobbyists, so maybe we just read home computer as hobby computer and go along with that.

*2 - Just check this blog-post showing four different digitizers for the C64.

*3 - Including one by yours truly in 1983 - not for the C64, rather targeted at a professional audience.

*4 - Upper end that is - with some variations targeted at professional video/small TV stations.

  • "not even nearly a historical fact." "Often" would be stretching the point but some robots were certainly based on home computers. I remember going to a micromouse competition at some point in the mid 80's and one of the entries was clearly based on a Sinclair ZX80. The aforementioned machine was strapped atop the chassis.
    – JeremyP
    Jun 9, 2019 at 19:00
  • @JeremyP Just because something has happened doesn't make it anything but a singularity.
    – Raffzahn
    Jun 9, 2019 at 19:34
  • If you say "there are no black sheep" and I find a black sheep, pointing at a million white sheep does not make your statement any less wrong. In fact the example I gave was not a singularity. The one I described was not unique.
    – JeremyP
    Jun 10, 2019 at 10:03

I now found a camera from '83


The MicronEye Camera from '83
- Resolution 256x128
- The two versions, could be used with many popular home-computers

This may mean that people back then may have tried projects such as the following thread -
Didn't people 'back in the day', ever try 'Object-Tracking'( combined with RC ), via their retrocomputers, as 'Home-Projects'

This one would surely be the first one designed more for the home / hobby customers, if anyone finds an earlier one, please post it .

  • Welcome to retrocomputing.se. Could you expand your answer a bit to include info on this camera? Stuff like specs, who produced it, how it was interfaced, what it was used for, etc. Answers comprised primary of links are discouraged on this site. Nov 19, 2018 at 0:23

Not related to image capture or processing, but the first actuator in the home computing market was maybe the Penman Plotter of 1984. It "walked" around a flat surface plotting traces in multiple colours.

By the time it showed up it was a revolutionary robotic device, and surprisingly accurate with its simplistic technology.

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    Well, that would mean to ignore all the turtles that have been there before since the 1950s. The Valiant Turtle of 1983, sold for various home computers, comes to mind. But more important, the answer is rather of topic, as the question is about vision, not drawing.
    – Raffzahn
    Nov 18, 2018 at 14:47
  • @tofro, thanks, surprised I've never seen the Penman Plotter before - It would be useful if you or anyone could up-vote my question, I need a "50-reputation" to comment on the 'What was the first intelligent digital robot?' question, to post a very interesting link Nov 18, 2018 at 14:49
  • @typingcomputers a) Write an answer - if that link is interesting, it will also come with useful information to be presented here. b) Tutles, and the PenMan is basicly a turtle variation, have been around a very long time in many many variations. AAll the way since the begining of digital computing.
    – Raffzahn
    Nov 18, 2018 at 15:35
  • @Raffzahn That is correct (turtle mechanics around for a long time) but the Penman was a) the first in the home computer price range b) commercially available and affordable and c) easy to use for the end user. and d) read the one-but-last paragraph of the question please.
    – tofro
    Nov 18, 2018 at 17:09
  • @tofro Before argueing it would be a good idea to check up as the presentet Valiant Turtle was a) in the home comuter price range, b) available in 1983 for example for the Apple II, c) whats more easy than Logo? Now for d), I can't see anything about output devices mentioned there - right?
    – Raffzahn
    Nov 18, 2018 at 17:19

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