Photography has influenced society since its inception in the 11th century. The oldest photographs depict fascinating details about life before pictures were common. From historical war photos to amazing images of space, the earliest surviving pictures known to humans have a profound and engaging aura.
The very first camera was invented by an Iraqi scientist in the 11th century. Called the "camera obscura," the device only projected images onto other surfaces, and upside down at that. However, in the early 19th century, photography as we know it was born. French photographer Joseph Nicéphore Niépce used a portable version of the 11th-century device "to expose a pewter plate coated with bitumen to light." This became the first incarnation of permanent photography.
The images in this list are some of the oldest photographs, and most of them are the first of their kind. From the first picture ever taken by Niépce to the first movie, these images capture the development of permanent photography throughout the course of the 19th century.
View from the Window at Le Gras, 1826, Saône-et-Loire, Bourgogne, France
Boulevard du Temple, 1838, Paris, France
"Robert Cornelius, head-and-shoulders [self-]portrait, facing front, with arms crossed," 1839, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
1840, rooftop observatory at NYU, New York, US