Is a “selfie” a quick and easy form of self-expression? Or is it the epitome of narcissism? Any case, selfies are not a by-product of front-facing cameras. They’ve been around of almost two centuries!
The world’s first selfie was actually taken in 1839 by Robert Cornelius. He joined his family business of lamp making and quickly became an expert in silver polishing and metal plating. It turned out that these skills were soon to be in great demand once the daguerreotype photographic process was invented by Louis Daguerre.
Cornelis became interested in photography after being approached by American inventor Joseph Saxton for a daguerreotype. He quickly saw the potential in this new technology started to tinker about.
One fine day, he uncapped the lens and ran in front of the camera. The exposure probably took 10-15 minutes during which Cornelius had to be relatively still.
The photo of the handsome man with tousled hair you see above, is the world’s first selfie. Behind it, he wrote, “The first light picture ever taken“.
The first use of the word selfie was by Nathan Hope on 13th September 2002 in Dr Karl Self-Serve Science Forum. In the post, he describes falling accidentally over steps and hurting his face especially the lower lip.
Because of the proliferation of smartphones, usage of the word became quite common. In 2013, the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary announced “selfie” as the word of the year.
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