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Automation of Sight from Photography to Computer Vision


Mass automation was made possible by the development of digital computers during World War II and thus became synonymous with computerization. The term "automation" was coined in 1947; and in 1949 Ford began the construction of the first automated factories.

Barely a decade later, automation of imaging and of vision were well under way. By the early 1960s, construction of static and moving two-dimensional and perspectival images, correction of artifacts in photographs, the identification of objects from their images, and many other visual tasks were already handled by computers. A number of new disciplines were emerging as well - computer image processing, computer vision, computer graphics, computer-aided design.

What these new disciplines had all in common is that they employed perspectival images. In other words, automation of imaging and vision was first of all directed at perspectival sight.

The reasons for this are two-fold. On the one hand, by the time digital computers became available, modern society was already heavily invested in lens-based methods of image gathering (photography, film, television) which all produced perspectival images. Therefore, it is not surprising that it would want first of all to automate various uses of such images in order to obtain a new return from its investment. On the other hand, the automation of perspectival sight has already begun well before this century with the development of perspective machines, descriptive and perspective geometry and, of course, photography. Computers certainly proved to be very fast perspectival machines, but they were hardly the first.

Article  1997