A short history of the selfie stick – Story by Design Dalda

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How and when did this ubiquitous selfie stick come about! While the selfie stick sounded silly at first, it has quickly become very popular, so much that they have been banned at some concerts, art museums and stadiums. You may have assumed that the selfie stick is a relatively new craze, but the invention has actually been around for a long time.

The 1st equivalents of the selfie stick could be described at the talented hands of artists who using a reflection of themselves in a mirror painted themselves self-portraits. Then came the camera with the self-timer, mostly used for group photos – where one placed the camera facing the group, framed the picture, clicked the self-timer button and ran into position, the winding sound of the timer and the click indicated the picture taken. The prints developed later often gave hilarious and awkward memories.

A short history of the selfie stick - Story by Design Dalda 1
Poster with its dry humour at the Smithsonians Museum of Natural History, Washington DC. Photo © Design Dalda

It seems like the real origin of the modern selfie stick dates as far back as 1925. Freelance journalist Alan Cleaver shared a photo of his grandparents wherein to capture a post-wedding shot of himself with wife, his grandfather fashioned a device that would act as the remote for his camera’s shutter. The pole on which the camera was mounted is visible in his image and serves as evidence of his creation.

The selfie stick was however invented a further two times, two decades apart, by men on opposite sides of the world – and both times it was the result of problems experienced on a European holiday. The Japanese craze of taking pictures during their travels and the problems faced therein led to the “telescopic extender for supporting compact camera”, a patent for which was filed by Hiroshi Ueda and Yujiro Mima in 1984. It also featured a mirror so the users could see themselves, making sure they looked alright, before snapping the photo. The idea came to Ueda, an engineer at Minolta, after he had a hard time taking pictures with his wife while traveling in Europe. Passers-by couldn’t always be trusted, once a child he asked to take a photo ran away with his camera. It was a problem crying out for a solution – and as an engineer in Minolta’s development department, Ueda was well-placed to find one, so he created the “extender stick,” which held a camera in place with a tripod screw. Ueda’s patent ran out in 2003.

Unaware of Ueda’s patent, Canadian inventor Wayne Fromm came up with the Quik Pod, an “apparatus for supporting a camera and method for using the apparatus” in 2005. The idea took root when Fromm found it difficult to find someone who spoke English to request to take a picture with his family while on holiday in Europe.
While Ueda still uses his invention it never took off commercially, he describes it as a “3am invention”, one which arrived too early. Fromm has battled it out and has sold his invention in the millions, he doesn’t aim at the mass market of selfie sticks, but rather the high-end market with a product that can use DSLR and GoPro cameras. His inventions can be seen on http://frommworks.com/

So in case you were hesitant to be seen with a selfie stick, remember it is one of the few modern inventions to have been reinvented 5 times over!

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