Philippe Kahn may not be a name you’re familiar with (or maybe you are) but his contributions to early mobile technology and social media are difficult to overlook.
It was 20 years ago this past Sunday – June 11, 1997, to be exact – that Kahn snapped a photo of his just-born daughter Sophie with a mobile phone and shared it over the Internet with around 2,000 friends, family and business connections.
Again, this was in mid-1997 – well before camera phones and social media existed.
Kahn, who had a server running at his home, used a Casio QV digital camera (one of the first successful digital cameras), a Motorola StarTAC mobile phone and a laptop to capture the image and send it to his e-mail contacts in near real-time through a technique he dubbed Instant-Picture-Mail.
Realizing he might be on to something, Kahn met with both Kodak and Polaroid to pitch his idea of a camera phone / sharing software. Neither was smart enough to see the potential (no wonder they’re struggling these days) and concluded that phones would be focused solely on voice.
Eventually, Kahn found a small Japanese carrier called J-Phone that “got it” and in late 1999, they launched the Camera-Phone with Instant-Picture-Mail. A few years later, Sprint caught wind of the tech and brought it to the US.
These days, Kahn is focused on using artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science to improve our sleep.