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The Pigeon Camera – The Google Earth of The Early 1900s

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I found this interesting snippet about The Pigeon Camera in a local community paper. This article makes one think about how far technology has advanced in the last one hundred years, especially the transformation from an analogue world to a digital one. For example, most smart phones these days use more computing power than the Apollo rockets that were used to send man to the moon and back!

Anyway, this also applies to mapping, and spying on others. Back before anyone had thought of trying to send satellites into space, Pigeons were often sent on missions to take aerial photos across a pre-determined route.

That’s right, the pigeons were released from Point A, and a continuous line of shots were taken until the pigeon reached Point B!

Pigeon Cameras were the spy satellites of the early 1900s!

The Pigeon Camera – Very Rudimentary!

A Pigeon Camera could easily be strapped to the bird, and a shutter speed was selected to capture an image every few seconds, depending on the number of photo intervals that were required at the time.  What is quite amusing is that in some images, one could see the bird’s wings at the edge of the photo! So it was pretty obvious that a bird was one of the pioneers of aerial photography!

This seems so cumbersome now, with the advent of Google Earth!

Where to see The Pigeon Camera

You can also see a sample Pigeon Camera at the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. in the States. Check out the article below as well for a bit of a laugh!

The Pigeon Camera - The Google Earth Of The Early 1900S

I guess it’s a bit different to today’s Digital Cameras! I don’t think anyone would be strapping any of these digital beasts to the birds!

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Check more at The Cold War Pigeon Patrols: And Other Animal Spies (24/7: Science Behind the Scenes) and these books on Pigeon Racing.

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