James Clerk Maxwell made the first color photograph in history, and he was only 18 when he made it.
While he was still at Edinburgh University, Maxwell decided to study how human eyes detect color.
He was very interested in a theory that said that the eye has three types of fibers that are sensitive to the different light waves for red, green, and blue.
When light waves strike these fibers, they create electrical signals that travel to the brain. The color sensations that arise in the brain correspond to these electrical signals.
British physicist Thomas Young first proposed the theory in 1801.
Maxwell devised a color top with sections painted red, green, and blue to test the theory.
He showed that by spinning these primary colors, all other colors could be produced. It was a simple confirmation of Young’s theory.
Maxwell also proposed that color blindness was simply a defect in one or more of the fibers.
Maxwell’s interest in optics continued throughout his life. Several years after his study of color vision, he took the first color photograph in history.
He used red, green, and blue filters to expose three frames of film and then combined the images.
Maxwell then projected the film through the colored filters and produced a color photograph.