Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the birth of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre inventor of the daguerrotype (November 18, 1787 – July 10, 1851).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art website has a nice overview of Daguerre and the Invention of Photography, including this excerpt:
Daguerre’s invention did not spring to life fully grown, although in 1839 it may have seemed that way. In fact, Daguerre had been searching since the mid-1820s for a means to capture the fleeting images he saw in his camera obscura, a draftsman’s aid consisting of a wood box with a lens at one end that threw an image onto a frosted sheet of glass at the other. In 1829, he had formed a partnership with Nicéphore Niépce, who had been working on the same problem—how to make a permanent image using light and chemistry—and who had achieved primitive but real results as early as 1826. By the time Niépce died in 1833, the partners had yet to come up with a practical, reliable process.
So, as you click your shutter today, whether on a mobile, a point and shoot, or a DSLR, think of Monsieur Daguerre.