Eureka Children

Say cheese!

In this picture taken on March 24, 2019 a girl use a selfie stick with a smartphone to take a selfie near cherry blossoms in the Yuyuantan park in Beijing. (Photo by Nicolas ASFOURI / AFP)  

Once upon a time — actually not very long ago — the only way to take a selfie was to use the self-timer on cameras. This was mostly used for group photos and often gave hilarious and awkward memories.

About a decade ago, the selfie stick emerged to become so popular and annoying that it has been banned from many public venues. The selfie stick may seem like a relatively new invention, but it has actually had many avatars for over hundred years!

The first selfie stick could be described as the hands of talented artists who, using a reflection of themselves in a mirror, painted self-portraits. The famous artist Van Gogh was quite obsessed and painted close to 35 portraits of himself.


The selfie stick in its rod-like form dates back close to 100 years. A journalist, Alan Cleaver, shared a photo of his grandparents taken when his grandfather mounted the camera at the end of a pole and somehow activated the self-timer function to take a post-wedding photo. The pole is visible in his image and serves as evidence.

The selfie stick was further re-invented at least two times more, due to problems experienced on a European family holiday. The idea came to Ueda, a Japanese engineer at Minolta, after a child he had asked to take a photo ran away with his camera. Ueda, working with his colleague Mima, created the “telescopic extender for supporting compact camera”, a patent for which was filed in 1984. The “extender stick” held a camera in place with a screw and also featured a mirror that people used to make sure they looked all right, before snapping the photo.

Unaware of the Japanese work, Canadian inventor Wayne Fromm came up with the Quik Pod in 2005. The idea took root when Fromm couldn’t 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 “3.00 a.m. invention”, one which arrived too early. But Fromm has sold his invention in the millions.

The next time you see a selfie stick, you can remind yourself that it is one of the few modern inventions to have been reinvented many times over!

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 12:01:28 PM |

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