September 9, 1839: First glass plate photograph

On this day, Sir John Herschel took the first glass plate photograph. The only son of the distinguished British astronomer William Herschel (who discovered Uranus), Sir John Herschel also became a well-known astronomer. In addition, he was an enthusiastic student of mathematics, mathematical optics and chemistry. By the late 1830s, Herschel had resumed his old interest in chemistry when he heard about Daguerre's invention of photography (the Daguerreotype). With his knowledge of optics and chemistry, Herschel invented his own camera within a week. His first glass-plate photograph was a picture of his father's old forty-foot telescope. Oddly, Herschel never attempted to gain credit or profit from this inventive tour-de-force. Herschel also coined the terms photography, negative and positive and discovered sodium thiosulphite as a fixer of silver halides.