A Short History of Selfie Sticks

The Smartphone generation makes use of selfie sticks – long poles that grip their mobile phones – to take a self-portrait. With a normal selfie, a face and background hardly fit into the frame. A selfie stick allows the user to fit more subjects inside the frame by moving the lens further. About two years ago, the selfie stick surfaced in China, and from then on, it has been well received around the globe. They are undoubtedly controversial and loved by a number of travelers due to their versatility and handiness. To others, though, they are narcissistic and obtrusive.

The terms “selfies” and “selfie sticks” are usually linked to millennials and the present digital world. However, a person’s fascination with his/her own image can be traced back to centuries old. In fact, the Ancient Greek literature tells the tale of Narcissus who was so delighted when he saw his reflection on the pool’s surface that he fell inside and drowned.

The self- portrait in photography developed together with its technology. It was in 1839, a decade after the initial photographs were taken, when Robert Cornelius came out with the first selfie the world has ever known, which came in the form of a Daguerreotype of himself on silver-plated copper.

With the introduction of self timers and tripod cameras among other homemade gadgets plus the kindness of strangers, self-portraiture developed even further. In 2002, the term “selfie” was first seen in an open forum coined by an Australian named Hopey. With billions of people using smartphones and tablets nowadays, it is easier to take a selfie. It just takes a little practice to take a good one.

To sum it up, the selfie is not really that new since it has been around for quite some time. In 1983, Hiroshi Ueda, a family-photo enthusiast who worked as an engineer at Minolta, developed a device similar to the modern selfie stick. However, his camera got stolen in Europe. He didn’t expect his camera to be returned so he discovered a way to take photographs of his family by means of his patented invention called the “Extender Stick”. Unfortunately, this device came to be a “3 am invention”, meaning it was developed before its time. It did not do well on the market, and in 2003, his patent expired. In 2005, Wayne Fromm invented the “Quick Pod”, a similar gadget that would be later modified by numerous manufacturers of selfie-sticks after the trend took-off by storm in China in 2010.

At present, you can commonly see these devices at well-known tourist spots around the globe, even when some travelers complain about them as being narcissistic, bulky and distractive. Whatever people say, the selfie stick is, without a doubt, useful and continues to be a popular trend.