Inventor Frederic Eugene Ives was born to Hubert and Ellen (Beach) Ives on February 17, 1856 in Litchfield, Connecticut. After receiving a public school education, he moved to Ithaca, New York to become a printer's apprentice, and after two years redirected his efforts to photography. He became the official photographer for Cornell University at the age of 18 and headed the school's photographic laboratory from 1875 to 1878.
Around 1878, Mr. Ives turned his attentions exclusively to photographic experimentation. He researched various photomechanical techniques including halftone reproductions of objects through the use of cross-line screens that differed from the conventional pinhole process, but proved to be every bit as effective. Mr. Ives also experimented extensively with color photography and designed a beam-splitting camera that allowed a single lens to expose negatives through red, blue, and green filters. Black and white transparencies could then be viewed with a reflecting and filtering instrument that combined the colors into a single color image. The device, known as Kromskop, and its Kromograms were sold commercially, along with camera adapters that allowed photographers to take color photographs. This is believed to be the first American camera making tri-color separation negatives in one exposure. While certainly unique and innovative, the process was complicated and the equipment requirements proved too cumbersome and expensive, and soon simpler color photography techniques overtook the Kromskop's initial success.
Mr. Ives married Mary Elizabeth Olmstead on June 14, 1879, and together they had one son, Herbert Eugene Ives. Around this time, he began an association with Philadelphia's Crosscup & West Engraving Company, which later commercially manufactured his halftone plates. Throughout the 1880s, Mr. Ives worked tirelessly to perfect his halftone techniques with the invention of a pinhole glass screen. Mr. Ives truly pioneered the three-color halftone method, which he referred to as indirect color photography, and demonstrated before enthusiastic audiences at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute.
One of Frederic Ives' proudest accomplishments was the invention of the photochromoscope in 1895. This technique allows images to be photographed through tricolor (red, green, and blue) optical screens in which these colors are then superimposed and blended to create a color photograph. In 1901, Mr. Ives opened the Ives Process Company of New York, which specialized in making these tricolor plates. Two years' later, he received a patent for a parallax stereogram, which could be applied to present the illusion of a three-dimensional image. However, to achieve this effect, the image had to be viewed from a specific vantage point or the image's 3-D qualities would be lost.
Author of several texts including Isochromatic Photography with Chlorophyll and A New Principle of Heliochromy, Mr. Ives received several medals and recognitions for his photographic inventions, which included the prestigious Progress Medal of London's Royal Photographic Society for his contributions to color photography. He also served as a member of the Franklin Institute, the American Microscopiical Society, was an honorary member of the Photo Society of Philadelphia, and a fellow of London's Royal Photographic Society and Royal Microscopical Society. His last invention of note was Polychrome (1932), which was a simplified two-color process for conventional cameras. Frederic Ives died in Philadelphia on May 27, 1937.
1998 Biographical Dictionary of the History of Technology (London: Routledge), pp. 642-643.
1906 The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. XIII (New York: James T. White & Company), p. 90.
1896 The Photographic News for Amateur Photographers, Vol. XL, No. 1 (London: Cassell)
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