From the pages of Appliance Retailer…

March 2001 was an exciting time: Parramatta and Essendon were embarking on strong football seasons that would ultimately end in failure, Harbhajan Singh was skittling Australian batsmen and the Mir space station crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

And Panasonic unveiled its incredible ipalm digital still camera. Technology is always going to improve a lot in 13 years but it is hard to imagine a way of placing innovation in stark relief than to read the report of a digital camera from a decade prior.

Panasonic’s ipalm was only RRP $2,034

The ipalm was a 3.3-megapixel camera that could capture images, audio or a “short 12-second video”. There was a 2x optical zoom “for close-up shots” and a 3x digital zoom “for picking up detail on distant images”. Innovative for its times, the ipalm could also record a 5-second audio track to accompany a single still image.

Further adding to the innovation is the bizarre form factor for the ipalm, which appears to have been designed specifically for taking portrait photos as a default, instead of the much more common landscape aspect. The image above appears to be laid out at a 90-degree angle, but one can tell by the writing on the camera that that was it’s intended positioning.

Panasonic was on the right side of history with this release, supporting the SD Card format. Consumers could choose between a 16MB (that’s megabyte!) card for $129, a 32MB card for $219 or a 64MB for $329. In a generous gesture to consumers wanting to play with the ipalm straight out of the box, Panasonic included the four AA alkaline batteries needed to fuel this digital behemoth.

If those SD card prices raise a chortle, wait till you read this: the ipalm was released for RRP $2,034!

One sentence from AR’s report on this release really stands out as a testament to how revolutionary digital imaging was compared to the precious permanency of film:

“Preferred images can be saved indefinitely, while rejects can be easily deleted, freeing up space on the card.”

That reminds us of an amusing anecdote, perhaps apocryphal, that involved a digital camera consumer that had filled up the memory card on their beloved unit. Instead of saving the images to a PC, deleting them from the card and starting again, this consumer thought they had to purchase a brand new camera and start all over again.