Inventor of the document camera: Josef Wolf and WolfVision

Innovation in presentation

In 1966, 27 year old Austrian, Josef Wolf founded Wolf Audio Visuals, the company that became WolfVision. Originally a computer specialist, Wolf attended a series of early IT training courses which used overhead projectors, 16mm film, and flip charts to help present the course materials. Josef Wolf found these 'modern' presentation tools even more interesting than the course content itself. Of course all of them were only of limited use:

Overhead projectors were very restrictive in their reliance on transparencies. They were also extremely heavy, so not easily moved around, and were often very noisy, with bulbs that produced a lot of heat, and were prone to blowing at the most inconvenient moment.

Flip charts were popular, and whilst they can still be useful even today for explaining ideas, their greatest limitation is that if you're sitting at the back of the room, you definitely won't be able to read what's written on them.

16mm film reels were obviously extremely difficult to produce and handle in a classroom situation, and of course almost almost nobody was able to produce their own films.

Inventor of the document camera - Josef Wolf

A prototype document camera

Josef Wolf recognised that the future potential of computers was just around the corner, and that there would be a huge need for training courses to be developed to show people how to use them, hopefully more effective than the ones he was attending himself. 

He quickly decided to switch focus, and thereafter devoted his life to the development and manufacture of audio-visual equipment. 

Josef Wolf began to modify video cameras and projectors, designing and building what would soon become a prototype document camera system. In 1974 he produced his 'Video Lupe', a video camera combined with desk lamps and a working surface. 

This early version of what we now know as a document camera or Visualizer was custom-designed, and manufactured on a small scale for customers.

Video Lupe: Early prototype document camera

The world's first Visualizer

In 1978, in cooperation with Carl Zeiss, Josef Wolf designed a video camera that could be connected to a microscope for microsurgery. This device made the first ever colour recording of an eye operation on a live human. The recording could be viewed live by the entire medical team, and was also captured and saved for repeat viewing.

Production of custom devices and further improvements continued until the introduction of the first serial production WolfVision Visualizer System in 1988. The new document camera was the first of its kind anywhere in the world, and it caused a sensation when it was launched at the Photokina show that year.

In 1994 the company was renamed WolfVision, and development and distribution was focused entirely on document camera systems. An expanded model range was introduced to suit a range of professional needs.

The world's first document camera

I began as a computer specialist who became interested in the audio-visual industry. Now the IT and AV worlds have merged together and our latest presentation systems rely on both technologies for their incredible success. The circle is now complete.

Inventor of the document camera

An inspiration to the current generation

Josef Wolf’s innovations continue to inspire. The current generation of WolfVision engineers constantly develop and manufacture innovative new systems and solutions to support visual presentation. 

In the new hybrid world, WolfVision document camera and Cynap systems are extremely popular, helping to deliver on-screen images and video of digital and physical presentation content materials to in-person and remote audiences in a variety of modern digital working and learning environments.

WolfVision headquarters in Klaus, Austria: Manufacturer of wireless presentation, web conferencing, collaboration and document camera systems and solutions

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