as photography, printing, cinematography, photoengraving, and television. He completed his
Ph.D. at Ostwald’s Institute in Leipzig, where he
was also influenced by Wilhelm Wundt’s work
on the physiology and psychology of perception.
Goldberg was a very skilled craftsman and liked
to describe himself as “a chemist by learning, a
physicist by calling, and a mechanic by birth.”
This combination made him very interested in
labor-saving equipment and ergonomic design,
which is reflected in cameras designed by him or
under his direction when he founded Zeiss Ikon
in 1926. At the time, it was a leading high-tech
company and the world’s largest camera firm.
The famous Contax 35mm camera, designed by
Goldberg to compete with the Leica, had several
ergonomic innovations. It was, for example, the
first camera to have the rangefinder aperture
within the viewfinder.
Goldberg has had a curious hidden influence
on computing. He decided to see the extent to
which microfilm could be physically compressed.
In 1925 he presented microdots at a resolution
equal to the entire Bible 50 times over one square
inch of film, yet legible under a microscope. His
design, using a microscope backward as a camera, allowed the photographer to watch the image
form. The photographer, then, would know when
the exposure was complete. But if you could store
800,000 pages on a 3x5 inch sheet, how would you
ever find out which ones addressed a topic you
were interested in?
In 1927 Goldberg submitted the first of several
patents for an electronic search engine. Images of
documents were stored on 35mm microfilm, and
descriptive indexing was encoded next to each
page. The search query was expressed as a pattern of thin light beams shone on to the microfilm
as it was passed through a movie gate. Pattern
recognition, using a photoelectric cell, sensed
when the thin light beams of the query coincided
exactly with the index codes on the film. A match
was a “hit” and the document was projected to a
screen or a hard copy was produced. The query
could be entered in the form of a punched card
or dialed in using a rotary telephone handset.
Dialing a query allowed remote usage of network-accessible search engines.
The search engine, which Goldberg called a
Statistical Machine, was widely demonstrated
and patented in 1931. Descriptions in English and
Photograph of Emanuel Goldberg courtesy of Mrs. Chava Gichon. Photograph of Suzanne Briet courtesy of Bibliothèque Nationale de France
• Suzanne Briet