William A. Eddy and His Aerial Vistascope

Stephen R. Wilk

Eddy’s kite-borne camera obscura allowed real-time imaging.

Photographic aerial cameraEddy’s photographic aerial camera on a kite, 1888, England. [Reproduction of 19th century engraving, H. Tschanz-Hofmann]

Unless you are a true kite enthusiast, you’ve probably never heard of William Abner Eddy (1850–1909). But you’re probably familiar with the standard design of a kite—that bilaterally symmetrical quadrilateral with two crossbars covered in paper or plastic. It was inspired by a traditional Malay kite design, but improved and patented by Eddy in 1900.

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