Japan Claims The Invention Of The Selfie Stick

Anna Johansson

If you've stepped into any tourist destination in the last year, you've seen the selfie stick. It's an extendable rod that allows you to mount your camera or smartphone on the end to take a picture of yourself from a distance. This trend may look silly in the hands of passersby, but there's no denying its popularity -- or usefulness.

Last year, it topped the list of most desired Christmas gift, and stores couldn't carry enough. According to Spencer Soper, writer for Bloomberg, Americans purchased an estimated 100,000 selfie sticks last year during the month before Christmas. It was also named one of the best inventions of the year by Time magazine.

But where did this seemingly silly invention get its start? The story from a previous post on Inquisitr tells Wayne Fromm's success story when he began selling his invention of the selfie stick in 2006. He thought of the idea when he and his daughter were vacationing in Florence, Italy, four years earlier. When they stopped to take a photo on a popular bridge shrouded with tourists, they had a hard time getting a good view without someone walking into their shot.

From there, he came up with the selfie stick. After going through several prototypes, experimenting with shapes, styles, and extendable handles, Fromm put the selfie stick on the market with immediate success. But is that really where it began?

As it turns out, it's not. It actually started more than 30 years ago in Japan. Konica Minolta, a camera company, released their Minolta Disc-7, a model years ahead of its time. It had a carrying strap that extended to function as a focusing aid, perfect for taking selfies. The name of this item translates to mean "Extender," a much less trendy name than "selfie stick."

It was meant to be used as a device that made taking self portraits possible. However, at the time, the selfie craze hadn't happened yet, and the extender didn't take off, to say the least. Many branded it as a useless invention that no one would ever use.

But as it turns out, they were wrong -- the device was simply invented prematurely. The selfie stick is one of the biggest inventions of the 21st century, making its way into hundreds of thousands of homes around the world.

Did Fromm steal this idea from the Japanese company? He argues that he didn't. He told New York magazine, "The word selfie hadn't been invented." His claim is that his selfie stick is patented and belongs solely to him.

[Image via Shutterstock]