On August 19, 1839, the French government announced the invention of photography as a gift “Free to the World”. That was the year that Louis Daguerre created the Daguerreotype process and competitor William Fox Talbot created the Calotype process.
It seems there is some debate who deserves recognition for creating the first practical photographic process. But I am personally fascinated more by the first successful permanent photograph View from the Window at Le Gras by Nicéphore Niépce taken 13 years earlier in 1826.
Inspired by the newly-invented art of lithography, Niépce created a light-sensitive varnish made of a petroleum derivative. He applied it to a polished pewter plate, placed it behind his camera obscura, and pointed it all out the window of his country house.
Eight hours later his exposure was finished, and after washing the plate in order to remove the exposed varnish (and reveal the shiny pewter behind) the photograph was complete. A fascinating side effect was that opposing buildings are evenly lit due to the sun traveling across the sky during the lengthy exposure.
So happy World Photography Day to you all! And bonus brownie points for the commenter that can identify the location of the window I captured in the image above.