The BlackVue DR900X Plus and the Thinkware U1000 are the trendiest dash cams on the market right now, both boasting an 8MP image sensor, several parking surveillance modes, and the ability to do so much more than simply record your journey.

With just a few touches on your smartphone, you can manage the camera and playback your 4K UHD video at any moment.

Dash cameras, on the other hand, were never this good.

Related: 7 Best RV Dash Cams of 2024

Indeed, the dash cam has come a long way since William Harbeck strapped a hand-crank camera to a Victoria streetcar to film the journey on the big screen.

So let’s take a look back at the dash cam’s beginnings and how it evolved into the dependable small camera we can’t leave home without today.

Do you like to watch rather than read? Our film on the history of dash cams may be seen here.
History of Dash Cams | BlackboxMyCar – BlackboxMyCar

Harbeck Captured the Road Ahead From A Moving Vehicle in May 1907.

5 May 1907, The Daily Colonist – A guy spent the whole day yesterday seeing the city.

He traveled through the streets in a street car loaned for the occasion by the British Columbia Electric Railway company, and he traveled up the Arm and along the water front in a launch, all the while devoted himself to a queer box-like piece of apparatus, turning a crank and adjusting it so the powerful lenses situated at the front could command the best views available…

It is expected that the presentation of Victoria’s films would be a great advertising for the city.
A 1907 film of Victoria – taken from the front of a streetcar and from the front of boat – BC History

The Canadian Pacific Railway embarked on a project to develop and market films about Canada’s westernmost provinces in the goal of recruiting affluent European travelers and immigrant immigrants.

For the project, American filmmaker William Harbeck was engaged.

On May 4th, 1907, he boarded a streetcar and used his hand-crank camera to shoot Victoria, British Columbia’s capital city.

He then drove north from Victoria to Nanaimo, pausing at the beautiful Shawnigan Lake before crossing to the mainland and arriving in Vancouver.

He then used the Canadian Pacific Railway between Yale and Lytton “to have excellent views of the Fraser Canon (sic) and the lovely countryside.”

While the hand-crank camera wasn’t a dash cam, it did catch the road ahead from the front of a moving truck, and William Harbeck went on to make 13 one-reelers for the railway company.

September 1939 – Evidence Is Captured On Film By A Movie Camera In A Police Car.

Fast forward a few decades, and Popular Science published an item on a movie camera installed in a police vehicle in its September 1939 issue.

September 1939, Popular Science – A motion-picture camera belonging to Officer H.

Galbraith of the California Highway Patrol is mounted on the dashboard of his patrol car, with its lens pointing forward through the windshield, taking photographs of the automobiles he trails along the highways, creating a permanent film record of any traffic violations for possible later use in court.

Despite the fact that it was not a motion film, the still photographs were sufficient to generate uncontroversial evidence in court.

Related: What is a G-Sensor in a Dash Cam?

Trooper TV Premiered in October 1968.

Car cameras were still mostly utilized in police enforcement cars as time went on, earning the nickname Trooper TV in the October 1968 edition of Popular Mechanics.

A Sony camera would be installed on the dashboard, with a tiny microphone slung around the police officer’s neck, according to the magazine.

The video recorder and monitor took up the rear seat.

The camera can only record for 30 minutes at a time before the police must rewind the tape to continue recording.

The lens had to be changed three times: before the start of the shift, before noon, and at nightfall, while the camera automatically adjusted to the shifting light levels over the day.

May 1988 – The First Completely Captured Police Car Chase

Then, in May 1988, Detective Bob Surgenor of the Berea Ohio Police Department used his vehicle’s video camera to film the first-ever start-to-finish automobile pursuit.

These cameras were big and were held up by a tripod on the front or back windows of the car, unlike current dash cams.

Everything was captured on VHS cassette tapes back then.

While the recordings were very useful in displaying crime scenes and guaranteeing workplace security, the transmission and storage of the recordings took a long time.
First Ever Recorded High-Speed Pursuit of A Stolen Vehicle in 1988 – Live Police Pursuits

Despite this, video like this became very popular in the 1990s, inspiring series like Cops and World’s Wildest Police Videos.

The Chelyabinsk Meteor: A YouTube Hit in February 2013

Until now, dash cameras were exclusively seen in police enforcement cars.

Dash cameras were not made available to the general public until 2009, when the Russian government declared them lawful in order to combat the rising number of bogus insurance claims and police misconduct.

As a result, by the time the Chelyabinsk Meteor erupted over Russian sky in February 2013, over a million Russian drivers had already installed a dash cam in their vehicle.

Hundreds of Russian drivers recorded the stunning event on film, and within hours, people all over the globe were viewing the meteor on replay from all perspectives.
Видео взрыва метеорита 15.02.2013.avi – Aleksandr Ivanov

Drivers from Asia to Europe quickly began installing dash cams in their vehicles in the hopes of capturing everything that happened along the way, from insurance scams to the next crazy thing, such as a missile landing a few feet in front of a car in Ukraine in 2014 and a TransAsia plane crash over a highway in Taiwan in 2015.

BlackboxMyCar was created in 2012, so you can imagine our delight when dash cam video became a YouTube phenomenon and even a meme.

What Was The First Dash Cam That BlackboxMyCar Carried In May 2012?

The FineVu CR200HD and CR300HD dash cameras, as well as the BlackVue DR400G, were the first dash cams to appear on BlackboxMyCar.

Then, between 2013 and 2015, other brands were introduced, including Taiwan’s VicoVation and DOD, South Korea’s Lukas, and China’s Panorama.

On our website now, we provide a wide range of reputable companies, including BlackVue, Thinkware, IROAD, GNET, BlackSys from South Korea, VIOFO from China, Nextbase from the United Kingdom, and Nexar from Israel.

Related: Do Dashcams Record When the Vehicle is Off?

Are All High-End Dash Cameras Made In South Korea?

In 2019, there were over 350 dash cam manufacturers in Korea.

Some of the well-known ones were Thinkware, BlackVue, FineVue, IROAD, GNET, and BlackSys.

And if you’re asking why Korea, the answer is simple.

Most automobile insurance companies in Korea provide substantial discounts if a dash cam is installed, which has fueled the proliferation of dash cameras in Korea.

Because of the high demand and severe rivalry, Korean dash cameras are often more technologically sophisticated than non-Korean companies.

BlackVue, for example, was the first dash cam company to provide 4K video recording, cloud capabilities, and built-in LTE connection.

Why Are Dash Cameras Not As Popular In The United States And Canada As They Are In Other Countries?

Despite their international appeal, dash cameras are still regarded a niche sector in North America.

One explanation is because drivers in the United States and Canada believe the police and court systems to be fair and unbiased, so they don’t feel the need to defend themselves with a dash cam.

Furthermore, only a few North American insurance companies give premium savings if you have a dash cam, so there is no financial incentive to install one in your vehicle.

More insurance firms joining the bandwagon will most likely take some time.

Nonetheless, we’ve seen that more and more North American drivers, like yourself, are becoming aware of the additional advantages of dash cameras, particularly the accuracy and speed with which situations are addressed owing to video film.

Dash Cameras In The Future

The latest automobiles are created with safety in mind, and many of them already have a built-in dash cam.

Sentry Mode, for example, is one of Tesla’s best-selling features.

Tesla is a prominent developer in car technology.

Sentry Mode is an eight-camera surveillance system that records a 360-degree view of your drive and parking.

To put it another way, all factors lead to greater acceptance and innovation of automotive camera systems.

Many manufacturers currently include built-in dash cameras as standard equipment, such as Subaru’s Eyesight, Cadillac’s SVR system, Chevrolet’s PDR system, and BMW’s Drive Recorder, to mention a few.

Unfortunately, as dash cam specialists, we can certainly state that these built-in camera solutions cannot match a dash cam’s dependability and quality.

Countless clients have come to our Install Service Centre with these same automobiles in search of a better option.
Customer Insights | Lexus, Toyota & BMW-Branded Dash Cams | BlackboxMyCar – BlackboxMyCar

So, where do we go from here? A vehicle intelligence system that is built and manufactured to make everyone’s roadways safer? What about face recognition for drivers? It’s coming to BlackboxMyCar this Spring, believe it or not!

Related: How to View Dash Cam Footage in 7 Quick and Easy Steps

The History of Dash Cams – From Hand-Cranked to Facial Recognition Videos Suggestions From Youtube
History of Dashcams Around the World – Vortex Radar
History of Dash Cams | BlackboxMyCar – BlackboxMyCar
The History of the Police Dashcam | Long Story Short | NBC News – NBC News

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Written by Bob Matsuoka
Bob Matsuoka is a blogger and founder of RVing Beginner blog. He has been blogging for over five years, writing about his own family’s RV adventures, tips for people who are interested in buying an RV or taking their family on an adventure by RV.