Full-color Tartan

Like many technologies, the invention of photography was made possible through work across different domains. Innovators in chemistry, physics, and optometry, among other disciplines, were essential to the birth of photography, each putting their shoulder to the collective wheel. Black and white photography was invented as far back as 1839, but color photographs do not appear before the beginning of the 20th century, following the invention of the autochrome by the Lumière brothers.
In the interim between these breakthroughs, Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) dedicates most of his work and writing to analysis of color perception. As early as 1861, as a means of demonstrating his theory of photographic color application, he develops a preliminary version of color photography. Maxwell then commissions photographer Thomas Sutton to produce a triptych: a tartan ribbon, photographed three times through different filters (red, green and blue). These photos are developed separately, yet when projected simultaneously through their corresponding filters and superimposed, they give the illusion of a single full-color photograph.
Today, though photography techniques have evolved, the colors of this tartan ribbon have not been forgotten. The three original photographic plates are kept at 14 India Street, Edinburgh – the house where Maxwell was born.
Illustration by James Clerk Maxwell (original photographic slides) ; scan by User:Janke. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons