THE PHOTOFINISH, A 20TH CENTURY STORY
Developed in the 1950s, the photo-finish responds to the idea of ethical time held dear to Jean-Pierre Bovay.
Therefore, the objective of time would be protected from any kind of manipulation, and athletes from the human error related to manual timing.
While the use of photofinishing is prominent today, it was not always the case.
Until the 1980s, photofinishing was very much contested by some.
Everything began in 1912, during the Olympic Games of Stockholm, where semi-automatic timing system was used. The chronographs were placed at the finish line, each of them controlled by an electromagnetic circuit.
At the start, the pistol gave the electromagnetic circuit the order to trigger every chronograph simultaneously, by means of an electrical contact placed inside the pistol.
At the finish line, chronographs were stopped separately by remote controls assigned to judges.
Apart from the chronograph, the control of the lead judge activated a camera that took an instantaneous photograph.
The photograph corresponded of the precise moment, that the main judge had pushed the button of his chronograph, i.e. the time to the first place athlete.
This system was of great service, especially for deciding between the second and third place athletes in 1500 metres.