For a long time, using a computer to manipulate a digital image (i.e., digital image processing) was something performed by only a relatively small group of specialists who had access to expensive equipment. Usually this combination of specialists and equipment was only to be found in research labs, and so the field of digital image processing has its roots in the academic realm. Now, however, the combination of a powerful computer on every desktop and the fact that nearly everyone has some type of device for digital image acquisition, be it their cell phone camera, digital camera, or scanner, has resulted in a plethora of digital images and, with that, for many digital image processing has become as common as word processing. It was not that many years ago that digitizing a photo and saving it to a file on a computer was a time-consuming task. This is perhaps difficult to imagine given today’s powerful hardware and operating system level support for all types of digital media, but it is always sobering to remember that “personal” computers in the early 1990s were not powerful enough to even load into main memory a single image from a typical digital camera of today. Now powerful hardware and software packages have made it possible for amateurs to manipulate digital images and videos just as easily as professionals.
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