Highlights from the History of Needham in 100 objects
Wyckoff Dolphin-Cam
Artist - Creator:
Charles Wyckoff (1916-1998)
Brass and Plexiglass housing
The "dolphin camera" is a computer-controlled Nikon camera mounted in a waterproof brass tube for mobile sonar-guided underwater photography.
Wyckoff designed this camera, a strobe of similar size, and a small sonar unit, to be strapped to the back of a dolphin for underwater exploration.

Charles Wales Wyckoff was an engineer and inventor. He was a graduate student at MIT when World War II started and was soon involved in making torpedoes for combatting submarines. He later took part in the atomic bomb tests at the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

After moving to Needham in 1946 Wyckoff was a school committee member, town meeting member, and lecturer to science classes. At MIT, he worked with Harold Edgerton to develop flash and strobe technology, created the film that NASA used on the lunar landing, and received numerous patents for his inventions. He was engaged by CBS to analyze the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination.

In the 1970s, Wyckoff joined a project in Scotland that was looking for the Loch Ness Monster, as a means of testing his dolphin-mounted prototype for sonar-guided underwater photography. The camera worked well, and although Wyckoff did not succeed in finding Nessie, he did get "1000 perfect pictures of salmon looking at us head on."
The camera was given to the Needham Historical Society by the Needham Science Center, Needham Public Schools.
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Wycoff Dolphin-CamWycoff Dolphin-Cam