Google's Friday, Nov. 18, 2011 homepage Google doodle honors the 224th birthday of Louis Daguerre, a French artist and physicist, whose daguerreotypes were the beginnings of photography.
(I have to admit I love early forms of photography, so this tribute made me laugh.)
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce produced the world's first permanent photograph (known as a Heliograph) in 1822. The Daguerreotype process was "developed" by Daguerre with Niépce.
Daguerre's Daguerreotype patent was acquired by the French Government, and on Aug. 19, 1839 they announced the invention was a gift "Free to the World."
Later that year William Fox Talbot announced his silver chloride "sensitive paper" process in England making 1839 the year photography was born.