Rene Prudent Patrice Dagron was born March 17, 1819 in Beauvoir, 97 miles southwest of Paris. While John Benjamin Dancer was learning the optical business, Rene was growing up in rural France. The life of a peasant was not for Rene Dagron, and at an early age he left for Paris. In the capital, he proved an apt student in physics and chemistry. As a student chemist, Rene was more than casually interested in the disclosure of Daguerrotypy on August 19, 1839.
It is quite probable that while Dancer was making the first daguerrotypes ever produced in Britain, Dagron was polishing and fuming the silver plates in Paris. The introduction of the collodion wet plate and collodio-albumen dry plate provided Dagron with the processes which later were to make him famous. His first step, however, was to establish a photographic portrait studio.
The Dancer microfilms were shown in Paris in 1857 and caused great excitement among the French photographers. Dagron was barely forty at this time. Not having made much of a name for himself with his portrait business, he was badly in need of a novelty to lift him out of the shadow of more popular portraitists. "Microphotography", Dagron told himself " has great possibilities - if handled right ". He gave considerable development in the introduction of microscopic photography to the novelty trade.
On June 21, 1859, Dagron received the first microfilm patent ever granted. This model was the ancestor of a considerable progeny of simple microfilm viewers. Dagron had hardly begun to reap the profits of his ingenious idea before a host of competitors arose to share his market. Throughout the next few years, Dagron was to encounter problems with competitors and those who would invade on his patent. He did consider that he was the originator of the idea for incorporating the image and its viewing lens in jewels and trinkets, and that he was the first to successfully manufacture the viewers in their present minute size.
The photo-micro-jewels of Dagron sold in large numbers in the French Department of the International Exhibition of 1862. In 1864 Dagron published a booklet, "Traite de Photographie Microscopique". In its thirty-six pages he describes in the minutest detail the process he follows in making microfilm positives from standard size negatives. He assumes unto himself the well-deserved honor of having created the microfilm industry, dating its birth from his 1859 patents.
Meanwhile, war clouds once again were scudding across the skies of Europe. The isolation of Paris by the besieging Prussian armies was a crushing blow to French pride. Reestablishing communications with the guerilla forces fighting in the provinces became more than a duty with the people of Paris. Dagron was to play a vital role in providing Paris with news from the world outside.