He was working for the Minolta camera company then, and was a keen photographer. But while travelling in Europe he encountered a problem. He was keen to get pictures of himself and his wife together.
"Whenever I went overseas I took my camera with me and took loads of photos. When I was in the Louvre Museum in Paris, I asked a child to take a photo of us, but when I stepped away, the child ran away with my camera," he was quoted as saying by the BBC.
It was a problem crying out for a solution - and as an engineer in Minolta's development department, Ueda was well-placed to find one.
He came up with the "extender stick" - an extendable stick with a tripod screw that was designed for use with a new, small, camera. He added a mirror to the front of the camera so that photographers could see exactly what they were doing.
The extender was patented in 1983 but, to Ueda's disappointment, it was not a commercial success.
"It didn't sell very well, The quality of the picture wasn't very good," he said.
Nevertheless, he kept faith with his invention. "I use it all the time. Even 30 years ago, when the product stopped selling, I always, always carried a pocket camera and extender stick with me," Ueda said.
"It's like an extension of my arm. Whenever I want to extend it, I pull it out, and whenever I'm just walking around, I fold it up," he added.
But the Canadian toy and gadget inventor Wayne Fromm believes there's just one reason the selfie stick has become so popular: his own hard work.
He developed the Quik Pod, a hand-held extendable selfie stick in the early 2000's. He was unaware of Ueda's earlier design, though he too came up with the idea during a European holiday.
From disclosed Ueda's extender in his patent as "prior art", but he believes the current selfie stick craze is a direct result of his own model.
Aimed at the adventurous traveller, Fromm's product is impervious to sand and water and has all sorts of extras, like quick-release heads - to avoid the indignity of answering calls with the selfie stick still attached.