“You Press the Button – We do the Rest”
Erica Selly, UMM student
In 1888, what began with George Eastman’s commercial production of dry plates in a rented loft in Rochester, New York, expanded into the birth of modern snap-shot photography, that all amateur photographers are versed in today. In 1888 the Kodak brand was officially titled and their first camera was placed on the market. From then on, Kodak was one of the leading companies both in production and innovation of camera technologies. In 1889 they made transparent film available for public cameras. In 1891 they introduced the first “daylight loading camera,” eliminating the need to change film in a dark room. And in 1900, the first of the beloved Brownie series camera was introduced. These cameras could be purchased for one dollar, with rolls of film going for fifteen cents, which put the ability to snap photos into nearly everyone’s financial capability.
The Brownie Camera series was such a hit with the public that many styles were produced, each with their own distinct feature and update in photo-technology. One such product was the No.2A Brownie camera. It was introduced in April of 1907 and its production was discontinued in 1936. Throughout the years of its production it underwent some changes; these included fitting the eyelets to the lens, changing the location of tension springs, adding a metal nameplate to the back of the camera, and even available colors (red, grey, brown, green, blue and black were available in America, while the United Kingdom offered brown, blue, claret, green, as well as black). One of their top sellers was the Brownie Target Six-20, which was a metal box type with two view finders. Perhaps one of its most popular features was that its 620 film size was easily respooled. One of their cameras, which had a lower production period (1930-1933), was the No.2A Beau Brownie. It incorporated a doublet lens rotary shutter and a specially made cable release. Even after creating these fairly small and convenient models, Kodak continued to pursue advancement their photographic technology; this included foldable cameras, the addition of color, instant cameras, and the ability for non-professionals to produce their own motion pictures – even in color. In 1975 Kodak was able to produce the first digital camera, though it was the size of a toaster, and then “decision-free” “disc photography” in 1982.