Although early camera inventions established the base of photography, it wasn’t until George Eastman invented modern photographic film technology in 1885 that the possibility of cameras as a convenient product for everyday consumers became possible. With his technology, Eastman was able to create the first Kodak camera. This invention skyrocketed the popularity of personal cameras, but they were still a hassle to operate, as the size of the large camera was inconvenient.
In 1901, Eastman created the new, simple, and affordable “Brownie” camera, which was able to take snapshots. The popularity and consumer demand of this camera skyrocketed, and by 1905, about ten million Americans had become amateur photographers, just by owning a “Brownie.” [i] Those who were previously excluded from photographic expression due to their gender, age, or economic status, were now able to partake in the leisure activity of photography.[ii]
Following the Brownie, the Tourist Multiple Camera was invented in 1913, which did not become as popular due to its extremely high price, and the inconvenient time it was released. The factories, which produced these cameras, were converting to military production for World War I.
At this time, the Raisecamera, known as the travel camera, was invented, leading to Oskar Barnack’s camera that is considered the first engineering step in the design of the 35 mm camera we know and use today.[iii]
Ernst Leitz expanded the basic design and ideas of Barnack, leading to the invention of the first successful and mass-produced 35mm camera in 1924.[iv]
In 1932, the 8mm video camera was invented by Kodak, which was later replaced by the Super 8 in 1965, becoming the home movie camera of choice.
Advancements such as the Polaroid camera in 1948, which allowed users to take and print a picture within one minute, and Disposable cameras were all used, and seemed convenient at the time for travel photography.
It wasn’t until the invention of the digital camera that people were made aware of the disadvantages and limitations of camera’s using film. The advancements of the digital format further secured the cameras place in the homes of families nationwide, while also making users aware of the advantages it provides while traveling.
[i] Olivier, Marc. “Snapshot Photography and the Brownie.” In George Eastman’s Modern Stone Age Family: Snapshot Photography and the Brownie, 1-19. 1st ed. Vol. 48. Society for the History of Technology, 2007.
[iii] Patti, Tony. 2003. “A Short History of General Use Still Cameras.” PSA Journal 69, no. 5: 28.Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed November 9, 2014).