March 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the Kodak Instamatic family of cameras. These cameras, featuring the instant-loading 126 (Kodapack) film cartridge, were by far the most successful of the time. Instamatics, like the Brownies they replaced, were the entrée cameras for a new generation of photographers.
Some of the accolades associated with this iconic 1960s-era camera are:
• The Instamatic provided the amateur photographer an inexpensive, well-made, and easy-to-use camera
• The Instamatic was the most successful Eastman Kodak Company camera since the introduction of the Brownie camera of 1900
• More than 50 million Instamatic cameras were sold worldwide between 1963 and 1970, with 7.5 million sold within the first two years of production
• It was introduced at a time when camera innovation was dominated by German and Japanese companies, proving American engineering could still produce competitive products
• The Instamatic 100 was designed by Frank A. Zagara, who won a Certificate of Design Merit from the Industrial Designers Institute
• The cartridge-loading system was a bombshell success, copied by numerous camera and film manufacturers around the world
• The 126 cartridge was designed by Kodak engineer Hubert Nerwin, with patent number 3,138,081 granted June 23, 1964
• The name Instamatic name became synonymous with snapshot photography, similar to the Kodak name during George Eastman’s time
Todd Gustavson is the curator of technology at George Eastman House, working with the collection for more than 20 years.
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