50th Anniversary of the Instamatic (1963)

Posted by on Mar 12 2013 | Photography, Technology


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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.

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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


We’ve currently got one on display in the entrance gallery –  if you’re in town stop in and check it out.






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    Todd Gustavson is the curator of technology at George Eastman House, working with the collection for more than 20 years.

    5 comments for now

    5 Responses to “50th Anniversary of the Instamatic (1963)”

    1. Joel Bader

      My mother had an original Instamatic and later a pocket Instamatic camera. The original Instamatic was the first camera with which I took photos–on a Mississippi River excursion boat in the Quad Cities during the summer of 1971 as I recall.

      I also recall that I had a Kodak book called How To Take Good Pictures, which had information about how to set your shutter speed, aperture, etc. Unfortunately, none of these controls were available on my mother’s Instamatic and I had to read other publications such as Adventures in Existing Light Photography to learn about aperture, shutter speed and film speed.

      12 Mar 2013 at 12:04 pm

    2. Hi Todd,
      I enjoyed reading this. I started with a twin reflex camera that took 120 roll film. Soon after the Instamatic was released, my mother bought me one making me so happy. No more hassleing with the film in dark. No more looking down in the “old fashioned” camera. She would buy me a roll every month and develop it for me.
      I really appreciated you taking the time last year showing the collection there at the GEH. Thanks again!
      The website above has some pictures of the 500 cameras I had on display last fall.
      This years display is about the Civil War. The 150th year anniversary for both WV and the Civil War. https://sites.google.com/site/escapetothemountains2013/activities
      Keep in touch,
      Al Mach

      12 Mar 2013 at 2:11 pm

    3. [...] 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the Kodak Instamatic family of cameras. These cameras, featuring the instant-loading 126 (Kodapack) film cartridge, were [...]

      12 Mar 2013 at 2:20 pm

    4. I still have mine! But it is a later model…

      22 Mar 2013 at 12:42 pm

    5. Tom Harvey

      I still have my Instamatic 804 and an Instamatic 500.

      26 Mar 2013 at 10:24 am