As you get older your memory
tends to become a bit fuzzy. I only vaguely remember some of the earlier
events and people of the past century. So, please excuse me if I leave
your favorite one out of this review. I'm sure that some of you
have better memories than I do!
By the start of this century, George Eastman was 46 years old. Twenty
three years earlier he had paid a Rochester photographer, George Monroe,
$5 to teach him the photographic process as it was understood at that
time. Four years after learning all he could from Monroe, Eastman started
a small company called Eastman Dry Plate Company, which in about seven
more years would become known as Kodak.
At the turn of the century, Beseler (known today for photographic enlargers
and related darkroom equipment) had been in business for over 32 years
manufacturing magic lanterns and stereopticons for medical and institutional
Ushering in the new century, the first mass-marketed camera, the Brownie,
was sold for $1 each. Seven years later in 1907 the Lumiere Brothers
marketed their autochrome color process in France. It would take another
90 some years before Kodak would honor the Lumiere Brothers by naming
a transparency film after them.
In 1908 a young mechanical engineering student from the Tokyo Institute
of Technology would return to Japan from Germany where he had spent
three years studying optical design and lens manufacturing. His name
was Fujii Ryuzo, and he founded the Fujii Lens Seizosho factory. In
1917 the company would become the Nippon Kogaku Kogyo K.K. which was
the forerunner of Nikon.
In 1909 the Agfa Film Company was founded by Dr. Franz Oppenheim (1852--1929)
in Wolfen, Germany. Charles Beseler died that same year, but his company
In 1919, Takachiho Seisaku-sho, the forerunner of Olympus Optical Co.,
Ltd. (Olympus cameras) in Japan was established as a microscope manufacturer.
The company made its first photographic lens in 1936. Also, in 1919,
the Charles Beseler Company was moved from Germany to New Jersey, U.S.A.
As for those famous Nikon lenses, well, in 1921 Nippon Kogaku Kogyo
K.K. (later Nikon) hired eight German engineers on a five year contract.
One of them, Heinrich Acht extended his stay until 1928. It was Acht
who produced the first photographic lens to come from this company--the
Acht 5cm f/4.8.
In 1928 Tashima Kazuo established the Nichi-Doku Shashin Shokai company
which would later become known as the Minolta Camera Company. The company
produced the first "Rokkor" lens in 1940.
In 1930 Leopold D. Mannes and Leo Godowsky, Jr., both professional musicians
and avid amateur photographers joined Kodak and later would be instrumental
in developing what would be known as the Kodachrome process. The early
process would be released in 1935 and would take about 31/2 hours and
required three separate processing machines.
In 1931 Dr. Harold Edgerton invented the first electronic flash.
On March 14, 1932 George Eastman died in Rochester, New York at the
age of 78.
In 1933, in Japan, Yoshida Goro (1900--1993) with his brother-in-law,
Saburo Uchida (1899--1982), and a former subordinate of Uchida,
Takeo Maeda (1909--1975), established the Seiki Kogaku Kenkyusho
company and in three months produced the Kwanon 35mm camera which uses
a Nikkor 50mm f/3.5" lens. The camera is modeled after the Leica
II. Later the company became Canon, Inc.
In 1934 the Fuji Photo Film Company was established to produce photosensitized
materials and motion picture film for the Japanese market.
In 1935 Kodak introduced Kodachrome 16mm motion picture film. Kodak
would wait another year before releasing Kodachrome as a 35mm film with
an ASA of 10. In Germany, Agfa introduced Agfacolor Neu transparency
film. Brothers Fred and Rudolph Simmon formed the Omega company and
began manufacturing Omega enlargers. They were later joined in the company
by their brother Alfred who continued his job with Westinghouse until
the new company got on its feet. Alfred did most of the original design
work for the enlargers in his spare time while he continued with his
job at Westinghouse. They borrowed the Omega name and the Greek letter
from a cure-all patented medicine of the day that was called Omega Oil.
In 1936 Japan's first 6x6cm format camera, the Minolta 6, was
marketed by Molta Goshi Kaisha. In Germany, as a result of Dr. Gustav
Wilmann's work, Agfa introduced Agfacolor Neu transparency film
which was covered by 278 patents. Jobo introduced the first film developing
tanks. Polaroid Corporation was started with a handshake between Edwin
H. Land and George Wheelwright III.
In 1939 Omega introduced the Omega D enlarger for $175 with monthly
sales of about 50 units.
In 1941 Kodak introduced Kodacolor film, the world's first practical
color negative film. Modern 4x5 Speed Graphic cameras became the standard
of the day and Omega 4x5 enlargers were bought by the Army Signal Corps
to work with the Speed Graphic cameras. Omega employed a total of about
In 1945 Omega workforce grew to about 40 workmen as they produced Omega
enlargers for the war effort.
In 1946 Kodak introduced Ektachrome, the company's first color
film that could be processed by the photographer.
In 1947 Company president, Mitari Takeshi, changed the name of his company
from Seiki-Kogaku Kogyo to Canon Camera Company Ltd. In 1969 it would
be changed to Canon, Inc. At a meeting of the Optical Society of America,
Edwin H. Land announced the invention of one-step photographic processing.
In 1948 the first Nikon 35mm camera was released, and Edwin H. Land
marketed the first Polaroid camera. The Hasselblad 1600F was introduced.
Chino Hirishi established Sanshin Seisakusho which, in 1973, became
Chinon Industries. The company makes lens barrels and mounts for cameras
such as Olympus, Ricoh, and Yashica. It would be 11 more years before
the company would make its first lenses.
In 1950 Kodak introduced a new multilayered film stock in which emulsions
sensitive to red, green, and blue are bonded together on a single roll.
It is patented as Eastmancolor. The first world-class photo trade show,
photokina, was held in Germany.
In 1951 acetate film stock replaced the unstable and highly flammable
cellulose nitrate and became the industry standard.
In 1954 Kodak introduced high-speed black and white Tri-X film. The
Beseler MCRX 4x5 enlarger was introduced.
In 1956 the Leica M3 camera was introduced. The Beseler 23C medium format
enlarger was introduced.
In 1958 the Minolta SR-2 was the first SLR camera with an automatic
diaphragm which maintained maximum aperture for brightest viewing and
stopped down only when the picture was taken.
In 1959 Kodak released the E-3 process for transparency films. The Nikon
F camera was introduced with interchangeable lenses and focusing screens
and mirror lockup. It would remain in production for almost 14 years.
Canon marketed its first SLR camera, the Canonflex. The Zenza Bronica
was the first Japanese 6x6cm format camera with interchangeable lenses
and film backs. Bob Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor set the stage for
the entire computer revolution to begin by printing an entire electronic
circuit on a single microchip of silicon using a photographic process.
In 1960 the Polaroid Land 120 instant camera was introduced. Manufactured
by Yashica Company under contract with Polaroid Corporation, it was
the first instant camera made in Japan. The Konica F camera has the
fastest SLR shutter speed at 1/2000 sec and the world's first
focal plane shutter with metal curtains. It had a built-in, selenium
photocell, exposure meter.
In 1961 Kodak introduced Kodachrome II color film. Kodak introduced
the Kodak Carousel slide projector which use a round tray of 80 slides.
Omega produced about 12,000 4x5 enlargers per year with a workforce
of about 75 employees. With no heirs to leave their company to, the
three Omega brothers merge their company with Berkey Photo, Inc. which
provided increased sales support.
In 1963 Ciba-Geigy announced the Cibacolor Silver Dye-Bleach process
for printing color negatives and the Cibachrome Silver Dye-Bleach process
for making prints from transparencies. Cibacolor, which was far superior
in stability to Kodak's Ektacolor, was never marketed. Kodak introduced
the 126 film cartridge and instamatic cameras. Polaroid announced the
first instant color film, Type 48. The Topcon RE Super was introduced.
It was the first SLR with a Through The Lens exposure system.
In 1965 Kodak introduced Super 8, a new amateur motion picture film
format. The first Japanese cameras using electronic shutters were introduced.
They were the Yashica Electro Half, Olympus 35EM, and Olympus 35LE.
In 1966 Kodak released the E-4 process for transparency films. Canon
U.S.A., Inc. was established in the U.S.A.
In 1970 the Canon F-1 was introduced. It was Canon's first professional
SLR camera. The Mamiya RB 67 Professional medium format camera was introduced.
In 1972 Polaroid introduced the Polaroid SX-70 camera and instant color
prints. The Pocket Instamatic Camera-110 was introduced.
In 1976 the Canon AE-1 was released. It was the first 35mm camera with
a built-in microprocessor. Fuji marketed the world's first ISO
400 color negative film--Fujicolor FII400.
In 1977 Kodak released the E-6 process for transparency films. Matsushita
Electric Industrial Company introduced its Video Home System (VHS),
setting off a market battle with Sony's Betamax. Betamax lost
to the superior marketing tactics of VHS. The Apple home computer was
In 1978 the Canon A-1 was introduced. It was the first camera in the
world to have all exposure functions controlled by a microcomputer.
The Polaroid Sonar Autofocus system was introduced on the SX-70 camera.
In 1980 Sony demonstrated the first consumer video camcorder. The Nikon
F3 was introduced as the successor to the Nikon F2. It was the first
Nikon camera to have a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) in the viewfinder
and an electronic shutter.
In 1981 Japanese camera production peaked at 7.67 million units. By
1983 production fell 30 percent to 5.37 million. Jobo Fototechnic was
established in Ann Arbor, Michigan as a wholly owned subsidiary of Jobo
In 1982 the Nikon FM-2 was the first camera with a top shutter speed
of 1/4000 sec. Mamiya introduced the RZ 67 medium format camera featuring
an electronically controlled shutter. Agfa-Gevaert achieved a majority
shareholding of 69 percent in the American company, Compugraphic, a
world leader in computer-controlled photo typesetting. The Polaroid
VideoPrinter was introduced and used to display instant color hard copy
of such things as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) diagnostic imaging.
In 1983 Fujicolor HR color negative film was introduced featuring fine
grain and vibrant colors.
In 1984 Fuji Photo Film marketed Fujicolor HR1600 color negative film,
the world's first with a film speed of ISO 1600.
In 1985 Minolta introduced the Minolta Maxxum 7000 autofocus, 35mm SLR
camera. Agfa introduced Agfachrome CT100, a color slide film.
In 1986 Minolta introduced the Minolta Maxxum 9000, its first professional
In 1987 Kodak announced the 1.4Mp CCD for digital cameras. Kodak and
Fuji introduced disposable cameras. Konishiroku Shashin Kogyo changed
its corporate name to Konica. The ownership of the Charles Beseler Company
changed and now remains the same through the turn of the century.
In 1988 Kodak announced a 4Mp CCD for digital cameras. PhotoMac was
the first image manipulation program for the Macintosh computer. Nippon
Kogaku changed its corporate name to Nikon, the brand name of their
cameras. Agfa acquired 100 percent of Compugraphic. The Charles Beseler
Company moved to Linden, New Jersey where it remains through the turn
of the century.
In 1989 the Charles Beseler Company introduced the Cadet 35mm enlarger
aimed at the entry-level hobbyist and the 45V-XL 4x5 enlarger aimed
at the high-end professional.
In 1990 Kodak announced the development of its Photo CD system. Adobe's
Photoshop Version 1.0 became available for the Macintosh computer.
In 1993 Adobe's Photoshop was available for MS-DOS/Windows platforms.
In 1996 the Advanced Photo System (APS) cameras and film were released
by the consortium of Canon, Nikon, Minolta, Kodak, and Fuji. APS uses
24mm wide film and includes film, cameras, and photofinishing equipment.
The Canon ELPH (APS) camera is a runaway hit with the American market.
Nikon released the F5, its new flagship SLR professional camera. Microsoft
released Windows 95.
In 1997, under the leadership of CEO George Fisher, Kodak completed
the purchase of a majority stake (50.1 percent) in Chinon Industries,
a Japanese camera maker most noted for digital cameras. The two companies
had already jointly developed Kodak's DC-120 digital camera.
In 1998 Canon marketed the EOS-3 autofocus SLR camera with new technologies
that surpass the top of the line EOS-1N. Microsoft released Windows
In 1999 the American people stock pile food and water in anticipation
of Y2K disaster. This writer buys a bottle of champagne for New Year's