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Welcome to America Comes Alive!, a site I created to share little-known stories of America's past. These stories are about Americans - people just like you - who have made a difference and changed the course of history. Look around the site and find what inspires you. Kate Kelly
When Point-and-Shoot Began: The Brownie Camera

When Point-and-Shoot Began: The Brownie Camera

Today we don’t even need to remember to take our cameras. We simply pull out our phones and take pictures of anything from a tourist site we’re visiting to an item in a store where we’d like to send it to someone for an opinion.  Point-shoot-and-send… picture-taking has become so easy.

We can all remember the “before” of the send aspect of this process, but you might wonder when the point-and-shoot aspect began.   The answer is 1901 when Kodak introduced the “Brownie” camera.   George Eastman (1854-1932), the founder of Kodak, had asked one of his camera makers to come up with an easy-to-use camera that was portable and inexpensive but still took great photos.

The camera that was created became the “Brownie” camera. It was named after characters created by children’s author and illustrator Palmer Cox during the 1890s. They were extraordinarily popular and had already been used to market many products so Eastman thought using them to brand the new camera would ensure success. He was right. The first camera was only produced for about four months before a new model was introduced but during those four months, 150,000 cameras were sold.

By the time the Brownie camera was discontinued in 1980 almost one hundred different models had been introduced and sold to a welcoming public.

For more on cameras, visit “Let Me Take Your Picture” in the newsletter archive.




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