The Kodak "Brownie" camera debuted around the turn of the century and cost one dollar. Hundreds of thousands were purchased in the first year alone. The Brownie was instrumental in putting amateur photography in the hands of the general public, as well as allowing the middle class to take their own "snapshots."
In fact, according to Kodak, over 10 million Brownies had been sold by 1930 when the company introduced its own photoprinter-based camera called the "Perfection." However, it wasn't until after World War II that digital cameras became available for purchase by the general public. In 2001, Kodak discontinued production of the Brownie line due to lack of demand for low-end consumer products.
However, the name "Brownie" remains popular with photographers who want a simple, inexpensive alternative to more expensive single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras.
The Brownie camera outperformed its marketing aim due to its simple controls and original price of $1 (equal to $31 in 2019), as well as the inexpensive cost of Kodak roll film and processing. Frank A. Brownell invented it. The name is derived from the Palmer Cox cartoons' brownies (spirits in mythology).
It was first introduced at the New York World's Fair in 1939 and soon after went on sale. Within a few years, hundreds of thousands of cameras had been sold around the world.
Modern digital cameras have largely replaced their older counterparts, but the Brownie remains popular with photographers who like having control over their own photography or who want a cheap way to experiment with photographic techniques.
It is estimated that up to half of all American households owned a Brownie camera in the early 1940s.
After World War II, sales declined as improved quality cameras became available for less money, but the Brownie remained popular with amateur photographers because of its affordability and versatility.
In 1951, Brownell changed the design of the camera to include a built-in flash. This new model was called the Flash Brownie after its two main features. In 1952, another change was made to the camera body design, this time reducing the size of the lens opening to allow smaller lenses to be used.
The Eastman Kodak Company sold almost a quarter of a million Brownies in the first year after they were introduced. However, the modest cardboard box did more than merely help Eastman become wealthy. It was a cultural shift that would last a lifetime. Suddenly, ordinary people had access to take pictures like never before or since. The Brownie changed people's attitudes about photography and made it acceptable for a mass audience.
Before the Brownie, taking photographs was done by people with money or fame. A few adventurous amateurs took their own photos, but overall, the process was too expensive for most people. With the introduction of the Brownie, anyone with a camera in their home could now take pictures too. This has been called the "Brownie effect".
The quality of these early photographs is not very good, but this didn't matter because people weren't interested in perfect images. They wanted something to remember their trips and events by so they could reminisce later. These photographs served this purpose well because they were simple, direct, and honest. No fancy shots or props were needed to capture the moment because it wasn't considered important yet. People just wanted to show what they were doing at the time so they could share it with others later.
The Eastman Kodak Company produced the Kodak Brownie Number 2 box camera from 1901 to 1935. It came in five different variants, A through F, and was the first camera to use 120 film. Brownie's (camera)
|Production||Feb. 1900-Oct. 1901|
|Intro price||$1 (equivalent to $31 in 2019)|